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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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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Sweet Serenade

My time at Grounded strategies happened purely by chance and man was it a stroke of good luck. I heard of Grounded from a Facebook advertisement after I had recently expressed interest in wanting to work on community gardens. The event was called a “Land Lab”: in which they go to different neighborhoods they want to invest in and give neighbors and stakeholders details of all the programs/resources they have to offer. After an hour of questions, jokes and heartfelt…

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See You Later!

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post because I’m sort of in denial that my time here at Grounded has come to an end. I started here last year at the very beginning of my grad program in Social Work and Public Administration at Pitt (seriously, I started before orientation because I just couldn’t wait). I really was not sure what I was getting myself into, but thought it would be fun. A year later and it has turned…

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Arianna makes her mark on Grounded

During my time as in intern at Grounded Strategies, I had the opportunity to meet the amazing people that work to make Pittsburgh a better place.  I started out not knowing much about green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and most of what was going on in the office went over my head. But after some time, I started learning a lot about Pittsburgh’s stormwater management issues and exactly what Grounded was doing to help.  While I was there, I got to…

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Following a rain drop at Park Hill Drive

Grounded continues its Green Stormwater Infrastructure work in the Park Hill Drive community in East Hills. Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) design and implementation are just one of the services we offer here at Grounded Strategies. As we plan each such project, we consider the fate of rainwater as it encounters the built environment. Let's follow a raindrop through one of our GSI facilities in the Park Hill Drive community! The first thing that a raindrop is likely to encounter in…

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Katherine’s Internship Experience at Grounded

My name is Katherine and I am an incoming junior Environmental Engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh. This week concludes my six-week internship at Grounded Strategies. I have enjoyed spending the past six weeks contributing in various ways ranging from working on online research to designing and building a “Gnome Home”. This internship has provided me with a wide variety of learning and career development opportunities. As I performed research for Grounded’s Gnome Messaging Project, I had the opportunity…

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Grounded in Clairton

Grounded Strategies continues to support the Clairton Community as part of our ReClaim Ambassador program. Recently, we’ve been working with our Ambassadors Toni and Felix on sprucing up their sites. After a winter with lots of temperature fluctuations, Felix’s doorways at Communications Park had shifted, so we gave them a little love, squaring up their sashes and priming the ground for his sunflower walls. Just down the street at Clairton CommUnity Garden, Toni has been hustling and bustling getting the…

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Ambassador Highlight – Natalie Thomas

Natalie Thomas joined the Grounded network as a ReClaim South Ambassador in the 2013-2014 year and was involved again in the ReClaim South 2.0 Sustaining Momentum program in 2015-2016. Through the Ambassador program, Ms. Natalie created a community garden on a vacant lot in Beltzhoover to share with the community and engage children living in Beltzhoover. Recently, the Grounded staff visited Natalie's site for a workday to spruce it up and get it ready for the summer. The entire staff,…

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Grounded & Propel Andrew Street High School: Bringing Green Playces to Life.

This Spring, Grounded Strategies had the chance to revisit one of our Green Playces: Student Ambassador projects at a vacant lot owned by Propel Andrew Street High School in Homestead. Last fall, the Green Playces: Student Ambassador project worked weekly with Propel students to learn environmental justice principles and apply them to the vacant lot project.   On April 13, 3 Propel staff, 17 students, 6 alumni, and 2 Grounded staff picked up paint brushes, wheelbarrows and went to work. We…

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