Grounded in the Hilltop

Grounded Strategies is working in the Hilltop once again to advance models of stewardship through the relationships built among the ReClaim Ambassadors.  The South Ambassadors is a cohort of individuals and grassroots leaders that took on the challenge of repurposing vacant land in the Hilltop during 2013 and remain engaged in their community conversations. The Hilltop neighborhoods of focus for this partnership consist of neighboring communities of Knoxville, Allentown, Beltzhoover, Mt. Oliver, and St Clair. Through the efforts & hard work of the ReClaim Ambassadors, we know that work is more meaningful when it is done in a spirit of partnerships.  

For the 2018-2019 season, Grounded will be back in the Hilltop working to form a cohesive alliance with Abiding Ministries, and strengthen existing relationships with Hilltop Alliance members.  The programming is being guided by Pastor Christine Rotella of Abiding Ministries who shapes her community through fellowship of families through faith, food, and listening.

Specifically, the concern of exposure to lead in soil weighs heavily on the minds of the residents in the community. The community’s desire to focus on building awareness and literacy around lead as an environmental concern will be incorporated into public education and demonstration activities, focusing on two vacant parcels located at Millbridge and Excelsior Streets as laboratory sites.  This effort will develop strategies to repurpose and remediate the vacant lead-tainted parcels on Millbridge and Excelsior. Lead is highly toxic and dangerous chemical. Serious human health risks exist for people exposed especially children less than 6 years of age. Low-level, exposure to lead in polluted residential soil can cause several developmental and behavioral problems in children.

To continue to make positive impacts in the Hilltop communities, over the next eight months Grounded Strategies, with the collective groups, will help close gaps of lead information, to help monitor methods of improvement, advance groups in community engagement efforts and offer technical services where needed. Outreach, engagement, education, and facilitation are just a small portion of the provided value of the supported network.

Grounded knows that peer-to-peer support is valuable on all levels. Community residents are the most effective agents of change. We work to harness their efforts to stimulate intentional community engagement around collaborative projects that improve the landscape. We have furthered our commitment to the Hilltop by helping to construct a new Green Playces in Knoxville, with the help of Knoxville Community Council and Economic Development South. Existing & new networks encourage ongoing support and services as we move forward with exciting new projects in the Hilltop Neighborhoods.