PCRG’s Community Development Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the revitalization of urban neighborhoods in Greater Pittsburgh. Any project or program that creates a positive, lasting impact on the physical, social, or cultural fabric of a community is eligible for an award. Examples of eligible projects include community plans, neighborhood-based real estate development, greening and community gardens, and effective community organizing strategies. Any project that restores, preserves, or redevelops a neighborhood is eligible. Nominated projects can be in any phase of completion.
2014 Community Development Award Finalists
Homegrown: Phipps Edible Garden Program
Launched in 2013 to increase access to fresh produce, promote better food choices, and improve the overall health of families and children in Pittsburgh’s underserved neighborhoods, Homegrown is Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ new edible garden outreach program. Homegrown fulfills its goals by installing raised bed vegetable gardens at households in underserved neighborhoods, providing mentorship and resources, and creating a positive and lasting impact on our local communities, one garden at a time. Most importantly, Homegrown trains participants in their first year to become mentors to new participants the following year, building a network of support that will help ensure the program’s long-term success.
Ballfield Farm is a neighborhood project that collectively grows organic food in Pittsburgh’s Perry South neighborhood. In 2008, Mark and Courtney Williams, then staff at The Pittsburgh Project, led an effort to transform an abandoned, overgrown baseball field into a small urban farm that produces fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Seven years later, the farm is now a completely volunteer-run effort, led by a leadership team including Charles Chapman, Dawn Cicchini, Gavin Deming, Carol Gonzalez, Andy Moore, and Mark and Courtney Williams. Unlike many community gardens where members have individual plots they maintain amongst other plots, Ballfield Farm’s members work cooperatively to tend to the whole growing space, enabling them to share in the entire harvest, providing a bounty of fresh food for their own families as well as neighbors in need. As of April 2014, more than 30 households participate in this community-building venture.
PDCDC Residential Ambassadors Program
The Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation (PDCDC) established the Residential Ambassadors Program in 2013 to facilitate communication, advocacy, collaboration, and community building in Downtown. Comprised of a group of residents, who each represent a different building, the program works to ensure that Downtown’s growing residential population has a seat at the table when decisions are made that affect their neighborhood. Among other initiatives, this collective decision-making process resulted in a streetscape improvement plan for Fourth Avenue, which evolved from a public-private partnership between PDCDC, the City of Pittsburgh, and Pfaffman + Associates. In conjunction with PDCDC’s ongoing efforts to increase connectivity between all Downtown residents, the small business community and local government, the Residential Ambassadors Program is helping to not only shape the landscape of Downtown Pittsburgh, but to establish Downtown as a true neighborhood.
Polish Hill Fire Site Development
In 2007, a fire burned several buildings in the core of Polish Hill, the Polish Hill Civic Association (PHCA) led an innovative, community-wide site planning process — in partnership with the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation, Green Development Inc., Pfaffmann + Associates, Design Center, and Fit Associates – to design and develop the site. The planning process featured a number of different engagement strategies and was unique in involving practitioners from outside the traditional architecture and planning fields. As a result of the process, the design for this challenging site reflects the synergy of neighborhood values and market driven opportunities. The project will feature live / work spaces and micro apartments that will be offered for-sale after an initial rental period of five years. The PHCA showed significant leadership in this project by designing and leading an innovative and comprehensive community engagement process.