Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Barclay Redevelopment sees some new demolition

The Barclay Redevelopment Project, run by the Telesis Corporation, becomes more visible by the week. On March 22nd, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) demolished six empty houses on the East 300 block of 20th Street, effecting house numbers 324-334. These houses make way for a park on the North-West corner of Barclay and 20th Street, something that was included in the original community-reviewed redevelopment plan.

Keeping up with that plan, Alistair Smith from HABC confirmed that several houses on the East 400 block of 20th street will be torn down in the next couple of weeks. This time, the space will be used for affordable housing units. Both of these demolitions will be paid for using Community Development Block Grant funds, which stipulates that the money be used for public use.

The Redevelopment Plan encompassed a holistic vision toward neighborhood revitalization. While Telesis continues the physical redevelopment of the neighborhood, it has contracted GHCC to provide community services to residents, such as the Workforce program or the Barclay Youth Safe Haven afterschool program at Dallas Nicholas.

The recent demolition is part of Phase 2 of Revelopment Plan, which focuses on the Calvert Street and the western half of Barclay Square. You can find out more about the Plan using this link.

Supporter Stories: Interview with Allissa Richardson

GHCC: Tell us a bit about yourself

Allissa Richardson: I am a journalism professor living here in Baltimore City. I teach at Morgan State University. I went to college at Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans. Then, I switched climates for graduate school and headed to Evanston, Illinois, to attend Northwestern University. Brrrr! In between, I have lived in San Jose, California, and Upstate New York. Maryland has been home always, though. I enjoy teaching young people at the University how to create media, and how to wield its power for good. Before the Ivory Tower though, I reported on Capitol Hill; got into medical school (then decided against it); and wrote health stories for O, The Oprah Magazine.

GHCC: Are you a Baltimore native?

AR: I like Baltimore because it is a great hub. I can jet down to D.C., or up to Philly or New York in a flash, which is important to me as a media professional. It is also important, in my life, to feel as if I am making a difference.

Driving through some neighborhoods in Baltimore sometimes feels eerily desolate; as if everyone just decided, by committee, to exit the city on the same day. But then, if you drive just around the corner, you will stumble upon some up-and-coming neighborhood that looks like it is on the verge of a Renaissance. You will hear nail guns going and cranes reversing with a steady, beep beep. It is at those times–when I see a fresh window recently installed in an abandoned building, for instance–that I realize Baltimore is alive. It really is teeming with possibility.

It is for this reason that I chose Barclay. My neighborhood is smack dab in the middle of the city, but five years ago, it did not feel like the heart of it. Entire blocks were abandoned. I had never seen anything like it in my life! But when I looked up at the great, big, old row houses, I saw possibility. I was 25, and I wanted a reasonably priced space, large enough for huge dogs, my fiancé and me. The neighbors all seemed friendly. The house was exactly eight minutes from my job (instead of the two-hour commute to Bethesda I had just ended). I feel in love with the city’s spirit of perseverance and its deep history. I wanted to roll up my sleeves and help it come back. And Barclay is doing just that. Its revival has been marvelous!

GHCC: When did you first discover Greater Homewood Community Corporation and what prompted you to become a supporter of our work?

AR: I found out about GHCC at a speed-dating style Board member recruitment event. My husband and I had just completed a four-week Board member training workshop with Associated Black Charities, here in the city. As a Capstone, ABC hosted a dinner where we went, rapid-fire from table to table, to hear about what each recruiting organization had to offer. I really liked the [GHCC] Executive Director’s enthusiasm. Karen Stokes seemed like a real firecracker who seemed to “get it.” I wanted to be a part of a cool team of community organizers who provided real results, and not just rhetoric. I joined the Board in December 2009. GHCC has proved, time and again, to be that kind of organization. It is mission-driven, results-driven, and steadfast in its support of Northeast Baltimore communities.

GHCC: Why do you believe that it’s important for individuals to support a nonprofit such as GHCC?

AR: GHCC cannot perform all of its wonderful works on air and love! Every great organization needs financial support and a sustained system of donors. GHCC has so many worthwhile initiatives! From local beautification projects to adult literacy initiatives to economic development campaigns, there is a bottom line that supports it all. I would even add that there is a double bottom line, since the return on the investments made in GHCC equates to better city living for everyone.

GHCC: What do you love most about living in Greater Homewood?

AR: I love my proximity to work and play. I do not fight traffic to my job in the morning–ever. After the day is done, I can take a jog around Lake Montebello for exercise. In my spare time, the weekend Waverly Farmer’s Market, the Charles Theatre, and the annual ArtScape Festival are all within walking distance. When I want to head out of town, the train station is three blocks from my house. The airport is about 20 minutes away. Aside from its propinquity to nearly everything, Baltimore has a reasonable cost of living for a young couple that is just starting out. My husband and I purchased our dream home before we even blew out the candles at our 25th birthdays. Baltimore has been good to us, and we hope to be just as good to it.

Planting Trees in Barclay

It may feel chilly (or downright cold!) outside today, and you may find it hard to imagine yourself enjoying the outdoors, but only a month ago the sun was shining on a group of volunteers who were just delighted to be out planting new trees in the Barclay neighborhood. Telesis Corporation, along with a multitude of community partners, led a tree planting in Calvert Street Park on November 13. Annie Jamieson, a project manager with Telesis, was kind enough to send us some thoughts on her experience planting trees in Barclay.

What is your position with Telesis? Can you briefly describe Telesis’ relationship with the Barclay neighborhood?
I’ve been a project manager at Telesis Corporation for the past year. In addition to Baltimore, I’m working on affordable housing projects in Pittsburgh, PA and Newark, NJ.
In January 2006, Telesis was selected by Baltimore Housing and members of the community to lead the revitalization effort for the Barclay/Old Goucher neighborhood. Since then, Telesis has participated in an extensive planning process with community residents, neighborhood organizations, local developers, social service providers, city officials, local foundations, and potential funding partners. Telesis’ vision for Barclay is a stable, healthy, safe, equitable, and livable neighborhood with quality open spaces, community facilities, and employment opportunities.
In June 2010, we began construction on the first phase of the redevelopment plan. This phase includes 72 rental units, eight of which overlook Calvert Street Park; and 30-35 homeownership units, the first 20 of which are directly adjacent to or just to the north of the park.

Why was this tree planting important to Telesis?

Beginning in 2006, the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) and Landscape Architect Liling Tien of Pela Design worked with community residents and groups to create a landscape design for Calvert Street Park. The park is a focal point in the neighborhood and offers an exceptional opportunity to realize many of our redevelopment goals while creating a beautiful environment for residents.
While Telesis is, at its core, a housing developer, we believe a successful and stable community includes not only housing, but beautiful streetscapes and places for residents to enjoy the outdoors. Utilizing the NDC design to plant trees in the park and nearby street tree pits was a simple way to make a great impact in the neighborhood.
Planting new trees not only increases the neighborhood’s tree canopy, but aids in storm-water management, creates a healthier living environment, provides opportunities for local residents to get involved, and answers the community’s desire to improve the park.

How many trees did you plant, and where? Who participated?
We planted a total of 39 native trees in Calvert Street Park and empty street pits in the blocks surrounding the park.
In addition to planting new trees, neighborhood children planted 60 bulbs in the park with the help of our landscape architect, Sharon Bradley. Our contractor, Southway Builders, Inc. also donated their time and removed three invasive shrubs in the park.
15 Cub Scouts from Pack 725 and their parents, community residents, TreeBaltimore, Neighborhood Design Center, GHCC, and Telesis all came out to volunteer.
Photo montage assembled by Lowell Larson

Besides just planting trees, what do you think you accomplished this weekend?
While it’s clear that the new trees make Barclay more beautiful, what is most important is that the community was involved. While Telesis and our partners continue to revitalize this neighborhood, small accomplishments along the way, like planting trees, signify progress and growth and let the community see firsthand how their neighborhood is transforming.
In an urban environment, where most children do not have regular access to back yards and playing fields, it was wonderful to see children outside using shovels and wheelbarrows on a beautiful fall day. Neighborhood children learned the difference between soil and mulch, how to plant daffodil bulbs, and helped to dig holes for trees they can watch grow over the years.
Street trees were planted and quickly watered by eager residents who filled up buckets from their kitchens. Residents promised to water and look after the new trees on their blocks. One store owner came out of his café, extremely happy that new trees would soon grace his sidewalk, and thanked us and agreed to water the trees.
The simple “thank yous” and promises to care for the trees brought the neighborhood together and fostered a sense of community pride.

What did you feel best about at the end of the day?
At the end of the day, I felt best about the fact that the children from this urban community got to experience planting a tree. Standing on top of the mulch pile, shovel in hand, one child said, “My mom is going to be so proud of me. I’ve never planted a tree and I’ve never done community service before.” The children finished the day with dirty hands and jeans and learned all about trees—why their roots need room to grow, why we needed to add compost and why mulch should not touch the tree trunk. It was great to know that we had exposed the children to something new that they could return to and take pride in after many years.

How much time had you spent in Barclay before the tree planting? Did you learn anything new about the neighborhood while you were planting trees this weekend?
My time in the Barclay neighborhood was pretty limited before the tree planting. I worked for Telesis from 2006-2007 and took part in the first community design meeting. That was a powerful event because the community really had the chance to think about how they could have a voice in the neighborhood transformation. Now that I’m back at Telesis, I’ve been to the neighborhood to photograph our properties and attend our groundbreaking ceremony this past June.
It’s always good to be in the neighborhood—it’s a very welcoming place!

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
I’d like to thank many of the people and organizations who helped make this event successful: Hieu Truong from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Kristen Humphrey from the Neighborhood Design Center, Liling Tien from P.E.L.A Design, Inc., Greater Homewood Community Corporation, Anne Draddy and Charlie Murphy from TreeBaltimore, Sharon Bradley from Bradley Site Design, Inc., Peter Merles from Midtown Community Benefits District, Southway Builders, Inc., Tree-Mendous Maryland, Hollins Organic Products, Inc., Charles Village Community Benefits District, Cub Scout Pack 725 and their families, and all the community members!
A special thank you is also in order for Peter Duvall of GHCC who put an incredible amount of time and effort into this community event!

Telesis Groundbreaking This Morning

This morning, 150 people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the $85 million Telesis redevelopment project in Barclay-Midway-Old Goucher. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, neighborhood residents, community partners, and city elected officials all came out to show their support at this inspirational event.

It was a beautiful sight to see everyone socializing and networking as they came together to celebrate such an important milestone for the Barclay community,” said GHCC MSW (Masters in Social Work) intern Treshona Saxton. And indeed it was: the feelings of pride and accomplishment among the crowd were well warranted, as the Telesis project represents a new era for the Barclay community.

Interested in a little history on this project? We like this article in the Baltimore Brew.

Here are a few pictures from this morning’s event:

Nate Tatum and the Barclay Boys at Telesis Groundbreaking

Telesis Groundbreaking in Barclay

Telesis Groundbreaking in Barclay

"No One Is Greater than Greater Homewood!"

by Susan Lattimore, Teacher, Barclay Elementary/Middle School

Thus reads a slide in our “Books-2-Go”/Story Pals presentation, which has now been seen by more than 80 Barclay parents who’ve attended 3 workshops in the past month!
I’m writing to thank any and all of you who have been involved in supporting our Literacy Outreach efforts at Barclay, and to let you know that we attribute our great success to the presence and active planning and participation of our 12 Experience Corps volunteers, our Community Schools director, Kelly Oglesbee, and Katie Horn, our VISTA coordinator. What a supportive team! We issue special gratitude to Ms. Wood, Ms. Green, Ms. Wicks, Mr. McDonald, Kelly, and Katie for being participants (and I do mean ACTIVE!) on our Books-2-Go planning team.
I want you all to know that your Bookbags-to-Go is the vehicle that has led to our Paired Reading/Story Pals program. We’re all very excited about the imminent arrival of these additions to our elementary classroom libraries. As you may know, we’re developing a framework for supporting the reading of your donated books, with a schoolwide reading incentive program. We’re keeping a binder of organizing tips, activities, forms, etc. which could be used by any other interested Greater Homewood schools who are receiving free books.
I’d like to invite you, and all Greater Homewood staff, to join us for our Read Across America Day on March 3rd, celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday: Come see Kelly Oglesbee dressed as the Cat in the Hat! Come and be a Celebrity Reader in one of our classrooms! Come to our Story Pals Open House (all day — yummy refreshments!) or Story Pals Training (1:00). Come to celebrate our great E-Corps helpers and VISTA coordinator!
Come to see why we say… “No One is Greater than Greater Homewood!”