In 2018, more than 30,000 properties in Baltimore were vacant buildings or lots, with almost four thousand buildings slated to be removed. The city contracted with Brick+Board, a social impact-focused salvage company, and Details, a social enterprise of the nonprofit organization Humanim, which provides jobs to those with barriers to employment. Their Baltimore program focuses on hiring residents to deconstruct abandoned buildings and salvage materials once destined for landfills while gaining job skills in the process. Called the Baltimore Wood Project and created in partnership with the US Forest Service, this effort advances forest conservation and carbon sequestration goals while creating social and economic opportunities in underresourced neighborhoods. Ultimately, the lots where houses were deconstructed are being converted to parks and small urban forests that sequester carbon, clean the air, and cool neighborhoods–contributing to the city’s 40% tree canopy goal.
This video animates Packard Jenning’s illustration of The Baltimore Wood Project’s Deconstruction Process in Alison Sant’s book, From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities (Island Press, 2022). Music: “Sunsets” by Zadia on Z2A Records.