Thursday, April 21, 2011

Citizens of Pigtown (COP) meeting 04-12-2011

You can check out a video, courtesy of Adam Van Bavel (awesome idea Adam!!), here:

Video streaming by UstreamThe action starts around 14 minutes in. If you just want have the audio running while you search the web, you'll get the idea of the meeting. Man, social media makes everything so accessible. This neighborhood is just full of innovative and dedicated people! Love it!

You can download pdfs of the handouts from the meetings on COP's website.
Here are image versions for your previewing pleasure.

The other flier that was passed around was for computer classes.  There was only one, so I'll just tell you what it said.

South Baltimore Learning Center

Beginner computer classes start in May.  They go on for 6 weeks, meeting every Tues/Wed 5:30-7:30pm.  Class fees are based on a sliding scale based on your income.
Check out their website or give them a call.
410-625-4215,  28 E Ostend St

In other news...

I also saw that someone mentioned wanting to start a soccer league, on the Citizens of Pigtown Facebook page. That sounds great. I know that James (aka Buster*), who works at New City Mart on Ostend/Wash Blvd, was working to talk to businesses in the area to get some leagues going for the kids. Apparently the neighborhood used to practically shut down to support the games. If someone wants to start a new group (or maybe go through Friends of Carroll Park) that is dedicated to a neighborhood sports league, let me know! I definitely think there's interest, and people willing to help out.

*If you don't know Buster, go visit him for yourself. He's a cool guy worth knowing, and he's mean with a set of tools if you ever need a bike tune up.

Gallery 788 will be having a yard sale starting at noon on April 30th, which is also Rebuilding Day.  Hope to see you all out there!!

Bikeshare in Pigtown?

The city was going to bring in a bikeshare program, and have a station in Pigtown.  And others around Baltimore.  My first thought?  AWESOME!!  Want it!

But not so fast!  Read the articles:

  • But did we really want it anyway, because there might be a better way - "Two Wheels Good" (City Paper)
The overview is that the demand and need is there.  Do you know someone would like to open a bike co-op on the West side?  Get them in touch with Velocipede.
From "Two Wheels Good":
“There’s a dude, calls himself ‘Ten Speed,’ that comes in all the time for old tires/tubes/etc.,” says Boson Au, a longtime Velocipede collective member, via instant message. “I finally asked him what he does with them. He fixes neighborhood kids/adult bikes. I mean, that guy, [the block he lives on] is so off the radar of bike shops.” As for the idea of a co-op like Velocipede in West Baltimore, Au adds, ”We need it, desperately. Not just West Baltimore. Highlandtown/Fells is another underserved area. We’d be [the shop’s] number one supporter. If someone wants to start another co-op, just ask us, we can give them starting stock.”

Update:   Bikeshare coming in Spring/Fall 2012

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Charm City Swing

If you are in support of Charm City Swing becoming a part of our Pigtown family, please take a moment to print out a template courtesy of Citizens of Pigtown.  Sign the bottom, and turn it into Francine (see instructions on COP site).  The documents of support will be used in their zoning meeting with the city.

Check out the COP website for the form.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pigtown Vision Session 4/11/2011

We met at the Bath House (904 Wash Blvd) at 7pm

The meeting started off with some basic, dry, but necessary information:

Pigtown Main Street Revised Mission Statement:
To bring together the community to revitalize the historic commercial district and create sustainable, positive change to the identity of Historic Pigtown.

Pigtown Main Street Revised Vision Statement:
To have a historic commercial district that: houses thriving businesses and job opportunities; is green, clean and safe; has resident support, community gatherings & organizational partnerships; enhances economic vitality and quality of life for residents and business owners; establishes our neighborhood as a place where folks want to visit, live, work, shop and play; and is worth of being the gateway to Historic Pigtown.

Four Community Volunteer-Based Committees that work with Main Street:
  • Organizational – Promote Organization (call Sun or other reporters to make sure PMS gets credit), Fundraisers
  • Business Development – Retain, attract, and expand local businesses. Go to see other businesses and to owners about opening another place here, work with property owners to attract good businesses that will stick around. Technical assistance with businesses.
  • Design – Façade improvements, streetscape, pigtown on capital improvements list, corner cans empty 2x per day, security, enforcement officers for trash dumping, working with police and businesses for not being a target
  • Promotional – Run Social Media, Contacts, PR Strategy, build relationship with media, write press releases, “rah rah rah” committee, Pigtown Festival
Main Street Program – Grass roots effort (Part of Baltimore Development Corporation)
10 Main Streets in Baltimore:
East Monument Street
Federal Hill
Fells Point
Pennsylvania Ave

Main Street designation allows the community to get help from the National Trust for the Historic Main Street Program. The program was originally intended for rural neighborhoods, but Boston Mayor saw promise. Then O’Malley saw it in Boston, and brought it here.

If we want the 900 block buildings torn down, continue to complain. There aren’t much in capital funds, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Executive Vice President of BDC Kim Clark. Need letters from the community showing that the wish for demolition is still there. Got letters 6 months ago. Would like more new ones.
COP approached council about Bath House. Suggesting it remain non-profit offices.
Having a hard time getting restaurants interested in Pigtown – would help if they could get liquor license.

Stores wanted:
Butcher – also give lessons
Laundry mat (closer? – there are already 2 nearby)
Health Club & Fitness Center
Tool Library
Restaurants (can they get a liquor license?)
Sit down (not table cloth place)
Nice Cheeseburger Joint
Sit down pizza (like Joe Squared on North Ave)
BBQ place
Fancy hot dog place (like Ben’s Chili bowl – other H street DC places would work well too)
Jimmy Johns
Dunkin’ Donuts/ Baskin Robins (want to come here, but looking for people to run Franchise)
Convenience store open late (24 hour not allowed) - Note: New City Mart on Ostend/Blvd open til 2am
My Organic Market
Are places doing small versions, like a Whole Foods Express?
Co-op Local Grocery
Farmers Market – difficult money-wise for farmers to afford rent
Could do it only on the weekend to keep overhead low
Restaurants can stock up on fresh food
CSA delivery spot
Boutique Stores
Garden Store
Flea Market maybe?
Temporary pop-up shops to get commercial interest

Needs to be easier for businesses to come in (zoning)
Tree trimming
Streetscaping – No one wants to stay on the main street… you go there to do what you’re going to do, and then leave, it’s a quality of life issue
Café Tables – difficult to put tables on the street due to imminent domain  minor priviledge
Bike racks
Need connection to Carroll Park & Golf Course (used by lots of people outside of the community)
Need to clean up trash and have more trash cans
Need more lighting on Cross Street to B&O
Fix Library Signage – say Pigtown
Want it to be called Pigtown NOT Washington Village
Money for security – Daryl applying for money with B&O Railroad
  • Need foot patrol – designated police officers – bad activity has been stagnant lately, and want to push it over the edge to keep it that way
  • Belair-Edison got $100,000 for 2 police officers on Main St – people were dealing drugs out of businesses and scaring off customers, but that’s gone now.
Would like new Pigtown sign – At MLK
Need Newsletter – most people don’t know what’s going on
Need community notice board – PMS planning 4-sided kiosk with community notices and ads
Need sandwich board for community meetings to put outside meeting place
Need to document successes so businesses know the area is getting better
Need wayfinding system (aka-restaurant over HERE), especially from entry points like B&O, Ostend Football Parking, MLK, and Carroll Park (ie- person at meeting didn’t know there were two laundry mats nearby)

Do we want destination businesses or community businesses?
People moving here like it because it’s not Federal Hill or Fells Point. They like it because it feels comfortable, and like a community.
We’d like businesses that are a combination of the two.

150-200 people showing up to Gallery Openings, but only 6 or 7 from the community
Why not more from the community? Not enough promotion? First Thursdays
Mayor’s cleanup this Saturday
COP will be giving away bags & gloves @ Scott & Washington Blvd around 9am
Call city 311 about trash out at MLK (or anywhere you’re having a problem) – they get a mark everytime someone calls. The more calls, the more quickly it will be addressed. Maybe post it on your Facebook and get friends to call? Also can put complaint in online.

If there's anything I can add to this meeting, it's the following thoughts:
It's Historic Pigtown. What are we doing here that will be worth preserving in 50 years?
"If a city's streets look intersting, the city looks intersting; if they look dull, the city looks dull." - Jane Jacobs

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reminder: Pigtown Main St Visionary Session

PLEASE try your best to make it out tonight.  And let everyone you see on the street know about it on your way over.  We're going to discuss ideas!  Even bad ideas get a dialog going, so don't shy away!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friends of Carroll Park Meeting 04/05/2011

We met in the back room of the Wayman's AME Church at 1307 Washington Blvd. Meetings are the first Tuesday of every month.

This week's meeting notes are up on the FoCP blog! Also, they now have the Facebook page up and running. Great work, Graham!

I also wanted to add flyers from the meeting's guest speakers, Open Gates and Paul's Place.

Tree of Wishes

Ok, if you haven't seen this... it's pretty freakin' cute. The tree has a little holder with blank tags on it. You write your wish or dream on the tag, and then hang it from a branch!

It's pretty simple, but it's a welcome bit of optimism. I love things that turn a routine walk down the street into an interactive experience that brightens your day! Just because you're running an errand or walking the dog, doesn't mean your daily experience has to been mundane. Shake it up! Slow down. Hang out and enjoy life a little :)

Also, this has been up since at least March 19th. The weather has not gotten in its way.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baltimore Open City - Pictures from the Opening

Baltimore Open City
"An open city is a place where everyone feels welcome, regardless of such things as wealth, race, age, or religion. In every neighborhood of an open city, one feels like he or she belongs. However in Baltimore—as in most American metropolitan areas—issues like housing discrimination, bad public transportation, and the privatization of public space separate people, and create an uneven distribution of health, wealth, and education.
For the exhibition Baltimore: Open City, students of Maryland Institute College of Art’s Exhibition Development Seminar invited scholars, activists, community-based organizations, local artists, and visiting artist Damon Rich to create a series of installations, workshops, and other public programs that investigate the ways in which Baltimore is and is not an open city. We welcome our neighbors to join us in exploring what a more open city might look and feel like."
General photo of the whole event.
Visual representation of foreclosures in the city.  Shown by neighborhood. We are in the 138-191 range.
Wall of things for the taking! I collected postcards as a kid, so this was right up my alley,

Images of how unwelcoming fortress-like building facades can be to a pedestrian.  Providing nothing of interest.

Baltimore time line.

Baltimore time line color legend.

Topographical representation of local cities' access to quality services.  The taller the stacks, the more accessible it is to residents.  The harbor is that gaping hole in the middle.

A puzzle made up of Baltimore's 270+ neighborhoods.

Guide to the puzzle.  I had to write in Pigtown by hand.  I'm guessing the artist considered which name (Pigtown or Washington Village) should go down, and then forgot to put it in.  Though, I spot at least 4 others with no name.  The physical puzzle pieces are labeled though.

Lounge spot with padded milk crate seating.
There is definitely more to be seen!  I'll have to go back to check it out.  After 30 minutes, there were so many people in there that I could hardly move.  So I figured I'd make it back before it ends on May 15.  Also check out the event webpage and click "calendar" to see the list of tours and lectures being given in conjunction with the exhibit!

Why do I keep posting about urban planning?  Because it's something that affects Pigotwn.  And the more you know, the more ideas we all get about what we can do to make it a better, and more welcoming, neighborhood.  Knowledge is power.  Empower yourself!

Another Urban Design & Planning Video

This one is shorter than the last!  A video on developing more people-friendly streets from TED.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You're using the website!

Oh man!  Pigtown Happens actually shows up on google search now!  How exciting is that?!? (the first few weeks it didn't)

Just me?  I'm the only one excited?

Alright... fine.

But we've had over 700 hits!  And I swear that's not just me reloading the page. 
The most important thing I see is that people here care about this community we have, and that's just awesome.  I know a lot of people feel like they've lost momentum since the economy fell.  But stand straight!  Stand proud!  We're all in it together.  Everyone I've met here is really cool.  Even the guys who pee in my alley at least apologize when I catch them.  (By the way, I SEE YOU! Stop it!)  And you all have such great ideas.  Keep them coming!  Don't give up!  I'm really starting to feel like we're turning a corner this year.  The community groups are getting their stuff together, and becoming much more organized.  And everyone should be a part of that.

Smile.  You're doing good.

Introduction to Urban Design & Planning

One good way to get ideas for our area, is to look at what other cities are doing.  New York City.  Remember back when it was completely crime ridden?  Or if you're too young, how every movie in NYC made/taken place in the 70s & 80s made it look dangerous and not like somewhere you want to visit?  Well go watch The Warriors, Ghostbusters, American Gangster or something!  NYC has drastically stepped up their game!  But how?  Check out this video about public space and the revision of the NYC zoning and design code (I realize it's long, and I might find it more interesting than you, but the guy is good with humor, and they even mention Charles Square right here in Bmore):

whyte styles from chris woebken on Vimeo.
William H. Whyte's classic film studying how people use urban spaces.
It's kind of funny to hear him rag on Bryant Park back in the day, and to see how far it's come!

Here's another way NYC stepped up their game:
Broken Window Theory

 If you get a chance, check out other cities' examples.  Even if it's just their community group websites!  See what they're doing to succeed!  It's such a great way to get ideas.  And because they're in another state, we won't be stepping on any toes like I was worried about over at Union Square.  A favorite example of mine is Philadelphia, specifically Manayunk.  It's a college town, mind you, but it's a former industrial area that still holds a good locals population.  An acquaintance through a mutual friend once told me that he did a total nerd-filled analysis of major urban cities, complete with spread sheet, and he concluded that Philly had the greatest quality of life while maintaining a low cost of living.  I think that's the sort of thing all cities should strive for! 

Note: I'm sure there were many other factors that contributed to New York City and Philadelphia's success as post-industrial cities that I've left out.  It would take an entire novel to cover them though.  You wouldn't read it right now, and I wouldn't write it for free.

I just hope this gets some momentum going in the community, and gets your wheels a turnin'!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pigtown Main Street Vision Session

Feel free to RSVP on Facebook!

If you've never been to the Bathhouse for a meeting before, go around to the door on the East/right side of the building, and come on in!

Friday, April 1, 2011

COP Happy Hour & Baltimore Open City

Quick announcement in case you were concerned - The Citizens of Pigtown Happy Hour is canceled for tonight.

The following is a repost:
Check out Baltimore Open City

Opening of Baltimore: Open City
Friday, April 1, 7–9 p.m. North Avenue Market, 16 W. North Ave.
Celebrate the opening of the exhibition Baltimore: Open City, which will investigate the ways in which people feel welcome or unwelcome in Baltimore neighborhoods. The evening will include food trucks, a Night Lights event with Sky Space Project, and live music.

From their website:
An open city is a place where everyone feels welcome, regardless of such things as wealth, race, age, or religion. In every neighborhood of an open city, one feels like he or she belongs. However in Baltimore—as in most American metropolitan areas—issues like housing discrimination, bad public transportation, and the privatization of public space separate people, and create an uneven distribution of health, wealth, and education.

For the exhibition Baltimore: Open City, students of Maryland Institute College of Art’s Exhibition Development Seminar invited scholars, activists, community-based organizations, local artists, and visiting artist Damon Rich to create a series of installations, workshops, and other public programs that investigate the ways in which Baltimore is and is not an open city. We welcome our neighbors to join us in exploring what a more open city might look and feel like.
It runs through May 15th if you can't make it tonight.  Though, I must admit I haven't found hours of operation if you want to stop in on any other day.  Here is a list of future lectures/events associated with the group though:

Personally, I have an absolute passion for urban design and planning.  I have a background in Landscape Architecture, so this level of nerd is expected from me.  I really believe that good design can save us all.  Well... maybe not solve everything.  But I'm fascinated by the psychological and health benefits that are associated with good design, whether that be making your neighborhood a more social and welcoming place or making it more accessible to alternative modes of transportation like walking/biking that cost nothing and lead to great adventure!  I'll stop weirding you out now...  GO!  Maybe you'll be inspired to create something really awesome that we could make happen in Pigtown ;)

I know I have ideas, and I'll reveal some of them soon!