Submitted by Karen DeCamp, Director of Neighborhood Programs
GHCC's third annual Neighborhood Institute January 23 was an inspiring event. Kicking off the opening panel discussion about different aspects of great urban living, Karenthia Barber -- president of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association -- went through all the intentional ways her neighborhood show they care about their community. Ednor Gardens-Lakeside is one of the most well-organized communities in north Baltimore, from their efforts to welcome new neighbors to the very well-organized committees and initiatives like their incredible Citizens on Patrol group. Moderator Dana Moore, Councilman Bill Henry, Live Baltimore's Anna Custer, City Schools' Michael Sarbanes, and developer Donald Manekin all enlivened the conversation as well.
For me, the meat of the day was in the workshops: 16 different workshops held in 4 sesssions allowed neighborhood residents to choose from a wide menu of options. This year, we intentionally minimized the number of "agency wonks" presenting workshops in favor of neighborhood residents presenting what they are doing in neighborhoods -- best practices to inspire others. It seems like that strategy really paid off, as many participants gave us great feedback about the quality of the workshops.
Workshop highlights included:
- Remington's Chris Merriam and Roland Park's Doug Munro showing how they use technology to make their neighborhood associations more effective.
- Miriam Avins and Pat Shaw of Better Waverly presenting their community art and greening work.
- Chris Ryon of Ednor Gardens and Joe Stewart of Better Waverly (along with our favorite police officers Jon Walter and Doug Gibson) exploring different models of Citizens on Patrol.
- Neighborhood leaders talked about what they are proud of and what most challenges them. They asked for support from GHCC in communicating with other neighborhoods. GHCC has launched a Yahoo! Groups listserv to facilitate that and agreed to help organize quarterly "meet and greets" so that community leaders can get together and share what's working and what's not. Joe Stewart suggested doing this at a local restaurant so we can patronize those positive businesses.
Other awardees included Jim Fabian as Volunteer of the Year and Tom Gamper, recipient of the Community Economic Development program's Landmark Award.
Of course, I'm already thinking about all the ways we can follow up on the conversations we had at this event and make next year's event an even bigger success!