Just a few months ago, a bold and ambitious new challenge was laid down by a coalition of nonprofits seeking to bring meaningful greenspaces within a 10-minute walk of every American. Among the 134 mayors who were already signed on at launch — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, whose vision for the city smartly integrates a strong green component.
Seeing that we have spent greater than two decades focused on bringing meaningful greenspaces to the city, that is the heart of our Nature Sacred Network, we couldn’t be more pleased to see the mayor committing to nearby nature. And we’re delighted to know that the network of spaces we’ve worked with the community to create, and that are dotted throughout Baltimore, will be key to the city meeting the challenge.
The campaign is being led by The Trust for Public Land together with the National Recreation and Park Association, and Urban Land Institute. According to the initial announcement made by The Trust for Public Land, the coalition will be working with various cities throughout the US on “measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.”
We spoke with Fran Spero of Baltimore Department of Recreation & Parks; she said that she and colleagues, together with other city offices and departments, including the Baltimore City Health Department, are in the initial phases of devising a strategy around the city’s commitment to the challenge.
There are many ways other cities are meeting the commitment to more publicly accessible greenspaces and parks: from opening up public school playgrounds after-hours, for instance, to converting vacant lots, as is already happening in Baltimore.
We’re hoping to see more Sacred Places established as part of Baltimore’s mix of new greenspaces; more opportunities to experience nature in a way that also encourages opportunities for respite and reflection.
With all of the known benefits that greenspaces offer — from the way they encourage better mental and physical health, to the way they influence community cohesion and crime — this latest commitment by Mayor Pugh should be an encouraging sign for the city. A sign of hope.