Groundwork Buffalo Welcomes New Executive Director!

February 3rd, 2016 Antonina Simeti, Groundwork Buffalo's new Executive Director

Groundwork Buffalo is pleased to welcome Antonina Simeti as its new Executive Director. An experienced urbanist, Simeti is committed to creating new models for economically and environmentally sustainable development. She is especially interested in participatory planning processes and place-based interventions that challenge traditional planning frameworks in order to meet broad policy goals.

“It’s a great time to be in Buffalo,” said Simeti. “With the experience and resources of the Groundwork USA network, the excitement of our board, and community members hungry to participate, I think we can all work together creatively to drive the kind of transformation from which everyone benefits. My goal is to support purposeful, yet innovative projects that will empower and generate excitement. Groundwork Buffalo provides a perfect platform to equip our neighborhoods to respond, with optimism, to the environmental, economic, and global climate forces continuing to impact the city. It’s exciting, and I’m glad to be here and a part of it!”

Simeti’s professional experience includes non-profit management, design strategy, public policy research, user research, and environmental impact analysis. She has worked with a range of stakeholders including government agencies, elected officials, community-based organizations, business leaders, cultural and higher education institutions, designers, and educators. Simeti holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Tufts University and a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Groundwork USA Talks Brownfields at Upcoming Smart Growth Conference

February 3rd, 2016 Groundwork Youth at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Brownfields and equitable development are the topics du jour for Groundwork USA at the 15th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Portland, OR next week. Groundwork staff members Kate O’Brien and Tangier Barnes will facilitate a conference session focused on how to design and implement successful brownfield small-area planning projects. Our team is particularly excited about an “extracurricular” workshop we’ll deliver, focused on engaging young people in brownfield planning and advocacy. With this workshop, Groundwork USA aims to capture the attention of youth, community-based practitioners, and municipal staff alike, and build their capacity for leading inclusive, equitably oriented projects and programs.

If you’re interested in attending our youth-oriented brownfield planning and advocacy workshop happening in Portland, OR on Thursday, February 11, please click here for more information on how to register.

Please join us in Portland!

New Partners for Smart Growth conference session:
“Small-Area Planning: Assuring Responsive and Equitable Development Outcomes”
Time: Thursday, February 11: 3:30 to 5:30 P.M. PST

Co-located workshop:
“Engaging Youth in Brownfields Advocacy and Planning” 
Time: Thursday, February 11: 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. PST
Location: Portland Fire Station No. 1, 55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

Funded by EPA to deliver technical assistance and peer support to people in brownfield-affected communities, Groundwork USA provides valuable tools and insights to help communities re-develop brownfields while assuring environmental justice and more equitable development outcomes.

From Mountains to Main Street: Groundwork Ambassadors Help National Parks Reach Out to New Audiences

January 26th, 2016 From Mountains to Main Street: Groundwork Ambassadors Help National Parks Reach Out to New Audiences

From January 10 to 16, 20 Groundwork youth leaders gathered in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park to focus on a critical question: How can we close the diversity gap and engage communities that don’t typically visit national parks?  Joining the Groundwork team to kick off the new National Park Service Mountains to Main Street program were representatives from the National Park Service (NPS), Teton Science School, Student Conservation Association, City Kids, and guests such as Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela and former National Park Service Director Bob Stanton.

The goal was not to diversify national park audiences simply by taking people unfamiliar with the parks on a visit. That strategy has been tried again and again with limited success. Instead, Mountains to Main Street program participants spent the week thinking about their local communities back home, drawing upon team members’ own experiences living and working in communities of color and underserved urban neighborhoods. Rather than trying to meet the needs of the park, participants approached the “diversity gap” question by focusing on the needs of their own communities. What are the barriers that stop team members’ constituents from visiting the parks? By crafting programs uniquely tailored to meet the needs of their own communities back home and involving a local national park as a collaborator and/or source of inspiration, Groundwork participants hope to forge lasting relationships between parks and communities that will endure after the Mountains to Main Street program has ended.

The Groundwork youth leaders and their colleagues spent the week thinking through the challenges their task entails, all while learning systems thinking, the NPS approach to interpretation, and new ways to enjoy national parks. What are some ways to engage audiences who think that national parks “aren’t our thing?” What is it like to visit a park and feel that there’s no one else there who looks like you? Program participants also heard from local youth who have just begun venturing into Grand Teton National Park thanks to the Grand Teton National Park Foundation’s Pura Vida program, which educates and engages local Latino youth in GTNP. Of course, plenty of time was also spent just enjoying the snow-covered splendor of the Tetons!

The week-long confab received high marks from participants, all of whom felt ready to implement their action plans by the end of the week. And what amazing new ideas and approaches emerged for engaging new audiences with the national parks during NPS’s centennial year! Over the next few months, the newly minted Mountains to Main Street Urban Ambassadors will develop logistical strategies, collaborating with park personnel to develop programs attractive to diverse audiences and crafting effective messages to engage them. Grand Teton’s Megan Kohli (with Superintendent Vela’s help) is reaching out to the parks selected by the participants to gain park personnel’s support in helping to make these Mountains to Main Street programs a success. Once the programs are implemented, Groundwork participants will report back to the Groundwork network on the successes and challenges of this exciting venture. Follow their progress on social media at #Mountains2MainStreet.

Webinar recording now available — Community Engagement: Advancing an Equitable Development Agenda

January 25th, 2016 Webinar recording now available -- Community Engagement: Advancing an Equitable Development Agenda


View the webinar recording below:


Wednesday, November 18, 2015
2:00 PM EST

Join Groundwork USA and our partner, TDA Consulting, for a free, interactive webinar on the role of community engagement in advancing an equitable development agenda.LawrenceReviviendo

Hear directly from some of the field’s most innovative practitioners who are achieving equitable brownfield redevelopment outcomes:

Marianne Paley Nadel, Owner/Manager at Everett Mills Real Estate LLC
Marianne will share the story of the Reviviendo Gateway Initiative in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The mission of Reviviendo is to build human capital, create new housing and commercial space, improve the public environment, and redefine the city’s image. Marianne will discuss the process to achieve the project’s main objectives, explore the importance of benchmarking progress, and provide an update on the initiative.

Regina Laurie, Community Engagement Consultant
Regina will talk about her work in Flint, MI over the past 15 years working with the Genesee County Land Bank, the City of Flint’s master plan, neighborhood based organizations on community engagement, coalition building, working across difference, and the importance of community healing using storytelling. Her work in Flint particularly focused on supporting the Land Bank’s pass-through of $20M in Neighborhood Stabilization funds to address housing demolition, and related historic and current systemic issues the community is facing as a result of massive disinvestment and depopulation.

Tedd Grain, Deputy Director of Indy LISC
Through initiatives like Quality of Life neighborhoods, Great Places 2020, and Reconnecting to our Waterways, Indianapolis LISC seeks strategic community development and deployment of resources, including aligning grassroots community priorities with brownfield remediation efforts through the Indy Brownfield Accelerator. Tedd will describe the community engagement process that has led to catalytic investment in these initiatives.

From Green Team to the Costa Rican Rainforest: Meet Groundwork USA Board Member Ashley Perez!

January 20th, 2016 From Green Team to the Costa Rican Rainforest: Meet Groundwork USA Board Member Ashley Perez!

Ashley Perez didn’t grow up spending much time outdoors in nature. That changed the summer of 2010, when the then-15-year-old joined the Groundwork Hudson Valley Green Team. Blown away by the experience, Ashley returned to the Green Team the next summer and every summer after until heading to college. She has since participated in conservation programs across the U.S. with the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association, eventually joining the Board of Directors of Groundwork USA in 2015. This month, SUNY Purchase profiles the soon-to-graduate environmental studies major, who continues to find new ways to merge her passion for the outdoors with a love of science and community building.

Groundwork Featured in New Public Radio Documentary on Gratitude

November 27th, 2015 Groundwork Featured in New Public Radio Documentary on Gratitude

The Thanksgiving and holiday season is a great time to take stock of all the things we’re grateful for: family, friends, pets, the beauty of the natural world.

But did you know there’s a growing body of scientific evidence that feeling and expressing gratitude can be good for your health? Or that the U.S. National Park Service provides evidence that gratitude can be passed down through generations?

Combining the latest research on gratitude with personal stories, The Science of Gratitude, a one-hour public radio special narrated by Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, explores the opportunities and challenges to feeling truly grateful.

One thing we’re grateful for: the documentary includes interviews with Jairo Hernandez of Groundwork Lawrence and Curt Collier of Groundwork USA and Groundwork Hudson Valley! Stream the documentary online from WNYC Radio or find out when it’s airing on your local public radio station here.

You can hear the section with Jairo and Curt around 00:16:15 – but make sure to listen to the whole thing. You’ll be grateful that you did!

Groundwork Somerville and NPS-RTCA Fellow Rani Jacobson bring Canoemobile to Boston

November 9th, 2015 Groundwork Somerville and NPS-RTCA Fellow Rani Jacobson bring Canoemobile to Boston

In late September, Groundwork Somerville and NPS-RTCA brought Canoemobile, a two-day paddling event, to Boston. Canoemobile is a program of a non-profit adventure tourism organization out of Minnesota called Wilderness Inquiry that travels with six 24-foot canoes all over the country. The program came to Somerville on September 22nd, 2015 at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse and was hosted by GWS. The second day of programming was hosted by YMCA Boston at DCR Neponset Park in Dorchester.

Read more about the event through Rani Jacobson, NPS-RTCA and GWUSA Fellow, here: Canoemobile Boston/Somerville.


Mystic River

Somerville students showing their hi-Vs!

Two Somerville fourth graders practice their hi-V on land before paddling the Mystic

Some of our federal and non-profit partners get out on the water in between sessions

NPS-RTCA/GWUSA Fellow Rani Jacobson and NPS RTCA Philly Fellow Briana Riley (attempting to) take a selfie in one of the 24-foot Voyageur canoes!

Three Groundwork Trusts Awarded EPA Environmental Justice Grants

October 27th, 2015

Kudos to Groundwork Denver​, Groundwork Milwaukee​, and Groundwork New Orleans​ for winning U.S. Environmental Protection Agency​ Environmental Justice Small Grants to lessen climate change impacts and increase climate resilience in their respective communities.

  • Groundwork Denver, together with local partners, will develop an action plan with residents of low-income Denver communities to address the public health impacts of extreme heat events.
  • Groundwork Milwaukee will train community teens and young adults to build rain gardens and install rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff and prevent flooding, demonstrating how green infrastructure can lessen the effects of climate change.
  • The Groundwork New Orleans Building Climate Resilient Communities project will teach students to design, build, and install solar-powered charging benches on or near bus stops in underserved communities, providing community members with clean energy to use during daily commutes and during emergency power outages.

Learn more about these Trusts’ winning project proposals listed by EPA region, as well as other great projects that support and empower underserved communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues.

Join Us for GWUSA’s 2015 Annual Assembly and Youth Summit!

September 23rd, 2015

All conference and registration info here!

GW Atlanta is Hiring its First Executive Director

September 23rd, 2015

Groundwork Atlanta has undertaken a search for an Executive Director! please see the job description and application details here: GWATL_ED_JobDesc_FINAL