Blog

Blog

Leadership Now Pittsburgh – Part I

In December 2018, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc announced its second cohort of 21 participants for the Lead Now Pittsburgh fellowship program. Chosen from nearly 80 nominees recommended by other regional leaders, being selected in and of itself is quite an honor. At the same time, none of us really know what it will mean in 2019 as we embark on this journey together. Many of us are strangers, aware of each other without actually knowing each other. The training, in its…

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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…

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Environmental Hazards: Close-to-Home

The snow is already beginning to melt, and we can see the first spikes of spring ephemerals like snowdrops and crocus poking through the snow. Having spent the short days of winter cooped up indoors, many people are pleased to feel the days getting perceptibly longer. As we cross the thresholds of our respective houses out into this warming world, we transition between two very distinct sorts of environments: one familiar, consistent, and controlled, the other unpredictable, varied, and sometimes…

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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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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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