Two Years After Baltimore Uprising, BYOP Cultivates New Leaders

BYOP on Pugh
BYOP member Diamon demanding accountability from Mayor Catherine Pugh. Photo courtesy of @UNBOUND_RCK.

By David Nyweide

Freddie Gray died two years ago, sparking demonstrations that came to be known as the Baltimore Uprising. What’s happened since?

Here’s just one example of positive change.

The Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP) was established in October 2015, born of a desire to empower youth in West Baltimore in the wake of the Baltimore Uprising. Through their involvement in BYOP, youth have learned the principles and techniques of community organizing, conducted a listening campaign to hear about issues important to their peers, ratified a youth city agenda, and organized forums with political candidates and elected officials.

BYOP is a collaboration between Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and the No Boundaries Coalition (NBC). Reverend Tim Hughes Williams at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church helped launch BYOP, and the church provided starter funding for modest stipends for eight youths who attended regular meetings and met with more than 400 young people in the community. Rev. Hughes Williams continues to work with BYOP members along with Rebecca Nagle of NBC and Gwen Brown of BUILD. He’s also looking for opportunities for youth affiliated with Brown Memorial to become involved.

“It has been inspiring to work with young people who have an intuitive, firsthand understanding of how the city needs to change to meet the needs of its youth,” said Rev. Hughes Williams. “BYOP has been a vehicle to teach them to tell their stories powerfully and hold elected officials accountable for their decisions. After the Baltimore Uprising, this has felt like essential and satisfying work.”

The BYOP youth agenda was ratified at a meeting of almost 100 youth in January 2016. It advocates for funding from the city and public-private partnerships that would support after-school programming, recreation centers, and youth employment—all of which help keep youth off the streets and develop their potential to contribute to the life of the city.

In March 2016, BUILD hosted an Accountability Forum at Coppin State University to hear the mayoral candidates’ positions on the BUILD One Baltimore Agenda: a city for youth, a city for jobs, a city that is safe. BYOP was able to present its youth agenda as part of this event. Approximately 200 youth sat on stage with six of the mayoral candidates, and 600 adults sat in the audience. Every candidate, including our current mayor Catherine Pugh, committed to the BUILD One Baltimore Agenda.

At the end of 2016, BYOP graduated its first class of eight young people. Now headed by Samirah Franklin—a member of that first class—BYOP is one part of NBC’s work in Central West Baltimore.

In its second year of organizing, BYOP has focused on holding Mayor Pugh accountable to her promises as a candidate. On April 4, 2017, Trinity Baptist Church (at McMechen and McCulloh) hosted about 150 adults and youth to hear the BYOP youth publicly ask Mayor Pugh for two specific commitments:

  1. Create 250 year-round youth jobs within the city and the corporate community in her first year in office; and
  2. Maintain current levels of funding for afterschool and community school programs in the 2018 budget.

The mayor agreed to help create 250 new year-round jobs for youth, but equivocated about after-school funding. In fact, her preliminary 2018 city budget cut afterschool and community school funding by 25 percent, or roughly $2.4 million.

BYOP is now fighting to restore the funding, with the help of BUILD, NBC, and the Child First Authority. They are calling on both the Mayor and City Council to acknowledge the cut and restore the funds.

“In the aftermath of our city burning, Baltimore’s elected officials made a promise to us, the youth of the city,” explained BYOP’s Lead Youth Organizer Franklin. “It’s only been two years, and we are cut. We call on the Mayor and City Council to keep their promise to us and restore afterschool and community school funding to its current level of $9.2 million.” 

BYOP also plans to continue listening to residents and providing youth workshops on community organizing. These activities help develop the voice and power of more and more youth to hold their elected officials accountable and effect the changes they desire in their communities.

To find out how you can support the young people of BYOP and their efforts to build power for Baltimore City youth, contact Samirah Franklin at

Commissioner Kevin Davis to Speak at MRIA’s May Meeting

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis is the guest speaker for MRIA’s annual membership meeting on May 2.  

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis will be the guest speaker at MRIA’s Annual Membership Meeting, which will be held on the first Tuesday of the month, May 2.

The Annual Membership Meeting also features MRIA elections and a social hour at 7 pm featuring treats from local vendors including Dovecote Café, the Avenue Bakery and the Wine Source.

The business portion of the meeting will begin at 8 pm with the election of new board members and officers. 

The slate being nominated for the three-year term ending in 2020 includes Lisa Scott, Peter Van Buren, Patrick Ward, Alexis Mogul, Jessica Wyatt, Joe Palumbo, Bill Hamilton, Doug Kelso, and Marjorie Forster.

The officer nominees are: Linda Rittelmann, President; David Nyweide, First Vice President; Kendra Parlock, Second Vice President; Barry Blumberg, Treasurer; Kellie Wellborn, Secretary; Lisa Robinson, General Counsel; and Steve Howard, Past President.

MRIA business will be followed by the guest speaker for the evening, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Please plan to attend this fun and informative evening. As usual, the meeting will be in the upper hall at Memorial Episcopal Church; enter on the Lafayette Street side.

There is no charge for the event, and all are welcome to attend, whether you are a member or not.

That said, if you’d like to join or if you have not yet renewed your MRIA membership, now is a great time to do so. You can do so online here.

Renew Your MRIA Membership Now

MRIA logoIt’s spring, which means it’s time to renew your MRIA membership. You can renew or become a new member online. It’s easy and quick.

Why become a member of the Mount Royal Improvement Association? Because MRIA helps make Bolton Hill the great place that it is.

Do you ever wonder why Bolton Hill’s parks and medians look so welcoming? It’s because generous neighbors put in a lot of personal time, energy and money to make it happen. MRIA helps pay for some of the costlier supplies that these neighbors need to keep our green spaces up to snuff.

MRIA also provides a forum to resolve conflicts within the neighborhood and also provides funds for legal aid when necessary.

We host an annual crab feast to thank the police officers and fire fighters who keep us safe and the Midtown Community Benefits District crew who keep us green and clean. 

We also support the annual summer concert—Boltonstock—that brings our neighborhood together. Plus, the Association makes small monetary contributions to other events and projects in the neighborhood that benefit all.

Last but not least, MRIA produces the Bolton Hill Bulletin each month.

Annual dues are very low—only $20 for tenants and $30 for homeowners.

Thanks to all those neighbors who are currently members, along with a special thanks for those who contribute extra funds toward their favorite projects. If you are not yet a member or have not renewed for this year, you can do so online. As a member, you will receive an email with each issue of the Bolton Hill Bulletin, MRIA’s monthly newsletter, which includes a calendar with neighborhood events as well as coverage of major MRIA initiatives, neighborhood news, and volunteer opportunities.

If you have moved into the neighborhood in 2017, you are welcome to a complimentary first-year membership. You will also receive an invitation to the annual New Neighbor Party which takes place every winter. 

If you are unsure if your membership is current, please check for your address on this list. Organized alphabetically by street name, this lists the addresses for all residents who have paid their FY 2017-18 MRIA dues as of April 29.

Questions? Email the Membership Committee at

Memorial Episcopal Walks on Good Friday to Repent Racism

By Rev. Grey Maggiano

Plans for Unveiling
Daughters of the Confederacy Announces Program
April 24th, 1903

Mrs. D. Giraud Wright (1632 Park Ave.), President of the Maryland Daughters, announced
at social meeting of the Baltimore Chapter …The Strains of Dixie will mark the formal
opening of the program, and following this the invocation by the Rev. William M.
Dame (Rector, Memorial Episcopal Church), Chaplain of the Maryland Daughters
of the Confederacy.”

Station 2: site of the former segregated Bolton St. Recreation Center
Participants visit the former site of the segregated Bolton St. Recreation Center, Station 2 on the Repenting for Racism walk.

Almost 114 years ago to the day, most of Bolton Hill—some 700 people stood on the stage alone!— turned out for the dedication of the Daughters of the Confederacy Monument on Mt. Royal Avenue. Leading the proceedings were the then-Rector of Memorial Episcopal Church and the President of the Daughters of the Confederacy, a longtime Park Ave. resident.

This monument was one of the fourteen stops on Memorial Church’s Repenting for Racism: Stations of the Cross Walk last month, which was held on Good Friday.

After a long period of research and truth-telling, Memorial Members selected fourteen sites around the neighborhood that call attention to both our parish’s and our neighborhood’s legacy of racism. These included:

  • The former site of the segregated Bolton Hill Recreation Center on the east side of the 1300 block of Bolton Street;
  • 1212 Bolton Street, which was purchased by a black Baptist pastor who was forcibly evicted by unhappy neighbors; and
  • Memorial Church’s own parish hall, in which blackface minstrel shows were staged to entertain the neighborhood for many years.
Stations of the Cross walk
Visiting the “stations of the cross” of Bolton Hill’s past, April 14, 2017.

When people ask me why we need to do these kinds of things— why we need to “drudge up” this ugly history, and remind ourselves of the painful past— I point to stories like this. Or I tell of the strong neighborhood activism supporting segregated housing, or my ancestor’s letter to the editor urging the restriction of the right to vote for “the Negroe.” 

We need to do these kinds of things because they are not ancient history. They didn’t just happen before the Civil War, or in the 1800s, but in the mid-twentieth century. Current parishioners and neighbors were alive when many of these events took place. And, though most Bolton Hill residents didn’t live here then, there are many, many neighbors, churches and institutions across Eutaw Place who do remember.

The reality is that we have asymmetrical access to information and asymmetrical notions of history. While Bolton Hillers celebrate the very diverse, very inclusive neighborhood we see between Mt. Royal and Eutaw, and Dolphin and North Ave., neighbors on the other sides of these boundaries remember a not-too-distant past when to walk through Bolton Hill as a person of color guaranteed a visit from the police. 

Perhaps you, like me, have asked why Bolton Hill retains its reputation as a predominantly white, wealthy neighborhood when the actual numbers suggest it is much more economically and racially diverse? Or why your institution or organization, like our church, has trouble developing relationships with organizations west of Eutaw Place? Or perhaps you have wondered why urban renewal, redlining, and segregation didn’t have the same effect in Bolton Hill as it did in Reservoir Hill, Upton, or Penn North?

Memorial Church’s research shows that the answer to all of these questions lies in our own history.

They say that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Whether or not that is true in this case, our lack of knowledge of the past makes it very hard to dialogue with those who continue to feel its impact.

We hope that by bringing these truths to light, we can help all of our neighbors, black and white, rich and poor, longtime residents and new arrivals, to understand both the problematic history of these few city blocks, and to band together to set out a different future— for our Church, for our neighborhood, and perhaps for our whole city.

For more information please visit Memorial Episcopal online, and see this related article about the Repenting Racism walk in the Washington Post.

Secret Garden Opens May 5

Secret Graden Poster, Memorial PlayersMark your calendars for Memorial Players’ spring musical, The Secret Garden, based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Set in the early years of the 20th century, this haunting and delightful tale centers on Mary Lennox, a young English girl born and raised in British India. After a cholera outbreak leaves Mary an orphan, relatives whom she has never met take her in to live with them in Yorkshire, England.

As she and a young gardener bring new life to a neglected garden, her personality blossoms, and her sickly cousin and uncle find new life.

Bill Kamberger, who directed the Memorial Players’ fantastic production of Ragtime in 2016, returns for The Secret Garden. Bill was named Baltimore’s Best Stage Director by City Paper in 2003 and by Baltimore Broadway World in 2015.

The show opens on Friday, May 5 at 7:30 pm. The Players will transform the altar of Memorial Episcopal Church into Yorkshire in the early 1900’s. The cast of just over 50 comes from across the Baltimore region, including seasoned actors who have returned year after year as well as many new faces.

Performances will be held for two weekends, with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 7:30 pm, and Sunday matinees at 3:30 pm. Doors open at 7 pm evenings and 3 pm Sundays. As always, admission is free for all performances, but donations are graciously accepted.

Make a night of it by attending one of the pre-show receptions, hosted at a neighborhood home. It’s a wonderful way to support Memorial Players and the only way to get reserved seating. Purchase your tickets online for these receptions. 

Friday, May 5, 5:30–7 pm, $50/person
Home of Michael Booth and Kristine Smets
1308 Bolton Street

Saturday, May 6, 5:30–7 pm, $50/person
Home of Kristen & Bill Schmitz
219 W. Lanvale St.

Sunday, May 7, 1:30-3 pm, $25/person
Sponsored by the Rev. Grey Maggiano
Memorial Episcopal Church, 1409 Bolton Street

Friday, May 12, 5:30–7 pm, $50/person
Home of Barbara and Patrick Francis
1312 Bolton Street

Saturday, May 13, 5:30–7 pm, $50/person
Home of Terry O’Hara and Molly Rath
1419 Bolton Street

Sunday, May 14, After Party following 3:30 performance, $15/person
Party with the cast after their final bows!

Stoop Party for the Schools on May 13

Stoop Party for schools5/12/17 – Due to the prediction of really lousy weather on Saturday, the Social Action Task Force has sadly decided to cancel this year’s Stoop Party with a Purpose. Please help us spread the word so that our friends do not brave the rain for nothing.

We encourage neighbors to bring donations to Boltonstock on June 3, and drop them off at the SATF table. Cash, credit card and check donations can be accepted at the booth. Please make checks payable to “MRIA”, and put “SATF School Fund” in the memo.

We all like a good party. And we all like to do good. The SATF’s Parties with a Purpose combine these to double the fun.

Get your share of double delight by coming out for this year’s first Stoop Party with a Purpose on Saturday, May 13, 11 am to 1 pm, at the Gazebo in the 1700 block of Linden Avenue (between Sav-a-Lot and Sumpter Park). RSVP on Facebook.

Mingle with your neighbors while enjoying wine, beer, soft drinks, and the ever-popular Bloody Mary Bar. The event is free, but donations are encouraged. 100% of all donations go to support our neighborhood schools as they face a critical budget deficit.

Linden Gazebo
Linden St. gazebo.

Donations will be shared among three schools: Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary, Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle, and Midtown Academy. Each school has selected a special program that will be supported by the donations. Midtown, for example, will use the funds to support their CREW morning sharing and learning activity for students in grades 6-8.

Organizers suggest a donation of at least $10/person or a ream of paper. (Or both!) Believe it or not, paper supplies cost each school about $10,000 per year. The goal is to build a paper tower by the gazebo.

Representatives from all three schools will be on hand to talk about their programs, along with Karen DeCamp, Baltimore Education Coalition’s Director of Neighborhood Programs. She will update partygoers on BEC’s efforts to find longterm solutions for school funding.

Construction at Druid Hill Park Reservoir

Druid Hill Park ReservoirBy The Friends of Druid Hill Park 

Over the next few weeks, the Department of Public Works will begin construction at the Druid Hill Reservoir to install buried water tanks.

As a result of the construction, access to the full loop around the reservoir will be restricted. Approximately 1/3 of the loop will be closed to public access during the 4-5 years it takes to complete this project. Access to the 2 exercise stations on the west side of the reservoir will not be accessible during the construction period.

Construction WILL NOT affect park roads, pavilion, ball fields, the Rawlings Conservatory, Druid Hill Farmers Market, or pool access.

The reservoir has served as the heart of Druid Hill Park for over 100 years. This construction will have major impact on many park patrons and events.The FoDHP has posted walking/jogging/biking route options on their website.

Druid Hill Reservoir Plan
Druid Hill Reservoir Plan

You can also visit Baltimore Green Map (BGM) for a great map of Druid Hill Park that park users can use to find new exercise routes. BGM also produced a Jones Falls Trail map. The trail may be an option for some park users. Paper versions of both of these maps are available in the Rawlings Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

Please Note: Unlike the reservoir loop, these routes require using public roadways in Druid Hill Park. Please use caution when using these routes. Routes may also be closed due to events or parking for large park events.

More updates and timelines from the Department of Public Works and Recreation and Parks are expected as the process. The Friends of Druid Hill Park will share all information as it becomes available on their website; consult either the FoDHP website or the Department of Public Works website for more information on the reservoir plan.

Big Bucks from Bowls of Beans at Chili Dinner Fundraiser

We were stunned last year when MRIA turned an evening’s worth of chili into over $3,500 in donations for the Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School North Bay summer camp fund. At this year’s chili dinner fundraiser, we blew away last year’s totals.

This year’s event, held on April 19 at Brown Memorial church, raised a grand total $6,195.

“On behalf of the Mount Royal School, we would like to thank the MRIA and local community for your amazing support in helping us send students to North Bay Outdoor Adventure Trip again this year,” said Principal Job Grotsky. “Because of your generous support, every sixth grader wishing to go is now able to. This is over 60 students afforded the opportunity to learn about the restoration efforts to save the Chesapeake Bay.”

Principal Grotsky’s sentiments were echoed by the President of the PTO, Stacy Wells, who said “WOW, I am speechless. Amazing. Thank you.”

Photos by Powell Perng

The overwhelming success of the event, surpassing even the committee’s ambitious goal of $5,000, was the result of strong efforts of MRIA’s Churches and Schools committee members. Marjorie Forster, Barbara Francis, Patrick Francis, Hannah Logue, and Powell Perng were aided by Linda Rittelmann, Carla Witzel, Victoria Patch, and Tunji Williams on the day of the event. Andrew Parlock was the great raffle announcer.

Save-A-Lot donated chili supplies, H&S Bakery donated dozens of rolls, and Blacksauce Kitchen donated pulled chicken and four large double pans of biscuits (which went REAL fast!). Neighbors Linda Rittelman and Don Palmer each donated batches of their own world-famous chili, and Monty Howard designed the posters.

Andrew Parlock shouted down the crowd of adults and kids to raffle off the fine offerings donated by local merchants including Art of Attraction, b Bistro, Earth Treks Climbing Gym, Epitome Barber Shop, On the Hill Café, Park Café, Roland Park Driving School, and the Charles Theatre, plus watercolors from artist Martha Dougherty.

A special thanks goes to the Bolton Hill Grocery, Sutton Sandwich Shop, and MRIA for their generous monetary donations to the fund. 

Brown Memorial Presbyterian donated the space and all the dining supplies, as well as setup and cleanup help. They even helped with promotion by distributing flyers to the congregation. Many neighbors graciously supplied homemade desserts.

Neighbor Barbara Francis said, “We hope the 6th graders have a fabulous experience and send pictures. We were happy to have this opportunity to participate in the life of the school and were gratified by the outpouring of support from the community.”

Safety Committee: Camera Project

By Barbie Klik

The Bolton Hill Camera Project

Do you have a surveillance camera on your property? If so, please tell us about it.

The Mount Royal Improvement Association Safety Committee is working to identify and map private surveillance cameras in Bolton Hill. When crimes occur, surveillance footage – not just of the crime itself, but also of suspects’ movements nearby – can help police track down perpetrators.

But police don’t always know if such footage is available, and the camera owners may not know that their footage could help solve a crime and lead to an arrest. Critical footage can even be erased without the owners knowing that they have it.

MRIA’s Safety Committee wants to bridge that gap by making a centralized database of surveillance cameras that police and citizens can use to help solve crimes in our neighborhood. The information you provide will be curated by the committee and made available to law enforcement.

The strength of a community is measured by how well we work together. You may have installed a surveillance camera to watch over your own home, but it may not have occurred to you that if we pull these resources together, we can create an invaluable tool that improves our collective security – and acts as a deterrent to future crime.

If you have a surveillance camera and want to help make your neighborhood safer, please send the following details to

  1. Name and property address.
  2. Location: does your camera (or cameras) face the street, rear of the home, side, or a combination?
  3. Is your camera registered with CitiWatch?
  4. May the MRIA Safety Committee or law enforcement contact you? And if so, what is your preferred method of contact?
  5. Contact information.
  6. Details about your camera or setup you care to share: make/model, location (eye level, overhead, etc.), night vision capability, range/scope of camera frame, data storage, any other pertinent details.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact MRIA Safety Committee Co-chair Richard Dunfee ( or John Heltman (, leader of the Camera subcommittee. Other members of the subcommittee are Patrick Francis and Linda Stirling.

Crime Statistics

Crime has declined since January, both February and March we saw a 65% and 47% decrease in serious crimes in February and March, respectively. 

Safety Committee May Crime Stats


  1. Be aware of your surroundings.  If you see something suspicious, call 911!
  2. Keep outdoor lights on. They help everyone feel more comfortable when out on the streets.
  3. Go on a charm offensive by welcoming everyone you see in the neighborhood. Building relationships is one of the best deterrents to crime.

If you are a victim of a crime, first get to a safe location and call the police. Then, report the crime to the Bolton Hill Email Network, Provide specifics so others can be on the lookout.

The Commuter Chronicles: Name That Network

MARC mapBy Claudia De Carlo

One of the great advantages to commuting on the train is the ability to relax and surf the web while travelling—something that those driving on the highway can’t (or shouldn’t) do.

Recently on the train, was connecting my laptop to the bluetooth wireless internet network on my iPhone when the long list of available wireless networks caught my eye. It occurred to me that they must belong to other tech-savvy train commuters. A funny, clever bunch, as it turns out. Here are some of my favorite network names:

  • Snakes on a Train
  • Clinton Email Server
  • geturown
  • Earlandtheotherone
  • The Evil League of Evil (Yikes!)
  • Godblessyou (Awww…)
  • Lemur princess’ Karma (I don’t get this one, but OK!)
  • Kawaii (How cute!)

And to those commuters that own the following network names, I know you’re not as boring as your Wi-Fi names! 

  • GALAXY_S4_9326
  • Mike’s iPhone
  • Jennifer Personal

How to join the ranks of the funny, clever commuters? You don’t need a computer science degree to do change the name of your Wi-Fi hotspot. You can do it right on your phone.

How to change your Wi-Fi name on your iPhone:

  1. Tap the Settings icon on your device’s home screen.
  2. Tap General from within Settings.
  3. Tap About.
  4. Tap the Name tab.
  5. Tap the small X next to your device’s current name to remove it.
  6. Type a new name for your iPhone in the input field.
  7. Tap Done on the onscreen keyboard when you are finished.

How to change your Wi-Fi name on your Android:

  1. Open Settings on your phone.
  2. Scroll to About and tap on it.
  3. On the next screen, tap on Device Name, type the desired name for your device in the text field.
  4. Select OK.

You can also do it from your laptop. Here’s a great tutorial with step by step instructions for both PC and Mac.

So go on, fellow commuters, live a little! Change it up! Change your WiFi name and make your commute just a little more fun!

Save the Date: 10th Annual Boundary Block Party June 3

Boundary Block Party
Dancing at the Boundary Block Party

The Boundary Block Party for residents of Bolton Hill, Marble Hill, Reservoir Hill, Upton, Sandtown, and Madison Park, and Druid Heights, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year on Saturday June 3, from 1 to 4 pm.

Celebrate the community that unites us, rather than the boundaries that separate us, and plan to join the fun at the Upton Triangle, the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Presstman Street.

The event is organized by No Boundaries Coalition and Jubilee Arts, and volunteers are needed to help with the event. Working together with others to make the party successful breaks down boundaries more quickly than just about anything else you can do. Find out more and show your interest by filling out this form.

As they did last year, MRIA’s Social Action Task Force will be organizing a group walk from Bolton Hill over to the Party. You can plan to make a whole day of it as Boltonstock 2017— the official after party— starts afterward at 5 pm.

But most of all, mark the Boundary Block Party on your calendar and come celebrate community across neighborhoods with music, food and fun! Follow the event and RSVP on Facebook.

Boltonstock 2017 on June 3

Save the date of Saturday, June 3 for the best party day of the summer. It’ll start midday with the Boundary Block Party at Upton Triangle from 11 am to 4 pm. Then come on over to Sumpter Park for the after-party, Boltonstock 2017, from 5 to 10 pm. This annual summer festival celebrates its third year, thanks to organizers Chas Phillips and Jessica Wyatt.

 Photos of Boltonstock 2016 courtesy of Kellie Wellborn


Lots of volunteers are needed for jobs like serving beer and wine, grilling and preparing food, selling drink and food tickets, and cleanup. Email organizer Chas Phillips at chas.phillips [at] if you can help out.

The musical lineup has expanded this year, including street musician Merdalf to open the evening, followed by Baltimore blues band The Cleanse, and DJ Uncle Quincy.

They’ll be plenty of kids’ activities available, along with grilled food, baked goods, and a nice selection of wine and craft beers for purchase. Look for plenty of involvement from local non-profit organizations, whose tables will surround the park.

The organizers seek sponsors to support Boltonstock 2017. Sponsorship starts at $100, and can be purchased by businesses, organizations or individuals. If you or someone you know is interested in being a sponsor, please contact Chas Phillips at chas.phillips [at]

Please help make Boltonstock a success. Save the date, spread the word, and bring lots of friends. Let’s see the whole neighborhood come out for what should be a fine evening of entertainment.

Don’t forget to follow the event on Facebook.

Sheng Zhen Class at Memorial Church Moves to Thursdays

Peter Van Buren teaching Sheng Zhen GongStarting May 18, Peter Van Buren’s popular weekly Sheng Zhen Gong classes held in the Upper Parish Hall of Memorial Church will switch from Wednesday to Thursday evenings. The time will stay the same: 5:30-6:30 pm.

The suggested donation is $10 per class or $50 for a 6-class package. 100% of the proceeds go to the Memorial Church. Open to all, beginners and drop-ins are always welcome.

This creative fundraiser for the church’s building & grounds fund has already generated over $600 for the church since classes started in January.

Peter also teaches weekly Sheng Zhen Gong classes in the same Parish Hall space for the Samaritan Community every Tuesday from 11am–noon. These sessions are free to Samaritan Community members, but others are welcome to join the group anytime, with the same suggested donations as for Memorial Church. For these sessions, all donations will directly support the Samaritan Community.

On Wednesday evenings beginning May 17, Peter will teach classes at Ruscombe Mansion, a holistic community health center in Coldspring Newtown near Cylburn Arboretum. Classes take place every Wednesday from 6–7 pm. Donations will go into the Mansion’s roof replacement fund.

In addition to these open classes, Peter holds weekly Sheng Zhen Gong sessions at the Man Alive Treatment Center on Maryland Avenue. In June and July, he will teach 3rd through 5th graders in the summer program at St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Reservoir Hill. 

Through its comprehensive system of moving forms, meditations, philosophy, and contemplations, Sheng Zhen Gong taps into the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Visit the Baltimore Sheng Zhen Gong website for more information on this practice and to see the full weekly schedule of local classes.

Meet Memorial Episcopal

Memorial Episcopal interior

By Greta Brueck and Monty Howard

It’s not every day that you find a house of worship that describes itself as both “radically welcoming” and “diverse” — unless you live in Bolton Hill. Established in 1860, long before anything too radical or diverse was celebrated, Memorial Episcopal Church has evolved from a traditional neighborhood church that, sadly, discriminated in both senses of the word, into a passionately openminded parish that considers itself a force for constructive change within the Diocese of Maryland.

The main catalyst for Memorial’s evolution over the past century was Father Barney Farnham, who took over the church in the late 1960s in the midst of an extremely racially divided city. Farnham was a true leader in urban ministry, initiating outreach programs, free community meals, and support groups. He eagerly brought people together while also attracting those outside of what he dubbed the “white island.” Under his care, Memorial underwent a phoenix-like transformation.

Through continued devotion to social justice (one of its Core Vocations), the parish was one of the first in Maryland to hire a female priest, and it was also the first congregation to marry a same-sex couple.

So many of the roots planted by Father Farnham have grown into a garden now tended loyally by its current Rector, Reverend Grey Maggiano. Maggiano has been ardent and fearless in challenging his congregation and his community “to reach out in love — not judgement — and form real relationships.” You can read more of his ideas on his blog.

Rev. Maggiano also recognizes that along the road to tolerance, it is important not to forget the past. On Good Friday, he led his parish in the “Repenting for Racism: Stations of the Cross Walk.” in which 37 parishioners, neighbors and friends toured sites in the neighborhood where racism manifested itself through 1960s.

Selections from a recent student art exhibit at the church

Today, Memorial’s beautiful old stone structure stands mighty on the grounds of a loving new norm, celebrating differences both theological and human. In addition to worship services, neighbors enjoy a variety of events and opportunities hosted in the space: monthly neighborhood association meetings, galas, yoga, student art exhibits, the Samaritan Community— they even let one of the Bulletin’s co-editors teach his Sheng Zhen Gong classes there!

Forget age, race, marital status, sexual orientation—the more diversified the voices, the merrier the worship. And speaking of merry voices, don’t miss a chance to experience Memorial’s theater arts program, which hosts a Fall Drama and a Spring Musical every year.

All are welcome, always. A schedule of services and more can be found at Memorial Episcopal online.

May Events

Here’s a brief overview of some of the local happenings in May.

Go to the Bulletin Calendar for details and additional events, including information on regular monthly meetings. Just click on an event to see more information.

May 2 – MRIA Annual Meeting

May 5 – Opening night for The Secret Garden, Memorial Players’ spring musical. Performances also on 5/6, 5/7, 5/12, 5/13 & 5/14.

May 5 – Portfolio Exhibit Opening at Jubilee Arts

May 6 – Opening Day for Whitelock Farm Stand, and see information on other local farmers markets here.

May 6 – First Concert in the Taste of Jazz @ The Avenue Bakery series.

May 7 – Tiffany Series: James David Christie Organ Concert

May 7 – Social Action Task Force meeting to organize May’s Stoop party and June’s Boltonstock. Volunteers needed.

May 13 – Stoop Party for the Schools, with all donations going to our three neighborhood schools.

May 22 – Samaritan Gala at The Charles Theatre

May 22 – Potluck at Whitelock Community Farm

AND * * * * * *

JUNE 3 – Two BIG parties, the Boundary Block Party and Boltonstock 2017.