ESRI Executive Leadership Seminar

August 3, 2008


Building One Map for One Maryland

And just as mapping was central to our ability to set goals, track performance and engage in relentless follow-up in Baltimore, it is becoming a major part of everything we are doing at the State level.  And because we recognize this, we’re using ESRI’s software to develop a single, statewide base-map, not only of the Bay, but of our entire State.  400 years after Captain John Smith drew the first map of the Chesapeake Bay, we’re mapping every parcel and plot of land in our entire State. 

While many governors – particularly in industrial states -- wake up every morning, and open their newspaper to read about jobs leaving their State.  In Maryland, we have the opposite problem – which is the more pleasant problem to have -- but it’s a challenge nonetheless.

You see, about 21% of our State is already developed, and there’s another 21% that’s protected.  That leaves nearly 60% of our State which could either be conserved or developed, based on the decisions we make in our own here and now. Over the last three decades we’ve already seen our State’s population expand by 30%.  And at the same time though, we’ve increased our developed acres by 100%.  If we continue to grow without implementing smarter growth strategies, we’re going to decimate our ecosystem – potentially losing 500,000 acres of farm and forest lands we’ll never get back. 

Just as performance-based strategies and mapping gave Baltimore a better future, our hope is that these same strategies and mapping can help us create, build and maintain a more sustainable future for growth in Maryland.

For our efforts to have synergy, to be targeted, to be orchestrated and coordinated for maximum effectiveness, we need to be working off of the same map both in State government and with our local and federal partners.  So we’re making the map available to all our partners – including our citizen partners, who will be able to access it from the internet. 

Population growth in Maryland is predicted to exceed one million people in the next several years; therefore: 

  1. We’re using GIS technology to help us maintain a network or “green print” of the wetlands, woodlands, wildlife, farms, forests and public spaces that serve as the lungs which allow the rest of our State to breathe.  Just as mapping told us which vacant houses to buy up in Baltimore, today it’s telling us which parcels to target for preservation, conservation and restoration.  Which parcels to buy up with precious preservation dollars?  Which portions of the Bay are most in need of restoration funds?  Which lands in our State require government to step in and protect. 
  2. We’re using these strategies to guide us through the creation of “BRAC Zones” – BRAC being the federal government’s base realignment and closure process, which is bringing 40-60 thousand jobs over the next 5 years.  We’re using BRAC zones to encourage growth in areas that are most capable of absorbing it – in other words, areas where growth will have the least amount of impact on our eco-system.  ESRI’s technology is so precise that we’re actually able to figure out what regions our new citizens will want to settle in based on the sort of neighborhoods from which they will most likely be relocating.   
  3. We’re also using these strategies for transit-oriented development, a vision for smart growth which calls for preventing sprawl by  clustering growth around existing transit infrastructure so that we can offer housing and transit choices that promote cleaner air and reduce dependency on high cost gasoline. 
  4. We’re also using gis and demographic mapping to better protect and prepare our citizens against homeland security threats and natural threats from hurricanes and rising sea levels.



Let’s run the video presentation, …


Conclusion (Relationships)

During my days as Mayor of Baltimore, as the minority mayor of majority African American City, I can proudly and credibly claim to have attended more Baptist and A.M.E. services than any catholic public servant on the planet,...

At the great Bethel AME church, Pastor Reid sometimes spikes a robust call and response from the pulpit when he proclaims – “if it’s not about the relationship,…?” and the congregation responds in unison, “it’s not about anything.”

The Relationship – the relationship between ourselves and others, ourselves and time, ourselves and place, ourselves and this space we share with others, the relationship between ourselves and God.

Why do teenagers and young people today flock to Facebook or MySpace?  It’s not for solitude but for relationship; not for distance but for proximity; not for division but for connection. 

During my years as mayor, we would often invite neighborhood leaders to City Hall and I would have the opportunity to show my citizens and neighbors – my bosses -- their new performance measurement tool of the CitiStat room with its charts, graphs, timely accurate information, aerial photography and maps.  Without exception, and regardless of whether the group was from a black or white neighborhood, a rich or poor neighborhood, my presentation was always interrupted within ten minutes by the hand in the back and that question – “ Can you show me my house?” – so,why is that? 

Is it to know that I matter to my government? Is it to know that I matter and have value to my neighbors?
Is it to know that my government works and therefore matters to me?  Is it to understand what is around me?
Or maybe is it because of a deep innate human instinct to better understand my relationship to the forces and people around me and their relationship to me. “Show me my house.” 

Father David Hollenbach, of Boston College, writes that “the biblical understanding of freedom, portrayed in the account of the Exodus, is not simply freedom from constraint, but freedom for participation in the shared life of people…”

Thomas Aquinas wrote that “any seeker of a higher truth, or of God, must eventually and inevitably return to the idea of community.”  In the words of Dr. King, the idea that “we are bound together in a web of mutuality,…”

The idea that we progress, not on the weakness, but on the strength of our neighbors. The idea that one person can make a difference and each of us must try.

If politics is the geography of ideas, then perhaps, through our deeds and relationships as individuals, we must become the dynamic coordinates of a new geography – a newer deeper understanding of our actions in time, in space, in place, in community, and in relationship to one another in the march of progress we have the freedom to choose and to share,…  

It is all about the relationship: our relationship to one another, our relationship to a higher truth -- a truth that builds trust and community; a truth that proclaims the dignity of every individual; a truth that affirms our own responsibility to advance the common good; a truth that affirms that sense in our soul that there is a unity to spirit and matter, and that what we do our own lifetimes does matter.
“Show me my house.”


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