Helfenbein Elected to Board of No Boundaries Coalition

Rob Helfenbein
Newly elected NBC board member Rob Helfenbein.

At their most recent meeting, Bolton Hill neighbor Rob Helfenbein was elected to the board of No Boundaries Coalition. Several other Bolton Hill residents, including Rob, received Volunteer Awards for their work with the organization.

Of his award, Rob said, “I am humbled to be among a group of community folks who give much more of their time than me.” As a board member, he hopes to further their work on eliminating food deserts, ensuring the enforcing the Department of Justice consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department to reduce police brutality against citizens, and increasing voter registration in advance of the 2018 and 2020 elections.

He said he especially hopes to contribute to their youth initiatives and “bring conversations about Baltimore City Schools into the mix.” And of course, he hopes to continue working to break down the boundaries between neighborhoods like Sandtown/Upton and Bolton Hill.

“I could not be more impressed with this organization,” Helfenbein said. “No Boundaries Coalition is one of the most organized and well-run community organizations I’ve ever seen and their impact is only growing in the city.”

Jayne Chartrand's meeting notes
Notes from a recent NBC meeting taken by MICA grad Jayne Chartrand.

Michael Booth and Peter Van Buren also received awards, along with residents from neighborhoods throughout the 21217 zip code served by No Boundaries Coalition, for their work for the organization.

In recent weeks, NBC sponsored a Community Forum in partnership with Coppin State’s Criminal Justice and Urban Studies Departments on Thursday, July 6 and facilitated by NBC’s co-director, Ray Kelly, to get community feedback on the DOJ consent decree.

Kelly also was one of 100 community leaders invited to participate in the 6th annual conference of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice in Oakland, CA in June, where he shared NBC’s efforts to transform the Criminal Justice system through education, advocacy and legislation. 

NBC also was asked by the National Organization of Retired State Troopers (NORST) and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) to participate in a precedent-setting panel discussion on June 29 on the responsibility of black police officers to their community.

NBC also recently celebrated the graduation of two founding youth members of the Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP). One has received a full scholarship to MICA, and the other will be attending Howard University. BYOP was pivotal in pressuring the Mayor into restoring after-school and community-school funding. BYOP was first to the name the 25% cut to in the Mayors preliminary budget and helped organize over 600 youth and concerned residents from across the city to attend a City Council meeting on June 7th.

As part of their work on eliminating food deserts, No Boundaries Coalition is happy to announce the reopening of Fresh at the Avenue (1700 Pennsylvania Avenue) on July 22, with a Grand Reopening Celebration slated for Saturday, July 29.

Please support this fresh food market in West Baltimore! And please contact the No Boundaries Coalition or attend a meeting to help be part of the solution to the myriad problems facing the city. With effective organizing, says Rob Helfenbein, No Boundaries Coalition is helping to create “an amazing, positive community.“ 

Crispus Attucks Rec Center Reopens

Mayor Pugh addressing the crowd at the reopening event
Kids and rec center employees work on craft projects while Mayor Pugh addresses the crowd at the reopening event

Expanded from a post at Promise Heights.

After being shut down for 5 years, the Crispus Attucks Recreation Center officially reopened to the public on June 22, 2017. Councilman Eric T. Costello, University of Maryland School of Social Work Dean Richard P. Barth and Mayor Catherine E. Pugh spoke at the reopening event.

Ever since the center was closed by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, local neighborhood organizations have been lobbying to have it reopened, especially after the uprising following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.

“Today would not be possible without the spirit of collaboration among the Department of Parks and Recreation, the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Promise Heights, community associations, and the families who called this neighborhood time and time again to come together, to be together, to work together,” Pugh said.

Kids enjoying the rec center

The recreation center is located behind Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School and will be a site for the Baltimore City Recreation & Parks summer program, Camp Baltimore. In session from June 19 to August 25, the camp provides a full range of programing all summer long, including swimming, outdoor education, arts and crafts, academic enrichment, field trips, and other fun activities for neighborhood children.

The name of the rec center honors Crispus Attucks, a dockworker of Wampanoag and African descent who is believed to be the first person killed in the American Revolution at the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770.

Park Café and Two Boots Close

Everyone knows the restaurant business is tough. Sadly, two neighborhood establishments have shut their doors.

After six years of serving Cajun-themed pizzas with names like the Hogwallop and The Dude, Two Boots pizza café on Mt. Royal Avenue quietly closed in April.

Then on Saturday, July 8, the Park Café & Coffee Bar served its last customers. Partners David Hart and Joe Costa explained that the decision to close did not come easily for them. Neighbors may worry that their closing was due to the multiple robberies which occurred this past winter, but they explained that changes in their personal priorities, rather than external forces, were involved. Over the last three years, operating the cafe has caused them to miss many birthdays and skip vacations. Now they can spend more time with family and friends.

“The café continues to do well financially and our level of service and the food produced remain excellent, which is why we feel now is the time to leave, while we’re on top of our game,” says David. “We are proud of what we have accomplished, and thankful for the tremendous support we received from the greater Bolton Hill community over the past three years. It has been our pleasure to serve you.”

Named for the boot-shaped peninsulas of Italy and Louisiana, The Two Boots restaurant chain started in New York City’s East Village in 1987 and spread to Los Angeles and several other states. Here in Baltimore, however, it apparently couldn’t compete with the dozens of shops in the city’s robust pizza scene. Two Boots was founded by Phil Hartman, a former Baltimore resident, and ex-wife Doris Kornish, and run by Hartman’s son, Leon. An earlier location at Power Plant Live closed earlier.
 
If you’ve ever wanted to run a pizza joint or a coffee bar, here’s your chance. Both properties are looking for new owner-operators. Those interested in Park Cafe should email Joe and David at costahart@yahoo.com or call (443) 509-3934. Since David and Joe own the building as well as the business, they have the latitude to be creative in their negotiations.

If Two Boots or pizza are more your scene, Bolton Hill resident Monica Lavorgna manages retail properties for The Bozzuto Group, which owns the Fitzgerald apartment building that houses the former Two Boots, along with The Brass Tap pub and Barnes & Noble bookstore. “We are in the process of working with the Segall Group to find a new tenant for the space and hope to have new tenant, most likely a food use, to announce sometime this summer,” Lavorgna said.

Boltonstock 2017 a Big Success

 

Photos by Alisha Wolf, Kendra Parlock and Peter Van Buren.

On a gorgeous June evening, children playing, smoking grills, rocking musicians and contented neighbors filled Arnold Sumpter Park at Boltonstock 2017

Organizers Chas Phillips and Jessica Wyatt did a fantastic job of pulling all the pieces together. They were assisted by an army of volunteers and neighborhood organizations, with special honors going to grillmaster Rob Helfenbein, Chris Whisted & Little Havana for supplying LOTS of beer, Jeff Dugan for all the sports equipment, Andrew Parlock (with major guidance from Chris) working the generator, Mare Consugar on concessions, Memorial Episcopal on baked goods, the Baltimore Community ToolBank for the constructable playground, chairs and tents, and Linda Rittelman on trash can duty. 

Here’s a drone’s eye view of the fun by Chas Phillips.

 

A great group of neighborhood organizations manned the community tables, including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Corpus Christi Church, Enoch Pratt Library, Food & Water Watch, Loving Arms, MRIA, Royal Theater and Community Heritage Corporation, St. Francis Neighborhood Center, Whitelock Community Farm, and Residence Row startup companies Moma Pops and Natural Energy.

Ideas are already circulating to make 2018’s festival even better.

Prepare for Fall Tree Planting

Three dead and dying trees on Mt. Royal at North Ave. (wall of Bolton North) are on the list for replacement despite having been planted only recently.

Ever wonder why Bolton Hill’s streets have more trees than most neighborhoods in Baltimore? It takes a lot of work—much of it done on a volunteer basis. To maintain our neighborhood’s current tree canopy, roughly 50 trees need to be planted each year.

George Lavdas has been planting and caring for trees in Bolton Hill for the past 25 years. Of late, he’s been joined by David Nyweide and other Bolton Hill residents.

These good folks are currently compiling a neighborhood tree census—something they do twice yearly— to identify locations with dead or dying trees, stumps that need to be ground out, and empty tree wells primed for planting.

David and George report the trees or stumps to be removed to the City so that the sites are ready in time for tree planting in spring and fall. Working with Caleb DeMario of the Midtown Community Benefits District, George and David order trees from the City and arrange planting dates with the Midtown greening crew.

The following 32 sites have been identified for preparation for new tree plantings this fall because they have empty tree wells, stumps that need to be removed, dead saplings, or dead or dying trees:

  • Maple Leaf Park, island between parking strips off Bolton and Robert
  • 2004 Eutaw (on either side of the address awning)
  • 2002 Eutaw
  • 2000 Eutaw at corner with Presstman and on Presstman
  • 1308 Eutaw
  • 1301 Eutaw, in median strip
  • 1300 Eutaw, by bus stop on south side of Lanvale
  • 1627 Park, in median strip
  • 1703 Park, in median strip
  • 1111 Park (at the end of Dolphin)
  • 1805 Bolton
  • 1824 Bolton
  • 1415 John
  • 206 Laurens
  • Mt. Royal, next to wall surrounding Bolton North parking lot (2 trees)
  • 301 McMechen
  • 300 block of McMechen in the median strips across from Save-A-Lot (3 stumps)
  • 300 block of McMechen, south side of the street
  • 122 W. Lafayette
  • 123 W. Lafayette
  • 100 block of W. Lafayette, along Corpus Christi Church
  • 123 W. Lanvale
  • 229 W. Lanvale
  • 120 W. Lanvale
  • 134 W. Lanvale
  • 103 W. Lanvale (near intersection with W. Mt. Royal, along granite wall)

Is there an empty tree well or dead tree or tree trunk in front of your house? Contribute to the census by sending an email to both David Nyweide (dnyweide@yahoo.com) and George Lavdas (lavdasgeorge01@gmail.com).

Volunteers are needed to help plant new and prune existing trees. The fall planting date will be announced in the Bulletin calendar—keep an eye out for it!

If you’re interested in becoming more involved with keeping the neighborhood canopy thick and healthy by planting and pruning trees, please contact George or David. George can also help answer any questions about what City Forestry can (or cannot do) and can put you in contact with private tree professionals, who (for a fee) can work with you to do the fertilizing and maintenance pruning of trees around your home.

Help Build Ana’s Garden

By Kendra Parlock

Longtime neighbor Marcia Ribeiro is hoping to build a garden in Bolton Hill. Ana’s Garden will be a tribute to Marcia’s mother, Ana, and a memorial for her love for Bolton Hill. Ana passed away from pancreatic cancer last fall.

Rendering of Ana's Garden
Landscape architect’s rendering of Ana’s Garden.

Ana decided to spend her retirement in Bolton Hill with Marcia and her husband Paul Silvestri after having worked as a nurse for 25 years. Many neighbors knew Ana from her walks in the dog park at the end of Mosher. She loved spending time there getting to know the people that passed through and the dogs that ran in the park.

Plan for Ana's Garden

Ana’s Garden will be a quiet, reflective space located at the dog park that will enable people to come together as a community during a time when many feel the need to come together more. The project and design was approved by Linden Park Building Management and the MRIA Architectural Review Committee. The space will feature seven trees of different varieties, nine boulders and four custom benches made of cypress, steel and concrete that will be inviting and architecturally interesting.

Bench designs
Bench designs for Ana’s Garden.

Fundraising began in March to cover all expenses as well as future maintenance and upkeep. So far Bolton Hill neighbors and friends of Ana have contributed approximately $7500 of the $22,000 that is needed.  Marcia is managing the project and has enlisted the help of a landscape designer, artist and fabricator in an organic process of creation and development. The first plantings are scheduled to be installed in October.

Please support the project by donating to Ana’s Garden on GoFundMe.com or dropping off a donation at 1422 Bolton St. You can honor the memory of a loved one in the garden with an engraved plaque that will be affixed to one of the nine boulders (available for a $300 donation). Plaques may be installed on on one of the two small benches for a $1200 donation or on one of the two large benches for a $2400 donation.

Please contact Marcia at (443)717-2200 or marciova1962@gmail.com with questions and for more information. 

News In Brief

Bolton Square Turns 50Bolton Square Turns 50

Save the date: residents of Bolton Square—the townhouse development that faces West Lafayette Avenue and Mason and Jordon Streets—are planning a 50th anniversary celebration this fall for the afternoon of Saturday, October 7

Companies and organizations interested in sponsoring, and being promoted, at the autumn event should contact the president of the Bolton Square Homeowners Association, Monty Howard, at 410-243-2902, or montyhoward@earthlink.net

Self-Defense Classes

Midtown Baltimore, in conjunction with MRIA, MICA and other organizations, is offering self-defense classes designed to give you tips, tools and tricks that will help you feel safer and more confident. The classes are free for anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Midtown Baltimore. However, registration is required.

The first class was held on July 15, and sold out quickly. The next class will be August 12, 11 am-12:30 pm at Prince Grand Hall Lodge, 1307 Eutaw Place. Two more classes are scheduled at other locations for September 12 and October 18. Check the Bulletin Calendar for more information.

Get more details from their flier, and register online

Bolton Hill Nursery Awards Festival on the Hill Grants

Bolton Hill Nursery proudly announced the list of non-profits serving Bolton Hill and surrounding communities that were awarded grants from the profits of Festival on the Hill 2016.

With grants ranging from $600–$800, winners included Midtown Academy, Soaring Eagles Learning Camp, Brown Memorial Tutoring Program, Memorial Episcopal Church, John St. Park Association, Rutter Mill Park Association, Corpus Christi Church, and Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School.

Festival On the Hill 2017 takes place Saturday, October 14, which will be here sooner than you think. Bolton Hill Nursery is seeking volunteers, sponsors, vendors, and of course, everyone to attend. Contact them at boltonhillnursery@yahoo.com.

Grocery Bag Volunteer Needed

Corpus Christi Church seeks a volunteer to help with their food program. The position involves a twice-per-month inventory and stocking of their food pantry’s shelves with canned goods. Please contact Beth at 410-615-7771 or beth.steinrock@archbalt.org if you are interested in helping out.

Job Opportunity: Communication Consultant

Corpus Christi is looking for an outgoing person to help welcome folks into their amazing community. By organizing social events, managing their social media, and building a team of parishioner volunteers, the consultant would creatively share the heart and soul of their parish. This part-time position has a one-year contract. 

For more information, please download the job description. To apply, send a letter of interest and your resumé to Father Marty at mdemek@archbalt.org.

SATF and NBC Updates: Parties, Cleanups, and Reopening of Fresh at the Avenue

Stoop Party for the Schools

Although May’s Stoop Party with a Purpose organized by MRIA’s Social Action Task Force (SATF) was cancelled due to weather, donations continued to be collected for three neighborhood schools. A total of $732 was donated by many generous neighbors and will be distributed to our neighborhood schools, Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary, Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle, and Midtown Academy.

Along with a check for $244, each school received 5 reams of copier paper. Ms. Elliot at Eutaw-Marshburn summed up the sentiment for all the schools saying, “The SATF is the best!”

This dumpster was empty before the start of the June 3rd Cleanup

My Block My Hood Cleanups

As always, No Boundary Coalition‘s (NBC) 10th annual Boundary Block Party on June 3 was a huge success. Before the party started, NBC’s safety committee kicked off the summer’s My Block My Hood program by partnering with the Nehemiah Homeowners to clean up the 1300 block of N. Stockton St. at Presstman St.

Members of the SATF joined the work crew, and together they rapidly filled a large dumpster with debris, satisfying everyone with the results.

More My Block My Hood cleanups are planned for Saturday, July 22 at Parrish & Riggs Sts., Saturday, August 5 at Druid Hill Ave., and Tuesday, August 8 at Legends Park, located at Laurens and Fremont. All volunteers are welcome. Tools, work gloves, and refreshments are provided.

The SATF plans to join the August 5 cleanup as a group, while the August 8 event will be a focus for Memorial Episcopal Church, as the site is close to a store run by some of their members.

Please consider joining in this effort. Many hands make light work.

Fresh staff and volunteers

Grand Reopening for Fresh at the Avenue

For the past few months, Fresh at The Avenue in the Pennsylvania Ave. marketplace has been closed for renovations, which include new display tables and much more.

NBC announced that the stall will have a soft reopening on Saturday, July 22 with the grand reopening celebration set for Saturday, July 29. The celebration will spill outdoors into the parking lot surrounding the market, with a jazz band, food vendors and more.

The store is open every Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, and volunteers are always needed. If interested, contact Rebecca Nagle at freshatnoboundaries@gmail.com.

Rebels Rule at Ride for the Feast

Bolton Hill Rebels
The Bolton Hill Rebels With a Cause.

Bolton Hill had a strong showing in this year’s Ride for the Feast (RFTF) on May 13-14. Bolton Hillers participating in this annual fundraiser for Moveable Feast are members of Rebels With a Cause, the largest RFTF team with 77 registered riders.

The Ride’s official tag line is “2 Days. 140 Miles. 1 Cause.” That may have described the purpose of the event, but doesn’t come close to capturing the conditions on Day 1. During their 100-mile trek from Ocean City to Easton, riders faced torrential rains, 35 mph gusts and temperatures in the low 50s.

More than a few registered riders opted out due to the weather, while some of those who persevered were literally blown off their bikes. Nevertheless, over 300 riders rose to the challenge, supporting each other with camaraderie and much laughter through the long day. The hearty cheers and smiles from supporters at their six stops made the going easier.

Day 2 (Mother’s Day) erased almost all of the misery from the previous day. The weather was perfect, energy was high, and the riders completed the last 40 miles from Easton to Baltimore city on the Baltimore & Annapolis trail.

Ride for the Feast 4
The triumphant Rebels return to Baltimore.

After their triumphant entrance into the city, riders rode en masse through Baltimore to a mimosa- and beer-fueled party at the Maryland Science Center. From there, they completed the final leg with a police escort to the Moveable Feast offices in East Baltimore.

The event closed with speeches from the RFTF organizers, Moveable Feast clients, and Bolton Hill neighbor Peter Jackson, a Moveable Feast board member.

Joe Palumbo in his pink pony shirt

The Rebels with a Cause team led donations for the event, collecting over $150,000—enough to provide one hundred Moveable Feast clients with home-delivered, nutritious meals for an entire year. The event as a whole is expected to meet this year’s goal of $800,000.The Rebels honored team member Joe Palumbo, who led the team in donations and team spirit, with a special Rebels’ Pink Pony jersey.

Rider Kendra Parlock said, “As a first time rider, I knew the ride would be tough and to prepare for the worst. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming support from friends, family and neighbors for this amazing cause. I am so proud of what we accomplished and I can’t wait to do it again!”

She also offered an alternative tag line for next year: “The Toughest Thing You’ll Do and Love.”

Bolton Hill Rebels included Steve Marker, Joe Palumbo, Andrew Parlock, Kendra Parlock, Michael Booth, Kristine Smets, Donna Hager, Debi Celnik, Kristin Seeberger, Abby Ferretti, and Peter Jackson. Neighbors Jon Kaplan and Susan Lawrence also served as guest bartenders at the ride’s finish on Sunday.

Boltonstock 2017 Arrives on June 3

Merdalf opens the evening

After the Boundary Block Party, come on over to Sumpter Park for the official after-party, Boltonstock 2017, Saturday, June 3, 5–10 pm. This annual summer festival celebrates its third year, thanks to organizers Chas Phillips and Jessica Wyatt.

The musical lineup opens with street musician Merdalf, who has delighted the crowds at the Waverly and JFX farmers’ markets. He’s promised to bring his balloons!

Things will kick up a notch with Baltimore blues band The Cleanse, featuring the distinctive growling vocals and wailing guitar work of Quinton Randall. “I want audiences to feel a sense of hope, clarity, and freedom,” says Quinton of his music.

The evening wraps up with DJ Uncle Quincy, whose grooves will have everyone dancing in the park.

The Cleanse
The Cleanse headlines Boltonstock

During the break in the music, representatives from the Holistic Life Foundation will help recenter the crowd by introducing their mindfulness techniques, providing a moment of calm for festival-goers.

Grilled food will be available for purchase, including burgers and hotdogs, plus—back by popular demand—Catoctin Mountain Farm bratwurst. Quench your party thirst with a nice selection of wine and craft beers. And the famous Memorial Episcopal Bake Sale will be back, with proceeds going to the church.

Plenty of kids’ activities will be available, including some game-ready sports equipment. As with last year’s event, local non-profit organizations will have tables surrounding the park to explain their work and how folks can get involved.

Help spread the word, and bring lots of friends. RSVP and follow the event on Facebook to show your support.

Real Food Farm Comes to Bolton Hill

Mobile Framers Market
Real Food Farm on Bolton Street.

With little fanfare, Bolton Hill’s Mobile Farmers Market quietly appeared on Bolton Street on May 2, in front of Memorial Episcopal Church. What a delightful surprise!

Operated by Civic Works’ Real Food Farm, the stand will set up every Tuesday from 12:30–1:30 pm during the growing season.

The farm itself is located in Clifton Park, and it provides much of the produce offered at the mobile market. However, as their Mobile Farmer Market program has expanded, RFF alone can’t satisfy all the demand for fresh local vegetables. But fortunately, the number of city-based farms has grown to meet that demand.

By partnering with the Farm Alliance of Baltimore and their twelve member farms, almost everything the Mobile Market offers is Baltimore-grown. Now that’s buying local! And the prices are great too.

Recent offerings included, eggs for $3 a dozen, head lettuce for $1-$2 a head, strawberries for $4 per quart, arugula and spinach at $4 a 1/2 pound, and kale or collards for $2 a bunch.

The seeds for Real Food Farm were planted in 2008 by a volunteer group called the Urban Agriculture Task Force, that included Civic Works. A determined group of visionaries, they set out to create a fully operational demonstration farm in Baltimore City.

After a great deal of research, they developed a business plan focusing on high tunnel “hoophouses”—basically, low-cost, easy-to-build greenhouses. Then they already had the perfect managing organization in Civic Works, a well-established non-profit with access to six acres in Clifton Park. Civic Works also had strong community relationships in city neighborhoods that needed increased food access, and a long history of training youth in job skills and establishing community gardens.

With help from many agencies, organizations and individuals, the partnership constructed seven hoophouses in 2009, and then harvested the first produce at Real Food Farm in December of 2010. They’ve been growing ever since—and their proven success has spurred many new farmers to start similar operations in the city.

This is exactly what the Urban Agriculture Task Force hoped for. If you grow it, they will come.

Real Food Farm uses their Mobile Farmers Market as the primary tool for bringing food into city neighborhoods that lack easy access to fresh, healthy produce. During the market season from May through December, their Mobile Farmers Market team hosts neighborhood markets and makes home deliveries of fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the city.

This online schedule lists all 21 stops serviced each week by the Mobile Framers Market.

Whitelock Farm Stand opening day
Whitelock Farm Stand on opening day in mid-May.

If you can’t make Real Food Farm’s Tuesday market in Bolton Hill, here’s a list of the other nearby farmers markets open every week during the growing season.

Neighbors Unite at Boundary Block Party

By David Nyweide

Most of us think of our neighbors as being the people we see in Bolton Hill. We pass each other on our way to work, say hi while walking the dog, or chat at a coffee shop around the corner. We sometimes forget that Bolton Hill is part of a larger quilt of neighborhoods in Central West Baltimore. 

Just to the west across Eutaw Place, three neighborhoods—Marble Hill, Druid Heights, and Madison Park—encompass just about the same geographic area as Bolton Hill have housing stock of the same vintage, style, and proportions.

Why don’t we consider those west of us our neighbors? One reason is simple: because we infrequently interact with people who live on the other side of Eutaw Place. The less frequently we interact, the less likely for any relationship to develop, or even to start. 

So what stops us from interacting with each other?

The American Community Survey provides an illuminating portrait of the differences that hinder interaction between residents in Bolton Hill and other near-west neighborhoods. Based on demographic data from 2011-2015, the survey shows large and consistent disparities between Bolton Hill, Marble Hill and the combined neighborhoods of Druid Heights and Madison Park according to race, education level, household income, unemployment rates, rates of home ownership, home value and numbers of vacant properties.

American Community Survey chart
Chart adapted from the American Community Survey showing economic and racial disparities between Bolton Hill and other 21217 neighborhoods.

Although these neighborhoods are in the same area of the city, these differences show a pattern of separation that’s hard to break, especially since people tend to live where they resemble their neighbors. 

You can start to break the cycle by simply getting to know your neighbors to the west of Bolton Hill. The No Boundaries Coalition started with this purpose, providing opportunities to interact with neighbors who share the same interests in and desires for our corner of the city. We all want good schools for our children. Access to healthy, affordable food. Safe streets and police accountability.

If you share these interests, come and join your neighbors at the Boundary Block Party on Saturday, June 3. Hosted by the No Boundaries Coalition, in partnership with Jubilee Arts, the Boundary Block Party celebrates everything positive happening in Central West Baltimore.

No Boundaries meeting
No Boundaries Coalition meeting at St. Peter Claver Church.

If you’re interested in really getting to know more of your neighbors, attend a monthly No Boundaries Coalition meeting the second Tuesdays of the month at St. Peter Claver Church on Pennsylvania Avenue Triangle Park. You’ll meet people who live, work, or worship in this part of the city and are advocating together for strengthened safety, better fresh food access, more voting, and youth empowerment. 

Working on shared interests with residents from the full Central West Baltimore community reminds you that your neighbors are not limited to Bolton Hill alone.

Midtown Academy News

Jonathan
Jonathan Veale, 8th grade, winner of Carson Scholarship.

Carson Scholarship Winner Announced

The Midtown Academy is excited to announce their newest inductee into the ranks of Midtown Carson Scholarship Awardees. Jonathan Veale, 8th grader at The Midtown Academy, was honored this April for his outstanding academic performance, commitment to community and his caring personality and heart. Midtown is proud to stand behind Jonathan and his family as he enters Baltimore School for the Arts next year.

The Carson Scholars Fund awards $1,000 college scholarships to students in grades 4–11 who excel academically and are dedicated to serving their communities. The minimum requirements are a 3.75 GPA and involvement in community service. Schools are generally allowed to nominate only one student per year.

BIKEMORE Bike Installation at The Midtown Academy

You may notice something new outside our doors here at The Midtown Academy. BIKEMORE, the organization which works to expand, protect and promote bicycle infrastructure between neighborhoods, installed their 100th bike rack right in front of our school.

Bikemore
The Bikemore installation in front of The Midtown Academy.

Students, teachers and staff will now have a safe space to lock up their bikes during the day. “Our goal was to encourage our students to ride their bikes to schools, promoting healthy lifestyles and a quick way to get to and from,” says Midtown Executive Director, Jennifer Devon.

Bingo!
Happy bingo players at The Midtown Academy’s bingo fundraiser.

Annual Bingo Raises Over $4,500!

Thank you to all of our community friends and families who came to support The Midtown Academy at this year’s BINGO! Well over 50 players attended, and they helped us raise $4,665 to support critical programs here at The Midtown Academy. Not only did we raise money for our school, but we had an awesome time winning bingo baskets full of prizes and auctioning off great experiences with our Midtown teachers and staff. The Midtown Academy wants to especially thank 1st-grade teacher Mrs. Engel, who took this on along with some of our dedicated parents. Thanks to all those families who makes Midtown such a special place.

Midtown Students on the Run

If you think you’ve seen a flash of lightning coming down Lafayette, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the 5th through 8th grade students in The Midtown Academy Running Club. Students meet every Monday in their “pace groups” and head out for an hour of running and fun games. Thanks to community volunteers and new friends from Morgan State University for helping Midtown’s students get in shape and have fun doing it.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 

We are excited to announce the 2017 graduating class of The Midtown Academy, who will be attending schools including City College High School, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, the Institute of Notre Dame, Western High School, Baltimore School for the Arts, Milford Mill Academy, Greene Street Academy, Bluford Jemison School, and Digital Harbor High School. We are proud of our graduates!

Fall Play Auditions for A Christmas Carol

A Christmas CarolMemorial Players is pleased to announce auditions for the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted for the stage by Romulus Linney, co-directed by Rina Steinhauer and Darren McGregor and produced by Kristine Smets.

Auditions will be held on the following dates:

  • Friday, June 9th, 6–9 pm
  • Saturday, June 10th, 10 am–1 pm
  • Sunday, June 11, 1–4 pm

Where: Memorial Episcopal Church, 1407 Bolton St, Baltimore, in the second-floor Parish Hall (entrance on W. Lafayette Street).

Callbacks (if needed) will be announced by email.

Who: We are looking to cast 25 to 30 people. All roles are open and unpaid. Actors of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to audition. A list of characters is available here.

Specifics: 

  • Actors will be auditioned in half-hour blocks. 
  • Please sign up for an audition slot at SignUpGenius.Com. Please indicate if you have an interest in a specific role.
  • Walk-ins are welcome, but come early.
  • Actors interested in the role of Scrooge, Cratchit, Fred, Marley, Fezziwig, or one of the three Spirits should come prepared with a one- to two-minute monologue. 
  • Those auditioning for other roles are welcome to prepare a monologue, but it is not required.
  • Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.
  • You will be given a projected rehearsal schedule to review. 

Rehearsals will be held three times per week (Wednesday evening, Saturday morning, and Sunday afternoon) and will begin on September 6th. Please be prepared with dates of major conflicts during the rehearsal period.

Show dates are December 1–3 and 9–11 at Memorial Episcopal Church. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 pm and Sunday performances at 3:30 pm.

Questions? Email falldrama1407@gmail.com.

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 samirahfranklin@gmail.com

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.

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.”

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!

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] gmail.com 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] gmail.com.

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.