Safe, Vibrant, and Walkable Streets Committee
October 22, 2015 | 7pm to 9pm
1401 Hollins Street, Baltimore, MD
John Henry Pitas
Sheik Ibn Yusef
UMBC Mosquito Study (John Pitas)
The Mosquito Study is an ongoing collaborative project which has done a few different things in the area including looking for and counting mosquitos, setting mosquito traps, and discussing mosquitos and the environment with residents.
John is here to present the outcomes of a photovoice project which gave cameras to residents of Franklin Square, Hollins Roundhouse, Union Square, Sandtown Winchester and Harlem Park, and Pigtown and asked them to take photos of their community which represented how they understood the environment and the conditions that produce mosquitos. The residents brought the photos back to the researchers at UMBC and they worked together to create narratives and themes around the photos and drafted some proposed policy changes to address the issues that were identified.
The themes were:
- Trash and Illegal Dumping: this was identified as a serious and ongoing problem. Suggestion included
- A second trash day
- Cameras in alleys
- Better enforcement
- School clean ups connected with parent and child education
- Overgrown and Underutilized Spaces:residents liked green and green spaces, but found that overgrown spaces made the community unsafe. Suggestions included
- Social entrepreneurship around maintaining green spaces
- Taking funds away from programs that don’t work and giving them to those which do
- Vacancies and Abandonment: residents were sad to see that beautiful buildings were broken down and saw vacancies and abandonment as representative of institutional racism. Suggestions included:
- Holding the city accountable through neighborhood association meetings
- More transparency about vacant buildings through the neighborhood association meetings
- Entrepreneurship opportunities to remediate lead paint
- Fractured Infrastructure: things being built and not maintained by the city or by groups with good intentions but without the ability to follow through or maintain spaces. Suggestions included:
- Redirecting funds away from programs that don’t work towards skills training towards maintaining open spaces
- Better 311 reporting
- More accountability from the city
- Our Community: was a positive theme. Residents loved the arts, culture, and great people, access to food and the farmer’s market. Suggestions included:
- More beautification through art
- Increasing the number of people involved in the neighborhood associations
- More recruitment and more incentives to join neighborhood associations (such as a reusable tote bag)
- More ways to bring the community together
The art from the photovoice project is on display at 16 North Ave
Carissa: how many people had cameras?
John: There were three different groups of 5-10 people each. People tended to take about 10 photos each.
Christina: is the full set of photos available anywhere?
John: They don’t have a venue to display all the photos, but they have done some pop-ups at the Hollins Market Art Strolls, and there should be a Baltimore Mosquito Project Facebook Page.
Chris: What is the connection between the photovoice project and the overall mosquito project?
John: Other scientists in the project use quantitative data, he and his advisor are interested in the socio-economic and historic condition that have created the situations in the neighborhood. They wanted to ask residents what they think about their environment and what the environment means to them. Have to speak to the community to figure out what the problems are from the community perspective
Chris: Does he have any tips for getting rid of mosquitos?
John: Mosquitos breed in water and have most of their life in the air. 30 years ago mosquitos needed large bodies of water, such as underground rivers, to breed. However, there is a new type of invasive mosquito which has begun to move northward as the climates has changed which can breed in tiny containers, such as pieces of trash. Any water needs to be dumped out within a week. Mosquitos also like shade. There are candles that when lit will prevent mosquitos.
Carisa: What are the next steps? Will the Mosquito Project be able to implement any of the suggested action steps?
John: The hope is that by presenting they will reach out to people who are already in the community so that they will be engaged and take on the ideas. Best they can offer is their collection of data so the community can take it.
Carisa: There are a lot of steps that could be taken. Students in grades 6-12 have to volunteer 75 hours and have to do independent volunteering. The the city kids don’t always have access to organizations in which they can volunteer. High school students can also lead younger students. There is funding through MSDE for volunteer opportunities.
The SWP does reach out to schools about upcoming volunteer opportunities and events, but can be more deliberate about presenting them as a volunteer opportunity for students.
There is a need for more neighborhood representation to represent the seven member organizations. The committee needs to have representation from all of the seven neighborhoods. Chris asked committee members to contact folks they know personally to ask them to come (suggestions included Van Brooks and Sherry Cible). The committee will also use Nextdoor and emails to the neighborhood association presidents, but people are more likely to come if they are asked personally.
Public Safety Brainstorm
The public safety action items in the Vision Plan include items such as foot patrols which will probably not be possible until after the trials of the officers who were involved in Freddy Grey’s death. After reviewing the public safety strategies outlined in the Vision Plan, the committee brainstormed other possible ways to improve public safety.
Already completed efforts: The Southern Police District holds special meetings with neighborhood leaders. There is a new substation Pigtown. On the 28th Live Baltimore will be holding a meet and greet for officers at Zellas.
Ongoing efforts: The SWP is working with the BioPark to contract with the Downtown Partnership for safety guides who will patrol a loop around Baltimore St. between MLK and Carey St. The Committee is also surveying lightning and sidewalk conditions which also contribute to public safety.
Suggestions: general ideas discussed included ways that there could be more community based policing, ways that community members could feel safer around police, and ways in which the community and the police could build relationships
- a community meeting that would be a forum for connection and dialogue
- engaging community partners to police their own areas
- businesses could pool money to hire off duty police officers for security
- the police and the community could work together to proactively build trust
- prayer walks
- providing front lights to all the neighbors and encouraging them to leave them on
- increasing the number of eyes on the street through volunteer events, block parties, and other community events
- surveying the community on their perceptions of safety and the police which could feed into a comprehensive community engagement strategy for the police
Park Improvements: (Bif) According to Recreation and Parks the comfort stations for Union Square will be finished by the end of the year–which will probably mean the spring–and the Franklin Square will be done by the spring. The city already has the architects’ plans completed. Friends of West Baltimore Squares is interested in working on programming in the parks and having the SWP work on infrastructure improvements. There has been funding approved for a park keeper for the park district that Franklin Square is a part of. DPW is working on a storm water project for Franklin Square. Union Square is looking into having the park restored to the original Olmstead Design. Sarah Hope (email@example.com) may have information about funding for this. Permanent park infrastructure for Tracy Adkins– sprinklers and splash pads, other programming in the park
The Mount Clare Community Council is very interested in restoring the pool in Tracy Atkins Park–however the city isn’t putting resources into neighborhood pools anymore. There may be other ways to replace the programming and infrastructure provided by the pool.
Trash/Litter : (Daniel) The mosquito project is able to get dumpsters or garbage cans for the area. The location needs to be determined two garbage cans or a dumpster to facilitate cleanups where people are chronically dumping.
Grants (Chris): Chesapeake Bay Trust grant to cover some of the concepts that the NDC design team is developing for the Carey St Underpass. Mary Alice is willing to write the grant. The committee still needs to determine what sort of outreach will be done there and what the messages will be. The committee is also monitoring public safety grants.
Elementary School Greening: Steuart Hill is interested in having a garden club but need a guide to planting. A Master Gardener may be able to help them with this.
Voter Registration: Elizabeth will contact Elaine and JR to see if they’re still interested.
Surveys: (Thomas Hams) Thomas is fine with doing the surveys. Chris will meet to talk more with him about them. 4/7 neighborhoods, or parts thereof, have been surveyed. Christina suggested that the committee share the information with Valerie LaCour. It is best to schedule a meeting with her three weeks ahead of time.
Sheik is going to talk to the heads of Safe Streets to see what would be needed to start a program in the area.
58 trees have been planted total–12 more will be planted along the eastern end of Hollins Roundhouse on October 24th, bringing the total to 70.
Elizabeth will contact the Let’s Talk Trash Baltimore people to talk about the Patterson Park guide and ways it could be adapted for use in the SWP area.
Music in the park Sunday 10/25 4:30 Union Square Park
Lots of Art Lombard and Stockton 9am 10/24
CUPs Coffeehouse 7 Outdoor Libraries being built 10/24