Sunday, March 20, 2011

Paul's Place - Pigtown Gala II

I'm always trying to stay on top of things going on in the area... but the reality is, that I often don't find out about stuff until after it's over!  Is this just bad advertising?  I don't know.  I feel like it should be easier to know what's going on.  But hence, why I started this site.  Please contact me if there is anything that should be added to, or mentioned on this site.

So long story short about my day, I've started researching local programs.  Just like my wish to have everything easily accessible in regards to stuff going on in Pigtown, I have a lot of frustration thinking that there isn't much of a "hub" (maybe there is but I haven't heard of it) for local resources/programs/grants.  In the process, I'm very happy that I thought to check in on our own Paul's Place.

From the Gala website: "Paul’s Place is a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood and the surrounding Southwest Baltimore communities. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families, fostering hope, personal dignity and growth"

This might be a high roller event (in my humble opinion, because I don't make much) at $175 a ticket, but if you have the resources, or know someone who does, please pass on this event!  Sorry for the blurry image.

Click the buttons below for more!
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

B&O Membership

If you haven't done so already, consider buying today's Groupon.

Image Credit
  • For $50, you get a one-year family membership, which is good for two adults and up to four children under the age of 18 (a $100 value).
  • For $30, you get a one-year individual membership (a $60 value).
 "Along with unlimited free admission to the museum and station, members can experience the bumps and gremlin-based braking systems of another era with B&O's free train rides Wednesdays through Sundays from April to December. Members can also take advantage of a 10% discount at the on-site and online store and receive advanced notice of special events and programs, such as The War Came By Train exhibit, which will feature the world's largest assemblage of railroad equipment used during the Civil War." - Groupon Description

You only have until the end of today, March 16th!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rebuilding Day 2011 - Volunteers Wanted!!

UPDATE: For photos of the event visit this page!

Flier as sent out by Amanda Malone:

Rebuilding Day 2011—Saturday April 30, 8:00am to 5:00pm

On Rebuilding Day, hundreds of skilled and unskilled volunteers come together in two
neighborhoods to repair approximately 30 homes and work on community beautification
projects. This year we are working in Pigtown/ Washington Village in Baltimore City and St.
Helena in Baltimore County. We need volunteers to help us with our efforts. JOIN US!

How to Get Involved!

Volunteer for a Community Beautification Project
Work alongside other volunteers to make Pigtown/ Washington Village an even more beautiful
place to live! In each of our target communities, we work with community residents to identify
beautification needs in or around public spaces. Volunteers from the community work with
volunteers from corporations, churches, professional associations and schools to implement
the projects on Rebuilding Day. Community beautification projects can include restoring empty
lots, painting, trash-clean-up, landscaping and more.

Volunteer Your Skills and Expertise
Volunteer your skills and expertise to help homeowners in need by providing critical home
repairs! We are especially looking for plumbers, carpenters, and electricians for Rebuilding
Day 2011.

Make a Donation
Help support the costs of our Rebuilding Day projects and make it possible for us to serve
even MORE low-income homeowners! Donate new or gently used tools by calling us at 410-
889-2710. Through our Facebook Cause and website, donations can be made to support our
2011 Rebuilding Day projects. To visit and/or join our Facebook cause, please go to the
Causes application on Facebook and search for Rebuilding Together Baltimore. To make an
online donation through our website, visit and click the “Donate Now”
button. Donations can also be mailed to our office at the address below.

All volunteers must be 14 years of age or older and must pre-register for the event.

If you would like to register for the event or have any questions about how to get involved,
please contact Amanda Malone at 410-889-2710 or

Rebuilding Together Baltimore · 1014 W. 36th Street · Baltimore, MD 21211
p: 410-889-2710 f: 443-586-0785 ·

Friday, March 11, 2011

Baltimore City Draft Landscape Manual

Baltimore City has put out a new draft of the Landscape Manual.  Click this link to download a copy. 

Announcement from the city:

Please join us for a brief presentation and discussion of the  Draft Baltimore City Landscape Manual
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Department of Planning
417 East Fayette Street, 8th floor

Citizens Of Pigtown Meeting - 3/8/2011

Bath House - Image Credit

I have FINALLY gone to a Citizens of Pigtown (COP - not to be confused with Citizens On Patrol) meeting!  I walked up to 900 Washington Blvd, also known as the Bath House, as seen above.  I walked around the right side of the building, to find the side door propped open.  This was it!
Bath House Layout

In this image you can see the basement plan where the meeting took place, in what was the public laundry.  The layout is a little different now, but you get the idea.  I was running a little late, so I quickly sat myself down in the nearest available chair.  Looking around the room, I was very impressed by the demographics.  There were about 30 people with a fair showing of diversity, both age and race.  

Officer Milburn spoke first about the area's crime report. 
He went down the list of recent arrests and activity in the area.  I won't list them now.  I just don't want to get them wrong.  I was jotting everything down rather quickly.  Hopefully down the line, I can start a regular posting about the month's crime report.  A resident brought up issues with Jiggs, after they've opened up their second floor to customers.  Questions arose asking aloud if Jiggs has the permissions to open the upstairs for business.  Officers will try to keep an eye on things, being sure that activity and noise stays civil.

Nick from Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) spoke next about property being bought for development.
There were requests for proposal (RFPs) on the 700 block and 900 block of Washington Blvd.  Profit Gold LLC bought the property on the 700 block (someone please remind me which building).  At the 900 block, there was a buyer, but he has since fallen through.  From what I hear, this is the 3rd time that group (925-927 I believe) has gone up for an RFP, only to fall through.  What's going on, developer people?  A friend of mine, who knew nothing about Pigtown except that I live there, asked me about the area.  She told me that developers were unsure, due to Pigtown's reputation.  It's understandable.  I did my best to tell her about all the good things Pigtown community groups do, and how the buildings are practically across the street from Rodney's sculpture garden.  She was really impressed, and hoped to pass the information along.  I think Pigtown still needs to make a good sales pitch to get people in, but hopefully someone will see the value of these buildings soon.  One problem discussed in the meeting was people living in the units.  Someone is going out there periodically to clear them out though.  Unfortunately, BDC doesn't have the funds at this time to tear the buildings down.  A community developer (someone please remind me of his name) offered to potentially buy the property and use his own money to tear the properties down.

Nina spoke about her, and her husband Michael's, hopes to open a Lindy Hop studio in the church in the 800 block of Washington Blvd, with their group Charm City Swing.
Nina seemed like an absolute sweetheart with a good sense of wit based on her presentation at the meeting.  They've been renting spaces in the past for their swing dance group, but they're looking for a permanent place to call home for their business.  She admits that the group tends to attract polite engineer types, eager to volunteer their efforts to the community or group's needs if it means avoiding a $5 cover charge to Friday dance events.  Nina and Michael are excited about the space because of the church's beauty and opportunity to have a large, column-free space to dance, something that is rare in the city.  Considering that the Bath House's own meeting room has a column right dab in the middle, I think we can sympathize.  Charm City Swing is a well-established group, 6 years in business, compared to most start-ups that come to Pigtown, so there's already a large following of people.  In the future, they hope to offer maybe tango, modern dance,  burlesque, and other dance classes.   I absolutely love that Nina brought up the area's diversity as an asset.  She explained that the history of Lindy Hop is rooted in Black culture, and hopes to get more diversity into the mostly white group.  They expressed their wish to be considered a part of the community, happy to address any and all concerns, and move forward with Pigtown's full support.  This sort of use has only ever been a success in other communities, and Nina hopes that we will all love it.
Issues brought up at the meeting include parking, zoning, sound, handi-cap access, public transportation, bike parking, and any sentimental history the church holds to residents.  They've already met with B&O to discuss leasing their parking lot for large events that can easily attract 200 people.  Sound proofing has been thought through, insulating the building in a way that does not hurt or hide the historic building features, such as the stain glass windows.    A ramp can easily be built for handi-cap access over the couple front steps, but there wasn't much confidence for the steps to the back auditorium.  Many of the swing group's members take public transportation to get to events, so there's some concern for transit volume, and what can be done to alleviate it.  The Circulator stop nearby certainly don't hurt (yay free transit!).  Bike racks can be requested from the city.  If you want to check out the group, they will be at Clipper Mill today, Friday March 10th for their weekly dance event.
For the most part, their activities will be after normal business hours, so the space will be available for other uses.  Don't worry, it's not a club in disguise, there will be little to no drinking.  During typical business hours, the space can be available to non-profits.  They may pair with a non-profit in general to help with zoning, which may not be easily worked around.  The building is currently zoned R-8, which would only allow for apartment units, another church, or a non-profit organization.  Potentially... we'll find out... the fastest way to occupy the space may be to either become a non-profit, or pair with another non-profit.  Charm City Swing's ideal start date is June 24, but if things don't work as planned (and if life has taught us anything, it's that nothing goes as planned) Nina isn't quickly running to another venue.  She has her heart set on this one for now, and will work with it as much as possible.  The concern is that without non-profit backup, the zoning paperwork can take a minimum of 6-9 months.  An October or November start date isn't ideal, because... well... gorgeous summer weather is just more appealing to most activities.
I hope to write a letter of approval for the building use, in case it is any help to their cause.  If anyone posts one before I do, please let me know so we can create a form for others to submit.  Lets face it, we're all strapped for time!

Brett Fleckinger, from Zoning, talked about local issues.
He talked about some of the issues with Charm City Swing's zoning problems.  Other than that, he discussed the opportunity for a name change, which I personally find awesome.  I'm not a fan of having the longest neighborhood name in all of Baltimore.  Washington Village will hopefully be no more, as we all know the name is Pigtown.  It's not derogatory, it's historic.  Let's celebrate that, and let visitors know why.  All Brett needs is a letter of request, and to run it by the community, which we are in the process of doing.  He was really their to bring up the revised zoning code

Francine, COP President, went on to discuss neighborhood maintenance.
Baltimore Green Space works to protect community gardens, pocket parks, and other open spaces created and cared for by city residents.  If you currently care for a vacant lot, or would like to without your efforts being destroyed in the future, contact so the lot can be registered with the city, and added to the city's green space.   Also, free seeds. anyone?

PNC Neighborhood Grant Program:
For grant funding up to $10,000, the park should have some sort of mural, decorative element or artistic piece.  For your grant budget, consider money for a celebration/press release, and $500 for Neighborhood Design Center services.  All money will not be upfront (only about 10%), so be prepared to save receipts for future reimbursement.  Application deadline is Apr 8, and construction time line should be completed by November 2011.  More than one project can be in the grant proposal, just contact for more info.

Pigtown Main Street will be having a meeting, April 11 at 7pm (location to be determined)
They are searching for ideas from the community about what we would like, or not like, to see happen on Washington Blvd.  One resident brought up the "gateway", as it's called locally.  This area, which includes Dollar General, an open parking lot, and other small stores like Tony's Grill, frequently has problems with trash & illicit activity.  The concern is that for visitors, it leaves a first impression that residents don't feel confident about.  It's the first thing visitors see, coming off of 95 onto Martin Luther King Boulevard.  Everything is a work in progress here.  There have been some great successes in Pigtown, and hopefully many more to come.  Come out, and be a part of the discussion for a great future!

One resident brought up Baltimore's alley gating & greening program.
Francine, always at the ready, had a brochure handy.  Pigtown has one gated block, which was completed about 4 years ago.  The program works by giving each resident sharing the alley a key for convenient access.  Trash and recycling pick up function just the same, the city's workers having the means to unlock the gates.  In future meetings, we will try to get a spokesperson from another of the city's alley projects to come and speak about their experience.  Maybe we can tackle more than one block at a time, somewhat streamlining the process for interested home owners.

Also a question arose about the availability to request city trashcans.
Please contact to request a trashcan for any specific intersection.  However, a common problem that was noted is residents dumping their home trash at these locations.  Please keep an eye on this, and call 311.  Granted, in my own experience, 311 hasn't come out to take photos of a messy neighbor until a few weeks after the caring new tenant moved in and cleaned up the mess for themselves.  Just try to keep on top of requests by jotting down the confirmation number in a notebook.

Other notable events coming up are:
April 1, Citizens of Pigtown Happy Hour
April 12 7pm, next Citizens of Pigtown Monthly Meeting w/ Membership Drive, Memberships are $10 and are tax deductible!
April 16, Mayor's clean up day

Try to grab a neighbor for our next meeting on April 12th at 7pm!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Southern District Police Link

I noticed that not only was Pigtown not on the list... The majority of community group links weren't working anymore.  Checking at the bottom of the page, it looks like it hasn't been updated in 3 years!  So I clicked on "Contact Us", then "send us an email".  Under the category Webmaster>Make a suggestion, I wrote the following:

"I love that you offer resources links into the communities' groups!  I'm a part of Washington Village/ Pigtown's community group called Citizens of Pigtown.  I was hoping that you might post a link to our website, for locals to enjoy. 

I tried to click on other communities' links, but it looks like many are no longer in service.  Could you let me know when you update these next?  Thanks!"

Feel free to do the same!  Anywhere we can put a link is awesome.  It gets the page ranked higher in google search, and just makes our community group information more readily available to people in the area, and potential buyers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New stuff and shameless promotion

I will be posting info about last night Citizens of Pigtown meeting as soon as I get the chance!

I wanted to mention that I've added a contact page to the site for feedback and ideas.  Some people subscribe through a reader, so I don't think these updates show up for you.  I've also added a page with links to all of the community groups, facebook pages, and local attractions.  It's kinda nice having that all in one spot!  Maybe I'll find a way to post a feed that shows all of the updates that these groups post on facebook so no one misses a thing.  Pigtown Princess over on Twitter has found a nice way to do this, and maybe I'll figure out a way to post her Pigtown Princess Daily feed here.

ARTiculate Form

A hobby artist friend of mine, who is local to the area and only about a mile from Pigtown, has posted a new artwork on his blog.  Check it out!  He's had some work up in Gallery 788 and Artdromeda in the past, so I think it's alright to mention him here.  Hopefully we'll see more of his work around.  But if this sparks a gift idea or looks like something you might want in your home, drop him a line by clicking on his profile at the bottom of his page.  He's also just a cool guy.  Who doesn't love cool people?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friends of Carroll Park Meeting 3/1/2011

My first real post!  I'm just going to dive in here.

I attended a Friends of Carroll Park meeting the other day.  It was at the request of my buddy Adam, who was representing the city's Rec & Parks department for a community presentation.  
"Don't ask a bunch of questions" he warned me, jokingly.
"Don't give me any ideas!"
I'd been in his shoes before.  It's not easy to work on something only to have an audience feed off of your nervousness and tear your presentation apart, second guessing every idea.  Not that that happened.  Adam did a wonderful job.  But I was glad to be there to harass him.  And extra motivation was appreciated.  I need to get off my butt and go to more community meetings.

I walked up to the church at 1307 Washington Blvd and was greeted at the door.  The kind gentleman showed me where the meeting was taking place in a back partitioned room.  It was a small group.  Four of those in the room were there to give a presentation.  Two were with Mount Claire's historical society, one from the Gwynns Falls Trails group.  The last five, myself included, were there specifically for the Friends of Carroll Park (we'll call it FoCP for short) group.  Though the three ladies from the other groups seemed just as invested in FoCP.

Gloria reported some internal announcements.
She applied for grant money to replace the fitness signage in the park, a mural in the skate park that reads "Carroll Park", and a concert in the park.  A suggestion came up about establishing a standard grant template, so that grants can be filled out more easily.  Often grants go unsubmitted due to time and effort requirements.  
There is a fundraiser by The Power House Church this monday at the Landsdowne Chick-fil-A.  Money will go to help send an area child to summer camp!  See the calendar for details. 

Amanda Malone from Rebuilding Together Baltimore presented first.  
They are planning for Rebuilding Day 2011, which falls on April 30th.
They will be work on 10-15 homes in the Pigtown area, and 10-15 homes in St Helena in the county.  They are looking for people in the community to plan or lead projects.
      Possible projects include:
  • Dog Stations
  • Clean Up w Educational Piece
  • Stencil Drain Inlets - Warning not to dump
  • A Small Mural on the concrete wall at the Tot Lot
  • 1172 Carroll Street - New Mural
  • Repaint Skate Park Bowl - want to use the kids who play there to paint and pick up trash to establish a sense of ownership.
  • Replace the Welcome to Pigtown Sign in front of the mural in the 700 block of Wash Blvd... (where did it go?)
  • Clean up at intersection of Archer & Wash Blvd so you can see the mural
Please contact Amanda if you are interested in volunteering your time!  Donations are also welcome on their website.

Baltimore City Recreation & Parks went next.
Adam Boarman presented the new lighting plan for the park:
Carroll Park Plan; By Baltimore City Recreations & Parks Dept
Washington Blvd is at the bottom of the plan, and train tracks at the top.  The light spread of the fixtures is shown in a transparent yellow.  The lighting plan shows the new proposed multi-purpose soccer field, and field house.  The multi-purpose field will replace the under-utilized rear ball fields.  Images from the Architect are below.  The stairs in the image below lead down south to the 4 existing ball fields.  A survey of surrounding homes concluded that residents were comfortable having the lights on no later than 11pm, though 10pm will likely be the realistic cut off.

Front View of Field House; By Hord Coplan Macht
The field house will be mostly  open, with covered seating & picnic area.  Main locked storage will be on one side (the brick structure), and rest rooms and concessions.

Is here a good spot for a personal story?  Sure.  Why not.  At around the age of 5 maybe, I went to my brother's baseball game, which only had porta-potties.  Like a well taught child, I wanted to wash my hands afterward.  I complained to my mom when I got out that the sink had soap, which I put all over my hands, but I couldn't find the faucet.  Turned out that sink was a urinal... and the soap was a urinal cake.  Had we had such a nice field house as this one, maybe this wouldn't have happened.  The concession stand people were nice enough to let my panicked mother scrub my hands profusely in their sink.  Dear parents... make your child wise to the world of the other sex's bathroom habits, the embarrassment you save may be your own... or something.

Back to topic! 

Back Side of Field House; By Hord Coplan Macht

That large gray area that looks like parking lot...  probably just unplanned in the image.  Don't worry about that.  The architect is only focusing on the building, not the site in this image.  See the overall lighting plan for the Landscape Architect's view of the site around the field house. 

Some issues that came up in the meeting were concerns over the field house materials, but the Architect was not present, so it could not be addressed.  A burglar alarm is not planned.  All entry doors will be locked, and bathrooms will be closed at night.
Carroll Park Main Entrance Plan & Elevation; By Baltimore City Recreations & Parks Dept

This plan proposes narrowing down the entry drive to 22' (two 11' lanes, which is an average lane width), and a small pull-off to to the right.   This gives the driver a chance to see a park directory, find their way safely, and remain out of the flow of traffic until finding their destination.  This is a great asset to first-time or infrequent visitors.   Eventually more signage will be included throughout the park, similar to the standard signage being applied in Druid Hill Park. A comment arose about providing a sidewalk connection to the sign.  It is a very good point.  
The elevation shown below the plan view, lines up with a view from Washington Blvd into the park.  The new entry feature is designed to fit the historic character of the mansion, and make the road more obvious to passing visitors.  The design is two square brick monuments, connected by an undulating metal picket fence.  

Finally, Ivan Leshinsky presented a plan for the Sowebo 5k.  
This will be the inaugural event, beginning in Hollins Market, traveling into Pigtown, through Carroll Park, and ending at a Health Fair in Union Square Park.  Check out the website for more details, as well as donor and volunteer opportunities.  The event will October 2, 2011 starting at 9am.  The idea is to raise awareness about childhood obesity and get visitors to hit up our local landmarks.

Want to come out for next meeting?  Hit up the calendar and copy it to your own!  First Tuesday of every month at 1307 Washington Blvd.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Union Square has their stuff together!

They have their own google group, and they have such an awesome website!

Their calendar is there, and they do awesome regular postings.  I have a huge crush on this website.  These people are my hero.  It's exactly the thing that I hope we can get going for Pigtown!

I wonder if they feel any sense of competition.  Like if I showed up to one of their council meetings, would they feel like I was some sort of spy?  As though I was trying to find out what grants they were applying for, or what marketing stuff they were doing and go "Oh! That's a great idea!  Pigtown should do that!" I gotta say, I do believe in the greater good, but if I didn't have such a strong belief in sharing knowledge, I might have negative feelings about other people, who didn't work as hard, benefiting from my efforts and creativity.  Especially if they were more successful with it.  But it should be fine, as long as they gave a hand as well.  Am I over analyzing?  I'll have to talk to someone...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lets start with something that makes sense...

A calendar!!