Where Are They Now? | Landforce Reactivates Green Spaces, Employs Crew Members from the Community

Apr 24, 2019

Landforce, a nonprofit combining workforce readiness and environmental stewardship, aimed to recruit crew members from and work on projects in three priority geographies – the Hilltop, the Hill District and Millvale – with funding from a Neighborhood Allies Catalytic Grant. They completed projects in all three neighborhoods, spending nearly 1,000 hours working to re-activate vacant lots, care for street trees, restore habitat in visible areas, and maintain green infrastructure and public gardens.

Landforce worked with a variety of neighborhood organizations to recruit crew members directly from the communities in which they wanted to carry out stewardship projects. This allowed for deeper resident input into the creation and maintenance of green infrastructure, the creation of job opportunities with fair wages for low-income individuals, and the breaking down of barriers to employment. To create even greater impact, Landforce chose to complete projects in three priority neighborhoods with the hope of broadening the communities’ interest in environmental stewardship and elongating the results of their greening work. Their projects included:

  • Reactivating spaces at 2956 Webster Ave. and across the street from Bedford Hope Center in the Hill District by removing invasive and unwanted plants and other debris, lining paths with aggregate, rebuilding a wall, and installing artwork and other infrastructure.
  • Maintaining restoration areas at the Millvale Riverfront Park in Millvale by removing invasive plants, mulching and weeding hillside plantings along Rt 28 and street trees, caring for green infrastructure and garden projects at the Millvale Library and other public sites, and meeting with Millvale business owners to discuss the importance of street trees and green infrastructure.
  • Constructing a green PlaySpace in Knoxville at the intersection of Knox and Jacunda Streets where 2 vacant lots had been. Crew members worked to clear vegetation, rebuild a stone wall, dig post holes, construct box steps, remove garbage and tires, and maintain vegetation on site.

The latest of Landforce’s projects under Neighborhood Allies’ catalytic grant award, the Knoxville PlaySpace will leave a lasting impact on the Knoxville community. As the weather warms, stop by and enjoy this great new community asset that brings together neighbors and gives children a place to spend time! See some photos of the kickoff event below. Photos provides by Grounded.

  • The Knoxville PlaySpace was completed in late Fall 2018 and serves as a new space for children in Knoxville to play and the entire community to gather.

Additional Outcomes:

  • 329.25 hours over 8 days working on projects in the Hill District.
  • 389.75 hours over 10 days working on projects in Millvale.
  • 277 hours over 8 days working in Knoxville.
  • 35 seasonal crew members between 2017 and 2018
    • 100% of whom were categorized as low-income
    • 83% of whom were African American
    • 63% of whom had previously been incarcerated
    • 70% of whom had a history of mental illness

In addition, despite heavy barriers to employment, nearly 70% of crew members completed their tenure, either leaving for another job, or working through the end of Landforce’s season. Out of the finishers, 100% applied for jobs and had at least one interview, 96% had multiple interviews, and 83% had job offers within 2 weeks of the end of the season.

This project addressed Neighborhood Allies’ Equitable Development pillar of the Healthy Neighborhoods Framework by directly expanding employment opportunities for low-income residents, communities of color, immigrants, and others at risk of being left behind. In addition, it created Community Ownership among residents by involving them in environmental stewardship projects in their neighborhoods!

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA