By Tyler Lehmann, Volunteer
The Volunteer Luncheon on May 15th was an occasion to recognize the valuable work done by Enoch Pratt Free Library volunteers. The guest speaker at the event was Baltimore’s Chief Services Officer, Vu Dang. Dang spoke about the power of volunteers in helping to solve Baltimore City’s biggest problems.
Baltimoreans identified the three most pressing challenges in the city as drug addiction, crime, and urban blight. At the luncheon, Vu Dang spoke about his efforts to work with the City to create Power in Dirt to help curb the problem of urban blight. Power in Dirt is an organization that makes Baltimore City owned vacant lots available for the public to adopt. Residents have freedom to be creative with the vacant space while abiding by a few guidelines, residents must keep their lot clean, the lots cannot be used to run a business, and no permanent structures can be built on the lot.
Power in Dirt helps transforms Baltimore’s vacant lots into community-managed spaces that look beautiful. Some residents make an effort to plant gardens or trees in their lots with the help community and friends, while others simply clean up their lot to make the space look nice. Power in Dirt emphasizes the many benefits of cleaning up vacant lots, among them: crime reduction, increased property values, less trash dumping, and stronger ecosystems. Dang asserts that actions done by the community, such as adopting vacant lots, help to keep Baltimore City headed in a positive direction.
In late April, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Director Alfred F. Foxx, kicked off the Mayor’s Spring Cleanup with the help of Power in Dirt. The Mayor, along with a team of volunteers, converted the vacant lot on 1501 N. Bethel St. into a green space in the Oliver neighborhood.
Dang believes that to move Baltimore forward, everyone in the community must make an effort and get involved, and I believe that Power in Dirt is helping to make community involvement possible!
Tyler Lehmann lives in Towson, MD and is graduating in the class of 2012 from Friends School of Baltimore. He will attend Elon University in the fall. Tyler completed his Senior Work Project in the Volunteer Services Office of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.