A recent assessment by STAR Communities, which rates cities on their sustainability practices, gave Baltimore a 5 star rating. While perhaps better known for recent social unrest, the city has become a model for sustainability throughout the nation.
The success of Baltimore’s sustainability program can largely be attributed to non-profits, community partnerships, and local churches within the city. The report points to Baltimore’s steep decrease in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions, its commitment to affordable housing, decreasing commute times, and strong, sensible central city planning.
However, many of the greatest achievements relate to empowering the community. The report points to Baltimore’s strong neighborhood orientation, which provides free services and events for residents; educational and arts programs that create cultural hubs within the city; urban agriculture programs that redevelop vacant lots into community gardens, creating lush green spaces, public-private partnerships, and new jobs for residents. The combination of these, and many more, innovative citywide programs help to foster community development while increasing sustainability solutions.
Like any large city, there is always more work to be done. However, Baltimore’s sustainability success can shed light on methods that all cities can employ to empower their communities and act on climate change. Visit Path to Positive Communities to get more resources on how your city can become a sustainability leader.
When a community group reclaims a vacant lot in East Baltimore and plants a garden, it makes the neighborhood a little stronger. When foundations band together to support more after-school opportunities, they give hope to kids and families. And when a city agency helps residents prepare for a major disaster, it is making Baltimore more resilient.
All of these steps contribute to making Baltimore more sustainable — that is, a city moving forward and creating new opportunities for all residents.
The fact is that while Baltimore still faces major issues, we are doing a lot of things well. Across the city — in government, within neighborhoods and through the smart work of many nonprofits — countless efforts are happening now to make this a stronger city.