Then and now
In 2001, Janet Felsten founded Baltimore Green Map, a local organization allied with the international Green Map (GMS). The GMS graphic icons and tools are shared by more than 800 projects worldwide. In Baltimore, these innovative mapping tools and complementary educational materials address local sustainability issues: restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, urban greening initiatives, and programs to reduce obesity through exercise and the availability of fresh, local food. By mapping natural, cultural and daily living resources, the organization documents and advocates for a sustainable city.
Challenge of sustainability
“Because there’s so much need in this city for very basic things—food, shelter, addiction treatment, job training—these needs have to take priority,” Felsten says, “What I do often comes last.”
But Felsten believes Baltimore Green Map is an effective outreach and education program, especially as it promotes knowledge, stewardship, and the empowerment of city residents.
“I especially want kids to feel that they can accomplish something positive,” she says. “The green-mapping process provides a perfect way to explore, analyze, and communicate their perceptions, then strategize and advocate for change.”
OSI-Baltimore has helped
Over the years, Felsten has greatly valued the advice of OSI-Baltimore staff members—particularly Pamela King, director of Community Fellowships.
“Pamela has a great overview of the city. I’ve met with her annually as an opportunity to reflect and discuss strategy,” Felsten says, “and the network of fellows is a terrific resource.” The Baltimore Green Map and blog, for example, have featured Jason Reed’s work to transform a trash-strewn site into Filbert Street Community Garden. Felsten has partnered with Deborah Patterson’s Art Blocks, Miriam Avins’ Baltimore Green Space and others.
Felsten plans to use the grant to improve the Baltimore Green Map website so that it can be easily updated through an improved content management system and to include accessible, interactive maps.
Funds will refine the project’s K-8 school outreach program, Map Your School/Community Program, to align with education standards. Felston will then pilot the program in Greater Mondawmin and Reservoir Hill. Teachers and students will study their neighborhoods, make maps, and work toward Maryland Green School certification. The redesigned website will include a collaborative map that allows teachers and students to share “green” school strategies and accomplishments.
Felsten just completed a successful Kickstarter (crowd-sourced funding) campaign. With these or other funds, Baltimore Green Map will create an activity-filled “passport” to complement the Druid Hill Park Green Map, enticing park visitors to discover more aspects of Baltimore’s central park and ultimately become advocates for maintaining and improving it.
Felsten also plans to revise the Baltimore Green Map’s 2008 Jones Falls Trail Green Map, reissuing it when the new sections of the trail—reaching south to downtown and the Gwynns Falls Trail and north to Cylburn Arboretum—open in 2013. She is collaborating with the city’s Bike Coordinator Nate Evans to help make Baltimore a more bicycle-friendly city.