Baltimore City Department of Planning e-News - June 2022

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the compass - city of baltimore department of planning

Baltimore City Department of Planning eNewsletter  - June 2022

A Message from Chris Ryer, Director


Throughout May and June, the Department of Planning started to host public events across Baltimore - our first events of this nature since early 2020. We heard across the board from attendees that residents have really enjoyed and missed in-person interactions with staff and with each other. Each event has felt a bit like a reunion - an opportunity to reconnect, share stories and build community after a long time apart.

We hosted our first in-person Sustainability Open House since 2019 at Shake and Bake, where residents could take a spin on the rink after checking out information from many partner organizations. Below, read more about how to get involved with the Climate Action Plan currently underway.

We also hosted three Open House events so far to support the early stage development of the Our Baltimore Comprehensive Plan. You can read what we've heard at these events via this link and a summary below. A final (virtual) Open House is happening tonight at 6. Please register and attend on Tuesday, June 21 at 6 PM.

Chris Ryer, Director

Storytelling Ambassador Training Kicks off for Our Baltimore

David Fakunle

On June 9th, we kicked off our storytelling ambassador training for Our Baltimore. Over 100 Baltimore City residents signed up with interest in serving as a Storytelling Ambassador. The training was led by Dr. David Fakunle, a Baltimore native and current resident. 

Dr. David Fakunle has been a professional storyteller for over 25 years and honed his craft under 'Maryland's Official Griot,' the late Mary Carter Smith.

He is the co-founder and CEO of DiscoverME/RecoverME, an organization that utilizes the African oral tradition to encourages the claiming of one’s narrative for personal healing and growth. Additionally, David utilizes storytelling as a public health practitioner and researcher.

Why Ambassadors? The Storytelling Ambassadors builds off earlier success of the Sustainability Plan Ambassadors program. We are seeking to engage residents in deeper conversation around neighborhoods thru this effort. Most importantly, we hope that the Storytelling Ambassadors will amplify the voices of residents that may have gone unheard in years past.

What is the role of an Ambassador? After attending a training in June 2022, ambassadors will bring together their own friends, family and neighbors for a storytelling space in their home or a community space. They will facilitate a conversation about neighborhood life in Baltimore, using storytelling as a facilitation approach that allows anyone to participate and builds community among the guests. After hosting their event, ambassadors will provide a summary of key themes brought up to Department of Planning staff - these themes will be woven into the content of the plan. 

To learn more about this project, please reach out to

Our Baltimore: In-Person Open House Events Wrap Up

Hoen Open House

This spring, we hosted a series of three Open House events across town: at Cherry Hill Elementary School, Forest Park Senior High School, and at the Hoen & Lithograph Building.

The final open house this Spring will be on Tuesday 6/21, virtually. Register here!

The purpose of the Open House events is to jumpstart the conversation around the Our Baltimore Comprehensive Plan update - get the word out to community leaders about the project, and begin to hone in on priority themes and topic areas. 

Residents were able to review data and maps to set the stage for this planning project. Comments on the data and maps reflected the fact that across various indicators, resources are inequitably distributed, and this planning effort must prioritize strategies to redress this.

Here's just a sample of the vision statements that were developed by attendees:

  • "In my Baltimore, all residents have their views considered and implemented in the development of their communities."
  • "In my Baltimore, people are willing to put in the work because they feel proud of where we might be heading…. Proud to be real Baltimore!"
  • "In my Baltimore, I breathe easier – figuratively and literally."

Residents also were able to weigh in on the potential plan topics that they felt mattered most to Baltimore. Topics that received interest included affordable housing, zoning equity, addressing vacant buildings, neighborhood retail, tree canopy, connecting people to nature, and food access.

Finally, we asked people to tell us the building blocks for equitable development and how to get there. Residents told us to prioritize Black engineers, architects, and developers, and they told us that they wanted to see more programming to ensure that residents are able to weigh in on development proposals. One resident wrote that the City should manage the standards for community involvement; but residents should drive the vision.

You can read what we heard from the first two events in greater depth via this link. We will incorporate notes and input from the third and online event in coming weeks and update this document.

Sustainability Open House Held at Shake and Bake on June 14th


The Annual Sustainability Open House was held at Shake & Bake on June 14th. Residents were able to talk to Sustainability Staff about current projects, including the Climate Action Plan, and the Comprehensive Plan update (Our Baltimore).

What's Next?

The Baltimore Office of Sustainability is looking for Baltimore City residents who are interested in engaging with the update of Baltimore's Climate Action Plan and getting their voices heard during the community engagement process. Please forward this email to your network or those who may be interested.

There are a number of ways you can get involved with the Climate Action Plan.

  • Please take this 10-minute survey on how extreme weather events impact your life in Baltimore. All survey respondents who complete the survey and fill out the contact section will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a Visa gift card. Please share this survey widely with others! 
  • We will be hosting a number of workshops over the next few months and all participants will be compensated for their time at a rate of $25/hr. If you or other members of your community may be interested in paid workshop opportunities around climate action, please fill out or share this workshop interest form.

Planning Academy Alumni Amber Jones Competes in UB Real Estate Pitch competition on June 23

Amber Jones

Amber Jones, an alum of the Planning Academy, is currently participating in UB's Real Estate Fellows Program

Fellows are University of Baltimore students or alums who are interested in addressing critical needs within Baltimore City through real estate. Each fellow goes through a 10-week mentoring program with Baltimore-area seasoned professionals.

Students identify a Baltimore City neighborhood, create a project, complete a development plan and prepare an application for financing. The winning proposal will get $10,000 in equity to secure the property for their proposal and the necessary financing up to $1 million in a Guidance Line of Credit from Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) to proceed with the project.

Please join us to support Amber in-person or virtually on Thursday, June 23rd at 5:30pm as she competes for the chance to win $10k in seed capital and $1M in construction financing for development projects. Register Here

Planning Academy Featured in American Planning Association Publication

PAS memo

In June, the American Planning Association published a PAS memo entitled, "The Baltimore Planning Academy: Community Empowerment Through Civic Education".  

The report, which primarily reaches others in the urban planning profession, explains the goals, structure, and impacts of the Baltimore Planning Academy, and offers guidance for planners seeking to create similar engagement programming in their communities. Our team is always happy to chat with other planners who are interested in complementary programs - just reach out!

Staff Advance to New Roles


Ava Richardson is now Director of Sustainability at the Office of Planning. Prior, Ava was the Sustainability Manager with our team. A Lerner Fellow, Ava formerly served as a project director at the Baltimore City Health Department, leading efforts to address decades of trauma in west Baltimore. Ava holds a BS in Biology from Frostburg State University, an MPH from Morgan State University and is currently pursuing a DrPH from Johns Hopkins Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. 

Taylor LaFave is now the ​Chief of Food Policy and Planning and Food Policy Director. Since joining the team in 2020, he has worked on the City’s COVID-19 Emergency Food Response ​and ARPA proposal "Improving Nutritional Security, Food Access, and Food
Equity in Baltimore City During and After COVID-19". 

Taylor earned his Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Michigan. Taylor enjoys working in the Radnor-Winston community garden, biking to work, exploring Baltimore’s history, and visiting baseball stadiums across the country.


New Staff Join Department of Planning


Marie McSweeney Anderson is the new Northern District Planner as of June 2022.  Coming from Loyola University's York Road Initiative, Marie has 10+ years of experience working with and for neighborhoods in the Govans/York Road area on projects related to building civic capacity, strengthening commercial corridors, enhancing education and youth development, and increasing affordable access to fresh produce.  Marie is a double graduate of Loyola University Maryland with a multidisciplinary liberal arts background in Political Science, Economics, Sociology, and History, which helps to build context for successful community engagement.  Marie comes to the Department of Planning with the lens of asset based community development and a commitment to racial equity.  Marie lives in northern Baltimore City with their spouse, child, and frug (frenchie pug) named Freddie Prince Mercury.  

Eli Pousson is the newest INSPIRE Planner, a historian, cargo bike riding family cyclist, city schools parent, and a Harwood neighborhood resident. Prior to joining the Department in June 2022, Eli worked as a planner with the Neighborhood Design Center and completed a Masters of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where he focused on the health effects of vacant housing and worked with Bikemore and the Department of Transportation on a "play streets" pilot program. Outside of work, Eli is enthusiastically picking up litter and encouraging friends and neighbors to use 311.


Links We've Been Reading

Here is one article that caught our eye this month:

Public Input Needed: Draft Study Report on Historic African American Cemeteries in Maryland

The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust, with the help of several partner organizations, including Preservation Maryland and descendant communities, have recently released a draft study report on Maryland’s Historic African American Cemeteries. The public is being asked to comment on the draft which will inform the final report submitted to the Maryland General Assembly later this summer.

Learn more and submit your input on this website.

Nature Nurture Symposium 2022: June 25th


*Registration is now open! Register here.*

A project of Baltimore Connecting Children to Nature, Nature Nurtures is a platform for building skills and developing a like-minded community with an equal stake in education, environmental access, youth, healing, and the benefits of nature.

For the past two years, Nature Nurtures has provided a space for networking, skill building, and exposure to trauma informed approaches for our diverse work field. 

Funding for Cultural Organizations Now Available

Every two years, the City of Baltimore invites cultural organizations to apply for funding made available through General Obligation bonds for capital projects. These bonds are a small but critical component of the City's Capital Improvement Program. The goal is to provide capital support to organizations that promote arts and culture in Baltimore City and contribute to the City’s unique identity. The application is now available for FY24 & FY25 GO bonds. Applications are due August 15, 2022.

Awards between $50,000-$200,000 will be made available to support physical improvements to cultural spaces throughout the City. Projects that also promote equity will receive greater weight. 


The process is open to not for profit museums, galleries, and theaters, as well as all arts or cultural venues within designated arts and entertainment districts (click here for a map of these districts or visit the Maryland State Arts Council website to search by address). To apply organizations must: 

  • Be a museum, gallery, or theater (OR a cultural venue within a designated arts and entertainment district) 
  • Be a registered non-profit in good standing with the State Department of Assessment and Taxation 
  • Have a physical location in Baltimore City, and either own the facility or have a long-term lease and primary responsibility for capital improvements  
  • The facility must be open to the general public 

More Information 

A webinar information session to review the application process and be held on June 24, 2022 at 10am. You can register here for this information session. If you have questions about eligibility please don't hesitate to contact us prior to the webinar. Additional information and the application are available on our website

Flood Plain Management

Did you know that you can help the City identify and track flood events with the MyCoast Maryland application? The app can be downloaded to your mobile device and is very easy to use. If you see flooding anywhere in the city, please use the app to report it! The data collected through the app is very important as it will be used by both the City and State to understand and address future flooding.

Upcoming Commission Meetings.

6/23/22 - UDAAP 

The Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel’s role is to provide the Planning Commission and the Department of Planning design review expertise in the areas of urban design, architecture, and landscape design.

The agenda, meeting notes, and presentations for UDAAP meetings are made available here.

6/30/22  - Planning Commission 

The Planning Commission is responsible for maintaining land use plans for the City and reviewing all amendments to the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Commission meets on Thursdays throughout the year. 

Agenda and WebEx information is available via this link.

If you are unable to participate, you may submit written testimony to

7/12/22 - Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP)

Since 1964, CHAP has enhanced and promoted the culture and economy of Baltimore through the preservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods. CHAP meets on the second Tuesday of each month. 

Information and an agenda for the meeting will be available here.


Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning