The Chatter

YouthWorks in Baltimore Join in on the Litter Letter Project

Partnered with the Southeast CDC, the Waterfront Partnership creatively cleans up trash in Baltimore.

By Michelle Harris | July 27, 2017, 2:38 pm

The Chatter

YouthWorks in Baltimore Join in on the Litter Letter Project

Partnered with the Southeast CDC, the Waterfront Partnership creatively cleans up trash in Baltimore.

By Michelle Harris | July 27, 2017, 2:38 pm

When the 25 members of YouthWorks were told their summer would be spent collecting trash, they weren’t quite sure what they were getting into.

The Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor initiative partnered with the Southeast CDC and YouthWorks to create a visual message about the dangers of littering and the importance of keeping Baltimore’s waterways clean.

“It was difficult to describe to the kids in the beginning,” said Malia Pownall at the Waterfront Partnership. “It’s kind of crazy to present this idea that you’re going to build these 3D structures and fill it with trash—that doesn’t sound exciting.”


⇓ Article continues below ⇓

The Litter Letter Project began in 2013 in Louisiana, and has expanded to reach more than 10 cities across the country, with structures in Europe and Australia as well. Using a 3D messaging system, the goal is to encourage dialogue in the community about how littering and recycling habits can change for the better.

For five weeks, students collected garbage around Southeast Baltimore while learning about how it affects the city and its waterways. They were taken on boat rides through the Inner Harbor to get a first hand encounter about where the trash ends up and what the pollution does to the environment.

“Now that they’ve learned what happens when you throw trash on the ground, they’ve stopped littering,” said YouthWorks crew supervisor Shahem McLaurin. “It upsets them now when they see people litter.”

While working on the trash collection and beautification in Southeast Baltimore, the students chose a word that was meaningful on a personal level that would also deliver the message of taking pride in the neighborhood and its health.

“I wanted them to have a sense of ownership over the project, I gave them ideas like ‘HOPE’ or ‘CLEAN,’ as some direction,” Pownall said. “They chose ‘BMORE,’ which is cool because it’s where they’re from, and where they live— there’s ownership there.”

The five-letter word ‘BMORE’—each letter is 5-feet tall, 4-feet wide—made of steel and chicken wire, took nearly four days to complete and will be on display at the Conkling Street Garden in Highlandtown.

Currently, there is no word on whether the project will repeat next summer, but the folks at Waterfront Partnership and YouthWorks are hopeful that more students will have the opportunity to have this experience.

“I’m hoping to create change,” Pownall said. “I want the youth to be agents of change and advocates for the environment.”




Meet The Author

Michelle Harris is the digital content producer for Baltimore, where she covers news, community, sports, and beauty.



You May Also Like


Food & Drink

The Newcomer's Guide

How to eat, drink, play, and live like a local.

On The Town

Union Craft Brewing Prepares to Debut New Taproom

The brewery's new spot features a beer garden, arcade games, and a ton more space.

The Chatter

Is Swimming in the Harbor by 2020 an Impossible Mission? Maybe Not.

New Waterfront Partnership report shows dramatic progress over the past year.


Arts & Culture

Guitar Heroes

Two brothers run a little music store that could.

The Chatter

Geppi's Entertainment Museum to Close and Donate Collection to Library of Congress

Museum to close on June 3 and donate more than 3,000 items of comic books, pop art, and other memorabilia.

The Chatter

'The Case Against Adnan Syed' comes to HBO

The four-hour series will revisit the Baltimore County murder case that inspired Serial.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Lou Catelli is Serious About Running for Mayor of Baltimore in 2020: The unofficial mayor of Hampden wants to be the official mayor of Baltimore.

Movie Review: Hearts Beat Loud: You’ll enjoy this lowkey charmer about a father and daughter who bond over music.

Is Chris Davis Having the Worst Year in Baseball History?: Canton bar offering free shots whenever the first baseman gets a hit.

Salvation Army Booth House Shelter in Mt. Vernon to Close on July 2: Due to lack of federal funding, the temporary housing program will shutter after 80 years.

Merritt Clubs Participates in the World’s Largest Swim Lesson: On June 21, these Baltimore-area gyms will teach water safety to 500 people.