CommunityCare Program

Connect. Maintain. Inspire.

CommunityCare is a public stewardship program that provides residents with the tools, resources, and support to participate in greenspace maintenance work. CommunityCare stewards actively maintain green and open spaces throughout their neighborhoods on their own time. Site activities range from routine maintenance on a landscaped vacant lot to tending to street trees.

CommunityCare operates on an incentive structure. Incentives are given based on a credit system, where one hour of work equals one credit. Each time a steward reaches eight credits, they can choose from different forms of non-monetary compensation that are used to keep public costs low and meet social needs as noted and valued by stewards. Stewards are also provided with a curated network of resources and tools that exist to sustain capacity and advance the professional and personal growth of participants. Furthermore, the program creates opportunities to increase the social cohesion of individual residents who share a common experience in their community.

The program runs year-round, with maintenance activities from May to October and workshops and networking opportunities in the winter months. Stewards work with Grounded staff to identify areas of the community in need of a community champion to keep critical neighborhood space clean and green.

CommunityCare stewards take care of vacant land for various reasons. Some hate litter, some have public health concerns, and others want to uplift their community. Regardless of personal reasons for taking action, all stewards take pride in their work. Proactive vacant land maintenance impacts us all. With a little work, vacant lots can be transformed into community assets. 

View the CommunityCare Infographic to learn more about the process.

Background

CommunityCare began in 2017 in response to the shortage of resources being allocated to proactively maintaining green and open spaces in the public realm of Pittsburgh. This shortage has resulted in overgrown, unsafe, and inactive lots and green investments. In addition, this issue disproportionately affects low- and moderate-income communities. CommunityCare addresses this disparity by providing incentive-based stewardship, where stewards are recognized, rewarded and equipped to participate in green space maintenance work. 

Studies have shown that the presence of vacant lots in neighborhoods affects the community’s welfare in many different ways. It increases concerns and fears about criminal activity, weakens the local economy, serves as a threat to the community’s physical health, and negatively affects the mental health of the community (Garvin et al. 2012). Vacant land is detrimental to the community’s mental health and overall well-being for reasons bad enough themselves, as they aren’t only a burden appearance-wise but are also correlated with higher rates of crime and hazards like pests, fires, and illegal dumping (Garvin et al. 2012).

The simple act of maintaining green space is associated with significant improvement in mental health. Depression and feelings of worthlessness are significantly reduced through the improvement of a community’s appearance and the reduction of crime (South et al. 2018). It contributes to an overall healthier and more resilient environment better for everyone.

Garvin, Eugenia, et al. “More Than Just An Eyesore: Local Insights And Solutions on Vacant Land And Urban Health.” Journal of Urban Health, vol. 90, no. 3, 2012, pp. 412–426., doi:10.1007/s11524-012-9782-7.

South, Eugenia C., et al. “Effect of Greening Vacant Land on Mental Health of Community-Dwelling Adults.” JAMA Network Open, vol. 1, no. 3, 20 July 2018, pp. 1–14., doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0298.


SITE MAP:

CommunityCare stewards can use the map below to identify site options where they can earn credits. Click on the icons to learn more about the activities available at each site.