BES holds Annual Meeting and Community Open House & Greening Celebration

Network News Fall 2010, Vol. 23 No. 2
Site News

The 12th Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) Annual Meeting was held October 27-28 in the University Center Ballroom at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. More than 110 people attended, including BES researchers, educators, community members, students, and media representatives.

The meeting began with an overview by Steward Pickett, the Project Director, who spoke about the recent National Science Foundation (NSF) approval for another 6-year cycle of BES research. Dr. Pickett briefly outlined the ongoing research that will continue, as well as new aspects of the study. He stressed the importance of working with a new sustainability paradigm, and a guiding question that focuses on understanding urban sustainability and resilience. The new phase of the NSF grant, which runs to 2016, will emphasize improved linkage between social and biophysical research, new theoretical models, and the use of scenarios of future change in the region.

The meeting lasted one and a half days, during which BES researchers, including scientists and graduate students, presented the results of their work. The thirty presentations covered topics such as urban birds and mosquitos, urban streams, environmental justice, toxic contaminants in the environment, soil studies, tree planting, urban development, community gardens, nitrogen along the urban to rural gradient, temperature studies, and teaching about climate, among others.

Among the keynote speakers were two guests from other LTER sites: Dan Childers of the Central Phoenix-Arizona (CAP) LTER, and Laura Ogden of the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) LTER. Both spoke about potential ways that BES, CAP, and FCE might collaborate on cross-site research involving the urban aspects of each LTER.

A formal poster session held on the afternoon of the first day of the talks was a great opportunity to show ongoing research and results with engaging graphics and charts of findings. On that day authors of the 16 informative posters were available to discuss their posters with attendees, though the posters were set up and made available for viewing during the entire meeting.

A Community Open House and Greening Celebration followed the Annual Meeting that evening at the Cylburn Arboretum Vollmer Visitor Center in the city.

The joint gathering organized by BES and Parks & People highlighted community involvement in various greening activities, such as community gardens, in Baltimore.

In addition to awards by Parks & People to community gardeners, the informal venue was a good opportunity to disseminate non-technical project information and to share BES results with regional decision makers, community members, teachers, students at all grade levels, and the media. In addition to wonderful food and drink, participants enjoyed music by members of the Dunbar High School band.

Holly J. Beyar is Baltimore Ecosystem Study's Project Facilitator