Planted in Homewood

Grounded provided technical assistance to Homewood residents working at two locations in the neighborhood.

BTC Center

Site: a vacant lot next to Baptist Temple Church (Sterrett and Race Streets)

The open lot adjacent to Baptist Temple Church had already gone through a visioning exercise that reimagined it as an ecological garden that will serve the neighborhood with a passive-meditative green space. Grounded helped to brainstorm opportunities for increasing ecological greening and educational opportunities within the existing design. A cost estimate of the construction was also included.

Perch on a Stone

Site: a residential pocket in the northeast corner of Homewood (Standard Avenue, Perchment Street, and Stoneville Streets). 

The residents working on the second site – dubbed Perch on a Stone – envisioned the wooded lots throughout their corner of Homewood as a functioning nature preserve. They were interested in lot clean-up, invasive species removal, and enhancements to the natural areas. They pictured woodlots with birds and wildlife providing beauty, relaxation and learning opportunities. Grounded help to identify property ownership and lot access issues. With key lots either privately-owned or difficult to access, Grounded’s focus shifted to assisting residents with another priority:finding a remedy to a constant flow of water that crossed Standard Ave. The flow created icing and dangerous conditions. To add complexity, the site was close to the Penn Township border and sat just downhill from a recent mine drainage project.

Where was the water coming from? Who had the responsibility to fix? 

To help answer these questions, we reached out to local partners from the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, Operation Better Block and Homewood Children’s Village who all contributed their knowledge and contacts. Grounded retrieved water test records from the Wilkinsburg Penn Joint Authority and talked to staff from the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection that worked on a nearby mine drainage project. Information from those contacts showed evidence that of naturally-occurring water that was seeping out of the ground on a city lot. The next level of outreach cast a wider net to search for a resolution. A meeting was convened with existing partners as well as representation from: City of Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) and Office of Community Affairs, PWSA, Office of Councilman Burgess and Office of Senator Jay Costa. Grounded was able to convey the complexities of the issue with concise graphics and statements of the facts so that group could focus on a solution. In the following weeks and months, residents were diligent in making 311 reports, visiting their elected officials, and also reached out to local hydrologist Ian Lipski (eDesignDynamics) for additional expertise.


By the summer of 2018, work had been done to keep the water flow off of the road. The residents will experience a dry, safe street for the first winter in recent memory. A small group of committed residents, along with the cooperation of many partners, were able to shine a spotlight on a critical issue and achieve a successful solution.