Grounded in the Hilltop

Grounded Strategies worked in the Hilltop to advance models of stewardship through the relationships built among the ReClaim Ambassadors.  The ReClaim South Ambassador cohort took on the challenge of repurposing vacant land in the Hilltop during 2013 and remains 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 was back in the Hilltop working to form a cohesive alliance with Abiding Ministries, and strengthen existing relationships with Hilltop Alliance members.  The programming was 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 weighed 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 was incorporated into public education and demonstration activities, focused on two vacant parcels located at Millbridge and Excelsior Streets.  This effort helped to develop strategies to repurpose and remediate vacant lead-tainted parcels. Lead is a highly toxic and dangerous element. 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.

Grounded continued to make positive impacts in the Hilltop communities, by helping to close gaps of lead information, advance groups in community engagement efforts and offer technical services where needed. Outreach, engagement, education, and facilitation are just a portion of the value provided by the Grounded’s 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.