Environmental Stewardship - Power in Dirt - Revitalizing Baltimore One Vacant Lot at a Time

Power in Dirt is an Americorps VISTA program that fosters environmental stewardship in under-served areas of Baltimore City, Maryland. Power in Dirt empowers Baltimore residents to transform vacant lots into vibrant community green spaces. It is one of three new all volunteer-run initiatives from Baltimore City Mayor’s Office’s stepUP! Baltimore Campaign addressing some of Baltimore’s most pressing issues. The Power in Dirt initiative concentrates on urban blight, specifically the overwhelming presence of vacant lots in many city neighborhoods. We build on pre-existing community assets, organizations, and programs to assist these revitalization efforts. We work with greening and water quality organizations across the City to provide resources for these communities to achieve success in their greening projects. We provide services through Baltimore City agencies such as mulch delivery, free trees, and concrete removal. Power in Dirt coordinators are embedded in non-profit organizations that serve various areas in Baltimore City to provide grassroots level outreach, networking, and volunteer implementation. Coordinators assist residents by helping through the process of adopting a vacant lot, finding resources, identifying and applying for or raising funds, site plan designing and finally implementation and volunteer coordinating. These projects are truly by the people and for the people. Projects originate with residents and are accomplished through volunteer work and donated resources. Because the projects are community-led, the project fosters a sense of environmental stewardship that maintains after Power in Dirt has helped the community. In neighborhoods where many of these vacant lots are located there is little green space, and the connection between residents and the environment is minimal. Residents and neighborhood groups who work with Power in Dirt learn how to garden and about their own neighborhood’s place in the ecosystem. Through implementation and workshops, they become knowledgeable about the earth and how to care for it. Through the Power in Dirt initiative, residents become environmental stewards by managing their own neighborhood revitalization project.

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