Welcome to our new feature #CLPSpotlights, our monthly series highlighting individuals and organizations that make a difference in their community. This month, we interviewed Shequaya Bailey, the Director of Operations at Grounded, a local non-profit which works to improve the social, economic, and environmental health of distressed and transitional communities by building capacity to reclaim vacant and underutilized land.
Q. How has your work evolved during the pandemic to meet the community’s needs?
A. The pandemic has highlighted how important access to high quality greenspace is to mental wellbeing, especially in times of isolation. Our work has evolved to meet that need towards a hyper focus on the maintenance of existing greenspaces within distressed communities to ensure that they are able to continue using these spaces as an urban escape.
Q. What is your favorite part of what you do?
A. The data! I am a data nerd. I love exploring how different factors about community life affect the issue of vacant land justice. Data collection and analysis allows for that.
Q. How did you come to work for Grounded?
A. Prior to Grounded, I worked as an urban planner for an international consulting firm. I came to Grounded with a keen interest in making a more tangible impact in my local community where I can be a part of experiencing and enjoying the results of my efforts.
Q. What do you wish the public knew about Grounded?
A. I wish everyone realized how fixing the issue of vacant land would help to fix so many other problems in our city. Land is the basis of everything. Everything has to happen somewhere.
Q. Tell us your favorite story about the library!
A. Growing up in Pittsburgh, the library was always seen as this special place to get what you need. As a youth I would often walk to the library after school and spin time absorbed in the latest book and adding to my list of books to borrow next. The library is truly a community cornerstone and I have been fortunate to have CLP.
Q. What role does CLP have in helping Grounded?
A. The CLP can serve as an outpost of information about vacant land justice issues and efforts as Grounded works to see every vacant lot in the city managed and planned for.
Q. Who’s your favorite author or artist at the moment?
A. Stephen King
Q. If you could change one thing about Pittsburgh, what would it be?
A. I would make all the roads self-defrosting.
Q. What was an especially fulfilling moment for you in your work?
A. Someone recently told me that their collaboration with Grounded was giving their project real meaning. Very fulfilling prospect.
Q. What is a favorite local business or organization of yours?
A. Smiling Banana Leaf
Thanks for reading! And thanks again to Shequaya Bailey from Grounded. Check back next month for a new Community Spotlight!