SDP 2021-2022 Week 1: Introduction – Frame and Plan

Hello All,

I am excited to debrief on the kickstart of the Sustainable Design Practicum 2021-2022. We began the class with brief introductions from a diverse group of individuals from multidisciplinary fields. I wanted to give special recognition to Bürge Abiral who tuned in from Turkey during our in-person class session. We discussed the expectations and logistics of SDP, the EDC/Practicum interfaces, and were presented with background information on the South Baltimore Community Land Trust, an amazing environmental justice organization that is leading the zero-waste movement in Baltimore.

We are undergoing a transitional period where conversations about a zero-waste future are being prioritized and heard from a higher level. Interested parties includes our current mayor, Brandon Scott. A few members were able to attend SBCLT’s Zero Waste Tour last week. From the member’s reflections, the tour consisted of an almost contagious enthusiasm and passion from SBCLT to the slew of attendees - union leaders, teachers, leaders of institutions, medical professionals, and students. The tour ended with a call for action! This was an inspiring start to our partnership.

I cannot wait to get our hands dirty with our community partners in pursuit of making Baltimore “the first American city to commit to a zero-waste future.” A two-pronged design strategy will be used over the course of the practicum. One team will focus on community-level engagement while the other team will address institutional waste. We will be using the human-centered design framework throughout the year to develop environmentally and socially sustainable solutions and strategies.

We concluded our classroom session with a reflection on the assigned reading, N.K. Jemisin’s “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”. We all were taken aback on the imperfections of Um-Helat, a supposed ‘utopia’. One classmate related Jemisin’s work to our future endeavors with our community partners. If we, as a collective, can continuously fight for a zero-waste future, we can surely maintain a waste-free city. A combination of community care and personal sacrifice can achieve this mission.

Until next time,