Talking Lots!

Talking Lots is a podcast series that explores the issue of vacant lots in the Pittsburgh region. We present stories of vacant land restoration and activation as told through the voices of residents, community leaders, partners, and officials. Vacant lots are often overlooked but these stories prove that beautiful things can happen when we take care of the land that surrounds us.

Episode 1

In this interview, social worker, urban farmer, and community activist, Lisa Freeman, discusses her vision for vacant land in her neighborhood. Lisa describes how she transformed a neglected vacant lot into the  Manchester Growing Together Farm and Freeman Family Farms, providing fresh produce, a safe haven, and training opportunities to her community.

Listen to Lisa’s interview on Talking Lots. You can also learn more about Lisa’s urban farm in her blog post feature!

Episode 2

In this episode, we sit down with Angela Williams to discuss her experience with her green space project, the Star Meditation Garden, and her years of community involvement. Angela shares how to be a meaningful community partner and what keeps her grounded as she continues to advocate for her neighborhood.

Episode 3

In this interview, urban farmer and educator, Ebony Lunsford-Evans or also known as FarmerGirl Eb, discusses her vision for vacant land in her neighborhood, and her process of transforming a neglected vacant lot into intentional community lots. She shares her wisdom and insights on navigating a complex land ownership system and its impact on local communities.
We hope this inspires you and can’t wait to share more stories in the weeks ahead!

Episode 4

This interview introduces Felix Fusco, a Reclaim Clairton Ambassador. He discusses his vacant lot transformation and how his garden brings community healing with an outlet for community expression. Felix explains how there is so much potential with vacant lots and buildings to benefit the community with gardens, environmental education sites, safe places for children, and so much more.

Episode 5

This episode introduces Marita Garrett, the first Black woman elected mayor of the city of Wilkinsburg and founder of Civically Inc. She brings a macro and micro perspective on dealing with land vacancies at scale. Her background as an elected official and advocate of city and community engagement offers a unique conversation on community transformation.

Episode 6

This episode introduces Beverly Howell, well known to her community as Grandma Bev. She is a CommunityCare Homewood steward who has invested her time and efforts to ensure an accessible vacant lot to offer a calm and clean space for her neighborhood’s youth. Grandma Bev shares the potential vacant lots have to offer for communities like the neighborhood of Homewood.

Episode 7

This episode introduces Eugenia Boggus of the Hill District in Pittsburgh. She is a CommunityCare Hill District steward who has put in work in her community to ensure a safe and involved environment for community members. Eugenia Boggus explains the importance of developing vacant land and creating green spaces for communities.

Episode 8

This episode introduces Dr. Cherri Banks of the Wilkinsburg neighborhood. She contributes to the vacant plot of land opposite to her house and involves her entire community in its development. There is an emphasis of community involvement to build a sense of community ownership of the vacant land.

Episode 9

This episode introduces Raqueeb Ajamu-Osagboro from the Hill District in the city of Pittsburgh. Raqueeb is the founder and executive director of Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op or BUGS. Raqueeb is an urban agriculturist, an activist, and a mother. She has been a fierce advocate for the well-being of underserved urban Black communities. Tune-in to learn her perspective and relation to vacant land.