Whole Block Strategies

 

Context:

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the next century. Climate change affects populations differently. After Superstorm Sandy made landfall on the east coast in the Fall of 2012. Baltimore ramped up strategies for the next climate-related super threat. Addressing climate threats of Baltimore, water is often the first to come to mind.

Yet, most of the city lives in landlocked communities away from the harbor. Compared to water, heat-related climate threats pose a bigger danger. Heat related threats become exacerbated in resource-poor communities. In East Baltimore, over 30 organizations work in environmental spaces. Ranging from tree canopy to energy efficiency a lot of them address heat mitigation. Though the impact varies. Over-extension of involved residents coupled with a limited funding structure limit sustained impact. As a result, the impact of the organizations lags behind the rest of Baltimore. Leaving East Baltimore residents unprepared for forthcoming climate threats.

 

Intervention & Impact: 

The city block is the fundamental unit of a city's physical and social geography. From block to block residents organize in formal and informal social relationships. Effective organizations connect projects to people via these relationships. Emphasizing relevancy and capacity within grassroots interventions to sustain change. Whole Block Strategies builds on this method. By organizing efforts in the environmental space, projects are better coordinated among stakeholders.

Streamlining engagement practices, Whole Block Strategies avoids commitment fatigue of residents. It works to prove collective impact within communities and avoid unfinished piecemeal efforts. The intervention started on the 2200 block of Jefferson Street in East Baltimore. We started by organizing a group of well-connected neighbors. Visible progress with a few residents built further participation among the block. Wherein action creates further action, residents started to advocate within their communities. This catalyzed a community-driven movement facilitated by the people that live there.