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Studying the Stony Run

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Wyman Park resident Anand Pandian is a fan and friend of the Stony Run, often out and about exploring the parks and stream with his family. Last spring, Pandian began to wonder about the extent of his watershed and how it is perceived by his neighbors. An anthropologist at Johns Hopkins, Pandian’s mindful meanderings led to a unique course of study for 15 anthropology and environmental science students.

Pandian’s fall 2019 course in Social Ecology began with “consideration of the broader notion of how to conceive of nature, and how our society relates to this notion” and ended with concrete proposals to improve the ways this landscape is accessed and interpreted.

The class explored the stream valley, following the lead of engineers, activists and even an archeologist. Their explorations were not limited to the Stony Run main stem—they explored the full breadth of the watershed, which stretches into Govans, Guilford and Homeland. In classroom discussions, students reflected on the history of the university’s relationship with the neighboring greenspaces, as well as the ways that issues of equity and segregation impact access to greenspace.

In December, the class presented their recommendations to the community, which include the creation of:

  • A system of trail markers to expose the true reach and scope of the Stony Run watershed—to reveal where the stream is buried and where it is not.

  • A system of entrance and interpretive signs to welcome visitors, and encourage social engagement, education and enjoyment and allow visitors to “dissect the layers of history that make up the Stony Run landscape.” 

  • Web-based materials to connect communities within the watershed and lure potential visitors, including a story map of images and testimonies, and a 3D interactive map that will allow users to visualize events, historical stories and community contributions at specific points along the trail. 

The students and community were so enthusiastic about the class and partnership that Pandian recognized the need for a class this spring to develop proposed interpretive materials. The students will report on their progress at the upcoming Friends of Stony Run Annual Meeting.

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