Teddy Krolik’s job is all about engagement. As the Environmental & Sanitation Program Director of Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, he works with the residents of the diverse, historic district to tackle local social and environmental issues as a community.
Krolik sees the efforts of the RHIC in terms of exponential growth: education and neighborhood improvements beget pride, which in turn inspires more participation, more improvement and a shared sense of responsibility.
Some examples of RHIC projects are typical urban “greening” initiatives, Krolik says. They include planting trees, cleaning up dumping sites, promoting energy conservation, and bringing hands-on environmental education to students, teachers, and parents at the local elementary school.
“The most important part of my job is really just walking around and sitting on stoops with folks,” Krolik says. “I am not the reason any of these projects get done; the residents are the ones who come up with the ideas, and more importantly, they are the ones who actually make everything happen. My biggest contribution is bringing residents together so that they can see there are other people, both in the neighborhood and beyond, who have the knowledge, resources, and perseverance to help them achieve their goals.”
Currently, the RHIC is challenging its constituency to design and execute a plan to bring an entire vacant block back to life as a community center and urban farm. Whitelock Street is the former commercial hub of the neighborhood, and RHIC’s vision is to return it to an active place where neighbors of all ages can work and play together.
“Winter is usually the planning season, so that spring through fall can be a constant stream of volunteer work days,” Krolik says. “We hope to report significant progress on our vacant lot rehabilitation projects by early summer 2013.”
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