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Clean Water Starts in Communities

City of Neighborhoods

Baltimore is often called a city of neighborhoods. Each one is unique, and has individual strengths and needs. Residents are experts in their own community. Many are master gardeners or trash warriors, who have years of experience and knowledge.

Others are lifelong residents who understand the culture and history of each street, block, and home. Finally, there are those who simply get stuff done, whether they are leading the charge, knocking on doors, or coming out to meetings, and inviting others, our work simply cannot be done without Baltimore City and County residents.

The Alley Makeover Project

This spring, we collaborated with Leanna Wetmore, the Community Coordinator at the Healthy Harbor Initiative of the Waterfront Partnership, on several community clean ups and alley transformations. Healthy Harbor developed and funded the idea, calling it the Alley Makeover project.


Blue Water Baltimore contributed through outreach and planning, and supplied cleanup materials through Project Clean Stream, our largest cleanup of the year. Waverly and Baltimore Highlands were two of the neighborhoods engaged.

Waverly Neighborhood

Waverly residents came out and worked together to collect 1,850 pounds of trash and debris. Residents received free recycling bins and trash cans with an attached lid, and their address was written on the can, to prevent them from being stolen or lost. Long-time and newer residents of all ages came out to help, and enjoyed cleaning up and talking with each other over pizza in the park afterward.

Nayeli Garcia Mowbray, from Waverly, said, “Waterfront Partnership and Blue Water Baltimore granted our community opportunities available from broader initiatives. These working relationships connect us to our overall environment and ultimately build a stronger community!”


Baltimore Highlands

Baltimore Highlands’ alley makeover was characterized by their strong artist and Spanish speaking population. Despite a language barrier, we successfully communicated about trash days, proper recycling, and equipped residents with trash cans. Artists outlined flowers according to a theme from a sign created by the Baltimore Highlands Neighborhood Association President, Rachel Timmins, and children painted, bringing the outlines to life. Hours later, the alley was transformed, with children playing soccer in the clean, beautiful alley.

“Our greening initiatives help to get residents out of their homes, reclaiming their sidewalks and abandoned lots. These greening and environmental initiatives are imperative to the healthy growth of our communities,” said Rachel.

Many Blue Water staff are experts on native plants and bioretention systems that will help treat stormwater, but we rely on residents to bring these ideas to life in unique and effective ways in their neighborhoods, in order to clean water and strengthen communities.

Photo credit Adam Lindquist.

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