I am an artist, and my medium is nature. I see vacant city lots as empty canvases for expression. Recently, I signed an Adopt-A-Lot lease with the City of Pittsburgh to take care of a vacant lot in the Hazelwood neighborhood. Hazelwood appeals to me because it’s urban yet woodsy, not far from my home, and at one time was the epicenter of Hungarian culture for immigrants like me in Pittsburgh.
When I share my dreams and aspirations for this lot with others, I either get encouragement from those who get it, or puzzled looks of “why?” Sometimes my plans are even met with well-intended, unsolicited advice such as, “Do me a favor and don’t get shot.”
Embrace your weirdness is my motto. When you learn to do that, you learn to put aside the doubters, and instead feed your soul through mindful and meaningful explorations that meet your definition of “normal” and not of someone else’s. Those who get it, or are engaged in a similar journey of their own, will believe in you, encourage you and will be encouraged by your journey.
The Adopt-a-lot application process, including the negotiation and signing of the insurance contract, has taken just under a year. The first hurdle was insurance; most insurance companies were hesitant to sign on to covering a city-owned lot that is managed by an individual or non-profit group. While the City of Pittsburgh and the insurance agent I finally found have been great to work with, the insurers themselves were at times were doubters, but were eventually willing to go along with my vision. The old adage “persistence pays off” rings true to me: since I began this quest, the initial offer to insure the lot went from $860 to $150 a year and it is now available to others as well. When more people sign up, the plan gets cheaper. I believe as more people embark on this journey to adopt lots, the easier the process will become.
Having gone through this process as a private resident, I am very honored to have been asked to join a panel of presenters at an upcoming GTech Blight Bootcamp on October 9, 2016.
Stay tuned for developments…