Above: GTECH reclaimed this Northside lot and created a sunflower garden. (Photo courtesy GTECH)

A local nonprofit group is looking to bring a handful of representatives from Northside neighborhoods to work towards a common goal – making the Northside a greener place.

GTECH Strategies, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, is recruiting community members from 13 Northside neighborhoods to act green organizers in a leadership development program they hope to kick off in early 2012.

“By bringing together folks from different neighborhoods, we hope to spark cross neighborhood conversations and build a stronger, more cohesive Northside,” said Claire Miziolek, education and outreach programs manager of GTECH Strategies.

GTECH Strategies works to better neighborhoods with green practices by reclaiming vacant land and creating local green jobs. They also run a program that helps restaurants recycle used cooking oil into fuel.

GTECH has reclaimed vacant lots throughout the city, including two unused lots in Perry South and one in Manchester, and turned them into sunflower gardens.

Neighborhood leaders will be paid a small stipend to continue these initiatives and are free to create some of their own. They will be expected to hold neighborhood meetings and forums and identify areas of improvement and even host local green job fairs.

Once chosen, community leaders will undergo four months of leadership training to give them the skills and preparation they need to engage the neighborhood and complete relevant projects.

Miziolek said the ideal candidates would be long-time residents who are invested in their communities and want to make a difference.

“Our ideal candidate would be someone who’s lived in the community a long time, who sees problems, wants to makes a difference, wants to do great things, but just doesn’t have the training or skills to do so,” said Miziolek. “We’re looking to really capitalize on caring community members to make a difference.”

GTECH worked with another nonprofit on a similar and successful project in the Hill District that engaged neighborhood leaders to pursue green initiatives, and they decided to bring the concept to the North Side.

Miziolek said that GTECH is using multi-level recruitment and collaborating with the Northside Leadership Conference to reach out to the community, and they are using their office as a temporary hub for their organizations.

Community members interested in becoming a GTECH green leader should contact Claire Miziolek for an application and more information at c.miziolek@gtechstrategies.org or 412.361.2099 extension 5.