Eat a Chili Dinner to Send Kids to Camp This Summer

The MRIA Churches and Schools Committee will host its second annual Chili Dinner on Wednesday, April 19, 5-8 p.m. at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of Park Avenue and Lafayette. 

Come and enjoy delicious homemade chili (meat and vegetarian available), cornbread, a bake sale and raffle.  

Tickets are only $10 per person, but you are always welcome to give more. Children 12 and under are admitted free.  

This fundraiser supports Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School’s weeklong outdoor educational program that every spring sends all sixth grade students to Northbay Adventure Camp, an environmental science and character education program in Cecil County. Last year’s event generated over $3,500 for the trip. The goal this year is $5,000.

With this year’s school budget crisis, such efforts are particularly needed. Join the tasty fun and lend your support.

Parties and More Parties

Patricia Rice reading to the group

MRIA’s Social Action Task Force (SATF) hosted their fifth Party with a Purpose in February. The theme honored Black History Month with guests reading selections from their favorite black authors. The group then guessed, sometimes successfully, who the author was. 

The crowd of 60-70 attendees was deeply engaged with dozens of people taking the stage to read a quote. And they were generous too, donating a total of $1,065 that was split between two youth organizations, St. Francis Neighborhood Center and the Kids Safe Zone.

The event’s discussion area on Facebook has lots of photos, a cool little movie, and the text from many of the pieces that were read.

The SATF has already started planning two more events. First, the return of the Stoop Party with a Purpose set for 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). In response to the city’s school budget crisis, the donations collected at this party will be shared between three neighborhood schools, Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary, Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle, and Midtown Academy.

At the end of the party, the group will continue the fun by walking together to join the Boundary Block Party at Upton Triangle. This was a huge success at last year’s Stoop Party and will be a great chance for the whole community to enjoy a spring day together.

Boltonstock 2017 arrives a short three weeks later, on Saturday, June 3 from 5 to 10 pm in Sumpter Park. The SATF is working with organizers Chas Phillips and Jessica Wyatt to make this year’s event bigger and better. Starting earlier and ending later, they plan a real festival with a variety of musical acts.

Volunteers are need to help with both of these events. If you’d like to get involved, come to the next SATF monthly meeting on Sunday, April 2, 5-6:30 pm at the carriage house of 1500 Bolton St. See the calendar item for details.

If you can’t make the meeting, but are interested in these SATF events, please contact Peter Van Buren about the Stoop Party, or Chas Phillips regarding Boltonstock,

“Facing Change”: MICA Exhibit Examines Development’s Effects on East Baltimore

MICA and AlternateROOTS, an arts activism organization based in Atlanta, present “Facing Change: Portraits and Narratives of the Shifting Cultural Landscape in East Baltimore,” a special pop-up exhibition by MFA Community Arts student Ben Hamburger.

Sponsored by the college’s Office of Community Engagement and Day at the Market, a community outreach program based at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus, the exhibition will be on view at the historic Northeast Market, 2101 E. Monument St., on Saturday, April 1 and Wednesday, April 5 from 10 am–2:30 pm, as well as at “Grad Show III” at MICA’s Decker Gallery, 1303 W. Mt. Royal Ave., on Friday, April 21, 5–8 pm.

The exhibition is a socially engaged art project that brings together different perspectives on the contentious issue of community development in East Baltimore, and aims to confront the difficult realities of rapid urban development and raise awareness about a range of impacts on diverse stakeholders.

Hamburger’s portraits use salvaged formstone debris and audio narratives to honor residents of the community and share their stories about the area’s past, present and future. Their stories provoke viewers to think critically about the sense of place, home and the meaning of development.

Listen online to stories from community members featured in the exhibition.

A painter, socially engaged artist and educator from Silver Spring, Ben Hamburger is currently completing his M.F.A. in Community Arts at MICA. This project is a component of his thesis work.

See Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman at MICA

pillowmanA student production of The Pillowman, an award-winning play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, opened Thursday, March 30 at MICA’s BBOX theater in the Gateway Building,1601 W. Mount Royal Ave.

The Pillowman tells the story of a fiction writer living in an unnamed police state who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories, and their similarities to a number of bizarre child murders occurring in his town.

Mixing life and art in a way that raises important questions about censorship and the limits of artistic license, The Pillowman demands the audience reconsider how contemporary societies balance safety and freedom. The play premiered in 2003 at London’s Royal National Theatre, appeared on Broadway in 2005, and has been staged in Paris, Seoul and Hong Kong.

Performances are scheduled Thursday to Sunday, March 30 through April 9. All shows begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available in person at the MICA Store, online at MICA Store, or at the door on the day of the performance. $12 general and $5 student admission.

April Events

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

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.

April 2 – Social Action Task Force monthly meeting. Come and help plan upcoming events.

April 4  – MRIA Board Meeting.

April 5 – Bolton Hill Tri-Church Education Series. The final session will feature guest speakers representing the Islamic community.

April 7 – Spread Light Sandtown, part of the Light City “Neighborhood Lights” program.

April 7 & 8 –  Spring Fashion Show, MICA presents Hueman, a runway-style showcase of student-designed fashions that question color in society.

April 9 – Neighborhood Palm Procession.

April 11 – St. Francis Stoop Night. Mingle with your neighbors and partake of light refreshments. BYOB.

April 15 – Neighborhood Tree Planting, tools and trees provided, you just need to help with the work. It’s fun.

April 19 – Chili Fundraiser for Mt. Royal sixth grade annual trip to an outdoor camp.

April 23 – Opening Day for JFX Framers’ Market!

April 29 – Spring Plant Sale sponsored by the Bolton Hill Garden Club.

April 30 – Social Justice Coffeehouse at Corpus Christi.

Tri-Church Education Series Asks You to Listen in Lent

Listening with the heartAs in years past, three neighborhood churches – Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Memorial Episcopal Church and Corpus Christi Catholic Church – will jointly sponsor the Bolton Hill Tri-Church Education Series.

During the Lenten season, the series features topics of interest to the church congregations and the broader community.

This year’s series, “Listening in Lent,” is especially timely. Speakers from some of the Baltimore communities most affected by recent political changes will be invited to address the group. They will consider this question: “In light of the current political environment, what response would you like to see from the Christian community?” Each session will have time for questions and group discussion.

Guest speakers will include members of the predominantly African-American Community of West Baltimore, represented by the No Boundaries Coalition (3/8), the immigrant and refugee community (3/22), the Jewish community (3/29), and the Islamic community (4/5).

By forming connections and learning from these groups, our community can better provide the appropriate and needed responses demanded by our current situation. The series is open to anyone interested in making Baltimore a more dynamic and inclusive place.

The Series will be held on four Wednesdays, March 8, March 22, March 29, and April 5. Each session will begin with a light supper at 6:30 pm, followed by the education portion at 7 pm. The series takes place in the Education Building at Brown Memorial.

Planning Begins for Boltonstock ’17

Planning has started for Boltonstock ’17, and the date has been set: the evening of Saturday, June 3 in Arnold Sumpter Park at Jordan and Laurens Streets.

Boltonstock is the latest incarnation of the Bolton Hill Band Concert, and will again feature delicious food and drink, community engagement, and an all-new lineup of local live music.

Boltonstock '16
Boltonstock ’16 was a BLAST.

With planning in the early stages, why not be part of the process? Planning and logistics meetings will be scheduled in April and May.

The organizers need volunteers to cook, sell food and drink, publicize the event, set up on the day of the festival and clean up afterward. 

If you’d like to lend a hand, email Chas at You can also support the event by becoming an event sponsor. Sponsorships start at $100 and can be purchased by businesses, organizations or individuals. Contact Chas for details.

Most of all, save the date of June 3 for BoltonStock ’17, and kick off the summer with an evening full of fun with neighbors and friends!

MICA Photography Exhibits: Mickalene Thomas: Muse and tête-à-tête

The Meyerhoff Gallery in MICA’s Fox Building (1303 W Mount Royal Avenue) currently features a photography exhibit by New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas titled “Muse“, running through March 12.

Best known for her elaborate paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel, Ms. Thomas introduces a complex vision of what it means to be a woman and expands common definitions of beauty.

This exhibit focuses on the personal act of deconstruction and reappropriation—both of images she has created herself and those she has singled out as influences—as she grapples with and asserts new definitions of beauty and inspiration.

An accompanying exhibition, “tête-à-tête,” features work by photographers by who have inspired Thomas, including Derrick Adams, Renée Cox, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, Zanele Muholi, Malick Sidibé, Xaviera Simmons, Hank Willis Thomas and Carrie Mae Weems.

This exhibition is organized by the Aperture Foundation, New York, with support, in part, by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc.

Both exhibits end on Sunday, March 12. Visit for more information

March Events

Here’s a brief overview of some of the local happenings in March (with one final February happening.)

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.

March 3 – With Love, From Cuba Exhibit at Jubilee Arts

March 4 & 5 – MICA International Film Festival, featuring films from Korea, China and Mali

March 5 – March’s SATF meeting Help plan upcoming events, May’s Stoop Party and June’s Boltonstock.

March 7 – MRIA Monthly Board Meeting

March 8, 22, 29 and April 5 – Bolton Hill Tri-Church Education Series, focusing on the Christian response to the current political environment

March 8 – Movie: The Night of the Hunter, at MICA’s Falvey Hall.

March 10 – Silent Film and Organ Concert, with a screening of The Three Musketeers at Brown Memorial

March 18 – Tree Pruning to help spruce up the neighborhood.

March 25 – Sandtown Visions Help artist Malaika Aminata Clements create the vision for her Spread Light Sandtown installation as part of the Light City “Neighborhood Lights” program.

March 26 – Tiffany Series Panel on Sexuality and Religion at Brown Memorial

Black History Party with a Purpose

Join MRIA’s Social Action Task Force for an afternoon of conversation and profundity related to Black History topics at 2017’s first Party with a Purpose, Sunday, February 26, 2–5 pm at 1308 Bolton Street.

In celebration of this year’s theme for Black History Month, The Crisis in Black Education, the Party’s donations will go to two neighborhood youth groups, St. Francis Neighborhood Center and the Kids Safe Zone.

Everyone is asked to please bring 1) wine or other beverage to share, 2) a donation ($10 suggested) that will go to the featured organizations, and 3) a reading, poem, or quote from a black author. There will be tastings of green Creole gumbo with rice and cornbread, as well as other food, and you are welcome to bring your own tasty contribution to the table.

Cultural historian, music critic and neighbor Don Palmer will kick off the event with a short talk. Then, attendees will read their selection and ask listeners to guess who the author is. Reading selections will be available for those who don’t bring one, but still want to participate.

To set the tone for the party, Don will curate a music playlist, and the featured organizations will be on hand to make short presentations.

Thanks to the SATF Planning Team for organizing this event, Kendra Parlock, Michael Booth and Don Palmer.

Honor Black History Month by Feeding Your Brain

By Peter Van Buren

With its origins dating back over a hundred years, February has been officially declared Black History Month by every U.S. president since President Ford in 1976.

The theme of Black History Month changes yearly. This year’s theme is The Crisis in Black Education. We need not look any further than Baltimore’s own schools to witness this crisis. But, where do we start in solving it?

Why not start by educating yourself? Here are a few ideas to consider for your education program. 

  • Volunteer at one of our neighborhood schools. Consult the Youth/Schools section of Bolton Hill’s Community Asset List to see where you might be needed. The children love having visitors, even if you just go once. You might find that once is not enough.
  • Attend this month’s Party with a Purpose organized by the Social Action Task Force, where guests will be asked to read a passage from a black author of their choosing. Donations raised at the party will support local youth organizations. The Party with a Purpose takes place Sunday, Feb. 26 from 2-5 pm at 1308 Bolton Street; more details here.
  • Lillie Carroll Jackson

    Learn about Lillie CarrolJackson, renowned civil rights activist who lived at 1320 Eutaw Place. To honor her legacy, Morgan State University completed a major renovation of her beautiful home in 2012, transforming it into the state-of-the-art the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum. Unfortunately, due to the lack of funds to support its administration, the museum remains closed except by appointment (email or call 443-885-3895 if you’d like to visit).

    You can help make this valuable educational resource available to regular visitors by writing a check payable to the Morgan State University Foundation (note “Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum” in the memo line), and send to Mr. Gabriel Tenabe, James E. Lewis Museum, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21251.

  • Be inspired by the courageous and groundbreaking legacy of the many other famous black residents of the 21217 neighborhood by walking the Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail, whose 2 mile path winds from the State Center to the Upton Metro. Brochures for the Trail (and delicious baked goods) are available at The Avenue Bakery, 2229 Pennsylvania Avenue. You can also take an audiovisual tour of Pennsylvania Avenue using the izi.Travel app or on your computer.
  • Expand your musical knowledge by listening to a black artist that’s new to you. Amazing black musicians are too numerous to count, but one I recommend is Gil Scott Heron. Try his hard-hitting The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, or the beautiful, but painfully sad Winter in America. Or if you want to go farther back, check out izi.Travel’s Eubie Blake’s Ragtime Riffs musical tour. 
  • Celebrate the rich contributions of black poets to American poetry by contemplating Twelve Poems at the Academy of American Poets website. Twelve contemporary black poets from across the country chose one poem each that should be read this month and then explain why.
  • Start down the path to social justice by learning about the critically important concept of white privilege. I’m learning a lot from Waking up White, by Debby Irving, while next up on my reading list is the National Book Award winner Between the World and Me, by West Baltimore native Ta-Nehisi Coates. 
  • Learn about the separate but unequal legacy of Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education by reading Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools.

Knowledge is power and it’s also cathartic. We welcome your suggestions about other ways to learn about black history or the crisis in black education. Leave a reply or comment below, or email us at

“Getting Involved” – Got Photos?

Group from Memorial Episcopal marching in MLK Day Parade

Judging by the photos on Facebook, a lot of neighbors got involved in January.

We had big events, like the MLK Day Parade, the Women’s March on Washington, and the protest on immigration rights at BWI.

Plus, many others are regularly involved with lower key projects that fly under the radar – volunteering as a tutor or mentor, helping at a shelter or cleaning up a park. 

So, for a photo essay in the March Bulletin, please send us your best shots on the theme, Getting Involved.

We encourage photos of the above events, as well as anything else, from polar bear plunges to selling cookies for your school.

Let’s show each other what we’re made of. There lies inspiration.

Send JPG photos to – DEADLINE: Monday, February 20

February Events

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

Go to the Bulletin Calendar for details and additional events. Just click on an event to see more information.

February 1 – Town Hall Meeting on Safety, organized by MRIA and MICA with city officials

February 4 & 5 – Souper Bowl at Corpus Christi

February 5 – Social Action Task Force meeting, come help throw the next Party with a Purpose on Feb. 26

February 6 – the Baltimore Premiere of Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer, at MICA

February 7 – MRIA Board Meeting; everyone is welcome to attend.

February 11 – Circle of Voices and the West Coalition

February 12 – Mt. Vernon Marketplace Fundraiser for Bolton Hill Nursery

February 17 – Movie at MICA: Lom Nava Love, the unflinching story of Black families in Baltimore

February 17 – Live and Learn: The Immigrant Experience, a fundraiser to benefit Strong City Baltimore

February 22 – Gallery Walk & Talk with Sandy Christenberry, in conjunction with MICA’s exhibit on the works of William Christenberry, Laying By Time

February 23 – Movie at MICA: Welcome to Leith 

February 26 – Social Justice Coffeehouse at Corpus Christi, with special guests Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham of Viva House

February 26 – Black History Party with a Purpose, organized by MRIA’s Social Action Task Force

February 27 – Laying by Time, Panel Discussion, in conjunction with the current MICA exhibit of William Christenberry’s work

Meet The Brass Tap

This month, a hot new craft beer bar will arrive in the neighborhood. Owners Barry and Pauline Lowenthal plan to open the doors of their pub, The Brass Tap, on January 9, with the grand opening celebration scheduled for the January 20–21 weekend.

Brass Tap
Co-owner Barry Lowenthal at the new entrance of The Brass Tap.

Located in the Fitzgerald building between Two Boots Pizza and the Mt. Royal Light Rail stop, this upscale craft beer bar will offer 60 different local and regional beers on tap, plus unique pub food and a large selection of wines & spirits.

Barry grew up in the restaurant business, getting his first restaurant job at 14, and then opening a pizza place at 18. He sold that business when he was 22, but soon realized that restaurant bug had bitten him. Ever since he’s been on the lookout for his next spot. 

It’s been a long wait. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Hotel Administration, Barry’s career took a detour, spending the past thirteen years running a carpet cleaning company in the Washington, D.C. area. Meanwhile, his wife Pauline pursued a career in higher education, most recently serving as Dean of Students at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Meanwhile, Barry kept dreaming. Friends introduced Barry to craft brewing, and he learned how great a beer could be. He picked up the hobby of home brewing as a way to research the special world of hand-crafted suds.

Finally, the time came to take the plunge. With the support of his wife Pauline, Barry convinced his his brother Michael, another restaurant veteran, to move to Georgia to Maryland to help him open The Brass Tap. 

Though The Brass Tap is part of a national franchise, each bar is locally owned and operated. For the Lowenthals, this means a hands-on, family-run operation. Barry explained, “We chose Baltimore because we love the city. We want to be involved in the neighborhood and the greater Baltimore community to make our city an awesome place to live.”

Brass Tap interior
Interior of The Brass Tap during construction.

They plan to have regular live music, happy hours on weekdays from 2–7 pm, and brunch on weekends, plus special parties for festive days, like St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest. The Brass Tap will be the local place to go for Baltimore Beer Week, as well as a welcome watering spot during ArtScape.

Follow them on Facebook here.

March with Memorial Episcopal on MLK Day

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, represented by Memorial Episcopal Church and several other congregations, will march in the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday, January 16. Everyone is invited to join.

The official launch of the parade is at noon, but participants must be in place by 11:30 am at the State Center elevator for the Metro (Preston St. and Eutaw Place.) Look for Monty Howard, who will be easy to spot in a fluorescent orange fedora. To keep updated on the plans, email him at , or check Memorial Episcopal’s Facebook page.

During the one-mile, downhill march, diocesan participants display messages of peace that are appreciated by spectators every year.

“The march is a lot of fun,” says Monty. “It is also generally the coldest day of the year, and although you can take Metro or other rides back, we generally turn around and walk home. So, it’s important to dress warmly.”

Join in to honor the life and philosophy of Dr. King!

News from Corpus Christi: Seniors Group & Souper Bowl

The Corpus Christi Seniors Group holds meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 10:30 am in the rectory (110 W. Lafayette). The group attends daily mass at 12:10 pm after the meeting.

This member-led group includes worship, Bible study, and creative activities. All are welcome. Coffee and tea are provided.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining, please contact Sarah Bujno for more information at sarah.bujno[at] or 410-523-4161.

The Souper Bowl is coming! 

Faith Formation students at Corpus Christi will be collecting cash donations and cans of soup Saturday, February 4, after the 4 pm service and Sunday, February 5, after the 10:30 am service.  

Souper Bowl of Caring is a national movement of young people working to fight hunger and poverty in their own communities around the time of the Super Bowl football game. In 1990, the Souper Bowl of Caring began with a simple prayer from a single youth group:

“Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl
football game, help us be mindful of
those without a bowl of soup to eat.”

Since that day, more than $100 million have been raised for local charities across the country through Souper Bowl of Caring. This powerful movement is transforming Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest celebration of giving and serving.  

Through this mission, students learn what it’s like to make a positive difference in the world as they collect food, raise money and volunteer to work in charities that provide shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry and compassion to those in need.  

All donations will help the lunch program at Corpus Christi. If you have any questions or would like to donate at another time that week, please contact Sarah Bujno at the email address or phone number above.

January Events

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

Go to the Bulletin Calendar for details and additional events. Just click on an event to see more information.

January 3 – MRIA Board Meeting; everyone is welcome to attend.

January 4 – Start of Sheng Zhen Gong Classes at Memorial Episcopal, every Wednesday 5:30 pm

January 7 – Circles of Voices Conversation on drug policy reforms, with Major Franklin, a 34 year veteran of the MD and Baltimore Police departments.

January 8 – Social Action Task Force meeting

January 16 – March in the MLK Day Parade with Memorial Episcopal and other neighbors

January 20 – Uniting Diverse Artists fund raiser for Midtown Academy, with an art auction and exhibit

February 1 – Town Hall meeting on Safety organized by MRIA and MICA

February 4 & 5 – Souper Bowl at Corpus Christi

And, if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out the Christenberry Exhibit at MICA’s Decker Gallery in the Fox building, on display through March 12.

SATF Potluck with a Purpose

Decorating Pumpkins at October's Halloween fest
Decorating Pumpkins at October’s Halloween fest

Got the post election blues? Want to join your neighbors in accomplishing projects that will help our community?

Then join the party at the next Social Action Task Force event – a Potluck with a Purpose on Sunday, December 11 from 6 to 8 pm in the Upper Parish Hall of Memorial Episcopal Church (enter on the Lafayette St. side).

Please bring something to share, both food and wine or other beverages.

The group will first review their mission with MRIA and the work that’s been completed in 2016 as preparation for the main focus of the meeting – discussing the SATF’s goals and plans for 2017.

Corpus Christi Seniors Group

The group holds its meetings on Mondays at 10:30 am in the rectory, 110 W. Lafayette Avenue, starting Monday, December 5. Afterward, they will attend daily mass at 12:10 pm.

This member-led group will include worship, Bible study, and creative activities. All are welcome. Light refreshments will be provided.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining, please contact Sarah Bujno at or 410-523-4161 for more information.

Potluck with a Purpose on Dec. 11

The monthly meetings of MRIA’s Social Action Task Force are always open to everyone, but in the aftermath of this year’s divisive elections, the SATF is encouraging all interested neighbors to attend their December meeting on Sunday, December 11, 6 to 8 pm.

It’s a Potluck Party with a Purpose, so please bring something to share—something to eat and wine or another beverage.

SATF cleanup of vacant lot last summer
SATF cleans up a vacant lot last summer.


Andrew Parlock painting a building across from the lot
Andrew Parlock paints a building across from the lot.

The potluck will be in Upper Parish Hall at Memorial Episcopal (enter from the Lafayette Street side). SATF will recap this year’s accomplishments, review its mission, and discuss goals and projects for 2017.

Many nonprofit organizations serving the 21217 neighborhood will be on hand to provide their input on how Bolton Hill’s efforts can best complement their work.

Get involved in your community. Together we can make a difference.

Read about the success of SATF’s fall event, the Halloween Pumpkin Fest.