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Life Arts    H4'ed 10/29/16

Resilience in Baltimore: A Bottom-Up Example of People Taking Charge

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"Build resistance to what?" you may ask. Personally I use the term resilience. It's more positive. Resilience as I define it is the adoption of behaviors and programs that lead to a supportive and clean environment, healthy families and a vibrant you.

And who is going to lead that health movement? You, the reader, are.

The study represents a partnership with many individuals and organizations--including the City of Baltimore's Office of Sustainability and Prince George's County Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative-- to increase discussion in predominantly African American neighborhoods in two areas of the state that are at high risk from climate-related environmental changes and have historically been underserved. The study was conducted as a door-to-door survey in spring 2016 in four neighborhoods of the state-- three in Baltimore and one in Prince George's County.

Findings of the study include:

Baltimore and Prince George's community residents point to climate change risks. They are more likely to report experiencing health and environmental harms than Marylanders as a whole.

The four Baltimore and Prince George's County communities have the same levels of risk perception for climate change--and related effects such as sea level rise, extreme heat, storms, and flooding--as do the residents of the rest of the state.

The majority of survey respondents in the Baltimore (57%) and Prince George's County (61%) neighborhoods identify climate change as likely to cause significant harm in the next several years.

The Baltimore and Prince George's County neighborhood residents are more likely than Marylanders generally to say they have experienced water damage caused by heavy rains or flooding (38% Baltimore vs. 15% state) and sewage overflows after rains or storms (22% Baltimore/19% Glassmanor-Oxon Hill vs. 6% state). They are also more likely to say they have experienced health harms from storms and flooding than the state at large.

Glassmanor-Oxon Hill respondents are more likely to say that pollen has harmed their health than those in the Baltimore neighborhoods and Maryland as a whole.

Chronic medical conditions are more pervasive in the three neighborhoods of Baltimore than they are in the state, particularly for asthma (23% vs. 12%).

Residents report lower levels of social capital--resources and communication--to address problems. They want information on energy and climate, and governments to take action, including creation of local "resilience hubs."

Both the Baltimore and Prince George's County neighborhoods rank their communities as lower in social capital than residents statewide in terms of their ability to obtain resources and communicate internally.

Approximately two-thirds of the Baltimore (65%) and Glassmanor-Oxon Hill (67%) neighborhoods say they support local and state governments taking action to protect their communities from the effects of climate change.

Almost two-thirds of Baltimore respondents (65%) say that they would be somewhat or extremely likely to use a community building that provides shelter, food, water, and other resources during emergency events. The same percentage in Glassmanor-Oxon Hill (65%) say that they would be somewhat or extremely likely to use a centrally located services hub in their community.

Baltimore and Prince George's County neighborhood residents are more likely to ask for information on six energy and climate protection topics than people in the state as a whole. Almost a third of our survey's respondents requested energy bill assistance (31%).

Having been raised in Maryland, on the outskirts of Baltimore, I wondered as I researched this, why are Baltimore and Prince George's County neighborhoods more likely to ask for information? Prince Georges is more of a Washington suburb. While there is a lot of money there, there is also a lot of poverty. Baltimore, meanwhile, has a lot of poverty. Furthermore, when I lived there, the city was over 50% black, most of who were living in poverty.

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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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