Wednesday, December 24, 2008

See You in 2009!

Greater Homewood Community Corporation will close on December 24 and re-open on January 5, which means Greater Homewood Voices will be taking a winter break, too.

See you back here on January 5 for more news, photos, and stories from Greater Homewood!

Monday, December 22, 2008

COACH Celebrates First Semester in Baltimore

2008-2009 COACH volunteers (l to r) Tasmim Anwar, Catherine Coleman, Paul Hsiao, and Faraz Khalik

Long before you attend your first class, just getting into college these days is hard work: selecting where to apply, taking the SAT, writing essays, searching for financial aid, and finally deciding on the school that's right for you. This fall, GHCC is giving twelfth-graders at three north central Baltimore public high schools some extra help along the way.

The College Opportunity and Career Help (COACH) program is working at Western High School, Baltimore City College, and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. COACH matches seniors at Baltimore City public high schools with volunteer mentors who are undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University. Mentors meet with their students each week throughout the school year to help them through the college application and career planning process.

With the first semester of COACH in Baltimore complete, evaluations from our students and volunteers are showing that the program is making a difference:
  • "I love my COACH advisor. She is very helpful and relatable and understanding." --Marissa, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • "The sense of security [of] knowing someone who has been through the process is very helpful and talking to the coaches is very reassuring." --Darren, Baltimore City College
  • "It's nice to know there is someone who cares about my education as much as I do." --Shawna, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • "I definitely would want to return to COACH next year and continue with it every year I spend at Hopkins." --Amy, COACH volunteer
  • "It is a great program and I wish every high school student was able to use this program." --Neikita, Western High School
The COACH program was created in 1999 by two Harvard professors as a way to encourage college access for public high school students in Boston. This is the first year that COACH has been licensed by the Education Resources Institute to operate outside of Massachusetts, and it's being led in Baltimore by GHCC staffer Frankie Gamber, who was a COACH volunteer during her senior year of college in 2002-2003.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Community Greening Resource Network Accepting Applications

By Sarah Krones, Community Greening Resource Network Coordinator, Parks and People Foundation

A community planting project in Medfield

An initiative of Parks & People Foundation and Maryland Cooperative Extension, the Community Greening Resource Network (CGRN) is a membership program supporting Baltimore City community gardeners and greeners. By coordinating the resources available in our city, CGRN creates a comprehensive and consistent network so it’s easier to maintain the valuable green spaces in our communities.

There will be four CGRN sites around the city. At these sites, CGRN hosts for its members:

  • Four annual Give-Away Days (providing seeds, compost, vegetable seedlings, bulbs, perennial flowers)
  • Tool Banks with hand tools to borrow
  • Workshops held by gardeners and Baltimore City greening organizations on gardening and greening related topics.

CGRN also provides to its members a 20% discount on renting power equipment, the "See Green" Newsletter (with a shared calendar of events, articles and more), networking opportunities, and annual celebrations.

CGRN is accepting applications for 2009 this fall! It is $10 for a year for a Community Garden Membership and $5 for an Individual Membership. You can find an application and more info at, or contact Sarah Krones at Parks & People Foundation at 410-448-5663 x 114,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waverly Wonderland on December 13

Had your fill of driving to the mall, searching for parking, and waiting in long lines for the same old gifts you give every year? Waverly Main Street is what you're looking for. Shopping local is more important than ever this year, as we're all looking for ways to trim costs. Don't fill up the tank -- take a walk or bike ride over to Waverly Main Street for one-of-a-kind gifts like books, electronics, and jewelry. And when you shop local, your support of local businesses makes their communities even stronger.

You can shop Waverly Main Street all season long, but Saturday, December 13 is a particularly special day. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., join us for the Waverly Wonderland holiday celebration! The festivities begin at 9 a.m. with special holiday breakfasts and a visit from Santa at these Main Street restaurants (call for reservations):
  • Thir-Tea First Street Cafe and Tearoom, 410-889-7112
  • Waverly Grill, 410-889-6400
  • Darker Than Blue Cafe, 443-872-4468

After breakfast, Santa will be available for FREE photos in his horse and buggy from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

While you shop, enjoy live music and check out the winners of the Waverly Main Street holiday window decorating contest.

Waverly Wonderland is part of Miracle on Main Streets, a celebration of shopping local on all ten Baltimore Main Streets. For more information about Waverly Wonderland, please contact Waverly Main Street Manager Laura Kindseth at or 410-258-6295.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Urbanite Salutes Central Baltimore Activists

In the late 1960s and 1970s, GHCC's slogan was "People are the Key." We still know it's true. The people who create positive change in our neighborhoods are residents like you who want their communities to be great places to live, work, and raise families.

A community garden in the 2200 block of Barclay Street

This month's issue of the Urbanite magazine profiles 6 "neighborhood heroes -- people fighting for and inspiring change in parts of town that needed it." Two of those heroes are Bill and Anne Clewell, who have literally transformed a half-dozen rundown homes on Barclay Street in Greenmount West. These rehabbed homes are part of a strategy to bring residents back to the area. Greenmount West is one of the communities included in the Charles North Vision Plan, an exciting plan to turn the central Baltimore area into a center of culture and commerce.
Do you have a hero in your neighborhood? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
You can also hear more about the Charles North Vision Plan today on Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR from 1-2 p.m.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Coming Up: A New Waverly Middle School

By Karen DeCamp, Assistant Director of Public Education, Advocacy, and Outreach, GHCC

Waverly student Zahaire Calloway at a January 2008 school clean-up

Bebe Verdery of the ACLU of Maryland blogged on the Open Society Institute’s Audacious Ideas blog about her dream of rebuilding Baltimore’s aging schools into new green schools, full of natural light to inspire and nurture children. Well – that dream is becoming a reality at Waverly Elementary/Middle School, where architects have been hired to design the new $22 million middle school wing and elementary renovations. State funding for this was won by a persistent, committed group of stakeholders and assisted by GHCC. This new building will replace the woefully inadequate Venable middle school building.

The architects, D.C.-area firm Grimm + Parker, have met with a group from the community and are planning a larger public meeting in January to collect community input. Their plan is to build Waverly’s addition at LEED Silver status, a green building designation that means the design will incorporate environmentally friendly features. Stay tuned to future posts and look for community notices of the January public meeting, so you can be heard on what kind of school Waverly should be.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Schools + Renovations = Stronger Neighborhoods

A mural at Dallas F. Nicholas, Sr. Elementary School

In this week's Audacious Ideas blog post for the Open Society Institute, Bebe Verdery writes about the impact that school facility improvements have not just on children but also on their surrounding communities. Verdery, who is the Education Reform Director for the ACLU of Maryland, notes that physical improvements to Baltimore schools create jobs as well as opportunities to incorporate new environmentally-friendly building techniques. And most of all, children deserve school buildings with the physical infrastructure they need in order to learn and do their best.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Light Up the Night on Waverly Main Street

If you're like us, you've been waiting all year for the return of holiday decorations, and the late Thanksgiving this year only made the wait longer. But on Friday, December 5, the wait is over as Waverly Main Street kicks off its holiday shopping season with a tree-lighting. Join us at 7 p.m. for carols, hot chocolate, and the lighting of the tree at 33rd Street and Greenmount Avenue.

The tree-lighting is part of Miracle on Main Streets, the shop-local campaign for all of the City's Main Streets. Shopping local and supporting the businesses that make our neighborhoods great, walkable communities is more important than ever this year. We hope you'll do some of your shopping on Waverly Main Street, for books, clothing, electronics, jewelry, and much more!

For more information about Waverly Main Street, click here.