Methods for engaging communities in design and stewardship of public open spaces in Baltimore
To explore methods of community involvement in social-ecological planning and design processes and designed research in urban areas, and to present local examples of these processes in Baltimore.
Community stewardship of public lands and community–managed open spaces occurs in metropolitan areas around the world, often supported by few financial resources and minimal or no technical resources that could maximize the ecological potential in the green space. The spaces have potential to improve environmental justice and public health indicators in urban neighborhoods while reaping social and environmental benefits for residents. Depopulation in Baltimore and other urban areas offer ample space for additional retrofits and green space expansion however, the budgetary constriction and limited technical capacity can hinder jurisdictions from undertaking social-ecological planning and design processes. Strategic and adaptive community engagement not only leverages resources for green space stewardship but it is critical to producing an effective and practical designed space. As vested stakeholders, community members can provide input about local interest and needs that can result in projects that open dialogues about ecological restoration. Further, the information shared about site use patterns and community perceptions of different techniques can lead to more responsible and sustainable decisions in site design and research methodologies. Finally, active community engagement in the processes can foster a sense of ownership of the site that can ensure long-term stewardship and involvement citizen science efforts.
The presentation will review methods used to connect communities to the design process and research. Using examples taken from literature review and interviews (to be conducted), the presentation will provide real world examples of community-based aspects of planning and design.