Abstract

The proposed Broad Implementation of a Communications Campaign under the Behavior Change Track will take place in eastern McElderry Park, building on the success of similar efforts in the C.A.R.E. community directly to its west. Door knocking, educational workshops, trash and recycling can provision, community clean up days and storm drain painting will be used to engage residents and help them to understand that proper trash disposal makes for a healthier block, Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay.

Behavior

Behaviors: Picking up litter and disposing of trash properly

Behavior Pattern: Continous

Target Audiences

Audiences: Litterers, Apartment renters, Rowhome/town home/condo owners/renters

Primary Audience: Litterers

Secondary Audience: Rowhome/town home/condo owners/renters

Demographics: Black or african american, Hispanic or latino, White

Ages: N/A

Description of Target Audience

The McElderry Park community in Southeast Baltimore City is a primarily African-American community. According to the U. S. Census Bureau 2010 Data for Tract 702, which covers our target blocks, the population was 92.2% African-American, with 3.5% identifying themselves as Latino or Hispanic. The housing vacancy rate is 30% and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association states that the foreclosure rate is 3%.

This is a neighborhood affected by poverty, addiction and crime. The 2005-2009 American Community Survey estimated that for this census track, the annual per capita income was $18,176 in 2009 inflation-adjusted dollars and approximately 20% of individuals and families were living below the poverty level. 25% of the adult residents over 25 years old have less than a 12th grade education or equivalency. 13% were unemployed at the time of the survey, a number which has increased with the continued decline of the economy.

The volunteers who acted as described above are represented by these statistics. The empowerment of the project participants and collaborative nature of the grant is how Banner accomplishes all of its day to day work and programming. The project was shaped by two existing leaders to enrich other informal leaders and create a new pool of informed and active block level representatives. Warren Street, McElderry Park Community Association Vice President and Greening Chair, continues to assist with the implementation of the project and assisted with the evaluation explained below in number four.

McElderry Park is a large community that can only meet its goals by having a large network of involved constituents. Showing residents that they have the power to change the factors they don’t like about their neighborhood helps to give them not only hope for their community but the other struggles they face on a more personal level (joblessness, addiction, etc.) Without the investment of these new representatives/leaders the long term behavior change this grant sought to initiate would not be possible.

Research

How did you research your audiences: Ongoing engagement of a panel of target audience members who assist in the development of the program

Gaining insight into your target audience

Outreach varied slightly between blocks that had an established formal or informal leader and those that didn’t. For the blocks that had established leaders, that person was utilized as a link to partner with door to door education, can sign ups and an invitation to participate in the cleanup. On the day of the event, the same education about how to use 311, how to recycle and properly dispose of trash and take advantage of bulk trash pickup and how storm drains are our link to the bay was reinforced verbally as volunteers gathered to meet their neighbors and get their tools for the cleanup. Other information was also provided at the clean ups for existing greening projects in the community such as community gardening, tree plantings, stewardship classes and feedback for the community’s green master plan was solicited. Information about service providers and other opportunities were also share.

Although the community association lost its website during the project implementation, Banner highlighted the project several times in its quarterly and annual reports which are distributed to residents, donors and funders.

Strategy

Outreach Tactics: Public commitment statements, Social diffusion

What media/communication channels did you use? Direct mail, Face to face, Small group or public meetings, Telephone contacts

Primary Messages

  • - The how, when and why of proper trash disposal
  • - The how, when, why and what of recycling
  • -The how, why and what of the 311 One Call System
  • -Basic watershed education
  • -What watershed do I live in?
  • -How are Harris Creek, the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay connected?
  • -Why are trash, other pollution and unhealthy storm drains a problem for my family, community and the ultimately the Bay?
  • -How can I be part of the solution?

Lessons

How did you measure impact? Tracking

Total People Reached

115.

Most significant lessons learned

The messaging of the project was succinct and provided in user friendly terms, but still needed to be tweaked for each particular project participant. For instance, some residents who were not able to be sold on more environmental benefits, were sold on recycling for more practical reasons. Baltimore city only allows for 3 trashcans to be placed out on any given trash day, so for larger families who may produce more trash, recycling can cut down on some of the bulkiness of regular trash loads. Recycling days have no limit. Many residents who are still upset about the change from 2 to 1 day trash pickup were encouraged to think of the existing recycling pickup day as really meaning that we still do have 2 day pick up.

One layer where messaging could have been improved was better training block leaders with rehearsal of language for door knocking to improved consistency. Banner staff pushed for cleanup participation having a direct link to being issued a trash can. This is not to say that folks who were physically unable to participate or could not attend would not receive a can, but to avoid people sitting by as their neighbors cleaned around them. One goal of having neighbors come together to clean in mass was to show with teamwork how quick and easy it is to maintain the cleanliness of a block compared to when the burden falls to a few or just one neighbor.

Experience through this project and others have shown that we will need to continue to reiterate the messaging until it is ingrained in people’s consciousness. A lifetime of doing something one way cannot always been simply undone by learning a better alternative method. People where encouraged to save handouts and post them on their fridge but we recognize that issues of illiteracy are one barrier. New creative messaging with imagery will be posted on light and telephone poles and in local corner stores as one ongoing reminder. Banner and the community association will work tirelessly with new block level leaders to revisit trash regulations and watershed information continuously to pull more neighbors on board.

What worked?

As of now, 2700 & 2800 Jefferson, 500 & 600 N. Belnord, 400-600 N. Lakewood, 500 N. Streeper, 500 N. Kenwood Ave. have been completed. Two more blocks are schedule by the end of the month with the goal of having all the blocks completed by the fall. 169 cans have been provided thus far with 44 new recyclers coming online. Better future tracking is needed to provide a more thorough picture of the number of new recyclers. We have been able to track who is getting and using bins, but not necessarily people who have started recycling using other containers unless witness on recycling days. Although the bins are not required, experience has told us that having these bins makes a difference because it provides a pointed (bright yellow) visual reminder for folks and financial investment. The initial grant application and budget hoped to provide residents with free bins but an amended smaller budget required residents to pay for bins. They did still have the benefit of the bins being delivered to them. Most residents travel by public transit so hauling larger items that are more often only becoming available during normal working hours is difficult.

What were the most significant limiting factors to greater success?

As of now, 2700 & 2800 Jefferson, 500 & 600 N. Belnord, 400-600 N. Lakewood, 500 N. Streeper, 500 N. Kenwood Ave. have been completed. Two more blocks are schedule by the end of the month with the goal of having all the blocks completed by the fall. 169 cans have been provided thus far with 44 new recyclers coming online. Better future tracking is needed to provide a more thorough picture of the number of new recyclers. We have been able to track who is getting and using bins, but not necessarily people who have started recycling using other containers unless witness on recycling days. Although the bins are not required, experience has told us that having these bins makes a difference because it provides a pointed (bright yellow) visual reminder for folks and financial investment. The initial grant application and budget hoped to provide residents with free bins but an amended smaller budget required residents to pay for bins. They did still have the benefit of the bins being delivered to them. Most residents travel by public transit so hauling larger items that are more often only becoming available during normal working hours is difficult.

Advice Or Suggestions

One future tracking improvement Banner would like to implement in the next rendition of this project is a pre and posttest of the how to basics. The challenge in this more scientific data is creating a forum for the pretest and people’s willingness to participate with this initial requirement. Because of the health and social indicators of the community and our proximity to Johns Hopkins residents are frequently treated as lab rats and guinea pigs.

The expected implementation was changed from the initial grant request because of a capacity to haul the cans and because of the timing of block level leadership coming to fruition. Other challenges that have altered the project included losing of one the residents, Patrick, who helped inspire and plan for the larger project. Patrick was younger and more physically able than Mr. Street. As a younger person in the community to assist with the physical elements of project, breaking my hand also provided a setback. These factors and people’s reluctance to come out during colder months set us back tremendous in what was initially, in hindsight, an overambitious timeline. Advice to others doing similar projects would be to find piecemeal funding as newly engaged blocks come online. We could have easily distributed everything already but are taking the time to try to do it more effectively. Sadly, there are only so many available Saturdays during warm months where people’s schedules can match up.

In addition to increased knowledge, relationships and equipment for people to keep their blocks clean and the Bay protected some larger wins of the project were its intergenerational reach. Very frequently in community projects we find that a particular initiative appeals to subset of the neighborhood population. This project however engage people as young as 5 up to late 70’s. Bilingual information engaged Spanish speakers in the community as well, helping to bridge some of the barriers that still exist in the community between cultures. The young people and adults help to keep each other accountable in different ways and improving relationships at the block level provides the foundation for future block level improvements and project maintenance.

With new block leaders and engaged residents the city and other local green/blue nonprofits are starting to take notice of the changes in the community. Because residents are making changes they are able to demand them of others and the city is more willing to invest resources to meet residents halfway because of their renewed commitment. Improved and new relationships have helped spawn pilot projects for new grated storm drains and we are currently deciding on locations for corner cans that are typically reserved for only commercial corridors. Water collection and rain garden sites and campaigns to reduce pet feces waste have also been initiated.