With volunteer crews still fanning out to pick up trash after President Trump’s derogatory comments calling Baltimore “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and local community leaders today touted the efforts they’re already making to keep neighborhoods clean.
At a press conference at City Hall, they highlighted the work of BMORE Beautiful, a program that provides resources to neighborhood associations to keep their communities clean.
Through one of the program’s initiatives, Care-A-Lot, 38 neighborhood organizations have mowed and maintained 587 vacant lots across Baltimore, according to the mayor’s office.
“It didn’t happen overnight and it can’t be corrected overnight,” Young said of the city’s trash problem. “But this is a problem that is being addressed through a partnership between the city and residents that live, work and play in our communities.”
Rebecca Woods, executive director of the city’s Environmental Control Board, said more than 1,500 residents have signed a pledge to help beautify their neighborhoods and pick up litter through the program.
Another initiative through BMORE Beautiful, SAY YES!, pays young people a stipend to be environmental stewards and work alongside community leaders on greening projects for 10 weeks.
A third effort, Love Your Block, provides grants for neighborhood projects, ranging from murals to parks. Forty neighborhood associations received funding for projects.
Debbie Ramsey, founder of the nonprofit Unified Efforts in Penn North, said programs like BMORE Beautiful that engage and empower residents promote stability.
“When we talk about how can we get Baltimore into a safe zone, you start with cleaning up, you start with engagement, you start with collaboration,” she said.
A few community leaders also threw in their own two cents about other ways to tackle the trash problem. Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Community Development Corporation, called on the city to install more cameras to catch construction crews and residents illegally dumping their waste. He also recommended a return of two-day trash pick-up, and said his community needs help to boost recycling.
Curtis Bay resident Meleny Thomas, who works at the Filbert Street Community Garden, said the city needs to fully embrace the recently passed statewide ban on polystyrene, and threw her support behind a city bill to ban plastic bags.
“These are the things that really help stop the pollution in our community,” she said.
She did endorse BMORE Beautiful, too, saying it gives city youth a chance to be more engaged in their neighborhoods.
“I’m very active in my community, and with them following behind, we’re leading the way for them,” she said. “And some of them are leading the way for us.”
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