Pittsburgh’s First Blight Bootcamp Posted on November 24, 2015 by wpengine Share this post Pittsburgh Blight Bootcamp attendees united to fight blight! November 7th was the first ever Pittsburgh Blight Bootcamp where residents, nonprofit professionals and government representatives were able to meet, mingle, and educate each other on topics surrounding the issues of vacancy and blight in the Pittsburgh region. GTECH had the honor of being a central organizer of the Pittsburgh Blight Bootcamp as a member of the Pittsburgh Blight Working Group, a partnership between the City of Pittsburgh Office of the Mayor and Permits, Neighborhood Allies, PCRG, the Design Center of Pittsburgh and GTECH Strategies. Session topics at Blight Bootcamp ranged from Resident Led Advocacy to Data Driven Decision Making. You can view the program of speakers here. This day long event connected residents to resources and best practices to increase the impact of community led blight elimination efforts. Unable to make it to the event? The presentations will be available for viewing here! Fighting blight is definitely a collaborative effort, and the bootcamp encouraged interaction and support of the others around us fighting the same fight. Everyone in the group I brought were left feeling inspired and motivated by each other and by connections they made.” – Bethany Bloise, Mon Valley Initiative Angela’s Story Northside resident and GTECH Ambassador Angela Williams presented her experience as a resident and advocate for her community. Angela’s street in Perry South has been surrounded by overgrown, empty lots for many years. She had a role in the transformation of other empty lots in her neighborhood in the past, but hadn’t yet attempted to take on the lot next to her home. After her sister, Starla, passed away unexpectedly in November of 2014, Angela decided to transform the lot next to her home into a beautiful space that would be dedicated to her sister. It is named Star Meditation Garden in her honor. Her inspiring presentation was well received and helped her make several connections with greening organizations and other motivated residents. When asked about the event, she said, “I think this is an excellent way to connect dedicated people to resources and I hope it continues.” – Angela Williams, Resident Advocate You can learn more about Angela’s own fight against blight here. Resident involvement is crucial to collective impact Another resident speaker, Lydia Kramer from GTECH Strategies, also participated in the event. Reflecting on the first Bootcamp, Lydia said, “It was very inspiring to be amongst so many motivated people. It goes to show that things are happening in Pittsburgh and will continue to happen for years to come.” Her favorite part? “I loved that residents, organizations and local government all had an opportunity to represent their concerns surrounding blight. I am very excited about all the connections made that day and I hope that all of these groups are now even stronger partners.” – Lydia Kramer, GTECH Strategies Heading home inspired Bethany Bloise, from the Mon Valley Initiative, attended with an interest in fighting blight in the communities in which she works. This includes Turtle Creek, East Pittsburgh and North Braddock. She feels that, “Blight Bootcamp gave my North Braddock CDC the tools they needed in order to start surveying the blighted parcels in their community and to make a plan for each section/category of blight.” – Bethany Bloise, Mon Valley Initiative She goes on to say that “fighting blight is definitely a collaborative effort, and the bootcamp encouraged interaction and support of the others around us fighting the same fight. Everyone in the group I brought (18 people) were left feeling inspired and motivated by each other and by connections they made.” Final Thoughts The experiences of presenters and participants at Blight Bootcamp reflects an overall sense of accomplishment and inspiration. Once the event closed, there was an overwhelming sense of excitement and willingness to continue fighting blight. Stay tuned for next steps following this years Blight Bootcamp and we look forward for next years sessions. In the mean time, check out the photos below from the event!