PO Box 13324, Olympia, WA 98508 info@thurstonclimateaction.org

Webinar: Vacant to Vibrant – Embedding green space in neighborhoods

October 23, 2019 - 10:15 AM


Vacant lots, so often seen as neighborhood blight, have the potential to be a key element of community revitalization. Embed green space in neighborhoods to clean water, cool cities, and bring equitable prosperity.  Register for free webinar.

As manufacturing cities reinvent themselves after decades of lost jobs and population, abundant vacant land resources and interest in green infrastructure are expanding opportunities for community and environmental resilience. Vacant to Vibrant explains how inexpensive green infrastructure projects can reduce stormwater runoff and pollution, and provide neighborhood amenities, especially in areas with little or no access to existing green space.

Sandra Albro offers practical insights through her experience leading the five-year Vacant to Vibrant project, which piloted the creation of green infrastructure networks in Gary, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York. Vacant to Vibrant provides a point of comparison among the three cities as they adapt old systems to new, green technology. An overview of the larger economic and social dynamics in play throughout the Rust Belt region establishes context for the promise of green infrastructure.

The panel will discuss lessons learned from the Vacant to Vibrant, published by Island Press with support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, and other projects, showing how developing green spaces can drive resilience, equity, and economic prosperity. Sponsored by Island Press.

Landscape architects and other professionals whose work involves urban greening will learn new approaches for creating infrastructure networks and facilitating more equitable access to green space.


Sandra Albro, author of Vacant to Vibrant

At Cleveland Botanical Garden, a branch of Holden Forests & Gardens, I have developed and secured external funding to sustain a research program in applied urban ecology, specializing in stormwater management and vacant land reuse in post-industrial cities in the Great Lakes region. With a focus on multi-agency cooperation and process innovations that promote systemic adoption of green infrastructure, I investigate how improvements to existing soils and addition of plants improve the ecological and social value of vacant urban land. My topics of interest include soil remediation, stormwater management, low-maintenance plants, aesthetic improvement, and human use of vacant land in urban communities.

Karen Freeman-Wilson has been the mayor of her hometown of Gary, Indiana since January 2012. She is the first female to lead the “Steel City” and the first African-American female mayor in the state of Indiana. Freeman-Wilson has served in the public arena most of her professional life. She was previously the Indiana Attorney General, the Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, and the presiding judge of the Gary City Court. She was also a leader in the national drug court movement having served as the CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and Executive Director of the National Drug Court Institute.

Freeman-Wilson is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Freeman-Wilson has been honored by the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, Governors of Indiana and various organizations throughout the United States.

Click ICAL to add this event to your own calendar.