History Activism Project

For our history project, we conducted an interview with one of the city members in charge of the Canoe and Scoop program because we were interested in how the canoe and scoop came to be. Here is how it went:

  • Have you heard about Trash Free Maryland? If so, are you in contact with them?
    • I have not heard about Trash Free Maryland, but I will be looking them up after I complete this and see what they do/how we could partner.


  • Do you work with programs in the city to clean up the city itself? If so, what are these programs?
    • This winter I connected with the city DPW (department of public works) with their stormwater program.  In Baltimore City residents are charged a “Stormwater Fee” on their water bills, which generates revenue for the city to help with stormwater issues (erosion, flooding, trash removal – I’ll attach a link at the bottom with more information on this).  How I work with DPW is I help our volunteers get Stormwater credits which can help lower their water bills.  Volunteers can earn these by participating in projects that help keep the waterways and environment clean (think invasive removal, tree mulching/planting, trash pick up).  These projects must be registered in advanced, and I worked with DPW to create a “how-to” guide for some of our volunteers who regularly host clean ups.  


  • How effective do you think the trash wheel is?
    • I think the trash wheel is effective.  I say this is a way that is a band-aid and we need many more trash wheels to fully clean the waterways in Baltimore.  Pollution in the water is more than just trash, it’s also chemicals.  These chemicals come from cars, gardening, dumping, etc.  The idea of the trash wheel is good because it brings awareness about the trash problem, but I do not think it is an effective solution.  


  • When did you guys start the canoe and scoop program?
    • The canoe n scoop program has been around since 2013.  


  • How effective has the program been since it started?
    • The program has been very effective, it brings a lot of awareness to the trash and how it affects the environment.  It’s a great opportunity for volunteers to have fun in canoes, but also see the impact of trash and pollution.


  • How much trash is generally collected per canoe and scoop?
    • We typically have about 2 bags per boat, at most we have 10 boats out for a total of 20 bags of trash.  The bags we use have an average weight of 25 pound.  


  • What other ways is the trash issue being tackled? (Miniature landfills)
    • Most of our volunteer efforts are focused on trash removal.  We have 80 Friends of Parks groups, which are volunteer groups that oversee a certain park and they are responsible for overseeing the park’s needs.  We support these groups by meeting with the members and Park District Manager to see what we can accomplish together.  We provide these Friends groups with materials they need, whether they need serious maintenance work done or want to organize volunteer events.  We also have a monthly clean up on three of the main trails in Baltimore (Gwynns Falls Trail, Jones Falls Trail, Herring Run Trail).  These clean ups are focused on clearing the trails of debris and trash.  


  • Would you happen to know about the buildup of trash that is collecting on the bottom of the basin (the area where the Baltimore Rowing Club Rows)?
    • Due to the location of middle branch park, it’s a southern point of the city, and where the water flows eventually the Chesapeake.  Because it is a peninsula and also a cove, it essentially ‘catches’ the trash from the watersheds.  It brings a lot of awareness to the trash and pollution issues.   


  • If so, what are some ways that it can be cleaned up?
    • The purpose of canoe n scoop was to help clean up the trash build up.  Again, it is just a band aid when you look at the bigger picture.  


  • What are some future plans you have in regards to trash cleanup?
    • Right now my plans are just to continue with volunteer events removing trash, but also using those volunteer events to bring awareness to the bigger picture of trash and pollution.  When I have a volunteer project, I make sure to debrief and talk about the trash and where it originates and how people can lower their trash production (reusable water bottles, plastic bags).  

DPW Stormwater info: http://dpwapps.baltimorecity.gov/cleanwaterbaltimore/why-do-i-pay-a-stormwater-fee/


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