Have you had a cup of coffee today? A piece of fruit? You can thank a bee. In fact, most of the plants that provide our food require pollinators. That’s also true of most of the flowers we enjoy. Yet many bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species are in decline. Pesticide use and habitat loss are among the reasons. So what can the average Marylander do? Garden with pollinators in mind! Master gardener Patricia Foster, executive director of the Cylburn Arboretum Association, and Vincent Vizachero, manager for Herring Run Nursery, a non-profit nursery that specializes in native plants, are here to give advice and take your questions.

Karim Corban/Flickr via Creative Commons


Six years ago the federal government embarked on a plan to end homelessness among veterans by 2015. This goal is yet to be achieved, but the  number of homeless vets in the U.S. has been cut by more than a third. Last year, Montgomery County announced it had hit what experts call “functional zero” – that is, the county is able to house the six military veterans who become homeless in an average month. How did Montgomery County accomplish this feat? Can lessons learned there be applied to other places, or other homeless populations? We look at efforts across Maryland to make homelessness rare and brief, and to provide permanent homes for veterans. 

A Baltimore school police officer was filmed hitting and kicking a teenager early this month while another officer watched. The video went viral, and the school system moved quickly to suspend the officers and press criminal charges. The chief was also put on leave. Critics say this is not an isolated incident. Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with its own school police force, separate from the police department. Child advocates say that force needs a complete overhaul; they say it doesn’t hire or manage well, and officers tend to arrest kids for run-of-the-mill misbehavior. What’s happening that is not caught on camera? Are cops in Baltimore schools doing more harm than good? 

Courtesy of @port_covington / Twitter

Billionaire Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is asking Baltimore City for $535 million to help fund redevelopment in Port Covington. The city would borrow against future property tax revenue to pay for streets, utilities, and other infrastructure related to the project. If approved, it would be the largest tax increment financing, or TIF, deal in city history. TIF is a common development tool across the country; the city of Baltimore has OK’d eleven deals since 2003. But tax increment financing is controversial. Supporters say it attracts private investment to blighted areas. Critics say it enriches developers at public expense. Our guests: Greg LeRoy, Executive Director of Good Jobs First, and Toby Rittner, President and CEO of the Council of Development Finance Agencies

Dan Reed / Flickr via Creative Commons

Online sales rose 15 percent last year, according to the US Commerce Department. About 9 cents of every dollar spent at retail is now spent online. In this hour, how do you decide when to shop online and when to shop in a brick-and-mortar store? Are there certain items that you have to see in-person before you make a purchase? Sylvia Long-Tolbert, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, gives us insight into consumer behavior … and how stores are fighting to hold our attention. Plus, how are malls adapting to the rise of online shopping? Melody Simmons, of the Baltimore Business Journal, updates us on development in our region, including the trend to open-air plazas.

Understanding Animal Research/Flickr via Creative Commons

Millions of animals are used in research every year. Cosmetics, pesticides, pharmaceuticals: Half of every dollar we spend on products is for something that was tested on animals. Animal-rights advocates condemn animal testing, but many scientists say it is vital. Can technology solve this problem?  Dr. Thomas Hartung, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, believes it can go a long way. His own lab at the Bloomberg School of Public Health has just developed a tiny replica of the brain using human skin cells. This mini-brain could replace hundreds of thousands of animals now used in neurology labs.

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The Maryland Department of Education says during the last school year nearly half the state’s children were eligible for free or reduced meals. And according to Census Bureau data, more than a third of children in the city of Baltimore live below the poverty line. For families who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from, schools and community groups fill the gaps. Today, Melissa Moore of Family League of Baltimore and Michael J. Wilson of Maryland Hunger Solutions discuss efforts to provide healthy meals. These include a federal program that aims to bypass stigma by offering free meals to all students and a new push to serve breakfast after the school bell.

For info on summer meals and enrichment programs in Baltimore City, click here.

Check out this story on free breakfast by WYPR's Jonna McKone.

heipei / Flickr via Creative Commons

A green lawn is as American as apple pie, and for many of us, just as comforting. But as more people move to urban areas, lawns and other manicured spaces are beginning to dominate the landscape. Lawns already cover more land in the United States than any other irrigated crop, and a lawn in Phoenix looks much like a lawn in Boston. Why do we love lawns so? How do they impact the environment? And what could we do differently? Soil scientist and urban ecologist Peter Groffman joins us to discuss. Groffman has studied the ecology of Baltimore and other cities for decades, including their lawns. 

Breaking news in the police trials related to Freddie Gray’s death. We’ll start with an update from WYPR reporter Kenneth Burns. Then: the three men vying to be the Green Party nominee for mayor of Baltimore. The Green Party will hold its own primary just after the one in late April for Democrats and Republicans. Joshua Harris is an activist and organizer. Until recently he was running as a Democrat. Emanuel McCray is a community organizer and Army veteran; this is his second bid for mayor. And David Marriott, former police officer and Marine, is running for the first time. We’ll discuss housing, jobs, police reform, schools, and other issues.

A new report by national nonprofit, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, finds that more than half of Baltimore families are “financially vulnerable.” This means a sudden job loss or medical emergency could knock them below the poverty line. Furthermore, half of the city’s households struggle to borrow money affordably, so they risk becoming trapped in debt by high interest rates. Arohi Pathek from CFED helps us compare this snapshot of Baltimore to Maryland’s overall picture. Plus, Sara Johnson, director of the Baltimore CASH Campaign, lays out policies with the potential to help low-income families - including ways to give them recognition for paying their bills on time.