Resiliency Hubs Help Baltimore Plan for Climate Emergency

The Green New Deal for Cities, a bill introduced in April by reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), includes among the list of projects eligible for funding those that "build capacity for communities to endure extreme weather."

2 minute read

August 18, 2021, 10:00 AM PDT

By rkaufman

The city of Baltimore's Inner Harbor blanketed in fog, as seen from the water.

Richard Thornton / Shutterstock

At the beginning of 2017, Pastor Michael Martin left Los Angeles for a chance to lead Stillmeadow Community Fellowship, a small congregation in Southwest Baltimore near the Howard County line. Martin had spent some years in Baltimore a few decades prior, and his wife, Gail, was raised there. Over the years, the neighborhood around Stillmeadow had gradually transitioned from a mostly white neighborhood to a primarily Black one, and many Black families had moved across the county line as well. Historically, Martin says, the church had not been very involved with the surrounding community.

“They asked me to consider pastoring, and the idea was to refurbish and renew, all of that,” Martin says. “And part of their vision for the church was to be a place where people got to see Christianity at work.” In the spring and summer of 2018, the neighborhood was hit with a series of floods that caused major damage to many homes in the area. The spring floods also devastated a business corridor in Ellicott City, Maryland, across the Howard County line, and made national news.

But little attention was paid to the damage in Southwest Baltimore, compounding a sense among residents that the authorities didn’t consider their community to be important. “They have a strong sense of being ignored,” Martin says. “They have a strong sense that Southwest doesn’t matter, it doesn’t count, it gets no love.”

In the wake of the floods, Martin says, the Stillmeadow Community Fellowship started hosting weekly cookouts in the neighborhood and helping to coordinate the flood response with the Red Cross and other service providers. Sometime that fall, someone from Baltimore’s Office of Sustainability approached the congregation about joining the city’s nascent Community Resiliency Hub Program.

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