Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

On-Street Bike Parking Unveiled at Eddie’s Today

by Nate Evans, Bike and Pedestrian Planner, City of Baltimore

With the high bicycle volume of Charles Village, more parking is needed for cyclists. The on-street bike parking (OSBP) converts an existing vehicular car space to park 10-12 bicycles.

Cyclists in GHCC’s Baltimore Bike Pageant, August 2008

OSBP centralizes bike parking, which improves security for the bikes and preserves sidewalk space for merchants and pedestrians. As bikes are parked in the street, the facility will have car stops and bollards to protect the bikes from vehicles. Eddie’s Market is a great location for OSBP due to high pedestrian traffic, minor privilege use by area merchants, and the presence of brick sidewalks which are unsuitable for conventional bike racks.

The unveiling of the bike parking highlights the cooperation between the city government and community to find unique solutions to common issues and shows Mayor Dixon’s commitment to active transportation and a healthy lifestyle.

Making Connections: Success Academy and Charles Village

By John Bernet, GHCC Community Connections Coordinator/AmeriCorps VISTA

On Saturday, March 22nd, students from Success Academy in Baltimore City came out for a volunteer clean-up day at St. John’s United Methodist Church on the corner of 26th and St. Paul Street. Over the course of two very productive hours, they cleaned out the garden and trimmed back the ivy along the front of the building and raked the side yards, making it look beautiful just in time for Spring to begin! They were joined by Pam and Christian Wilson from the Peabody Heights Resident Homeowners Alliance and Mrs. Carol Berman from the St. John’s congregation, all of whom helped to coordinate the effort with Success Academy Principal Kevin Brooks. Following their time working outside, the students got a tour of the building and a run-down of all the wonderful services and programs the church provides. This was the first day of a two-part project, the second to occur around the week of Earth Day. Thanks to all the great students from Success Academy who participated, and the Wilsons and Mrs. Berman for providing lunch and an opportunity to see and learn about a very active local church! This volunteer effort also marks the beginning of an active partnership between Success Academy and the surrounding communities that will see lots of volunteer and enrichment opportunities for the students. Success Academy, an alternative school for city students on long-term suspension and expulsion, is located on the ground floor of Baltimore City Schools headquarters at 200 E. North Avenue.


Village Parents to Present Series of Five Discussions on Urban Education

Charles Village’s new parents’ organization, The Village Parents, is proud to present School Daze: Five Conversations on Urban Education in the Nation, in the City, and in the Neighborhood. The panel discussion series, co-sponsored by Greater Homewood Community Corporation, Loyola University’s School of Education, and Barclay and Margaret Brent Elementary Schools, will feature local education experts discussing the academic and social issues facing today’s urban schools.
Please join us for the first event of the series, The State of Urban Education in America, on February 22, 7:00 p.m., at Barclay Elementary School.    Peter C. Murrell, Jr., Dean of Loyola University Maryland’s School of Education, together with professors Robert Simmons and Stephanie Flores-Koulish, will address the challenges and opportunities facing students and teachers in today’s city schools. They’ll discuss the implications of federal academic policies for both urban students and their suburban counterparts, and why city schools often suffer more from a perception problem than an actual content deficiency.  Refreshments will be served.
The series will continue with a second panel discussion on March 22 at Margaret Brent Elementary School. Former elementary school principals Gertrude Williams (Barclay Elementary School) and Mariale Hardiman (Roland Park Elementary School), along with Charles Village community leaders Jo Ann Robinson, Karen Cook and Dorris McElroy, will share how they worked to reverse the middle-class trend of rejecting neighborhood public schools in favor of private or charter schools. For details on these and the rest of the panel discussions, please visit the Village Parents website.

About the Village Parents

The Village Parents is a group of families working to enhance Charles Village’s family-friendly offerings. They’re devoted to building a strong community among families by creating more children’s activities, investing in the local parks and playgrounds, and advocating for competitive, high-quality public schools. Please find them online atwww.charlesvillageparents.org and join their mailing list.

Community Involvement and Urban Education: A Labor of Love

Submitted by Laura Scott, Charles Village resident and parent.

GHCC has been promoting Charles Village public schools with support from a neighborhood-school partnership grant from the Goldseker Foundation.  This work– including parent focus groups — inspired a few families to start the Village Parents, an organization dedicated to increasing family-friendly options in Charles Village.  Here, Laura Scott talks about her journey from an expectant mother buying a home in the city to a neighborhood leader championing great urban public schools.

When my husband and I moved to Charles Village in late 2008, part of the draw of the neighborhood was the close-knit community. We had visions of building friendships with neighbors and getting involved with community associations.  However, starting an entirely new organization, particularly one geared toward people in one of the most intimidating life stages we could imagine – young parenthood (I was pregnant at the time) – was nowhere near the top of our list of priorities.

We loved city living and loved what we knew of Charles Village, but as we were looking for the perfect home, we couldn’t escape the question of where we’d send our daughter to school in five years. Like many people, we were influenced by the conventional wisdom that city schools could never offer the quality of education we would want for our child.

I wasn’t satisfied that public city schools were an impossibility for us, and we bought our house while our questions about the state of the schools were still unanswered. Even if it was true that the schools were providing sub-standard education to their students, we didn’t feel we had the right to flee to private schools or the suburbs for our own piece of mind without learning first if there was something we could do to help. If the schools had to be improved in some ways, how better to make that happen than by getting personally involved with our children? Yet at the same time, we didn’t want to put our own child on the line for the sake of our idealistic agenda. We realized that if we were going to have a shot at bringing about any change, we would need others to do it with us.

Through conversations with neighbors, I learned that another Abell resident, Jo Ann Robinson, had been part of a movement in Charles Village in the 1970s to do exactly what I was envisioning. In passing, I shared with Greater Homewood Community Corporation (GHCC) staff at the Abell Street Fair last September how much I admired Jo Ann’s efforts, and soon thereafter was invited to join a parents’ focus group at GHCC to discuss the public schools and why parents would or wouldn’t send their kids there.  The points that came out of that meeting were used by GHCC in its application for the Goldseker Foundation’s Neighborhood-School Partnership Grant on behalf of Barclay and Margaret Brent schools. 

It was enlightening to learn about others’ perspectives, but even more, it was encouraging to find that one other parent, Laura Wexler, was asking the same questions I was. Coincidentally, we crossed paths the very next day at a newly begun playgroup and started to exchange ideas.  Our combined vision was to begin a parents’ organization that would develop within the context of social community while also setting specific goals to make the neighborhood more “family friendly,” with school involvement a top priority. A few weeks later we gathered a group of parents who wanted to help establish our mission and goals, and the Village Parents was born.

Laura and I have learned quickly that starting a new organization is not easy. Goals must start small and be very tangible. The kinds of community needs we can address aren’t always apparent, and we have to wait for something meaningful to arise (recently, for example, we were presented with the opportunity to buy custom benches for the Abell Open Space). Our ideas often tend not to lend themselves easily to delegation, and so we often just tackle them ourselves. Sometimes hours of legwork turns out a negligible result. It has become more or less a part-time job for me, and as a stay-at-home mom, I usually devote my daughter’s nap time to Village Parents projects.

Although it’s been hard to pin down a singular focus and figure out how to recruit volunteers for specific projects, we have gained some momentum in creating events to bring parents and other community members together to give them an opportunity to engage in the schools. Most recently, we have been hosting a series of panel discussions featuring members of the educational community who share about issues in urban education, types of teaching styles, and success stories in city schools. Although our School Daze series has so far proven to be more appealing to the community than our target audience – parents of school-age or younger children – we see it as an opportunity to establish ourselves as an asset to the community that will deliver a product and not just talk theory.

We envision Charles Village becoming a magnet neighborhood one day for families who are attracted by the diversity of residents; strong community among people of different ethnicities, cultures, and demographics; and strong public schools. But we’re certain this vision won’t be accomplished until the families who are here now make it a priority to share this vision and help us work toward it. A desire for community will inherently build a community. Right now it’s our job to fuel the desire.

The Village Parents are hosting the second in a series of five public panel discussions on the state of urban education tonight at Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School.  If you can, come out between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. for a memorable conversation with community leaders who have dared to make a difference.

Too Good to be Thru Update

A couple weeks ago, Pamela Corkran shared her story about growing up in Charles Village and years later opening a consignment shop there. Hopefully, her story made you want to pay Too Good to be Thru a visit. Maybe you even have some old clothes you’d like to sell. Today, she provides an update on her grand opening and consignment process:
Too Good to Be Thru BoutiqueInterested in selling your unwanted clothing on consignment?  Too Good to Be Thru is open for business and we have a call out for new consignors!  We are preparing for our grand opening on September 23 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. and you’re invited!  Please call or email us (contact information below) if you’re interested in attending.
Several people who have told me:  “I just donated my items,” or “I just gave my things away,” or “I sell my things at a flea market or yard sale.”  I am here to tell you there is another option that puts that hard-earned money back in your pocket and doesn’t take all the effort or time of a flea market or yard sale.  Just pack your items neatly in a bag or box and drop them off at:
Too Good to Be Thru Consignment Boutique
2123 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21218
Please click to read more about our consignment process.

  1. Items you bring in should be name brand and designer items in excellent condition (no wear/tears, holes, stains, smells), unwrinkled and no more than two years old. We will look them over and accept the best of the best for consignment because we want them to sell.
  2. We conduct online research to determine the salable price for items.
  3. Once the item is put into our inventory and tagged, it is placed on the floor for approximately 90 days.
  4. When an item sells, you will be credited 50% of the sale price.
  5. Checks are issued on the 15th of each month for the previous month of sales.  Checks are issued only when balances reach $25.00. You may use your credit in the Boutique at any time. You must advise us prior to ringing up your purchase.
  6. Any items that do not sell must be picked up after 90 days.
  7. Items can be marked for us to return to you or be donated if they do not sell.
  8. All consignors must sign a contract. 

We maintain our inventory with consignment software that allows us to send our consignors a list of all products they leave on consignment. Once we get it set up, our consignors will be able to sign up online to monitor items and check balances. Customers can also create a wish list and receive email notifications when desired items come in. I am still learning this new software, so please bear with me!

You can call us at 410-400-3223 or email us at pam@2good2bethru.info for an appointment.  We are currently also accepting walk-in consignments.
Our hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.  In some cases, we may be able to accommodate individuals if you are unable to come to the Boutique during our open hours.  Call or email us so we can make arrangements.
See you soon!