Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mapping Urban Green Spaces with GPS

I have to admit, my recent acquisition of a Droid phone has made me feel a little frivolous. Happily,  Baltimore Green Space organized a program that put my new technology to good use.

Last Saturday my friend Geoff Stack  and I went on a treasure hunt of sorts around West Baltimore, taking photos of various green sites and mapping them with GPS.  Thanks to Geoff for being such a great team partner! 

In case you didn't already know, Baltimore City has lots of abandoned spaces. The city wants to begin selling off those unused spaces. Baltimore Green Space is trying to map all of the "abandoned" spaces that are currently being used as a green space. Community gardens, rain gardens, horseshoe pits, open parks, container planters, and more all qualify.

The city is also interested in protecting these community spaces, since they often provide community stability (I know that the Remington garden has been a fabulous improvement over the empty lot it replaced.)  But they just don't have the people-power to make a record of what's going on in each empty lot. So it's up to Baltimore's citizens to track how the empty lots are being used.

Here I am at one of the parks off Route 40:

Geoff and I first went to the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and took photos of various bird, butterfly, and rain gardens.

 They had a pretty sweet playground!

(This pole was actually flexible and waved up and down as you walked across- whoa! Slippery iron. It's nice to see that playgrounds aren't too milquetoast these days!)

At the next park, there was a couple sitting down on one of the benches, even though it was pretty chilly outside. Does anyone know what these weird fruits are?

 Then we went to a church that had a small garden out back. There was also a small grassy field that looked like it served as a meditation area sometimes. The wooden cross came out rather eerie looking though...

Then we went to the Samaritan Women's center to see their farm operation. The garden operates as part of a recovery program for women. Click on the link if you are interested in volunteering or learning more about their program.

High tunnels and chickens!

Then we went to a strip of plants that had been put in a grassy strip in a residential community. Geoff thought that it ran alongside an area where a small rail line used to be. Sigh. Trains are another BaltimoreDIY post altogether... Anyway, it was nice to see some botanical diversity added to this wooded area.

 The Samaritan Women caretakers event tipped us off to two nearby spaces that weren't on our map locations.

This mural in the Irvington neighborhood of West Baltimore was really nice. It looked like the garden was no longer in use, but the mural and sign still kept the space alive.

Around the corner we found a somewhat large community garden in an empty lot. The greens aren't looking so happy since it's past first frost. But mission accomplished on our part for finding a new green space to preserve!

Thanks, technology!

And don't forget, you can recycle your cell phone to re-use all of its valuable metals instead of just throwing it away (or sending it to China for someone to strip it of the metals and then burn the rest.) I noticed yesterday that the Target in Mondawmin Mall has a bin in the front of the store for used cell phones and MP3 players. Yay!

Geoff even took me back into the city with a small tour past a forgotten Crab Alley near Pratt and Monroe St. I had never even heard of it before, and although I wouldn't stroll around by myself, I was really glad I got a peek at a forgotten destination point of Baltimore.

I know it's been quiet on BaltimoreDIY lately, I hope this photo and link packed post makes up for it!

Stay warm, everyone.

1 comment:

Adrian Lee said...

The way the fruit hang and are attached makes it seem like a cherry tree. I'm no expert though! It also seems unusual to me that they would be on the tree so late without any foiliage on the tree. Check out some pictures on the internet.

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