Blog

Blog

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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The Bigger Picture

A lot has been said and studied about the economics of vacant land and there is certainly more to say and study.  When it comes to the economics of vacant land, it is best described as a negative externality, which if remains unmaintained creates a substantial social cost to its surroundings. There are obvious financial damages to our local institutions and subsequently the public as consumers of those public services.  And there are the far less measurable, but obvious impacts…

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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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A Story of Vacant Land (Part 2): The Evolution

Have you ever wondered why or how the vacant lot next to your home got there?  Obviously, a series of events had to happen to create that neglected space. Vacancy didn’t show up overnight.  A combination of macro forces and micro decisions, each of which is interrelated led to what you see in so many of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods today.  With over 27,000 vacant lots in the City of Pittsburgh, something has happened at a massive scale. Understanding the history and…

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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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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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A Story of Vacant Land (Part 1): Costs & Benefits

Numbers don’t lie.  Well, if we are being honest, they sometimes do.  As community leaders, advocates, and policy analysts, it’s our job to think critically about data.  In short, numbers mean something, which is why it’s so important to contextualize them. They represent real people associated with real costs.  When analyzing costs and benefits, nothing is more important than humanizing the numbers. Let’s consider some of the numbers and truths with regards to vacant lot maintenance.  In Allegheny County, 67.3%…

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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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