Event offers opportunity to discuss repurposing vacant lots


By Abbey Reighard

One man’s abandoned lot is another man’s block party.

On Sunday, July 27, Growth through Energy + Community Health Strategies will be hosting a community block party at the Wigle Whiskey Garden and Barrel House, 1055 Spring Garden Ave.

The block party, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will be an opportunity for people to talk about 18 vacant lot locations on the Northside, and how those lots can be repurposed. Representatives from Gtech will distribute information and maps showing the locations of the lots, and Gtech members will be video recording party goers thoughts on the vacant lots so that the discussions and ideas expressed at the event can be reviewed by Gtech for future projects.

The block party will also include food from local restaurants, backyard games, musical performances by local bands, and plenty of time for “getting to know your neighbor,” according to Sara Innamorato, Gtech Strategies marketing and communications manager. The event is free, family friendly and open to the community.

“This will be a fun day, a day to come out and meet your neighbors,” Innamorato said. “Hopefully this will be a catalyst to get the conversations [about vacant lots] going.”

There are currently over 6,000 vacant lots on the Northside, according to Innamorato. Of those vacant lots, 2,379 are ready to be repurposed into something new.

The Gtech team will be available at the block party to hear any ideas residents have for some of the lots. The team will also be looking for locals to be recruits for their ambassador program.

The ambassador program lasts 10 months. During that time, ambassadors attend monthly classes and work with Gtech on the ideas they have for vacant locations in the area. The ambassadors receive a stipend, which varies depending on the scale of the project, to carry out their project ideas.

This year the ambassadors will receive a stipend amount between $1,500 and $3,000. Innamorato said since Gtech started the program two years ago, 18 residents from the Northside have participated.

According to Gtech’s official website, Gtech is a community development organization that “cultivates the unrealized potential of people and places to improve the economic, social and environmental health of our communities.”

Gtech has partnered with other organizations, such as the Northside Leadership Conference, on projects in the past.

Innamorato said she hopes the Gtech Block Party will give people ideas about how they can decrease the number of vacant lots on the Northside.

“We want people to realize that there is this vacancy that exists in our neighborhood and it doesn’t need to be that way,” Innamorato said. “[The Vacancy] can be a canvas for a creative idea.”

Residents can RSVP to the Gtech Block Party online by clicking here, or by phone, 412-361-2099.

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