Celebrating Black Community Stewards

The work Grounded does stretches over the broad landscape of Allegheny County, but we recognize a large amount of vacancy is condensed in certain neighborhoods throughout the region. We have been fortunate to have strong partners in all of the work that we do and we could not be successful in making a community impact without community.

There are so many individuals and organizations that we work with who are making a positive impact in their own neighborhoods, but for Black History Month we would like to highlight just a few individuals that have crossed paths with Grounded whose work we would like to highlight. These folks are the everyday heroes championing issues within the Pittsburgh region. Angela Williams is a Grounded Reclaim Northside Ambassador with the 2015 cohort. She had a role in the transformation of other empty lots in her neighborhood of Perry South and decided to tackle the lot next to her home after her sister, Starla, passed away unexpectedly in November of 2014. She transformed the lot now called the Star Meditation Garden and dedicated it to her sister.

Angela continues to maintain this space, which was featured on the 2018 Geared Up & Grounded Bike Tour. As her day job, she is a Grants Manager at Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. So not only is she a community leader but she is influencing and encouraging the greening missions of an organization that supports local green space.

 

Gordon Hodnett started out as a ReClaim South Ambassador in 2013 for Grounded. He now considers himself a “Father Gardener.” While he was a ReClaim South Ambassador, helped to create the Garden on Gearing in Beltzhoover and actively maintains it. Gordon envisioned the community garden in 2014 and it hasn’t stopped growing since. The once vacant lot is now an edible garden that provides seasonal fruits and vegetables to passersby, including a fruit tree orchard, colorful mural, and a bench so you can stop and enjoy this special Gearing Street ecosystem.

Gordon is an active member on the Grounded Board, part of the Beltzhoover Consensus Group, the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council, Black Urban Gardeners, and the Black Environmental Collective.

 

Diane Daniels is the President of the East Hills Consensus Group (EHCG). It operates as an organizing force for community collaboration that addresses concerns and issues within the neighborhood. She enlisted Grounded’s help as a part of the Resilience Generation (ReGen) Resources Program that offers aid to communities seeking to improve community health. Our goals with them were: to build the organizational capacity of EHCG to a point of understanding how to best respond to community member requests and needs, prioritize issues that repeatedly surface, such as stormwater runoff, public safety, and community beautification, and assist the EHCG to develop advocacy and outreach plans for those issues.

In her work life, she is the owner of DID & Associates, a multiphase public relations self-development firm. Diane is also enshrined in the Minority, Women, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Governmental Committee Hall of Fame as a champion in print news where she promotes and supports the achievements of Black business and entrepreneurs as a content contributor for the New Pittsburgh Courier.

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