South Baltimore Community Land Trust
Who we are
The South Baltimore Community Land Trust (SBCLT) is a group of Baltimore organizers serving and uplifting the communities of South, Central, and West Baltimore. SBCLT’s mission is to transform Baltimore City’s racist and inequitable waste and housing systems into ones that are just and regenerative. We work to change our neighborhoods from dumping grounds surrounded by polluting industries, to healthy zero waste communities. We also work to decrease the racial wealth gap and protect our neighborhoods from gentrification, by reclaiming vacant and abandoned properties and creating affordable home ownership opportunities for low-income and working class residents.
Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste
In addition to advocating for the closure of BRESCO, we are pushing the City of Baltimore to replace polluting waste infrastructure with just, equitable, and safe zero waste infrastructure. Working in collaboration with United Workers, other local organizations and institutions, and Zero Waste USA, we developed the Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste. This tool is a first step in transitioning the city to zero waste and reversing the health and economic disparities that have plagued our communities for generations. By implementing the plan, our city will legitimize and reinforce community power through land ownership, financial resources, jobs, and democratic governance. Thanks to the efforts of our community members, organizers, and allies, the Baltimore City Council unanimously adopted the Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste on April, 6th, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and pledged $16 million towards its implementation. Currently SBCLT is working to ensure that the Department of Public Works actually allots the promised funding to create zero waste infrastructure, carries out zero waste education, and promotes zero waste businesses.
The Fight to Close BRESCO
The Wheelabrator Baltimore trash incinerator – formerly known as BRESCO – has been the city’s largest source of air pollutants, and similar developments in South Baltimore continue to pose serious public health risks. Our community members are the most affected: they have higher rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses and die an average of 15 years earlier than those in wealthier, white Baltimore communities located a few miles away. Our city-wide campaign for a just transition to zero waste sees the closure of BRESCO as the first step in reversing these injustices. Although the outgoing mayor renewed BRESCO’s contract in November 2020, our “Starve the Beast” campaign is addressing this setback by pushing for an early closure of the incinerator and shifting the city and every major contributing institution towards zero waste.
Incinerator: Wheelabrator Baltimore
Location: 1801 Annapolis Road, Baltimore, MD
Pounds of pollutants (annually): total HAPs 162,030.19 (2017)
Mercury: 29.06 (2017)
PM2.5: 54,520.90 (2017)
Lead: 247.16 (2017)
NOx: 2,202,482.00 (2017)
Community: 66% minority, 50% below poverty line
Critical Date: (Permit expiration date)
Shashawanda Campbell grew up in Baltimore City and leads SBCLT’s campaign to close the BRESCO incinerator. Previously, she co-founded Free Your Voice, a student-led group that ran a successful campaign to stop what would have been the nation’s largest incinerator from being built less than a mile away from her high school. Shashawanda sees her role as an organizer as a way to challenge and restructure the current system that picks and chooses who deserves to have dignity, opportunities, and rights. She continues to work with Baltimore residents to shut down the BRESCO incinerator, develop city-wide recycling/composting programs with free bins, and create infrastructure to manage these resources once collected.
In the news
During February, Maryland residents are commemorating Black History Month by studying and celebrating the past. Meanwhile, what’s being called theracial reckoning of 2020 is barely in the rearview mirror. Those recent events — Black people killed by police and marches demanding systemic change — are prompting some Baltimore residents to explore what needs to be done to ensure there is substantial progress toward achieving racial justice and equity.
Published by the Baltimore Sun
Residents in South Baltimore are fighting to ‘starve’ their nearby Bresco incinerator due to health concerns over the amount of pollution it creates. Of the 72 remaining facilities in the US, the vast majority are located in predominantly low-income or minority communities, raising concerns about compounding pollutants in already overburdened neighborhoods.
Published by The Guardian
“There are so many amazing women in Baltimore who are doing great things and working together for a cause,” says our cover model, Black Girls Vote founder and CEO Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson. Baltimore has always been a town that honors and elevates women. They are our politicians and business leaders, our artists and activists. The 30 emerging leaders featured in this story are simply following in that long, great tradition.
Published by Baltimore Magazine