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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Vacant Lot Remediation and Crime Reduction

Gun violence in the United States is higher than in any other developed nation and the majority of fatal violence committed in the United States involves firearms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 100,000 people die from gun-related violence in the U.S. every year. A study published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University shows that remediating vacant lots can dramatically affect both perceptions of crime and vandalism, and the acts themselves. Neighborhoods where vacant…

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Neighborhood greenspace leads to greater spatial working memory among children

We all know that spending time in greenspace is healthy for humans. We have all experienced that joy of going to a local park or strolling past a recently cleaned up lot that used to be blighted and vacant. But what exactly is it about neighborhood greenspace that affects the human brain in such an impactful way? Well, researchers in England sought to answer this question in a recent study and their conclusions are quite interesting. The study focused on…

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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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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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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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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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Grandma Bev’s Green Zone Party

Joining the Grounded network last September as a CommunityCare steward Beverly Howell, also known as Grandma Bev, showed her commitment to the Homewood neighborhood and to keeping it clean and green. Prior to joining the CommunityCare program, Bev has been a long-time active resident of Homewood, and even acquired the vacant lot next to her home through the City's Adopt-a-Lot lease program. Beverly envisioned this space next to her home to be a safe haven for the children of Homewood…

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Sustainability Education

We recently came across a study published in The Journal of Environmental Education focused on the effectiveness of sustainability education in four different unique schools. The study lead to interesting results about which methods of sustainability messaging are most effective at encouraging youth to be environmentally conscious members of society. Schools must immerse students in sustainable practices and possess a culture of equality and sustainability in order to impact students. After interviewing students at each of the four schools, this…

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Grounded in Milwaukee

In May, members of the Grounded team headed to Milwaukee to attend the Reclaiming Vacant Properties (RVP) conference. This year’s theme was Groundswell: Rising to the Challenge. The conference brought together grassroots leaders, community development professionals, program coordinators, and policymakers to exchange ideas on revitalizing distressed communities. Speakers and attendees shared insights on ways their communities are eliminating blight as we scribbled away furiously taking notes and we shared our own stories on how Pittsburgh is stabilizing and reclaiming vacant property. Grounded…

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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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