Cleveland Botanical Garden is committed to helping its surrounding community and the larger Great Lakes region through urban greening initiatives that stabilize neighborhoods and improve quality of life. Thanks to generous grant funding, the Garden’s Applied Research Program leads a multi-city initiative to identify best practices for transforming vacant urban properties into productive green infrastructure that ultimately preserves the quality of our Great Lakes.

This Vacant to Vibrant blog highlights the latest news in those efforts from Cleveland, Gary, IN, Buffalo, NY, and elsewhere. For more information, please contact Sandra Albro, Director of Research,, 216-707-2860.

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V2V Site Maintenance

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In communities with long-term problems, site care is intrinsic to a long-term solution

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A Look at Western Reserve Land Conservancy's Cleveland Property Inventory

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s (WRLC) Thriving Communities Program recently published a 200-page report on its 2015 inventory of all properties in the city of Cleveland. The report, called Cleveland Neighborhoods By The Numbers...

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Gary: Final site photos

Friday, September 2, 2016

These photos show the most complete V2V sites to date in Gary. Two of the sites were Hardest Hit demolition locations, demonstrating a quick move from vacancy to vibrancy.

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Cleveland: Final site photos

Monday, August 15, 2016

These photos show the most complete V2V sites in Cleveland to date. With two active sites and one passive, more natural site, V2V Cleveland has a diversity of site uses for once-vacant lots.

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Technical monitoring information [updated 7-21-16]

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This V2V blog will be updated as significant info on data processing and analysis is shared, in order to keep everything technical contained in one location.

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Soil Moisture and Weather Monitoring

Friday, July 8, 2016

With all monitoring equipment in place, data are being collected in order to examine how Vacant to Vibrant rain gardens perform during wet weather events.

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Buffalo: Final site photos

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

While most V2V sites have been installed for at least one year, different timelines have kept us from sharing a complete photo gallery of finished sites.  But wait no longer!  Final site photos are here!

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Report: Sustainable Models for GI Maintenance

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The final report on Sustainable Models for Green Infrastructure Maintenance in the Great Lakes Region is now available. The report summarizes the findings of professionals from around the Great Lakes.

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Downspout Disconnects

Thursday, March 3, 2016

With spring on the horizon, Vacant to Vibrant is preparing for more green infrastructure (GI) updates at sites in Gary and Cleveland.

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Resident Q&A: Terry Richard

Monday, February 22, 2016

I had the pleasure of speaking with Terry Richard over the phone about her involvement with PUSH and the revitalization of Buffalo's West Side. Here's what she had to say!

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Site Signage

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Project signs at Vacant to Vibrant sites are an important tool used to explain the objectives of the project to residents and visitors. Much of the story that V2V has to tell is not visible to the naked eye. Signage at each site helps to educate residents on the concept and applicati...

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V2V Ribbon Cutting in Gary

Friday, December 4, 2015
Last week, residents, colleagues and V2V partners met in the Aetna neighborhood in Gary, Indiana to celebrate three new Vacant to Vibrant green infrastructure sites in the community. Despite the first snowfall of the year, many people came out to show their support for the project. Refreshments wer...

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Gary: Finished V2V Sites in Aetna

Monday, November 9, 2015
Banner photo:  Brenda and the Urban Conservation Team, and Gayle and the Blade Cutters Crew gear up for the installation. Construction on Vacant to Vibrant sites in Gary wrapped up this Fall and the sites look outstanding! Gayle van Sessen and her Blade Cutters Landscaping crew did a remarkabl...

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V2V in the News, EPA Fact Sheets

Friday, October 16, 2015

Vacant to Vibrant was recently featured in the NW Indiana Times!  The Aetna neighborhood in Gary is featured, though all of V2V is represented. The AP report also ran in the Chicago Tribune and SFGate.

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PUSH Buffalo Nursery

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Part of Vacant to Vibrant is the creation of urban nurseries that will supply native and project-ready plants for future greening installations in each community.

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Digging in to V2V neighborhoods

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Earlier in this blog, we took a look at the histories of V2V neighborhoods to get a sense of how the past has shaped the communities we work in today. While the past is certainly illuminating, what’s going on in the present is something to really pay attention to—to witne...

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Sustainable Models for Green Infrastructure Maintenance Regional Meeting

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On August 17 and 18th, professionals representing municipalities, sewer and environmental authorities, academic institutions, non-profits, and for-profit design and maintenance contractors from across the Great Lakes region met in Buffalo, NY

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Resident Q&A: Camille Clayton

Thursday, August 13, 2015

With V2V sites in Gary nearing completion, there is a hint of change in the air in the Aetna community. One resident, Camille Clayton, shared her experience of living in the neighborhood for the past two decades.

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DIY site visits

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Seeing photos and reading info about Vacant to Vibrant online is one thing, but to truly grasp what these community stormwater parks are about, it’s best to visit the sites in person. Even if you’re familiar with Cleveland, Gary or Buffalo, you might not be familiar with ...

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Buffalo: Sites over time and final plans

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Buffalo's V2V sites may be the most diverse of all of the cities. From Lawrence Place's very active parkside lot with handball court, to Utica Street's light green infrastructure overhaul, Vacant to Vibrant will be able to reach many residents throughout Buffalo's west side. Our team...

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Gary: Sites over time and final plans

Friday, May 29, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Installation of Gary's V2V sites is slated for this summer. Soon the plans and renderings below will become real assets in the Aetna community--and we couldn't be more excited! Because we coordinated with the Federal Hardest Hit program, there have been a few extra steps in the proce...

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Cleveland stormwater parks "ribbon cutting"

Friday, May 15, 2015
by Ryan Mackin photos by Maggie Stark This past Monday, dozens of residents and community partners met with Cleveland Botanical Garden staff and the Vacant to Vibrant team to unveil three stormwater parks in the Woodland Hills neighborhood. Many in attendance had worked in collaboration with our t...

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Cleveland: Sites over time and final plans

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Cleveland's V2V sites have come a long way since the project's inception, and the parcels have seen many changes well before we began working in the Woodland Hills neighborhood. We look forward to the new grass, plants and flowers that will begin to beautify each site in the months t...

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Request for Quotes: Installation of Three Small Stormwater Parks in Gary, IN (Reissue of RFQ dated 3-18-15)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cleveland Botanical Garden is accepting quotes from qualified Landscape Contractors to install small public recreation spaces with stormwater management features in Gary, IN.

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Site Design and Legacy Cities

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
by Ryan Mackin Innovative site and stormwater design is essential in satisfying the spectrum of goals of Vacant to Vibrant. Our design team, Jason Kentner—partner at IMPLEMENT and associate professor of landscape architecture at Ohio State’s Knowlton School, and Sean Burkholder—as...

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Enough snow already, bring on spring

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
V2V project sites have been hibernating for a few months, but spring is just around the corner! The Vacant to Vibrant team is busy churning up plans for an eventful season after the thaw. Here’s what’s in store: In Gary… 2 houses were demolished in the fall under the Feder...

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The value of small-scale urban green space

Friday, January 9, 2015

In New York City, they are reenvisioning the spaces between buildings as green space. In Cleveland, we have an opportunity to build smart green space into our plans for redevelopment.

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V2V Neighborhoods: Population Boom and Decline

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
by Ryan Mackin Banner photo: Newsboys for Cleveland Call & Post newspaper gather at headquarters on the East Side, ca. 1935. Source: CWRU Encyclopedia of Cleveland History   The stories of the Vacant to Vibrant neighborhoods are essential to understanding the work we are doing together a...

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Q&A with Mike Supler, V2V landscape contractor

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
The Supler Brothers pictured above, Mike (left) and Matt (right).  Photo courtesy of the Plain Dealer.   Tell us about your business, New Vista Enterprises. I started the company in August of 2000 after working for another company in the area for several years. My brother, Matt, joined ...

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Construction update

Friday, November 7, 2014
Fall construction of Vacant to Vibrant sites is nearing completion! Below are updated photos from our Cleveland sites. Progress since the last construction update includes a significant amount of work on the entire Shale Avenue site, curbside bioretention features on Shale and Crestwood Avenue, some...

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Botanical Garden Volunteer of the Year

Friday, October 31, 2014
On October 22nd, 2014, Cleveland Botanical Garden employees and volunteers gathered to celebrate and honor hundreds of volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to the institution. The annual Volunteer Appreciation Event awarded those with exemplary service in Education, Operations, Horticulture...

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Construction underway!

Friday, October 24, 2014
Progress is being made in all of the Vacant to Vibrant project cities as construction and demolition crews turn vacant parcels into beautiful spaces for people and plants. Check out these construction updates and photos for Buffalo, Gary and Cleveland!   Buffalo PUSH Buffalo’s internal...

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Designing for people: V2V community engagement and process

Friday, October 17, 2014
by Ryan Mackin   The community engagement strategy for Vacant to Vibrant incorporated desires and concerns of neighborhood residents in Gary, Cleveland, and Buffalo into a vision and eventual design for each project site. We solicited residents’ input on programming elements that are pa...

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Strategic placement of urban greening projects to ensure success

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
by Ryan Mackin and Joseph F. Koonce   The location of an urban greening project has a big impact on its eventual success. For that reason, it’s important to consider the goals of an urban greening project up front and ensure that those goals are incorporated into the process of selectin...

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Meet the Vacant to Vibrant team

Friday, September 26, 2014

V2V is a collaborative effort between various individuals and organizations in Buffalo, Gary and Cleveland--including Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Department of Research at the hub and community team leaders in each city.

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Low-maintenance lawn alternatives for urban vacant lots

Monday, September 22, 2014

Low-maintenance alternatives to turf grass can reduce the maintenance requirements of urban vacant land. Carefully consider the costs and benefits of a low-maintenance lawn before planting.

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10 tips for selecting the best community green infrastructure sites

Friday, September 12, 2014

Discover key tips and resources for selecting green infrastructure sites.  Based on lessons learned from Vacant to Vibrant's site selection process.

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About Vacant to Vibrant

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
   Vacant to Vibrant is a 4-year, 3-city project that examines the effectiveness of clustered, small urban greening installations to provide environmental and social benefits to communities. In the midst of a variety of important work in urban land reuse, green infrastructure, and urban g...

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Triple-bottom-line analysis of urban agriculture on vacant land

Friday, July 11, 2014

This white paper from Md Rumi Shammin at Oberlin College (2012) examines the myriad benefits of urban agriculture on vacant land and estimates the aggregate economic value of these benefits to the community.

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