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Blog

Juneteeth: A Celebration of Freedom

On June 19th, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Texas to announce the freedom of slaves. This announcement took place two and a half years after slaves were legally freed. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863 but the news did not make it to Texas for over two years. The reason for this is unclear- some say the messenger was killed on his way to Texas, others say slave owners intentionally withheld the information…

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From the Board of Directors

Greetings Grounded Community, Happy June and thank you to all those who joined us for a spectacular Geared up and Grounded bike ride this last weekend. With this turn of season - I write to inform you that as of June 1st, 2019, Evaine K. Sing has departed her role at Grounded Strategies. It is always hard to say goodbye to a long-term, valued employee but we do so with a great appreciation of all her contributions as part of…

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A Vacant Lot… and so much more

At the corner of Estella Avenue and Climax Street in Beltzhoover, there sits a vacant lot. In 2011, a group called Creative Visions decided to take some action and proceeded to clear the lot, create a few garden beds and plant some flowers. Already a significant improvement, that is not where this story ends. Enter Ms. Natalie Thomas, a self-proclaimed “nebby neighbor,” who happens to live just across Estella with a great view of the lot. She wanted more.   In…

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Where the Wild Things Were… and Could be Again

As humanity has tightened its grip on Earth, we have been party to the loss of many species. While many of us are aware of the cautionary tales of the dodo and the Tasmanian tiger, we are blind to the processes that led to their extinction. In seeking to fulfill our desires (for space, for goods, for control over the natural environment) we too often fail to consider the needs of the system that sustains us: the dodo, for example,…

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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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