Upending A Corner of Union Square

Photo: Lucy Steinitz

Early Sunday morning, May 10, Union Square residents awoke to an upturned stone column and ornate metal planter on northeast corner of the park. Exactly when and how it happened has not been proven, but a large vehicle had obviously jumped the curb and plowed into the park entrance, knocking down both the column and the planter to the ground. Then, to make matters worse, the vehicle moved both items for about 3 feet, unearthing the grass below. A lamp-post was also damaged, but only slightly. All told, the scene looked pretty hopeless.

What to do, now? The column alone weighs more than half a ton.

Gradually neighbors gathered to discuss various options. Many had their dogs who sniffed the damage and each other — as the talk just continued. We could… Call the police. Or submit a complaint to 311. Or contact the Sanitary Department. Or reach out to Parks and Recreation… Or…

Soon a new idea emerged. Magic words got spoken when someone said, Let’s team together to fix this ourselves. Restoring the park entrance to its former glory suddenly became a challenge to neighborhood ingenuity. Everyone present offered to pitch in. Michael Johnson provided his truck. Bif Browning added a rope and some manpower. Daniel Rodenburg brought over some wooden wedges and a heavy pipe for leverage. Kirsten Johnson cheered. And so on.

Photo: Kristen Johnson.

And slowly but surely, like the movement of the enormous obelisks in ancient Egypt, the resurrection occurred. By mid-morning both the column and the planter have been returned to their original places, standing upright once again.

All’s well that ends well. The community came together and solved the problem. It’s the Union Square way.

by Lucy Steinitz

Park Clean-up and Bloom Your Block

sal w rakeWe had a great turnout for the Union Square Park Clean-up, organized by Salvatore Seeley. Thank you to all of our neighbors and friends who came by to help make our park ready for the spring and summer!

Immediately afterwards, we kicked off Bloom Your Block, giving away free mulch, compost, flower seeds, and trees. We also had visitors from the Baltimore Citizen Science Mosquito Project and The Compost Crew.

The Bloom Your Block Competition will be June 27. There is no need to register to have your home included in the competition, but don’t forget to add your Bloom Your Block sign to your pots to earn some extra points!

fountain workingThanks also to Ace Hardware for all the blooming plants, Parks and People Foundation for the trees, and Baltimore City Rec and Parks for the mulch & tools. They also mowed the park yesterday so we would have a nice space today‎!

Check out our Instagram feed for photos. There are also photos on Facebook here and here!

A note to the community

Dear neighbors,

As the sun rose today and we were reminded that the light still shines after one of the darker nights in Baltimore history, I wanted to reach out to our neighborhood and reassure people that we still live in a wonderful place. Our community has been very fortunate given yesterday’s extreme circumstances throughout the city. We are very blessed to live in a very close knit community where neighbors know each other and look out for each other.

A perfect example of this is that last night a large group of neighbors gathered at various points around the Hollins Market business district (CUPs, Zellas, etc) to deter any opportunistic individuals who were walking and driving through our neighborhood from destroying the commercial district.

Officers from the Southern District Police Department were also present at Arlington and Pratt and kept check over our neighborhoods in cruisers and by helicopter to deter vandalism as best they could with all that is going on in the city.

Unfortunately, three businesses on West Baltimore Street, the corner store at Calhoun & Lombard, and the tavern at Pratt & Carey have sustained some degree of vandalism.

I am hopeful that the combined interaction of our neighbors continuing to watch out for each other and the efforts of the police in our neighborhoods will succeed in turning away those individuals with looting and other criminal activity in mind

We will be out in the neighborhood walking around and visiting with neighbors. I encourage each and every one of you to take time today to reach out and connect with those who live around you and see how you can support each other. Contact me, please, should you have any issues or questions during this ‎chaotic and trying time for our city. Rest assured that we will make it through this a stronger and more united community.

‎Please be safe and exercise caution today and over the next few days.

With kindest regards,
Bif Browning