In June, with the Vermillion County Fair in full swing, Thrive’s community development team took to the streets to join in the Vermillion County Parade. There, the team flocked behind a ten-foot banner while handing out candy and vouchers in the hopes of raising awareness for brownfields in the area.

Brownfields, defined as a property that is left unused due to former industrial use, and concerns of contamination. Often these eyesore properties are left unpurchased, as potential buyers worry that they will be responsible for cleaning up any hazards. Brownfields are not only a waste of land, but also missed opportunities, as they sit for years untended and uncared for.

Luckily, with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Thrive has secured a $400,000 assessment grant to work with the public to find and assess local brownfields. This grant will fund the assessment of potential brownfield properties, which is the first step towards cleaning up and redeveloping these sites. Eventually, Thrive hopes to support cleaning efforts and revitalization of brownfields into enriching community spaces, such as parks or gardens.

At the Vermillion County Fair and at other community events around our region, Thrive’s team has reached out to hundreds of Indiana residents to learn more about potential brownfields in our area. Residents are invited to bring Thrive-provided vouchers to the Thrive booth, which they can exchange for delicious brownies (hence the project’s name, Brownie for Brownfields). The booth also houses an interactive map, on which visitors can mark properties that they feel may be brownfields. They are also encouraged to share ideas for what these properties might become!

Although brownfields are typically damaged and hazardous pieces of land, their potential is limitless. With time and dedicated cleanup efforts, these spaces can become community centers, gardens, and local parks. As Thrive identifies brownfields in the area, our team will begin to apply for grant funding to clean up these spaces and create flourishing areas of connection in our communities.