Yesterday, WSA held our annual staff retreat in Baltimore. We started our day with a staff meeting at Biohabitats (thank you for letting us use your beautiful conference room!) where we discussed our strategic goals as an organization. Afterwards, Jennifer gave us a tour of the Biohabitats office, a refurbished stable in the Woodberry neighborhood of Baltimore. Their living wall is incredible! Maybe one day the WSA office will have one…
We stopped for lunch at the Handlebar Café in Little Italy (we highly recommend the pollo a la plancha sandwich, pastor burrito, and spud pizza!) then walked to the Inner Harbor for an Eco Tour.
Our tour, hosted by the Leanna and Eileen of the Waterfront Partnership, started at the Floating Wetlands just outside the World Trade Center. The 2,000 square feet of islands are planted with native species and rest on the surface of the Inner Harbor. The base of the wetlands is made from upcycled plastic bottles found in the harbor. The wetlands are home to crabs, eels, fish and waterfowl and help to clean the polluted water in the harbor.
As we walked east, Leanna and Eileen pointed out the oyster gardens growing along the inner perimeter of the harbor. These gardens contain multiple oyster cages, each holding hundreds of oysters. Once the oysters have matured, they are taken by boat to an oyster sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay, where they live out their lives filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day!
Our next stop brought us to Pierce’s Park, a free public park in the Inner Harbor. The park is home to two raingardens filled with native plants, a bio-retention rain garden, and local works of art such as sculptures and a musical fence. With two landscape architects and an engineer on our staff, WSA enjoyed exploring the features and layout of the park.
Continuing east, our last stop of the day was across the Jones Falls River from Pier Six. Floating at the end of the pier is a jewel of technology and innovation: Mr. Trash Wheel. This water wheel combines the power of water and sunlight to lift trash and debris from the water, cleaning the water from the Jones Falls before it enters the Inner Harbor.
Thank you Biohabitats, Handlebar Café, and the Waterfront Partnership! Because of you, our staff enjoyed a productive retreat filled with great ideas, fun conversation, delicious food and lots of laughs.