Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Jul 17 2004 - Civic Works Crew Event (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Christina Youngston, Jesse Allen
Participants:Ian Wright, Lisa Richard, kelly sullivan, Lisa Spurlock, Jesse Allen, Christina Youngston, John Putman, Holly Rawson, Cheryl Hamilton, Laura Paszkiewicz, Ruwan Alwis, KC Yi, Laura Rocchio, Martha Stauss, Ryan Meadows

Write Up:
Saturday dawned bright and sunny. Very bright. Burn out your eyeballs if you are standing next to a white wall bright. Naturally we had a wall to paint white on the sun facing side of the lot. But I am getting ahead of myself...

Our group gathered in Coldstream-Homestead- Montebello (CHM) in Baltimore around 9 AM in the morning to start work converting an abandoned lot into a public gathering space for the local community. Our organizer, Christina Youngston, gathered us together in front of the empty lot to explain the work we would be doing, and the history of the site. The empty lot was once the location of a house which was abandoned and later trashed and/or used as a crack house by local drug gangs. The city had condemned the property and the house was demolished when it became unsafe, but the empty lot continued to fester and be used as an informal dumping ground for trash and yard rubble and so on. Civic Works came in to reclaim the land for the community, and in conjunction with the local residents, transform the space into a small public garden and community space. The lot will have periannual flowers, tanbarked ground, benchs, a mural wall, and a small public stage area for performances, talks, community conversations, block parties, and the like.

Several young men from CHM were working with Civic Works on this project to acquire professional skills to help them in establishing future careers in landscaping. They provided the heavy hauling work, such as the Bobcat for leveling the ground, the Dingo for moving dirt and mulch around the site, for excavacation, and the edging rotorooter gadget whose proper name evades my memory. I have a dim future in landscaping, it would appear...

About half of us would work on painting the brick side of the next house solid white with primer. Later in the week, the white surface will be used as a base for painting a mural with kids from community working together on this. The rest of our group would work on first establishing a periannual flower bed along the back of the property, working with the community members at leaving the ground on the rest of the lot and removing the remaining rubble, putting down a layer of tanbark over the ground, and planting a row of vicious thorn bushes along the front that form a natural fence and keep the visitors coming in and out on the central pathway.

As mentioned, it was a sunny and quite warm day, especially for those of us right up against the brick wall painting it white. Holly, KC, myself, and Cheryl all put in stints high on the ladders getting white paint on the walls which extended at least 25 feet above the ground. We have no idea how the mural painters plan to work up so high! We only reached the top by virtue of very long poles for our paint rollers! Meanwhile, Laura P and Martha got stuck into scrapping off the last of the dead and mostly dead vines creeping on one section of the wall, while the rest of our team work with the landscapers to spread mulch, turn over the earth, and plant a large number of periannual plants and flowers in a garden bed we established in the back, working mulch and fertilizer into the ground. Lisa Spurlock was interested in the Bobcat and asked about how it worked only to find herself behind the controls shifting concrete blocks. Some people have all the fun with the power tools...

It was heavy hard work for us all, so we were quite grateful to myself, Ryan, and KC whom brought coolers with soda and iced water, which we made short work of during the four hours we worked on the site. We were also joined partway through the work by a couple of MOC members whom had gotten west and east muddled and went to the wrong side of the city, as well as a couple of friends of members who were fasci

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