Heather's blog

GW Bridgeport is hiring a new Executive Director

The Executive Director works to manage Groundwork Bridgeport as an independent, community-based non-profit corporation. The Executive Director develops and maintains critical partnerships with the city of Bridgeport, local businesses, schools, residents and neighborhoods to build a greener and more livable community. The Executive Director is central to the success of Groundwork Bridgeport, developing projects and programs, building partnerships and securing resources for the future success of the organization.

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Planting Lawrence's first Fruit Orchard tomorrow!

Please join us tomorrow, Thursday, September 23, 4:00 at the Bodwell site

What: Groundwork Lawrence will receive a fruit orchard consisting of 19 different varieties of fruit trees! This new orchard will benefit the local community with a space to enjoy fresh fruit. Please join us for the groundbreaking and planting celebration.

When: Thursday, September 23 at 4:00 pm:

    4:00 - 4:15: Project overview and introductions (Groundwork Lawrence; Lawrence Community Development Department, Fruit Tree Planting Foundation; Edy’s Fruit Bars)

Find Out Where the Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on the Environment

The outcome of this November's gubernatorial election could have profound effects on the Massachusetts environment, given the obvious importance of the state environmental agencies under the Governor's control. Groundwork Lawrence and other environmental organizations are planning a gubernatorial forum for Tuesday, June 29, to ask the candidates about their views on environmental issues. Governor Patrick and Green Party candidate Jill Stein already have confirmed, and all candidates have been invited. This will be a fascinating event in an historic setting with opportunities for Q&A.

Congresswoman Tsongas introduces bipartisan legislation to help urban communities develop public parks and green space

Press Release From Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts Fifth Congressional District

Contact John Noble phone: 202.225.3411

WASHINGTON, DC – April 22, 2010 – On Earth Day, Fifth District Congresswoman Niki Tsongas introduced legislation which would help urban communities turn blighted environments and brownfields sites into public parks or other usable green spaces. Tsongas’ bipartisan bill, entitled the Groundwork USA Trust Act of 2010, would strengthen the existing Groundwork USA (GWUSA) program, which provides federal funding to local communities and nonprofit organizations for green-space projects. The idea for the legislation was developed with Groundwork Lawrence, a nonprofit organization in Lawrence which has had several projects funded through the program, including the construction of community gardens, riverfront trails, and playgrounds. Groundwork USA is also a proven job creation tool. In economically challenged cities, the 17 GWUSA Trusts have created 131 full - or part-time jobs.

“Creating green-space and public parks in urban communities is an excellent way to revitalize neighborhoods and further economic development in our cities,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “Older cities, like those in the Merrimack Valley that I represent, are often forced to cope with blighted landscapes at former industrial sites. The City of Lawrence has worked extensively with Groundwork Lawrence to transform blighted areas of the city into usable community space. However, GWUSA has the potential to reach far more communities and have an even greater positive impact than its current structure allows and that is why I have introduced this legislation today.”

Currently, GWUSA receives funding for green-space projects, known as Trusts, through the EPA and National Park Service. However, funding for Groundwork projects can be sporadic and unreliable, leading to a long back-log of proposals from communities that meet the necessary requirements for support and will greatly benefit our communities but which ultimately go unfunded. Tsongas’ legislation would create a dedicated funding stream to ensure continued support of the Groundwork USA program and provide stability for the program, and the impressive organizations it supports, by centralizing its administration through the National Parks Service.

Under Tsongas’ bill, the Groundwork USA Trust Program would provide grants of up to $400,000 to local communities for development programs that address brownfields and blighted urban environments. The total authorization would be $15 million for each fiscal year through FY2015, which would allow Groundwork USA to produce 5-8 new Trusts each year. Last year alone, every dollar that the EPA invested in GWUSA projects was leveraged to $15 by local Trusts.

“This legislation is extremely valuable to Lawrence as it will support our efforts to leverage public, private, and foundation dollars to continue our urban revitalization efforts in Lawrence,” said Heather McMann, Executive Director of Groundwork Lawrence. “As Groundwork Lawrence prepares to celebrate its 10th year anniversary we are excited by the momentum to reclaim vacant lots for community and schoolyard gardens, design and build pedestrian and bike trails reclaiming the City’s alleyways and three rivers, and tackling climate change through tree plantings.”

Since 2001, Groundwork Lawrence has completed over $6 million in public open space improvement projects while receiving only $240,000 in seed funding: a $24 to $1 ratio. Most importantly, 100% of these projects have taken place in Lawrence’s lowest-income environmental neighborhoods.

Joining Congresswoman Tsongas in introducing the legislation today are Reps. Alberto Sires (D-NJ), Joseph Cao (R-LA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

Groundwork USA is a network of nearly twenty independent, non-profit community development organizations called Groundwork 'Trusts' that are linked together as the Groundwork USA national network. GWUSA Trusts encourage a sense of common purpose and engage residents in giving back to their community. In 2009, GWUSA Trusts engaged residents in over 57,000 hours of volunteer service in their neighborhoods, and involved nearly 400 businesses in their work to improve their communities.

Luis Yepez, GWL Board member, and his brother, Juan, attend tonight's State of the Union Address

I'm happy to share with you that Luis and Juan Yepez will be attending this evening's State of the Union address. Luis and Juan have been strong supporters of GWL and the City of Lawrence for many years. Luis is a member of GWL's Board of Directors and Juan serves on Family Services' Board. Juan will be seated in the viewing box with First Lady Michelle Obama, an extraordinary honor and a great tribute to Luis and Juan's work and contributions in Lawrence. We are incredibly proud to be so well-represented at this historic event! Here are a couple of links with the story:

Information from the White House Press Release:
Juan and Luis Yepez are Ecuadorian-natives, who in ten short years, have built a successful and growing commercial real estate company in addition to growing Mainstream Global, a worldwide distributor of computer products, consumer electronics, and electronic components, in mills once inhabited by earlier generations of immigrants. The Yépez brothers were the recipients of the 2009 Small Business Administration Phoenix award for recovering from a major flood that destroyed almost $400,000 of inventory while still managing to flourish in the midst of an economic downturn. They believe that doing business in an area hit by 17 percent unemployment is more than just giving back and that hiring first generation Americans like themselves who want to work and contribute to society is the cornerstone of long-term success.

This year's amazing Eco-Art for the Glow Gala

eco art preview.jpg

I want to thank the artists that submitted eco-art for this year's Annual Glow Gala and Fundraiser. All the submitted art was excellent and I know the jury had a hard time selecting the pieces to include for the silent auction. I want to especially thank and congratulate Rebecca Veilleux's students for doing wonderful eco-art projects. While we couldn't include all the pieces, we were impressed by the thoughtfulness, creativity and inspiration they exhibited. Rebecca is a Biology teacher in the Humanities and Leadership High School at Lawrence High and a Board member of GWL. Below are a few quotes from Rebecca and her students about the eco-art projects.