During the month of March, I had a ton going on – March at ELDI is hectic for an SCA Fellow, but rewarding! My two largest projects/events were the Negley Run Blvd. Clean-up and the Borland Garden Co-housing project’s Community Workshop.
The Negley Run Blvd. Clean-up was a 2nd annual event; the first of which I coordinated last year as well. There is an enormous amount of efforts that go into an event like this, and a great deal of partners that offer their resources. Although we did not get as many volunteers as last year, we believe that we cleaned-up an even larger area! It was another success and it was great to see community members and students work alongside each other for a second year in a row.
With a degree in landscape architecture, I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work on the Borland Garden Co-housing project: a community revitalization design project alongside stakeholders and Pashek Associates (a local landscape architecture firm). And although it took a lot of time and a lot of effort to prepare for this Community Workshop, it was well worth it.
This Workshop was created to engage the community members and foster ideas around the revitalization of vacant lot space in a particular area of East Liberty: Outside of a new co-operative. But this is no ordinary co-operative; this co-operative is a group of older individuals who want to age in place and share resources with one another. Instead of creating a new suburban development, they have chosen to take on a much more challenging, yet more sustainable, project: Converting a row of dilapidated town homes and revitalizing the vacant lot space around the homes into a public/private community garden. “Garden” is used liberally here, since this space will include many more elements than just a garden, including stormwater mitigation, permaculture practices, educational spaces, community gathering spaces, environmental art, micro habitats, and so on.
Many funders are involved in this project: The Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, the Sprout Fund, and the Heinz Youth Philanthropy Program. With the CDCP grant, we have been able to hire the expertise needed (Pashek Associates) to facilitate the design process/community meetings/workshops. Utilizing my education background and past experiences/talent, I have been able to play a huge part in the planning/design process alongside Pashek Associates. This Community Workshop allowed us to engage community members in the project and hear their ideas, concerns, thoughts, etc. The next steps are to host design charrettes with the co-housers and Pashek. This project will be pivotal in moving my career forward in community revitalization.