Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Neighborhood Institute Workshop Spotlight – Beautify you Neighborhood


harwoodGHCC Volunteer of the Year Amanda Ruthven and Harwood Community Association President Ryan Parnell will share the story of how their neighbors transformed Harwood through the use of greening projects, school partnerships, local events, grants, and more. Come learn how you can make similar change in your neighborhood.

Tell us about your background and why you chose to lead this particular workshop? 

We have applied for several grants, large and small, sometimes getting them, sometimes not.  The HNF grant was the most complicated one so far on account of all the stakeholders involved.  We’d like to share the lessons we’ve learned and the successes we’ve had.  The 2013 Harwood Neighborhood Block Party was a big hit, along the way we learned some valuable lessons about what works well and what adjustments we need to make the next time.

What do you hope participants will gain from attending your workshop? What actions will they be more prepared to take?

I hope that anyone with big ambitions about large grants and large events will come and grab a seat! Together we will learn about beautifying your neighborhood and putting on successful events.

What do you love most about living in Baltimore?

We met each other in Baltimore and are getting married in October!

Tickets to the 7th Neighborhood Institute are sold out. If you would like to be added to the waiting list please email Emma Simpson at espimpson@strongcitybaltimore.org with the subject line “Neighborhood Institute Waiting List”


Neighborhood Institute Workshop Spotlight – Ensure Equitable Development

As an active community member, it can be difficult to negotiate with large businesses and property owners. Kelly Pfeifer of the Community Law Center will share some of the legal tools available to residents, such as Community Benefits Agreements, that help promote more equitable neighborhood development.

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Tell us about your background and why you chose to lead this particular workshop?

I am the Supervising Attorney at Community Law Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm that provides legal representation to Baltimore’s community associations and nonprofits. My work focuses on assisting community organizations with concerns about development in their neighborhoods, ranging from representation at zoning hearings to negotiating community benefits agreements. I believe CBAs are underutilized tools and would love to see more of them come to fruition, empowering Baltimore’s communities along the way.

What do you hope participants will gain from attending your workshop? What actions will they be more prepared to take?

Participants will learn about equitable development and community benefits agreements. Specifically, participants will learn what CBAs are, how they are negotiated, what terms they should include, how communities should engage developers in talks about CBAs, and how to build coalitions for the purpose of entering into CBAs. Participants will be prepared to build CBA coalitions and know how to take steps toward implementing CBAs in their neighborhoods.

Why do you love most about living in Baltimore?

I love that Baltimore is a city of diverse and varied neighborhoods.

Tickets to the Neighborhood Institute are going fast! Register Today


A Great Evening in Barclay

As a Community Builder in the Barclay neigborhood, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to know your neighborhood is just to show up and be present. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with community volunteers to form a Neighborhood Talent Collective. Last Friday, we hosted a basketball recruitment effort – geared towards middle and high school youth – at the Greenmount Recreation Center.

LottieWe were all hopeful for a successful evening. For weeks, we had knocked on doors, shared at neighborhood events, distributed fliers through the neighborhood, talked to youth at the local playground and people on the street. One young member of the Collective showed up with two additional volunteers – a good sign. On our way to the Rec Center, we made one last sweep of the neighborhood before being joined by two additional volunteers from the community.

We were graciously received by Miss Terri Fulp – the Center Director. We arrived just before dinner was served to the after school students and other youth desiring the nightly free meal. Our volunteers joined right in and helped prepare hotdogs for the more than 30 basketball recruits who had shown up. Later, Miss Terri and our volunteers gathered in the gym to sign-up youth for team basketball. Miss Terri shot hoops with the older kids and talked to them while we focused on the younger students.

Approximately 10-12 of the middle and high school students in attendance came from the neighborhood recruitment efforts. One high schooler on a restrictive curfew was brought by his mother. He later asked me to call her to see if he could stay longer. Another young man – who had been reprimanded previously for his behavior at the center – came to the door to give me his mother’s contact information; he wanted to play ball.

Before leaving, Miss Terri gave our group a tour of the facility. We were shocked but pleased to find out that the center has a space for arts and craft, a fitness room and a multi-purpose space on the second floor. All in all, we had a great evening at the Rec!

Submitted by Lottie Sneed, Barclay Community Builder at GHCC.


Neighborhood leaders discuss conflict management

On October 17, GHCC successfully kicked off the first session of our 2013-14 Neighborhood Leaders Forums – a series of workshops for community leaders to learn from each other abou how to effectively address community issues. Residents from across north central Baltimore convened at the GHCC main office for a great meal and lively conversation.

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Our first workshop began with the hot topic of conflict management. A natural part of life, conflict arises in every neighborhood at some point. Our veteran leaders shared their stories and ideas about how to balance interests and achieve win-win solutions. Harwood resident, Queen Addison, said that she was glad conflict management was addressed in the Forum because “sometimes it’s not clear how to deal with it.” She felt like the group session facilitated an easier and more open discussion.

Future Neighborhood Leaders Forum sessions will cover topics like how to develop new leaders and delegate work, or how to address vacant lots. Ednor Gardens resident Amy Greensfelder was particularly interested in “learning skills that are specific to Baltimore neighborhoods.” She pointed out that our hyper-local approach to working in north central Baltimore helps Forum participants generate ideas that honor each neighborhoods’ uniqueness.

If you are interested in attending GHCC’s next Neighborhood Leaders Forum on December 12, contact Ira Kowler at 410-261-3625.


2700 Hampden Avenue gets a makeover

Last weekend, over 20 neighbors on the 2700 block of Hampden Avenue in Remington came together for a community work day. The objective? To enhance curb appeal and strengthen the block where they live.

2700 Hampden Block Project

In less than two hours, this block was transformed into a lush and vibrant space where parents feel more comfortable letting their children play. We planted nine trees and installed new porch lights on five houses. In addition, eight homeowners will receive new stained glass address plaques, courtesy of Wholly Terra in Hampden.

Earlier this year, GHCC met with residents to determine their vision for what this block could look like. Once the desired improvements were decided on, GHCC staff applied for and received a grant of $2,500 from Healthy Neighborhoods to help bring the project to fruition (2700 Hampden residents are contributing an average of $50 apiece of their own funds).

We invite you to come check out the new and improved 2700 block of Hampden Avenue. It’s a great example of the kind of collaborative efforts that strengthen neighborhoods block by block to enhance the overall quality of life in Baltimore.