This winter, I had the honor of serving on Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s Transition Committee on Environment and Sustainability. This committee was comprised of leaders from across Baltimore working on issues related to solid waste reduction, climate change mitigation, renewable energy, healthy food access and water – drinking water, waste water, stormwater, and the health of our waterways.
It was an intense, and immensely enjoyable, experience. We met multiple times each week (virtually) to hear from city agency personnel and speakers from outside of city government. We met in smaller workgroups to discuss, and sometimes debate, the priorities that should be included in the chapter on Environment and Sustainability and the level of detail we should include. And, we heard directly from the Mayor himself, to hear his focus on building strategies that prioritize equity in decision-making and program delivery, and ensure residents have voice moving forward.
While the whole Transition Report is worth reading, the Environment and Sustainability section starts on page 64. I am incredibly proud that issues on which Blue Water Baltimore has spent considerable time and effort are included in this report as recommendations including:
- Making permanent improvements in the City’s response and assistance for residents experiencing sewage backups,
- More robust partnership with Baltimore County on protecting our shared waterways and water infrastructure, and
- Prioritizing green stormwater infrastructure for both its water quality and climate resilience benefits.
We also highlighted the need for a Chief Environmental Officer to break down silos among agencies with overlapping responsibilities, and to focus efforts on improving communication between agencies and the communities they serve.
I have called Baltimore home for 20 years. I love so much about this City, yet I also recognize the gravity of our challenges. This experience on the Mayor’s Transition Team gave me great hope for the future of our City, not just in the content of the report itself, or the really smart people gathered around the virtual table, but in the process with which it came together. Our Mayor brought together residents from all walks of life; he made certain to include community leaders, business leaders, advocates, academics, and others with experience in confronting challenges and developing collaborative solutions. And these folks all worked together to identify new ideas to address old problems, to make connections between issues often viewed as separate, and hopefully, to stimulate ongoing conversations and new partnerships around how we can work together toward meaningful solutions.
Blue Water Baltimore has always known that we can accomplish so much more together, than we ever could alone. The Mayor’s Transition Team was nice reminder of this. After a year like 2020, what an awesome way to start 2021.
Executive Director, Jenn Aiosa