Meet the Neighbors: Evaine K. Sing

 In Allegheny County, there are 54,000 vacant lots and Evaine K. Sing and her team are on a mission to transform each of those spaces, one by one, into meaningful community resources. Born in South Africa and raised in Maryland, Evaine studied Landscape Architecture at Virginia Tech and made her way to Pittsburgh in 2006 for a job opportunity with Burt Hill (now Stantec), designing resorts in Dubai. Always drawn to people, Evaine transitioned within the company from international work…

Walkabout: Nonprofit finds firm footing with a Grounded mission

Three Carnegie Mellon University grads started GTECH Strategies in 2007 as a pilot with a Sprout Fund grant of $20,000. They were finishing their last semester of grad school when they planted more than six acres at the old LTV Steel site in Hazelwood with hybrid poplar trees, switchgrass and sunflowers, all of which produce fuel. They continued planting sunflowers on parcel after parcel of contaminated land. Sunflowers are among several plants that take up contaminants without becoming tainted, and their oil can…

Nonprofit becomes Grounded, announces new projects

Gtech Strategies will now be known as Grounded, and with the name change, the organization is beginning new community initiatives. The 11-year-old nonprofit changed its name to better reflect its work and commitment to the communities it serves, according to a news release. “This new name better reflects who we are. We are grounded in people, communities and change for good,” said Evaine K. Sing, executive director of Grounded, in a prepared statement. “By grounding our work in the communities we’re…

Kicking off its 11th year, the former GTECH Strategies unveils new brand identity

Since 2007, GTECH Strategies has mobilized residents to transform vacant lots into vibrant green spaces and address environmental issues at the hyperlocal level — but it was one of Pittsburgh’s best-kept secrets. That’s because its name often obscured its mission. “We’re not a green technology company — that’s the number one misnomer,” says Executive Director Evaine Sing. She says supporters often struggled to effectively tell GTECH’s story because “they almost have to undo what comes to mind. By then, you’ve spent…

Library Feels Like ‘Home’ to New Director

Working at the Carnegie Library of McKeesport feels like home to Colleen Denne of Elizabeth Twp., who took over as director on Jan. 3. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a master's degree in library science, Denne, who grew up in Liberty Borough, says she feels very connected to her new job. "My dad's family is from Duquesne, and my mom's family is from McKeesport," Denne says. "These are my roots. This is my home library. I don't think it…

Open Data Helps Create Community Spaces

In 2014, the City of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh, began to make City data open and accessible to everyone. Our regional open data platform, Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, currently houses over 250 data sets. As part of the Open Data effort, we’ve reached out to different Pittsburgh residents, community groups, non-profits, and researchers to see how they have been using this data to improve Pittsburgh. Read the full Open Data Progress Report for more…

Riverview United and GTECH Strategies team-up for New GSI Project in Observatory Hill

A joint-project leads to the creation of two new green spaces that will help remove over 100,000 gallons of stormwater from local sewer system. The Riverview United Presbyterian Church is getting a makeover.  The congregation will be adding a new outdoor Mediation Labyrinth and a peace garden at the 3505 Perrysville Avenue property. The additions are a joint effort between the church and GTECH Strategies in part of GTECH’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Project. Construction on the new outdoor spaces began in…

Volunteers, Students Break Ground on Grandview Greenspace

Volunteers and students from McKeesport's Youth CAST along with staff from GTECH Strategies broke ground Saturday morning for improvements to a greenspace at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Auburn Street.

NEXT Up: Bringing new life to vacant lots with Evaine K. Sing

She’s 11 weeks in as GTECH’s first Executive Director (after previously serving as COO). Born in South Africa to a Scottish mother and Chinese father, Evaine grew up in the rural town of Keedysville, MD and moved to Pittsburgh after college. A resident of East Allegheny—sandwiched between historic sites like Teutonia Männerchor and Penn Brewery—Evaine loves being able to walk to the North Shore attractions, Downtown and the Strip. On April 21, GTECH is celebrating 10 years of transforming vacant, underutilized spaces into…

GTECH Strategies: Tackling Blight, One Urban Lot At A Time

They say good things come in small packages, and as a nonprofit social enterprise, GTECH Strategies is no exception. Through a multi-faceted approach, the 14-member team tackles Pittsburgh’s sizable challenges by transforming vacant lots into productive spaces and improving community health. With a sense of duty and plenty of heart, GTECH has forged a mission over the last 10 years to breathe new life into Pittsburgh’s vulnerable neighborhoods, and it all began with a group of college grads, a dream…

Community Play-Creation

Outdoor play is good for children and teens, but it’s even better when they and other members of their community participate in creating the spaces where healthy play happens. At GTECH, that reinvention means building with reused materials, from rocks and sticks that once littered an empty lot to sourcing materials at a reuse store. At ALEC, yellow plastic piping became the slide. At other sites, utility line spools have become tables. Additionally, the process of designing and contributing to…

GTECH releases Northside Neighborhood Connections trail maps

The project, Northside Neighborhoods Connections, is a collaboration between One Northside and GTECH. Each neighborhood has an individual map and trail that connects to the surrounding neighborhoods, and the trail map guides feature a number of cultural, historic, and environmental destinations that were curated by members of each community. The designated trails run along already existing streets and pathways that can be traveled by bicycle or foot, and range from 1.5 to 3.5 miles in length.