Environmental Hazards: Close-to-Home

The snow is already beginning to melt, and we can see the first spikes of spring ephemerals like snowdrops and crocus poking through the snow. Having spent the short days of winter cooped up indoors, many people are pleased to feel the days getting perceptibly longer. As we cross the thresholds of our respective houses out into this warming world, we transition between two very distinct sorts of environments: one familiar, consistent, and controlled, the other unpredictable, varied, and sometimes…

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Democratic Vacant Land Processes

In its utopic form, democracy is facilitated through widely dispersed power. Widely dispersed power allows for the fair and equitable negotiation of sometimes conflicting interests. Through negotiation, people are able to find positions of true (rather than coerced) compromise. This form of democracy is only possible through community organizing and engagement. The combination of organizing and engagement is instrumental to democracy’s foundational need for fair and equitable representation. Through our Hill District program, Reclaim Central 2.0, we are attempting to…

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ReClaim Central 2.0: Update

In the winter of 2016-17, Grounded recruited a dozen Central Hill District residents, called Ambassadors, to lead the movement for reclaiming vacant lots. In the spring of 2017, the Ambassadors began work on vacant lots around the Hill District and in total created 5 new community spaces for residents to utilize. Fast forward to fall 2018, after a year of engaging residents on the sites and gathering input about if the spaces were welcomed and accepted we were asked to come…

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Environmental Justice and Civil Rights

Today's acts of discriminatory practices have taken place on American soil in the past, in present-day form, and acts of unfair treatment will more than likely persist in the future. To prevent such wrongs Government and other elected officials voted on two Bills. These Bills were enacted as The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Environmental Justice Act of 2017.   In yesterday’s history, (July 2, 1964)  Civil Rights Act of 1964 was first introduced by President John F Kennedy; succeeding…

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Opportunities on Vacant Land in Winter

As the leaves fall and the wind blows, many of us choose to retreat into the warmth of our homes. However, as winter approaches, there are still many opportunities for you to get outside and show some care for vacant land within your community. In early to mid-fall, it's a wonderful time to plant perennials on a vacant parcel. This can be as involved as planting balled-and-burlapped trees, or as simple as scattering a few of your favorite perennial plant…

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Green Space Really Does Improve Mental Health

A new study published in July is one of the first substantial pieces of research that directly links "greening" vacant and blighted lots to improved mental health and reduced depressive symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 16 million adults in the United States - 6.7% of the population - reported having at least one major depressive episode in the past year. While we at Grounded Strategies understand the the positive connections between "greening" vacant lots…

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Greenspaces Foster Resilience and Combat Climate Change

Grounded Strategies is committed to the sustainable development of greenspaces in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. With the input and help of community partners and members, we work hard to ensure that our projects are community-led and foster neighborhood coalition. We believe that greenspaces foster community resilience by facilitating the strengthening of social connections, reducing stress, restoring cognition, and being physically active. Not only do greenspaces benefit individuals and the community, they also benefit the environment and, according to writer Jared Green, act…

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Making Authentic Nature a Priority

It can be hard to find refuge in nature when you are living in an urban environment. According to the United Nations, over half of all the world’s population (55%) lives in urban areas, a statistic that is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. As the world continues to urbanize, it is more important than ever to design sustainable and intentionally authentic greenspaces that invite active involvement in one’s natural amenities. This is especially true for children. A recent…

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Incorporating the Natural Landscape in Greenspace Design

Incorporating the natural landscape into the design of a project is a key element for us here at Grounded Strategies. A popular trend in natural landscape design that has evolved over the past decade is to adapt the slope of an existing hill or embankment into a surface intended for a slide. Author Jeff Link outlines the benefits of integrating the natural environment into a landscape design in his article Hill and Embankment Slides Mark a Golden Age for Playground Slides.…

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Attention to Detail

The quality of your environment is one of the greatest and most overlooked sources of happiness. CommunityCare stewards carry around butter knives so that they can clean the cracks in the sidewalks. LandCare contractors compare techniques because they take pride in their work. These examples illustrate the importance of community members playing a central role in greening their communities. When residents are the actors, greenspace maintenance takes on new meaning. It's not just about getting a job done, it's about making…

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Grounded in East Hills

As part of our investigative process, Grounded Strategies is exploring East Hills for further intervention. Having recently installed rain gardens in the Park Hill Drive Community, we're now working with the East Hills Consensus Group (EHCG) to help them advocate for improvements in the entire East Hills neighborhood. The main focus points for EHCG in terms of community strategy are Stormwater, Public Safety, and Community Beautification.     During our tour of the neighborhood, it became apparent just how important…

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Pitt 1st Years are Grounded in Homewood

As part of their orientation process at the start of the fall semester, first years at Pitt joined Grounded in Homewood for a day of service. We worked together on a litter cleanup, while engaging in thought provoking discussions about the ties between refuse, home abandonment, poverty, and access to green space.                 Our litter cleanup also served as a walking tour of the neighborhood, to show areas where Grounded has already built…

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