Webinar: Vacant to Vibrant

Embedding green space in neighborhoods to clean water, cool cities, and bring equitable prosperity
Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 1:15pm EDT

The webinar was hosted by the Security and Sustinability Forum and the Great Lakes Protection Foundation based on the book Vacant to Vibrant.

Vacant lots, so often seen as neighborhood blight, have the potential to be a key element of community revitalization. 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.

Panelists included Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana, and Ian Leahy, vice president of urban forestry at American Forests. Tim Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, moderated the conversation.