Youth Reclaim: Wilkinsburg

As we put the finishing touches on the space in the Spring of 2020, sadly social distancing will keep us from gathering to celebrating it with the neighborhood. Instead, we are assembling Grounded @ Home boxes that will be distributed to nearby residents. Each box will contain a planted grow bag with a site plan of the new Green Playce explaining its features and safe ways to enjoy this public amenity.

Since October of 2018, Grounded has been implementing our Youth ReClaim PGH program with some very dedicated, talented and intelligent youth from The Wilkinsburg Youth Project (WYP).

Through this program, we equip youth with knowledge of Wilkinsburg’s history, it’s unique connection to vacancy and blight, and how these circumstances came to be. With that knowledge now instilled, we begin challenging the youth to think of what they’d like to see and what resources are available to make it happen like neighborhood initiatives, micro-grants and incentivized tax programs.

We then equip the youth with different techniques to advocate for themselves and the community, tools for asset mapping, guidance on how to find organizations that may be interested in partnering, funding or sponsoring their own neighborhood initiatives while also teaching design skills to create and implement a project.

WYP youth are designing a space in collaboration with residents from The Princeton Park Neighborhood Block Watch, a community group dedicated to the revitalization of their neighborhood. The Princeton Park Block club and BYP youth are excited to work to transform a vacant lot that exists on Marlboro Street into a community gathering space that will be utilized as meeting space for The Princeton Park Group, Wilkinsburg Youth Project, and the broader Wilkinsburg communitiy as well as communal gathering space to connect with one another .

Both The Wilkinsburg Youth Project and The Princeton Park Neighborhood have been instrumental in the creative process of recruiting residents, helping design the space, and cultivating a spirit of change inside the neighborhood. Their collective determination and dedication are certain to lead to an incredible, beautiful space. 


In April of 2019, we completed our Youth ReClaim classroom curriculum with the Wilkinsburg youth project.

In May of 2019, elated and eager to display what they had learned the youth presented their individual site designs and the condensed final design to The Princeton Park Block Club during their community clean-up day.

As summer started, June was used to engage residents, businesses and like minded individuals to begin transforming the mindset towards green space and vacant land reclamation which was spearheaded by the youth. We then worked with a professional contractor to import topsoil and level out the site. Two raised planter beds were built, and the summer concluded with a community workday that included neighbors and volunteers from the University of Pittsburgh.

The space will be completed in the Spring of 2020. Groundcover shrubs (rhus aromatica) have been added to stabilize the slope at the side public sidewalk. Raspberry bushes were added to the rear fence. Stepper logs (retrieved from the rear of the site!) were added along the serpentine path and double as a  retaining wall for the sloping site. A special mix of micro-clover has been seeded to take the place of lawn grass, and more bee-loving perennials are on the way!