Parks & People's Urban Resources Initiative
Current Projects and Programs
Watershed 263 Restoration/ Neighborhood Green Infrastructure Research
Starting last summer, Parks & People have conducted "green infrastructure" inventories in several neighborhoods in Baltimore. Summer interns and students have surveyed and mapped neighborhood parks and gardens, street trees, vacant lots, and school grounds to gain a better understanding of the locations and conditions of outdoor resources. Parks & People is using this information to help neighborhoods develop plans and projects for restoring and enhancing parks and other green spaces. In Southwest Baltimore, Parks & People is working on model watershed restoration project in a storm drain watershed known as "Watershed 263." Project partners, including Parks & People, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, conducted baseline research during the summer of 2003. This project will test the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of various urban water quality restoration techniques to improve water infiltration, primarily focusing on comprehensive community greening on vacant abandoned residential and industrial sites, school grounds and parks through community stewardship projects.
Green Career Ladder
The Green Career Ladder Program introduces youth from Washington Village/Pigtown to career and education opportunities in environmental fields, through summer job opportunities, enrichment activities and field trips. The program helps youth builds job skills, access to career and higher education opportunities, and academic enrichment in "green collar" fields, including urban forestry, ecology and environmental management. The Green Career Ladder is a cooperative effort with Parks & People Foundation, Washington Village/Pigtown Neighborhood Planning Council (WPNPC), and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) to provide career and educational opportunities in environmental science and management to underserved youth in Southwest Baltimore.
Garden Mosaics/Community Gardening
The Garden Mosaics project connects youth and elders to investigate the mosaic of plants, people and cultures in gardens, to learn about science concepts and practices, and to act together to enhance their community. Garden Mosaics is based at Cornell University and supported by the National Science Foundation, under the direction of Dr. Mariann Krasny, Dr. Alan Berkowitz and Ms. Gretchen Ferenz. The project is taking place in eleven cities, including Baltimore. Parks & People has piloted Garden Mosaics activities through its Green Career Ladder program. Youth take part in hands-on investigations in and around community gardens, learning from adult community gardeners about their gardening practices and cultural connections. Based on what they learn, youth plan and carry out an action project with the gardeners to benefit the garden and community.
Community Readiness Assessment
Parks & People is building a database of "community greening" projects across Baltimore City, encompassing results from several URI projects, including the Gwynns Falls Trail User Survey, the Community Garden Survey, Green Infrastructure Inventories, and A Bibliography and Reference Guide to the Ecology and Natural Resources of the Baltimore Metropolitan Region, as well as Parks & People's Street Tree, Vacant Lot Restoration, and Community Grant programs. We are working with the Demographic and Social Science team of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study to relate our data and experience-based knowledge to results of an extensive telephone survey that BES recently conducted. We will use these data to determine indicators of "community readiness" to successfully undertake stewardship projects, and to develop methods for strengthening community capacity in neighborhoods that may lack some of these indicators.
Social and Biological Role of Urban Parks
Dr. Paige Warren, Dr. Charlie Nilon, and Dr. Morgan Grove of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) have been working on research to understand the ecological and social roles of small urban parks as part of a collaborative project with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) and the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research sites. The project combines social and natural science methods to study biological and human-generated forces affecting vegetation and wildlife in urban parks, focusing on how these impacts vary by social, cultural and economic characteristics of surrounding neighborhoods. For more information, please see Biodiversity research project page at http://www.beslter.org/frame4-page_3h_01.html.