Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Sustainability Resources for Home and Work

As promised on Monday, we have a few resources to share with you from our recent participation it the Johns Hopkins University Climate Showcase project.

Our friends at JHU provided us with reference sheets to help you make your home and office more energy efficient.

Climate Showcase an Eye-Opening Experience

Submitted by Tyson Smith
I think anyone who knows me would say that I’m not particularly environmentally aware.  I mean, I recycle, but that’s easy.  I turn off the air conditioner when I leave my office because that makes sense to me.  But I just don’t see the big environmental picture as a priority.  I like to make jokes about “loving the earth” as a reason to do or not to do something.  I’m that kind of guy.
Naturally, then, I found it kind of a challenge to act as the point person for GHCC’s participation in the Johns Hopkins University Climate Showcase Program, a summer initiative all about building environmental sustainability in Baltimore non-profits.  Skepticism aside, this represented nearly a week of my time in meeting with two JHU interns, touring them around our building, facilitating staff-brainstorming sessions, etc.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about the experience if it had been a waste of time, so I’ll cut to the chase and say that GHCC’s participation in the JHU Climate Showcase was a wonderful and valuable experience.
The JHU interns who facilitated the process, Sean Murphy and Olugbenga Adeyinka, were excellent resources.  They offered practical advice, both in terms of the physical factors of environmental sustainability—how much water flows through your toilet, quality of light fixtures, etc.—and  what an agency like GHCC can do to help promote environmental sustainability in the community.
As a participant in the program, GHCC was provided with a number of resources, specifically tailored to our perspective as a community-based non-profit, about environmental sustainability.  These resources ranged from quick tips about how to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle to specific documents about buying green office supplies, home improvement supplies, etc.  We can now share this knowledge with communities throughout Greater Homewood—in fact, we’ll even be offering some tips on this blog later in the week.
Maybe the best outcome, though, was bringing all of GHCC’s programs together to have this kind of environmentally-based conversation.  Through the Climate Showcase, we gathered staff to brainstorm ways for GHCC to integrate green practices, philosophies and goals into our organizational culture.  The interns’ assessment of GHCC, I am happy to say, was that we were in pretty good shape.
And I guess the real victory here is that I learned that being environmentally conscious isn’t that arduous.  It’s relatively easy, and pretty important, so I’m going to try to increase my personal level of participation.  Thanks to Benga, Sean and to the Johns Hopkins University for this excellent opportunity!

COACH Celebrates First Semester in Baltimore

2008-2009 COACH volunteers (l to r) Tasmim Anwar, Catherine Coleman, Paul Hsiao, and Faraz Khalik

Long before you attend your first class, just getting into college these days is hard work: selecting where to apply, taking the SAT, writing essays, searching for financial aid, and finally deciding on the school that’s right for you. This fall, GHCC is giving twelfth-graders at three north central Baltimore public high schools some extra help along the way.

The College Opportunity and Career Help (COACH) program is working at Western High School, Baltimore City College, and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. COACH matches seniors at Baltimore City public high schools with volunteer mentors who are undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University. Mentors meet with their students each week throughout the school year to help them through the college application and career planning process.

With the first semester of COACH in Baltimore complete, evaluations from our students and volunteers are showing that the program is making a difference:

  • “I love my COACH advisor. She is very helpful and relatable and understanding.” —Marissa, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • “The sense of security [of] knowing someone who has been through the process is very helpful and talking to the coaches is very reassuring.” –Darren, Baltimore City College
  • “It’s nice to know there is someone who cares about my education as much as I do.” —Shawna, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • “I definitely would want to return to COACH next year and continue with it every year I spend at Hopkins.” —Amy, COACH volunteer
  • “It is a great program and I wish every high school student was able to use this program.” —Neikita, Western High School

The COACH program was created in 1999 by two Harvard professors as a way to encourage college access for public high school students in Boston. This is the first year that COACH has been licensed by the Education Resources Institute to operate outside of Massachusetts, and it’s being led in Baltimore by GHCC staffer Frankie Gamber, who was a COACH volunteer during her senior year of college in 2002-2003.