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How to Achieve Sustainability Through Local Community Action

Hello! My name is Rachel Berndtson and I am a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at the University of Maryland, completing my dissertation research is on the diffusion of the Jewish farming movement in Baltimore. As a geographer, it is my aim to better understand the interactions between humans and their physical and social environments at the local level.

As we progress into the 21st century, the notion of achieving sustainability through local community action is emerging as a promising system for positive, tangible change. International and state legislation aimed at ecological and social improvement is increasingly structured around local landscapes, societies and economies to best serve the populations for which it applies. Local community action relies on the physical and social resources unique to local communities to bring change, and Baltimore’s Jewish farming movement is one such example of local collaboration.

The Baltimoreans involved in the Jewish farming movement have utilized this region’s physical landscape and ecological resources to plant, pick and preserve farm fresh produce and products, thereby establishing an organic, local food system within the area. Such efforts are supported by the many diverse sectors of the Baltimore Jewish community’s strong social network, which keeps community members connected and involved, thereby maintaining the strong bonds on which it operates. The interplay of the physical and social systems surrounding Baltimore’s Jewish farming movement thus addresses the ecological and cultural sustainability of this local Jewish community.

With my research results I hope to aid in the future planning, assessment and growth of this truly amazing phenomenon. Whereas some academic studies seek to achieve a goal of generalizability, this study’s purpose is to generate knowledge on this *specific* movement, occurring in *this* area, at *this* time, because of *your* support and activism as participants and trailblazers. When it comes to enacting community change or studying the process of such, local is beautiful.

More updates to come as my research progresses! Thanks for your support!

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