WHERE JUSTICE, PUBLIC HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT MEET
By Steering Committee Member Dick Williams
“The whole ‘show’ came out of the trunk of Niamh’s Honda Fit,” commented a Steering Committee member at its follow-up meeting to the November 9th “Environment + Climate Crisis Forum”.
Five days prior to the event we were told that the heating system in St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church had broken down. Two buts: (1) We had planned the Forum as a hybrid in case the pandemic worsened in Baltimore City; and, (2) Temperatures the day of the Forum rose as high as into the low 70s, assuring that the building wouldn’t be frigid that evening.
We rolled with the dice we had. Of the 130 plus registrants and walk-ins, 120 appeared in person or via Zoom—with a majority preferring to attend virtually.
We gathered in Bullock Fellowship Hall, socially distanced, masked and bundled up. The rest of us gathered virtually. Nearly all had selected the topic of their choice to collaborate on prior to arrival so check-in went smoothly.
Niamh and Tanaira, the principal “brain trust” of this Forum, offered opening remarks which included establishing grounds rules about break-out room discussion, note-taking, chart-writing and listening for those who hadn’t had a turn yet to speak. Our trained facilitators then gathered with their groups.
As no one of the Steering Committee was able to attend all of the break-outs, let us share from our brief post-Forum Survey what attendees thought.
Our first question was: Please share with us a prime takeaway for you from the Forum? Here’s a sampling of the 17 responses:
Thanks all! ♥
by Steering Committee member Dick Williams
Did you know the “Baltimore Green Network,” subtitled “A Plan for a Green and Connected City,” is embraced by the BBGJ Vision? (The Plan was enacted in September 2018.)
The plan’s vision is for “a holistic, city-wide system of nodes and corridors [that] will connect our schools, our streams and forests, our parks, our university campuses, and our centers of commerce and employment…. This new circulatory system will encourage a greener, healthier, and more equitable city.”
The building blocks of this plan are open, green spaces for people to interact with nature. So, playgrounds, urban farms, woodlands, restored natural shorelines and parks, universities and historic sites throughout the city will be connected together by corridors for people and wildlife to travel and move around. Converting the many thousands of vacant lots throughout the city into green spaces will be a major element of such a network.
There are four identified pilot projects throughout the city aimed at realizing the plan’s vision for a network of interconnected benefits:
• Safer and Healthier Communities, by eliminating blight, repurposing vacant lots, and connecting more people to green assets, which can improve resident health and mental well-being.
• Enhanced Community Economic Development, through stabilized land and property values, proposed mechanisms to help maintain neighborhood affordability, as well as the potential to spur job creation.
• Cleaner and Greener Environment, including better stormwater management and improved air quality, as well as increased ecosystem resilience and biodiversity (such as support for pollinators like bees and butterflies).
The BBGJ Coalition is calling on city leaders to enact the pilot projects. Could be the beginning of a new reputation for Baltimore—bluer, greener and more just?!
By McKay Jenkins, author, scholar and BBGJ Outreach/Communication Action Group member
"On the late July day that President Trump called my hometown a “rat and rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live,” I found myself dumping 200 pounds of compost into a vegetable garden across the street from a Baltimore methadone clinic. The compost had been cooking in my backyard for almost a year and included a dozen large Hefty bags of leaves from our silver maple and black cherry trees and..."
READ THE FULL "UNDERWATER NEW YORK" ARTICLE HERE
By Avelino Maestas The Steering Committee of the Environmental Stewardship Summit hosted its third public event last week to unveil the results of our members’ Vision and Platform for a Blue, Green and Just Baltimore. The process was a continuation of our work from June, when 65 Baltimoreans gathered to brainstorm ideas to improve the air and water quality of our city, and reduce the inequalities that exist between our city’s richest and poorest neighborhoods.
At our June Summit, residents split into four groups to crowdsource solutions and opportunities along distinct areas: Air and Water; Land and Land Use; Climate, Resiliency and Justice; and Transparency and Accountability. The groups generated hundreds of ideas, and the Steering Committee met several times in the months since to categorize, refine and distill those ideas into a concise vision for our work.
The Steering Committee also crafted a draft Platform we will use to engage candidates in the upcoming primary in Baltimore City. We will offer our elected officials a bold, uplifting Vision for the future, and our Platform will prompt them to address our issues. It will also gives us a framework to hold them accountable once in office.
Jenn Aiosa, Executive Director of Blue Water Baltimore, skillfully presented the Steering Committee’s Vision and Platform. You can view her presentation below. The Vision can be read here. We are still completing the platform.
This process isn’t finished. We received some incredible feedback during the Sept. 16 Summit, and we hope to incorporate that into a final version. If you have feedback or questions about the proposed Platform and Vision, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Steps Also during Monday’s summit, volunteers split into subgroups to begin planning the mayoral candidate’s forum in early 2020. We formed groups to discuss Planning, Communications, Outreach, Action and Research. These groups will help ensure we have the best representation at the event.
In the coming months, we’ll further our outreach efforts to find more Baltimoreans who share our desire for a Just, Blue and Green city. And, we’ll keep you in the loop about all of that.
We’ve already secured a host location for the Mayoral Candidates Forum, and a notable broadcast journalist to serve as a moderator or co-moderator. Once plans for the Forum are finalized we’ll let you know.
Sharing Thoughts on Legacy Niamh McQuillan, another member of our Steering Committee, asked our Summit attendees to think about their place in the community; how we all envision our work to improve the environment; and what we hope to leave as a legacy. We then summarized those thoughts with a few words and phrases; these were submitted to Niamh and organized into the following word cloud!
About the author: Avelino Maestas is a member of the BALTIMORE ● Blue+Green+Just Steering Committee.
A Coalition of Environmentally-Minded Non-Profits and Community Activists Holding a Common Vision for Health, Safety and Prosperity for all Baltimoreans in This New Epoch of Climate Emergency
Join the Chesapeake Bay Trust in its partial funding of the 2021 Forum by making a financial contribution to BALTIMORE ● Blue+Green+Just