Ocean City!

Hi, all! This is Claire. I wanted to update everyone on what we’ve been busy with here at the Office and events that you can attend to learn more about sustainability in Baltimore.

This past weekend, Ashley, Pam, and I, as well as Andrea (our boss), attended the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Conference in Ocean City, Maryland from Friday through Sunday. The conference is mainly for environmental educators (i.e. teachers and educators at nature centers), and we were some of the only students there, but it was still a very inspiring experience that taught us a lot about green topics and how to incorporate them into schools. Some of the sessions that we attended ranged a lot, including:

  • Wonders of Wetlands Facilitator Course: Ashley and I attended this all-day session on Friday. Wonders of Wetlands (WOW!) is a program that is meant to spread the word about how beneficial wetlands are to the greater world. Now Ashely and I are certified WOW! Facilitators, which means we can teach teachers about WOW! lesson plans at professional development days. We can also teach students about wetlands, which is a nice inspiration for future student engagement events. A few examples of what we learned:
    • Wetlands, by definition, can be dry for 97% of the year!
    • Some examples of wetlands that you didn’t think were wetlands: the beach, lakes, flooded woodlands, wet meadow, mud flat, and spring ponds (i.e. ponds that aren’t around for all the year).
    • Where the water puddles in your yard is perhaps a site of an old wetland, before humans drained the land for settlement. You can put a rain garden here to help utilize the water!
    • Wetlands are destroyed at a rate of 35 acres per hour.
    • In Maryland, we have 591,000 acres of wetland, but we’ve lost 70% of our wetlands in our state alone.
    • Wetlands are sponges, preventing flooding. One acre of salt marsh can store 1.5 million gallons of water!
    • Wetlands can be used to filter our sewage! That’s right, wetlands actually save us $2.33 per 1000 gallons of sewage as opposed to conventional filtration by a wastewater treatment plant. Nature is actually better than our concrete buildings… but I knew you all already knew that!
  • The Link Between Maryland Green Schools and Higher Student Achievement: Ashley attended this session, and the title alone explains it all. Getting your school certified as a Maryland Green School actually improves your test scores and your publicity. Did you know that one of the Office’s goals is to make every school a Green School? You can start now by applying for a Green, Healthy, Smart Challenge grant next September.
  • Use Claim, Evidence, Reasoning to Examine Climate Change in MD: Pam attended this session and learned about how to talk about climate change in an engaging and educational way.
  • Local Partnerships: Hel Students Take Meaningful Climate Change Action in Baltimore: Ashley and Andrea attended this session, which talked about how Lakeland Elementary/Middle School worked with TreeBaltimore and FieldScope to improve their local environment. Extremely inspiring for our student engagement events coming!
  • Black, White, and Green: Inclusion Methods for Diversity in Environmental Education: Andrea attended this session and learned all about how to level the playing field in environmental education. One of my personal goals of the internship is to help children at disadvantaged schools get exposed to green environments and experiences because every child deserves a green education.
  • The EcoJustice Classroom: Lessons in the Roots of Environmental Justice: Pamela, Ashley, and Andrea attended this session and made some really good connections to environmental justice experts and how to tackle the issue in Baltimore.
  • Growing a Green Team Support System: I attended this session all about how Howard County schools built a Green Team system throughout all of their public schools. It was very inspirational for how we will structure our system in the City.

The list above is not nearly close to the total number of sessions we attended, but each of the speakers provided some sort of expertise that could be used in our experience in the Office as we work to involve more students in environmental efforts.

Now how can you get involved? Our Youth Sustainability Summit is coming up on Saturday, March 12 from 9:30-4. We will have several guest speakers, like Blue Water Baltimore, Parks & People, and multiple social justice organizations, all here to reflect on and tackle the questions: 

How does sustainability connect to society and your everyday life? How does connecting to the environment meet community needs?

Please let any middle- and high-school Baltimore City youth who are interested in the environment about this opportunity. We will be publicizing more over the next few weeks. Included are lunch, snacks, environmental literature, and maybe even some s’mores around a campfire!

That’s all for now…



Bag Ban Rally!!

You can’t change the discussion if you are not a part of the conversation. As you may know there is a lot of discussion focused on the bag ban. Impacts of the ban include: a reduced rate of litter, this ban will be funded by tax payers and will cut costs on bags for retailers. There is an upcoming event for all interested students and supporters to get involved. On February 9th, Waterfront Partnership will be traveling to Annapolis for the Bag Ban rally. Waterfront Baltimore has invited all interested students to attend! We’ll leave Baltimore at 7am, meeting at the Canton Waterfront Park. We’ll be back by 11am. To learn more information about the event click the link below. Free breakfast is provided. COME OUT AND BE A PART OF THE CONVERSATION!

TEACHERS: If you or your students are interested in attending and need assistance with transportation, contact Andrea.Calderon@baltimorecity.gov as soon as possible.

Look out there are great things to come….

I hope that everyone has been enjoying the lovely snow here in Baltimore. The Snow hasn’t stopped us though the Green Schools Team has been busy planning and promoting events that are quickly approaching. On Wednesday we continued to promote The Bag Ban Rally that will be held in Annapolis on Feb 9th check out our previous blog for more information. Our time has been consumed with planning a Youth Leadership Retreat, for students in Baltimore. The purpose of this event is to allow students to understand the connections between the social and environmental needs of a community. The retreat will include panel discussions by experts in the field and many non-profits. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided. If this is something that you may be interested in continue to check her or contact us for more information. In addition to planning this event we are also preparing to travel to Ocean City for the MAEOE Conference next month!! This is going to be a wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about various environmental concerns and projects. So as we prepare for the conference I will be sure to blog so that you all can stay informed. In spite of all of the snow we travel to a local café to enjoy some tasty treats and received some very exciting news that we did not have school!! How great is that. After we enjoyed our tasty treats we attended a Tree Baltimore Meeting. This was my FIRST time attending a Tree Baltimore. Tree Baltimore is an organization that helps to provide tress to be planted in Baltimore and has outreach projects for citizens to get involved. Tree Baltimore understands the importance of community involvement and wants to engage citizens. The Tree Baltimore Meeting was very exciting, a wonderful opportunity to network and enjoy a delicious meal. If you would like to become involved with Tree Baltimore information is posted below!

To Contact tree Baltimore Check out their website!!!


So long for now,


How to Lobby

On January 11, 2016 we hosted a training on how to lobby at the aquarium! A presentation was given about how to lobby by Sarah Elfreth! What is lobbying?!! Lobbying is a way to influence decisions made by legislators.  Sarah shared her presentation with a group and it was follow by a question and answer! Sarah shared information about the history and mission of the aquarium and the goals of a lobbyist! Important highlights include the relevance of the aquarium in economic, education, and conservation progress! The aquarium has been able to provide various services for the citizens of Baltimore! This was the first training of the year, the next training will be in February! The presentation on lobbying was followed by a FREE TOUR OF THE AQUARIUM!! How awesome is that!

If you have any questions about lobbying please contact Sarah Elfreth at Selfreth@aqua.org

  • Pamela




New Year, More Green?

Happy New Year to everyone! I know most people are thinking about New Years Resolutions … whether it includes  weight goals,  less technology or even being more in touch with the community – I can tell you that all of your goals fit into living sustainbly thus assisting with sustainability. Want to be more healthy? Eat more organic food from local farms ; with this youre helping your local economy . Want to be more socially conscious and become aware of the things going on around you ? Join a green project in your community , or even become a facilitator.  Want to use less technology?   Go on a hike! The possiblities are endless and you’re the only one limiting your contribution to Baltimore’s sustainability.  My Green-Resolution is to compost more so I can contribute to local farms . The point Is the New Year is a fresh start , so why not help Baltimore become a fresh city?

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. 🙂



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!