Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities

One Neighborhood At a Time


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Home to approximately 2,300 residents, Homewood is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that experiences high unemployment and pervasive poverty. It is also affected by air pollution and soil contamination, loss of trees and urban pollinators, as well as frequent sewer-stormwater overflows.

Thanks to generous grant funding by Bank of America, Falk School of Sustainability and Environment Assistant Professor Iris Grossmann, Ph.D. has recruited a team of students and faculty to work on a multi-year community-based sustainability project in Homewood with community partners Homewood Children’s Village (HCV) and Operation Better Block (OBB). The project dovetails with a course Grossman teaches, Building Sustainable & Resilient Cities.

As part of the project, and advised by Assistant Professor Linda MK Johnson, Camilla Cook, MSUS ’19 is working on completing a tree inventory of south Homewood along with an independent study on mitigating air pollution with trees and assessing the suitability of different trees for canopy restoration there. And because such an integral part of the project is working with the local community, she got firsthand experience in that, too.

“I experienced the significant passion the Homewood community has for continual progress in their neighborhood,” she says. “I got much more comfortable interacting and communicating with the community, and asking for their thoughts and opinions on the future of their tree canopy.” 

The Master of Sustainability (MSUS) program—part of Chatham's Falk School of Sustainability & Environment—is a cohort-based program that educates and trains the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.

The balance between science and community engagement this summer has been fantastic in gaining a well-rounded understanding in building community resilience and sustainable cities.

Camilla Cook, MSUS ’19