Investing in People Posted on January 9, 2018 by Miranda Micire Share this post Engaging community members in our programs is essential to Grounded Strategies. Doing so gives residents of communities across Allegheny County an active hand in addressing vacant land challenges and improving their neighborhood. Grounded provides training, equips residents, and gives them tools to transform community greenspace into thriving spaces for everyone to enjoy. This improves the residents’ sense of pride in their communities and in the work that they have accomplished. It would be simple for nonprofit organizations to recruit volunteers from local colleges, enter a community, and potentially get the work done in a short amount of time. However, this can have the consequence of leaving negative feelings among residents of communities, as they feel that they were not informed or involved in what was going on in their own neighborhood. It also centers an outside organization’s vision and experience, as opposed to the community. Throughout the variety of Grounded’s projects, we seek to engage as many community members as possible in the neighborhoods that we work in. We engage the community by attending community meetings, community festivals, and various events. Individuals have more pride in their communities when they feel as though they made an impact on making change happen. Not only does engaging the community members provide a sense of pride, it also builds capacity on an individual level. Grounded’s Ambassador model engages residents in a vacant lot revitalization project from start to finish, allowing ambassadors control over the planning and implementation of the project. This builds self-efficacy as the ambassadors see their project come to light. Upon completion of the program, the Ambassadors are well equipped to continue to keep making a positive impact on their neighborhood. Not only is Grounded engaging in individual community members, we are also working with the URA on the LandCare program to provide contracts for local small businesses to maintain a bundle of vacant lots in their community. Investing in these small businesses provides not only individual capacity but also economic opportunities for those businesses who might not have gotten the opportunity otherwise. Investing in not only places but also in people is one of the primary focuses of Grounded and we hope to engage even more community members in 2018!