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Revitalizing Baltimore Community Health and Well-being. Jackie Carrera, Parks & People Foundation NAASF Urban Committee Annual Meeting May 12, 2010. Community Health and Well-being: The Baltimore Story. Introduction Background Urban Ecosystem Services Community Health and Well-being

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Revitalizing BaltimoreCommunity Health and Well-being

Jackie Carrera, Parks & People Foundation

NAASF Urban Committee Annual Meeting

May 12, 2010

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Community Health and Well-being: The Baltimore Story

  • Introduction

  • Background

  • Urban Ecosystem Services

    Community Health and Well-being

  • Watershed 263

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Introduction: Parks & People Foundation

Dedicated to supporting a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities, creating and sustaining beautiful and lively parks, and promoting a healthy, natural environmental for Baltimore.

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IIntroduction: Parks & People Foundation

Green Communities Division

A sustainable urban and community forestry program built on research and technology, with active volunteer participation and effective partnerships and the integration of our community’s political/policy, social and environmental infrastructure

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Background: From restoring vacant lots to revitalizing Baltimore

Urban Resources Initiative

Revitalizing Baltimore

Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Watershed 263

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Urban Ecosystem Services

The health and well being of the human population depends on the services provided by ecosystems and their components – organisms, soil, water and nutrients

Services include food and water; regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, and disease; supporting services including soil formation and nutrient cycling; cultural services such as recreational, spiritual and religious

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When ecosystems Services are cut off and/or threatened

  • Runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste

  • Pollution of land, water and air resources

  • Introduction of non native species

  • Erosion/compaction of soils

  • Deforestation

  • Disease

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The results of an unhealthy ecosystem on community health and well-being

Low tree cover

Poor access to green space

Lack of connection to nature


Environmental inequality

Poor economic development/ disinvestment

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Baltimore’s Urban Forest

Baltimore hosts 2.8 million trees

Urban Forest replacement is valued at $3.4 billion

Tree canopy is 20% of land area

Neighborhood tree canopy varies from 64% to less than 1%

Source: USFS UFORE Model and Title VIII image

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Urban Ecosystem Service:Community health and well-being

Healthy people and healthy environment are inextricably linked

Health impacts of a degraded ecosystem are evident, especially among poor and vulnerable populations

Trees provide numerous public health benefits: reduced asthma rates, lower obesity and related diseases, as well as mental health benefits and reduced violence and aggression

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Health Disparities

Nationally, health disparities between racial and ethnic minority and majority groups and lower-income and higher-income populations are well documented.

Baltimore is a 60% African-American city with a growing Latino presence, where 40% of households have income less than $30,000.

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A 2008 study concluded that street trees were associated with a lower prevalence of early childhood asthma.

Dales RE, Cakmak S, Judek S, Coates F: Tree Pollen and Hospitalization for Asthma in Urban Canada.Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2008;146:241-247 (DOI: 10.1159/000116360)

How Cities use Parks to Improve Public Health. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from APA Web site:

“Tree-lined streets ‘cut asthma.’” BBC News. May 1, 2008.

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A public housing study in Chicago found that public spaces with better grass cover and tree canopy had increased use by neighborhood residents, with increased positive social activity and increased healthy physical activity.

Levine-Coley, R, Kuo F, Sullivan W: “Where does the community grow? The social context created by nature in urban public housing.” Environment and Behavior 1998 , 30(1):3 – 27.

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Mental Health and Reduced Violence and Aggression

Aggression and violence, and incidents of domestic violence, are lower in buildings with more greenery nearby.

Kuo, Frances E. and William C. Sullivan. “Aggression and Violence in the Inner City: Effects of Environment via Mental Fatigue.” Environment and Behavior, Vol. 33 No. 4. 2001.

Children with behavior disorders concentrate and complete tasks better after spending time near trees.

Frumkin, Howard. “Healthy Places: Exploring the Evidence.” American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 93, No. 9. 2003.

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Other Health Indicators

Contact with trees leads to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, quicker recovery from surgery, increased survival rates following a heart attack, lower stress levels and fewer minor medical ailments.

American Planning Association. “How Cities Use Parks to Improve Public Health.” 2003.

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Watershed 263

To develop a watershed and urban forest restoration project and implement measurable improvements with active community participation and stewardship for a watershed of enclosed streams where the environmental quality and social fabric are both impaired and revitalization is greatly desired.

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Watershed 263

Bush Street Outfall

(25 feet diameter) 

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Bush Street

(looking north west)

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Can we reverse the trend?Yes, we can!

Shared responsibility/collaboration

Research and Technology

Concerted action

Political Commitment

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Shared responsibility/collaboration

Primary Partners: Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Parks & People Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Baltimore Ecosystem Study, MD DNR

Funding support: U.S. Forest Service, DNR Maryland Forest Service and Green Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/EPA, NOAA, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Baltimore City Planning/Critical Areas Mitigation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Rauch Foundation, and Campbell Foundation for the Environment.

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Research and Technology

Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Program Surveys

Literature Reviews

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Concerted Action

Prepare a model urban storm sewer watershed management plan and greening strategy that can be replicated by others.

Organize and educate watershed residents and organizations to effectively participate as stakeholders.

Improve communications and coordination among many agencies and organizations and undertake education and outreach campaigns.

Identify the “universe” of cost-effective, community-based remediation activities.

Undertake restoration demonstration projects and measure and report outcomes.

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Provide safe healthy alternatives for at-risk youth


    • Job training and environmental education program

  • Public Housing Project

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….and foster local economic development

  • Green Career Ladder

    • Elementary/Middle

      • KidsGrow

      • Schoolyard Greening

      • Project Blue

    • High School

      • BRANCHES

      • Civic Justice Corps

    • College Internships

      • Urban Resources Initiative

    • Workforce Development

      • Green Up! Clean UP!

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Encourage environmental stewardship

  • Community Grants Programs

    • Partnership for Parks

    • Neighborhood Greening

  • GROW Workshops

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Reconnect children with nature


Outdoor Classrooms

Nature Play Areas

Schoolyard Greening

Work Days


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Accomplishments to Date

Prepared a water quality restoration plan and a SWMM model for water quality project planning as well as surveyed, mapped and monitored 43 miles of storm drains based on a set of urban watershed indicators.

Facilitated a community proposal for a watershed greening strategy including creating a 6-mile neighborhood bicycle and pedestrian “trail” connecting all historic parks and school sites to the existing 15-mile Gwynns Falls Trail.

Conducted 50 public education and training workshops and engaged residents.

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Accomplishments to Date

Organized education and outreach campaigns and restoration projects at 11 schools with 10 neighborhood associations and 5 businesses.

Assisted with the removal of nearly 4 acres of obsolete schoolyard asphalt and the re-greening of the area with school students, teachers and parents actively involved.

Implemented more than 15 community-initiated watershed restoration demonstration projects.

Planted more than 800 street, park and schoolyard trees and mulched and cared for many more trees with community volunteers and AmeriCorp youth crews along the proposed neighborhood “trail” connecting to the Gwynns Falls Trail in the lower industrial portion of the watershed.

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Accomplishments to Date

Analyzed 190 acres of city-owned and 40 acres of privately-owned open space for future restoration opportunities.

Assisted the Baltimore Ecosystem Study researchers including USFS and City DPW staff in undertaking base condition data collection, assessment and water quality monitoring.

Formed a community-based Watershed Stakeholder Council to assist with long-term management, monitoring and evaluation of project implementation of the watershed restoration project.

Implemented 9 specifically designed restoration demonstration projects in one of two sub-drainage basin of 40 acres that are monitored by Baltimore Ecosystem Study for storm water conditions and begin storm water harvesting projects