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: Creating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks
(Island Press, 2019) 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.
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. Albro then offers lessons learned from the Vacant to Vibrant project, including planning, design, community engagement, implementation, and maintenance successes and challenges. An appendix shows designs and plans that can be adapted to small vacant lots.
Sandra Albro, research associate at Holden Forests & Gardens, investigates how improving soil and plants can boost the ecological and social value of vacant lots in Great Lakes cities. She is project manager for two projects that test low-cost, low-maintenance urban greening projects that manage stormwater and revitalize communities in Gary, IN; Cleveland, OH; and Buffalo, NY. Ms.