Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Revitalizing Baltimore: A better city through environmental discovery

As part of the course requirements for FOR496/797, students share responsibility for reporting on the WiSE Professions Speaker Series.  The following was prepared by Olga Shevtsova

Jackie Carrera, president and CEO of Parks & People Foundation in Baltimore, concluded ESF’s 2013 Women in Scientific and Environmental (WiSE) Professions Series with Revitalizing Baltimore: A better city through environmental discovery on Tuesday, April 23. The seminar was jointly sponsored by the Graduate Student Association and the ESF Women's Caucus.

Parks & People began with the idea that there is one park, a city within a park, that is, rather than many parks within a city as the greenspace and corridors provide a network for a healthy community.  Ms Carrera discussed problems in the city of Baltimore, including significant property abandonment as a result of suburban sprawl, lack of opportunities for young people, stream erosion and non-point source pollution, uncoordinated approaches to natural resource management. These examples demonstrated the urgent necessity of the Urban Resources Initiative which works towards sustainability through applied ecosystem management principles. This working group learned that “Urban greening programs influenced the health of the city—they bring people together in a way they are not used to working together.  This increases their social capital, enabling them to take on bigger community issues like schools and crime.  They also have an economic benefit by increasing property values.” 

Carrera also focused on the power of partnership between governments at all levels, nonprofits, academia, businesses, and communities. Defining the most important steps of planning process through discussion of how to meet the goals and how they’ve changed is a key to achieve urban ecological restoration. The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) has enhanced increased public support of scientific research. Parks & People Foundation affords opportunities for BES scientists to communicate their knowledge for practical application in community organizing and public policy. Initiating different workshops, annual meetings, trainings and science presentations all contributed to the project’s success.  It is imperative that on the ground management strategies use sound scientific approaches; and that science research is informed by practical needs. The process “is established, then fixed, then tweaked, in an iterative way” to assure that everyone at each level are at the same table.  

Watershed 263 is a classic example. "The city had an unfunded mandate to clean up pollutants flowing into the city.   This watershed featured lots of impervious surfaces, a lot of city owned land, and significant but dispersed open space. What, they wondered, would happen if they could reduce the asphalt?  The removal of back parking lot of Franklin Square Elementary School, coupled with other projects increased the area available for infiltration."

Good Science is the key, and a technology committee capable of communicating science with practitioners, is the tipping point.

About Jackie Carrera
Jackie Carrera has been instrumental in the development of a 15-mile urban greenway, community forestry and watershed restoration programs numerous youth sports and camp programs which continue to be integral to the revitalization efforts of some of that city’s most underserved communities. She also chaired Revitalizing Baltimore, a US Forest Service urban and community forestry project and is a co-principal investigator for the Baltimore EcosystemStudy, a National Science Foundation-funded, long term ecological research project.  Ms. Carrera represented the Chesapeake region in preparing for the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and the Urban Waters Initiative.  She served on a national task force initiated by the US Forest Service, Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests: A National Call for to Action. Ms. Carrera was voted one of the Daily Record’s Maryland’s Top 100 Women and 100 Most Influential Marylanders by The Maryland Daily Record and was named the 2008 University of Baltimore Distinguished Social Entrepreneur. Ms. Carrera is a graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Program and the Weinberg Fellows Program. She earned a BA, Business Administration degree in Finance from Loyola College in Maryland.

For more information about the WiSE Professions Series, please visit http://www.esf.edu/womenscaucus/speakers.htm

No comments:

Post a Comment