Christina Smith

Executive Director
 

The passion I have for Bridgeport, Connecticut stems from the happiness I had as a child growing up here. I was born in Bridgeport and lived here until I was twelve when my mom moved so that we could be in a better place. As the adult, she was concerned about the many issues the city was then facing in the late 80s, as a child, I only saw the happy things - I had many friends, I loved school, Christmases were fun, and overall things were great.

Now as an adult myself, I understand the concern my mom had for me growing up in Bridgeport. I see the issues she saw then so long ago and that still face the city today. I have had the fortune to live in many other places since my childhood, New York, San Francisco, and London to name a few, but Bridgeport is my home and I am happy to be working to make my hometown better. I am especially happy to be working with youth so that their memories and experiences in the city are as happy as those that I remember. With the academic experience I have gained from Princeton (B.A. in Economics) and my most recent studies in how to better cities (M.Sc. in Urban Regeneration from University College London) and how cities can reuse their old buildings for new purposes (M.A. in Historical and Sustainable Architecture from New York University), I am ready to apply that knowledge to my hometown. My goal is to be part of making Bridgeport a place that people love to be!

 

Tanner Burgdorf

Program Coordinator
 

As the Program Coordinator for Groundwork Bridgeport I get the opportunity to work with youth who are invested in changing the perception of the city. While earning my B.S. degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Connecticut I helped manage UConn’s student run farm. This is where I first started to fall for being outdoors, growing, and managing a place.  

Despite offers to work as a residential landscape designer, I knew that I wanted to work in a setting where I felt that I could give back in a way that had more meaning to me. I thus apply what I learned in college to the work I do by using it to inspire the youth I get to teach here in Bridgeport. I model my approach after my parents who are both teachers. When it is time to stop playing in the dirt however I can often be found at your nearest second hand shop looking for some piece of furniture to refinish and wood-burn.  

Our Interns, Fellows, and Volunteers

 
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Chaz Bethel-Brescia

summer Princeton In Civic Service (PICS) Fellow

As a rising sophomore at Princeton, currently pursuing a B.A. in physics, I’m excited to be part of the Groundwork Bridgeport team this summer. I’m a believer in leaving a place better than how you found it, whether it’s through science, art or creative problem solving. I grew up in neighboring Norwalk, CT and I’m happy to support a program that is striving to improve the city culturally, socially and aesthetically.

My grandfather grew up in Bridgeport, and recently showed me his old neighborhood and where he used to play as a child. I’ve seen firsthand that hometown memories stay with us forever and shape who we are. This summer, I hope to spread Groundwork’s message of revitalization within the city, and help instill a sense of pride within its residents as they develop new memories and spaces together.

 
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Holly Eichrodt

Land Steward

I’ve begun my journey with Groundwork Bridgeport as one of the on-site land stewards. Essentially, what this means is that I visit different sites to assess both the soil and other qualities of the plot in order to determine what to plant. This process is used ensure land productivity as well as create beautiful green spaces around Bridgeport.

Prior to working with Groundwork, I grew up nearby Bridgeport in Fairfield, CT. I obtained a degree in environmental studies and art at the University of California, Santa Cruz where I focused on combining and managing the two disciplines. I feel they are complementary. Art has really become my medium for sharing and expressing various viewpoints regarding the environmental and social issues we face today. I am constantly thinking of ways to improve the environments we live in and don’t feel satisfied in my work until I feel that I’ve done something to positively impact both a space and people.

 

Christopher Rodriguez

Volunteer Extraordinaire

I don’t think I’ve been happier than when I’m helping someone else or volunteering within the community. Volunteering at the Yale Summit for the Equity of Place, I met Tanner, who introduced me to Groundwork Bridgeport. 
The timing was great, I was at a point in my life where I started to question what route I wanted to take. Did I want to continue working for only personal gain and material things? Or did I want to use my time to help others as well as bettering our ecosystems throughout the city? After some thinking I choose to take a gap year after reading headline after headline, time after time about the environmental crisis we are facing and how little was being done. 

At the time I was a International Business student at the University of Bridgeport after receiving my A.A. in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship from Housatonic Community College. I learned a lot from my professors and classmates; taking that knowledge and applying it today. It was a hard decision to make, but I learned that school will always have a place for me when the time is right. But right now time is telling me to plant more trees and flowers, to helps others, and follow one’s heart in doing good. I believe volunteering at Groundwork Bridgeport will help fulfill those dreams.

Rachael Swift

Land Steward

As I'm not a superhero my origin story is relatively unimportant, but the facts to know are that I've always preferred to be outdoors, always loved playing in the dirt, and always had an appreciation for viewing and creating beauty. Over the past few years I've learned how to combine my loves into a form that is deemed "acceptable" by adult society. Gardening. That and I really wanted to be like Samwise Gamgee when I grew up. 

 

Lindsay Thompson

Filmmaker

I'm a documentary filmmaker with a passion for empowering students to understand their communities through storytelling! I received my BFA in Filmmaking from UNC School of the Arts. Since then I've worked on a wide variety of projects... from writing for the PBS show Arthur at WGBH in Boston, to backpacking across Spain to document pilgrim stories for the documentary feature Travel Light.

No matter what personal project I'm working on though, it's teaching that really makes me come alive. I love partnering with Christina and Tanner to use filmmaking to help students better understand the amazing city we get to live in... Bridgeport!

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Ashley Torres

placemaker (and groundwork student alum!)

To begin my journey with Groundwork Bridgeport, I must take you back to 2015. At the time being, I was a Junior at Fairchild Wheeler High School juggling ideas on what I would be doing with the rest of my life. I was presented with the opportunity to join what was once known as the Green Team, but little did I know I was about to form a long-term relationship with an organization that has impacted me greatly. Since then, I was able to work on revitalizing parts of the city I grew up in and the place where I reside, attended several trips that partnered with National Parks across the country, fostered an even deeper love for the environment and created lasting friendships all within a matter of a couple years.

Four years later as a rising Senior at Suffolk University, where I study psychology and biology, I continue to find myself back at Groundwork Bridgeport only this time as an intern. I’ve not only seen, but have experienced what this program has done for students as it aids in their desire to create and implement change. Voices are heard, opportunities are given, and the drive behind Tanner and Christina are the sole reasons as to why Groundwork keeps me coming back!