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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Baltimore: revitalization in-process

The Lambda Alpha International Baltimore Chapter hosted the Spring 2018 Land Economics Weekend (LEW) attracting a global contingency eager to learn about Baltimore's history, challenges, and accomplishments. With limited time, the LEW tours and presentations focused on neighborhood revitalization, Inner Harbor industrial | commercial development, and community-based initiatives.

Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

LAI operates through a network of chapters. LAI chapters provide a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its designated purposes.

Twice per year chapters sponsor "Weekend Experiences" giving members an opportunity to meet and learn about land economic issues in cities throughout the world. Open to LAI members and their guests, the LEWs address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city.

Under Armour Inner Harbor facility
In late April the Baltimore Chapter welcomed over 100 LAI members and guests from around the globe to their grand city for the 2018 Spring LEW. The day prior to LEW festivities is slated for global LAI business meetings, including the Executive Committee, Land Economic Foundation (LEF) Board, President's Roundtable, and the Board of Governance meetings. Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore represented the Atlanta Chapter in pre-LEW business meetings and enjoyed the LEW festivities.

During the business meetings, the Spring 2019 Puerto Rico LEW was officially approved. As there is no Puerto Rico chapter, LAI Global Executive Vice-President Cassandra Francis is the LEW Chair; Holly volunteered to serve on the LEW committee and will oversee the LEW sustainability commitment. Could the Puerto Rico LEW be plastic-free??!!!!!

After the business meetings, Holly met with the LEF Board to preview a potential LAI Atlanta Chapter Finding the Flint project for a grant application. The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, The Flint River: a river ready to regenerate, gives an overview of the Flint River headwaters current scenario. A local Atlanta team is in place and project development is underway for an anticipated early 2019 launch.

Founded in 1965, LEF is a not-for-profit charitable foundation organized to administer an investment fund which provides grants for research projects related to land economics. LEF commits capital (5% of assets) to a number of significant and worthwhile endeavors across the country on a matching basis with other non-profit entities. After the LEF Board of Directors' review, qualified applications are submitted to the LEF Board of Trustees for approval.

Inner Harbor view
As the business day closes, the LEW opens with the President's Reception where attendees are treated to delicious cuisine, cocktails and a heartfelt welcome to the hosting city. The Baltimore LEW President's Reception was hosted at Top of the World, 27th Floor of the World Trade Center and opened the formal LEW festivities. With 365-degree glass windows, the Baltimore Inner Harbor views were spectacular.

On Day One LEW attendees gathered for breakfast while prominent Baltimore professionals educated on the city's history, current status and projects under development. Lunch was provided on a comprehensive cruise of the Baltimore Inner Harbor and beyond. Within the Inner Harbor, Baltimore retains its manufacturing roots with prominent facilities located harborside; Domino Sugar and Under Armour are two industry leaders with Inner Harbor facility locations.

Raymond Skinner
In the afternoon, LEW attendees toured East Baltimore via buses and witnessed the neighborhood redevelopment underway. East Baltimore is an area in transition with the community coming together to restore historic row houses into affordable homes for local citizens. At the Eager Park amphitheater stage, East Baltimore Development President & CEO Raymond Skinner educated on the comprehensive, aggressive plan to redevelop an 88-acre tract of land adjacent to Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Displaced residents are well taken care of within the redevelopment, whether they choose to return to the neighborhood or not.

The full day ended with fun, educational dine-around dinners hosted by LAI Baltimore Chapter members. As an introduction to Baltimore neighborhoods and local cuisine, members hosted groups of 8 - 10 LEW attendees for a cocktail reception at their home. Dinner followed at a nearby restaurant.

Holly joined hosts Joanie & David Millane for a lovely evening in the Federal Hill neighborhood. After meeting at the Baltimore Visitor Center, the small group strolled past Baltimore's tallest building and into the eclectic neighborhood. Joanie & David arranged for a tour of a famed Otterbein "Dollar Home."

In the mid-1800's Otterbein was thriving and home to St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, the largest parish in Baltimore. By the 1970's the neighborhood was in shambles and the City intended to tear down the disheveled row houses for parking. Due to strong neighborhood advocacy, the City instead offered shabby yet salvageable homes for $1.00 along with responsibility for restoration. The Baltimore Sun 2014 article, Remembering the homesteaders of Otterbein, chronicles Otterbein's history and revitalization from author Jacques Kelly's perspective as a neighborhood advocacy journalist in the 1970's.

Remington Neighborhood
Following the "Dollar Home" tour, Joanie and David welcomed the dine-around group into their renovated Harbor Walk 1980's townhome. Joanie's housemade Maryland crab dip was the star of the cocktail reception. The lovely evening ended at Sobo Cafe for a delicious dinner prepared with local ingredients. Holly and her companions opted to walk back to Pier 5, the LEW host hotel.

On Day Two the LEW attendees enjoyed an educational breakfast prior to boarding buses headed for Central Baltimore. At the MICA Graduate Center, a comprehensive panel shared their work and experience with revitalizing Central Baltimore neighborhoods. Lunch was enjoyed at the R House food hall, located in the heart of the revitalized Remington neighborhood. After lunch, Holly left the organized bus tour for her self-guided walking tour back to the hotel.

Following tradition, the Baltimore LEW ended with an excellent Awards Banquet. As the dinner closed the Baltimore Chapter President handed the LEW baton to the Orange County President in anticipation of the 2018 Fall Orange County LEW.

Renowned photographer Bob Madden was in-charge of a LEW pictorial recap. What an honor: Bob was a staff photographer for 15 years with National Geographic where he won many impressive awards.

"Hi Joan: "Past & Current LAI Presidents
Steven Gragg & Robert McBride
Augmenting Bob's official photos, Holly published the Ei FB album, 2018 Spring Baltimore LEW, with images from her LEW perspective. The album includes a "Hi Joan" section in honor of Founding Atlanta Chapter President Joan Herron, a well-loved icon in the LAI community. As her health prevents travel, Joan's dear friends enjoy posing for a series of "Hi Joan" photos.

Beyond attending semi-annual LEWs, Holly serves on the Atlanta Chapter Board as the Communications Chair. In addition, Holly is a member of the Global PR & Communication Executive Committee. With Ei's Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity focus, LAI is a valuable investment of Ei time and resources.

Via Holly's nomination, Ei Strategic Ally Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki and Sustainable Facilities Initiative Chair Tim Trefzer, Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability, were inducted into LAI membership in December 2017. Ei Advisor Wayne King, ERTH Products President & CEO, was inducted into LAI membership in December 2015.

Congratulations to Baltimore LEW Chair Susannah Bergmann for spearheading an amazing weekend. Thanks to the dedication of a strong committee, LEW attendees left Baltimore impressed with innovative neighborhood revitalization and inspired by the community involvement of industry leaders like Johns Hopkins Hospital and Under Armour.

... and the Fall 2018 Orange County LEW is a mere six month away!

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