Distributed May 23, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Kristen Cole

Cianci Scholar to develop urban garden program for South Providence

Christine Coletta of Warwick, R.I., has been named the 2000 Vincent A. Cianci Jr. Urban Scholar. Coletta will begin a training program about turning vacant lots into urban gardens.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Environmental studies student Christine Coletta wants to develop a training program this summer for community groups interested in transforming the city’s abandoned lots into gardens. As the newly named Vincent A. Cianci Jr. Urban Scholar, she will have the chance to do exactly that.

Coletta’s work will be supported this summer by a $2,500 Cianci Urban Scholarship, an award intended to strengthen vital ties between the University and city. Her project was announced today (Tuesday, May 23, 2000) during a reception to celebrate Brown’s role in Providence.

The Community Garden Training Program will provide local leaders with the legal, practical and organizational knowledge to start gardens in South Providence. Residents will be able to participate in workshops about how to start an urban garden – everything from dealing with bureaucracy of permits to organizing workers in the garden.

“I’m really excited,” said Coletta, of Warwick, R.I. “It’s banding together neighborhoods, cleaning up an area, and making the area safer too.”

Coletta will develop the program through the Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT), a non-profit organization that purchases vacant lots to use as green space. There are currently 3,500 abandoned lots in the City of Providence.

As part of her work, Coletta will lead community focus groups to determine what type of information about urban gardening is of interest to residents. She will research existing community garden training programs and solicit donations of gardening tools, dirt, compost, seeds and other materials from local businesses.

Coletta is devoting 10 weeks to the training program development, May through July. It is slated to be implemented in the spring of 2001.

A 1998 graduate of Toll Gate High School, Coletta is a candidate for a bachelor of arts in May 2002. Last semester, she worked with SCLT as a leader for Brown’s One-Day Projects, recruiting student volunteers for short-term community service work on the gardens.

The Vincent A. Cianci Jr. Urban Scholarship was created in 1997 by former Brown President Vartan Gregorian to honor Mayor Cianci. The first student to win the scholarship, Lucia Trimbur ’97, produced a 40-page report examining why partnerships between the University and local public schools succeed or flounder.