Demolition! Oh No! OH, YES!

In the seven years I have lived in Baltimore, I have seen amazing changes in and around my community, both where I live -Waverly, and where I work – Barclay/Harwood.  However, so much of the progress is overshadowed by the demoralizing sight of derelict houses, plywood covered doors and windows and sky showing through destroyed roofs -visions from a war zone.

And based on the data map published this week in the City Paper –  overlaying the homicides that have occurred this year -126 – on top of a map of the vacants in the city, those areas are war zones.

However, I want to talk about a garden.  

At the end of Falls Street which is one block long and runs from 24th to 25th Street between Barclay and Guilford, there was an abandoned end-of -row property.  During the 7 years I have worked on 25th Street, mountains of household goods were dumped in the back yard of the house and drug dealers regularly used it to store their wares and offer free samples to prospective customers.  Not a pretty or encouraging environment for the little ones in the home whose backyard looked out on it.

Two months ago, Baltimore Housing brought in a demolition team of bulldozers and dumpsters and took it down and BAM! a pretty fenced-in garden space with pebble walkways and flowers and baby trees grew up in its place.

Imagination blossoms and neighborhoods feel empowered when they are given a blank canvas not crammed with falling down bricks and trash.

Let the demolition continue!

 

The Baltimore Integration Partnership

One of the roles that you have asked St. Ambrose to play is that of a ‘conduit’ for other community, neighborhood and Baltimore related activities.  We are going to use our blog to fill that niche, in addition to Facebook and our ENewsletter.  With job creation such a focal point for the present administration, consider this an introduction to another Baltimore collaboration working to make Baltimore stronger. 

The Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP), coordinated by the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG), is working to build stronger communities in Baltimore through expanding opportunities for low-income residents and facilitating local investment.  

 The BIP brings together local government, colleges and universities, nonprofits, foundations, and community financial institutions to provide resources to develop the local workforce. The BIP screens and identifies job-ready BIP area residents and connects them to employment opportunities. These opportunities are made possible through recruiting, training, and placement efforts made by the partners of the BIP, including the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, East Baltimore Development, Inc., Central Baltimore Partnership, and the Job Opportunities Task Force’s JumpStart construction training program.

In addition to connecting local residents to job opportunities, the BIP operates a workforce training fund. The fund supplements the connections being made with investment in occupational training necessary for employers in need of a skilled workforce.

By reinvesting in Baltimore’s infrastructure (both communities and residents), the BIP hopes to revitalize low-income areas, making them regionally competitive, economically diverse, and sustainable.

The BIP partner communities include the neighborhoods represented by the East Baltimore Development Initiative, the Central Baltimore Partnership, and West Baltimore communities that flank the proposed Red Line*.

The BIP target areas can be found on this map.

BIP Workforce Development Resources and Activities can be found here.

Anchor Institutions working with BIP can be found here.

 

 

 

* The Red Line is a proposed 14-mile-long light rail project that will connect East and West Baltimore with downtown, and finally integrate the city’s rapid transit network.

 

Baltimore Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; Hosts National Conferences

Baltimore will be hosting the National Main Streets Conference April 1-4, 2012 in conjunction with the National Symposium on Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Districts taking place on April 4 and 5. These events will bring people to Baltimore from across the country to discuss the actions states and cities nationwide are taking towards strategic revitalization in an economy that has left communities, businesses, and individuals floundering. Contemporary policies and incentive programs will be discussed through the lens of the social, economic, and cultural impact of designated arts and entertainment districts. These events are taking place with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Maryland State Arts Council.

In addition to supporting the symposium, the NEA recently awarded a group of organizations based in Station North a $150,000 Our Town grant. This coalition includes Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., Maryland Institute College of Art, the Central Baltimore Partnership, and D:Center Baltimore, and Baltimore Office for the Promotion and the Arts. Station North itself, the designated arts and entertainment district, spans the neighborhoods of Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay. 447 communities applied for the grant and the Station North coalition received one of only 51 grants awarded. $150,000 was the highest amount available through the grant.

 Through the Our Town grant, the NEA is working to improve citizenship and increase the livability of communities. Not only do the Our Town grants financially support improving the quality of life, they seek to encourage creativity, create community identity, and revitalize local economies. Baltimore’s neighborhoods are distinct and often already provide a strong sense of identity. The Our Town grant that funds revitalization efforts in Station North will be able to capitalize on this sense of self-awareness in the arts and entertainment district and use cultural community endeavors to create collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors.

“Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of national economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman.

For more information about the National Main Streets Conference and the National Symposium on Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Districts (taking place April 1-4 and April 4 & 5, 2012), please visit: http://www.stationnorth.org/calendar/nsaced.