Roll of thunder hear the city cry

Hello Everyone!
I also attended Poly’s BSLS/ Environmental Club Quad Planning meeting on Wednesday as well, Claire’s post was so comprehensive that I have nothing to add. It was great! Just continue to follow all of the great work that Poly is during throughout the school year. On Tuesday, December 15, 2015 The Green Team attended the Commission on Sustainability Meeting this week’s meeting focused on Cleanliness. Presentations were given around food in schools and ways to provide cleaner streets for the citizens of Baltimore. Have you ever thought of the impact of the environment in the life? We were asked this question on Tuesday. Sustainability has an impact on every aspect of our lives even if we can’t see it. There may be a senior citizen down the street picking up trash, have you ever wondered why? Over the past few weeks media coverage has been focused around the trial of William Porter. This is an event that is on the minds of many citizens, so who really has the time to think of the environment at a time like this you may ask. Everyday people face so many things that impact who they become and how they view the world. Maintaining a clean community may not always be the first priority of citizens as they deal with the high incarceration rates as well as rising unemployment in the city. So I say to you whatever you decide to focus on do your best to make a positive influence. My goal may not be the same as yours however in some way our goals are connected. Sustainability is the connect between the social, economic, and environmental needs of a community. So, let’s take our time to focus on each part to improve Baltimore. Recently, City Block a social justice organization responded to Dr. Thornton’s letter to Baltimore City Students and the overall message was this “Silence is acceptance.” Do not accept anything in life if you believe that you can change it. And so I leave you with this take the time to reflect on something that you are able to change in your community to help this city grow. Elizabeth Edwards once said “…But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”
Have a great weekend!
– Pamela

Penn-North Strive For Peace

Yesterday was an overwhelming day for Baltimore Citizens specifically those following the Freddie Gray trails. The first officer on trail , William Porter, had a trial that was hung and resulted into a mistrial. What the people of Baltimore are afraid of is something we’ve been seeing in other judiciary decision , this fear can be referred to as a step back from justice.

Across from the Pennsylvania ave library me and Andrea Calderon walk over to see cameras, lights police on corners, and a group of people. I have never seen any of this before , face to face, so it was all new to me. What stood out to us were the words “wrap the city in love like a new born baby” projected from a mega phone in the voice of a demonstrator by the name of “shadow”. We received a flyer with the Serenity Prayer and were told it would be used for later. At this moment I realized that our city is hurting. To express ourselves and apply our strength and faith in Baltimore, we locked arm repeating the serenity prayer. The media traveled down the line asking us questions including me ! One news reporter asked me my purpose for coming out hear and I answered as if he addressed the entire line . I felt like these people would be out here with or without a media presence . I am proud of my city !

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference.Snapchat-977417156682802130

Coordination Is Key: Visit to Poly

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Hi, guys! This is Claire, and today I’m writing all about a greening project at one of the city’s high schools, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, or “Poly.” I’m a sophomore at Poly, and the school has already done a great job at incorporating outside green spaces into its architecture. Between the two wings of the school is a small courtyard planted with trees and grass. Yet the courtyard is not really used by students as of now.

That’s where the Environment Club and a mentoring group called Big Sib/Little Sib come in. The latter group received over $6,000 in grant funding last year to revamp the courtyard with gardens and other environmentally friendly structures. Yesterday Pam and I went to Big Sib/Little Sib’s meeting to discuss the plans for the courtyard: who is doing what, and when. This is where all the coordination gets complicated, and I think that’s one of the lessons that I’ve learned thus far from working in the job.

When it comes to doing an awesome green project, there is usually no opposition, and if there is, it doesn’t stand for long. The issues or roadblocks that a lot of projects run into is coordination, or lack thereof. In a lot of these open spaces, five people claim to be doing five different projects, and because the other four people believe the fifth person is doing something, they abandon their projects. And nothing gets done! It’s so frustrating for me to see this happening in the courtyard, so yesterday’s meeting was meant to at least fix some of the coordination issues. Person A wants to build a zen garden, Person B wants to put in benches, Person C wants to plant food, Person D wants to put in art… I don’t want this wonderful project to stall because of confusion over the stakeholders. I’ve seen that happen in other places. We have the funding; we just need the cooperation. Luckily, yesterday’s meeting helped a lot.

Just a lesson for anyone reading this blog for inspiration at YOUR school. Have one meeting where you can gather anyone interested in helping with the project or anyone who is already doing something in the space. We call this, in fancy words, a “stakeholder meeting.” At the meeting, which should also include a representative from your school’s administration, discuss the various plans and outline what the finished product should look like. Figure out funding. The key word, as I’ve said multiple times already, is coordination. Don’t just plow ahead and do a project without consulting. Those projects usually reach a point when someone either shuts it all down or at least puts the project on hold.

To finish up, a quick overview of what we are planning to do in the courtyard (super exciting!). Some of the plans include:

  1. Big Sib/Little Sib raised beds for planting food
  2. public raised beds for other teachers to use for classes
  3. Environment Club space for rain garden and raised beds for pollinator garden
  4. Eagle Scout project: create a zen meditation labyrinth (take a look at the picture!)
  5. convert and move dilapidated art structure into a deck with benches for students to use
  6. vertical garden: basically a wall of plants (really cool: see the photo)
  7. mural on building side of Poly-themed designs
  8. Environment Club plastic bottle greenhouse
  9. composter for yard waste and food waste
  10. Eagle Scout project: new benches and trash cans
  11. habitat boxes for birds/bats (still tentative)

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These projects can also be used at YOUR schools. Don’t be daunted by funding issues. Just try for a grant, and most likely you’ll get it if you put effort into the writing. Lowe’s grants, and the Green, Healthy, Smart Challenge are great places to start.

Happy Holidays! Make sure to wrap your gifts in newspaper to save a tree, and recycle any used wrapping paper. 🙂

Claire

 

Baltimore’s Five Star Rating

Recently Baltimore received a five star rating of approval! In what you may ask… Maybe it’s the Maryland Crab? Or Maybe it’s the Chicken Box from Sunny’s? … Mhmm that may be true, but Baltimore received a five star rating in sustainability! That’s right!! Baltimore was one of three cities that received this lovely title! So citizens of Baltimore pat yourselves on the back this is a great honor but remember that we still have so much more to do!
So long for now!
-Pam

SELAT Meeting

Hello Everyone!

The Office of Sustainability hosted the FIRST SELAT Meeting of the 2015-16 school year! Students and teachers from Commodore John Rogers and Harlem Park came to share plans and future goals for the year! It was a great meeting and we plan to see you all again soon when we go camping!! All schools are welcome to attend SELAT Meetings and connect with other green schools in Baltimore! Thank you again for coming!

-Pamela