Monday, February 27, 2012

Making Miles!

Remaking Miles Avenue for good friends, a lot of fun, and a better Baltimore

Making Miles! is made up of a group of friends whose journeys have taken them away from Baltimore and back again. A number of them attended Baltimore School for the Arts for high school, meeting the others through various events during the same informative years. In creating art together they found special bonds and learned that they were a good team. College came and many of them left Baltimore, going as far away as Austin, Texas, Portland, Oregon, Washington State, and traveling outside the States to places like Madagascar, Thailand and Germany, or traveling across the United States by both car and train.

In the end, each of the Making Miles! team decided to come back to their hometown of Baltimore. They are all following different paths – one is training to be a horticulturalist, one is a theater technician, one is in law school, one an upholsterer, one active in community development, and one in health care policy – but they are all together again and back in “the greatest city in America,” their hometown, Baltimore.

They decided they wanted to work together again. Despite their divergent interests, they have a common desire to make their hometown better – and have fun while doing it! They decided to adopt a small lot at the end of Miles Avenue in the neighborhood of Remington. The lot is adjacent to the railroad tracks and next to an abandoned and deteriorating building, and there is a lot of dumping, squatting, and rodent problems as a result. Through the Adopt-a-Lot process they are acquiring the rights to “adopt” the city vacant lot, and they have already obtained the permission of a private owner of a second vacant lot on the site.

They plan to build at least five raised beds on one side of the lot and place a bench with a shade garden where there is already a tree present on the other side. Through the Mayor’s Power in Dirt initiative they plan to have mulch delivered once the beds are built so that no weeds will grow in between and so there will be a defined path through the garden. They will utilize the City’s new water service to water the garden. Each bed will have a different theme – one may be a salad bed, there may be a flower bed, and a roots vegetable bed. Two of the raised beds will serve as garden plots for individual members of the team because these members do not have back yards at their places of residence. The Making Miles! garden will be an extension of their homes.

The Making Miles! team is a group of smart, capable, active, and concerned young people who have returned to Baltimore City where they grew up to make their lives. As they make themselves into the people they want to be, as they make their futures in the place in which they grew up, that want to make progress, make Baltimore a better place…they want to Make Miles! Created by Anna Evans-Goldstein

Friday, February 17, 2012

Potential in Park Heights

Amidst all the blight the neighborhood of Park Heights, with attributes like Pimlico Race Course, Cylburn Arboretum, and Druid Hill Park, has appeared to have fallen from grace. Dilapidated homes that once showcased well-manicured lawns and quant cobblestone porches have become havens for nefarious activity. Its tree lined streets give a shadow of what the Park Heights community once was, a safe haven for well to-do Baltimore residents. Sadly, recent statistics show otherwise. In 2009, approximately 1/3 of residents were juveniles arrested for drug related offenses.With about half of all residents coming from broken homes where domestic violence is a common occurrence, it is no wonder how they are funneled into criminal activity.

Studies show that negative environments, like those currently present in Park Heights, may continue promoting the chaos that currently exists.By mitigating such negative environmental factors, negative consequences like crime and violence may also drop. Recently, the Mayor’s office has created an initiative called Power in Dirt, which focuses on empowering community members interested in revitalizing a vacant lot. Over time the goal is to reclaim many of these beautiful neighborhoods, like Park Heights, and make them into communities that are once again safe to walk through.

Park Heights, with all of its assets has the potential of once again becoming something great. Just imagine creating a fruit orchard or vegetable garden and making an extra income by selling it at the Pimlico Farmer’s Market. Or perhaps, enhancing an educational program at a Park Heights school by incorporating an outdoor science lab? Or instead making an outdoor theatre and picnic area for Park Heights community events? The sky is the limit and Power in Dirt coordinators are here to help free of charge!

Monday, February 13, 2012

GBCAN - Greater Baltimore Children and Nature

GBCAN, or the Greater Baltimore Children and Nature Collaborative, is having a conference on February 23, 2012 from 8:30 am - 4 pm. The conference will have a lot to offer - a long list of workshops, keynote speaker Rue Mapp founder of, an action strategy session, open time for discussion, and breakfast and lunch served. The GBCAN Conference, as noted on the Parks & People Foundation website, "hopes to convene adult and youth leaders across the sectors of education, health, business, faith and the arts for a discussion and workshops about connecting youth to nature in local parks, schoolyards, community greenspaces and beyond."

Do you feel that the youth around you do not experience nature enough? That our young people, especially those in urban environments, do not get the outdoor adventures they should? If so, you may be interested in any one of the following workshops, some of a long list of workshops that will be offered:
-->Nature Play Spaces
-->Exploring Your Environment with Digital Video Making
-->Docs in the Park: a New Health and Outdoor Initiative
-->Port of Baltimore and Environmental Education
-->After the Asphalt: Learning and Earning in the School Yard Habitat
-->Storywalk: Families Learning and Playing Outside

and more!

The GBCAN started in 2008. Prompted by new research in particular from Richard Louv and his book Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder that children have less and less of a relationship with nature, they more sequestered inside or interacting with electronics than with the outside. This lack of nature can have negative effects on children's mental and physical health. How do we bring our children back outside? GBCAN works on ways to do that, and this conference is involving YOU in the discussion!

contact Mike Dorsey at for more information or visit the GBCAN conference webpage above to sign up!

Also: If you cannot make the conference but you are interested in getting your child or youth in your life outside, check out Family Exploring Nature Clubs, watch for youth events at Cylburn Arboretum, look into Nature Play Spaces at an event for your child, research Outdoor Summer Camps or Youth B'More or Cylburn Nature Science Camp, or get involved in your child's school and find out how to bring nature to the schoolyard. And remember, there's lots of opportunities to take your whole family on an outside adventure in any one of Baltimore City and County's numerous parks!