Why I support the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network

33rd street median

The Baltimore Greenway Trail Network is an exciting vision for connecting our amazing urban trails and park system into a 35-mile loop around the city. I support this vision and have been working with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Bikemore to communicate the many exciting traffic calming and public health benefits of the proposal. With their support, last fall I was able to collaborate with neighbors on creating a demonstration public art crosswalk at Gwynns Falls Parkway and Auchentoroly Terrace that called attention to the need for such safety and connectivity improvements.

Rails-to-Trails and the city have begun a long process of engagement to design the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network. Last night I attended the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition public meeting regarding their proposal for a multi use path down the middle of 33rd Street. Below are the concerns I heard, plus some facts.

  • Concern: No one tried to inform neighbors about the Greenway Trail Network plan. Fact: Rails-to-Trails has been reaching out to community associations for at least year now. I first heard about the plan in February 2016. Several meetings have been held for both 33rd Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway communities, including last night’s gathering. This is the beginning of the planning process, not the end. Nothing is approved or fully designed. Lets keep on participating!
  • Concern: A median trail will destroy the historic Olmsted plan for boulevards connecting Baltimore’s parks. Fact: over 100 years ago, the Olmsteds’ designed numerous multi-use, tree-lined paths for cities across the country. The Baltimore plan for boulevards connecting parks was never fully realized and quickly compromised by increased car traffic choking off the median green spaces from people who would like to use them. A median trail will in fact help properly realize the Olmsteds’ historic vision for Baltimore.
  • Concern: A median trail will kill trees. Fact: there are numerous examples of historic and modern trails that do not kill trees. The city’s arborist must approve any such design, and the proposal is for a pervious trail surface that will allow the trees to continue to thrive.
  • Concern: The trail will take away green space used by kids for playing. Fact: I lived on 33rd Street for five years with a bedroom overlooking the median. I never saw kids playing because the median is locked off from pedestrians by curbs and dangerous traffic. A median trail will make the space safe and accessible for kids learning to ride bikes, people traveling in wheelchairs, walkers, runners, and cyclists.
  • Concern: The trail will cause an increase in car traffic. Fact: the trail’s many bumpouts and crosswalks will help slow the dangerous traffic on 33rd while giving people more options for commuting without needing a car, thereby reducing traffic.

From 2008-2013 I lived on 33rd Street and wished we could add a path down the middle and calm traffic. In 2013 I moved to Auchentoroly Terrace and now hold similar pedestrian safety and connectivity hopes for our community. Many of my neighbors and I are excited to help support the median trail proposal for the Olmsted-designed Gwynns Falls Parkway. A multi use, center-running trail will help calm traffic and enable our many differently abled neighbors to connect with Druid Hill and Leakin Parks. I’m excited to share this vision with my friends and former neighbors along 33rd Street

— Graham (a guy who likes to hang out on median strips)

Read about the trail network from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: https://www.railstotrails.org/our…/trail-projects/baltimore/

More facts from BikeMore: https://www.bikemore.net/news/fact-check-the-greenways-trail-network-plan-is-awesome-support-it

Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift

Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift

After years of research, dozens of interviews, and months of planning, I’m excited to announce my latest New Public Sites walking tour: Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift. The general public is invited to explore invisible public spaces hidden in plain sight on this alternative walking tour of Baltimore’s most recognizable public space.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a celebrated success of waterfront redevelopment, but its spectacular looks disguise a contested past and challenging present. During the Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift tour, we uncover the real stories of how powerful people, visionary plans, and community movements are still transforming the former industrial wharf into a premiere public space for all. Through poetic interpretation and participatory activities, I show how secret loading docks, coded brick patterns, environmental engineering, and forgotten monuments all reveal Baltimore’s hidden truths.

More info at newpublicsites.org. Tickets for the walking tour are $15 each. Click here to purchase tickets!

New Public Docu of 2015

As the future of 2016 grows from burgeoning horizon, I wanted share a few updates on recent current projects. Last year proved exceptional for my public art mission to interpret, critique, activate and improve the public space of our everyday lives.

SiteLines Current Install - 01

SiteLines Exhibit

I had the great privilege of staging my first true solo show with ICA Baltimore at Current Space last spring. With the support of a Rubys Grant, my show SiteLines was the culmination of a series of radical walking tours I organized in 2014 seeking to understand overlooked public spaces in and around some of Baltimore’s highway foleys and pedestrian malls. It so happened that the show opened just as the Baltimore Uprising began to take shape in the streets.

150425SiteLine-CHN

SiteLines Tours

The day of the first major Freddie Gray march, I led 44 participants on my Crossing the Highway to Nowhere tour. As I talked about West Side struggles against top-down planning, a helicopter hovering over the nearby protest split off and followed us as we gathered at the edge of Route 40. After crossing the highway our group began to head back to the gallery, only to run directly into the Freddie Gray march. To join was urgently appropo. On that day a modest crowd of Radical Pedestrians merged with a much larger force of walking movement in our city.

Here is what a few others had to say: ArtFCity, Bret McCabeGBCALandscape Architecture Magazine, and BmoreArt.

151017 NPS-Rockville-walking-tour - 15

The Ragged Edge of Rockville

After SiteLines, I  was invited to develop a New Public Sites project exploring the invisible sites, contradictory features and historical spirits embedded in downtown Rockville for Come Back to Rockville, a two person show with Naoko Wowsugi at VisArts curated by Laura Roulet. Naming my project, “The Ragged Edge of Rockville”, I created a gallery installation, shot new videos and staged a series of tours in and around VisArts, the Rockville Library, the Beall Dawson House and a special gravesite. Along the way we learned that Rockville twice entirely razed its downtown. What’s since emerged is an uncanny image of pedestrian urbanism embedded with the beginnings of civic spaces while hiding parking garages for car-bound shoppers. Thankfully the various redevelopment schemes spared the town’s historic Catholic cemetery – final resting place for literary icons F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, Mark Jenkins at the Washington Post took a stroll through the gallery and wrote this review.

nps-mw-map-banner-preview

New Public Sites – McDaniel / Westminster

Immediately following my Rockville drift, I began work on another New Public Sites tour and installation, this time in collaboration with McDaniel College students and residents of Union Street in Westminster, Maryland. I was honored to have “New Public Sites – McDaniel / Westminster” commissioned by curator Izabel Galliera for her group show Alternative Cartographies. Through a new map, bulletin boards and Shards of Site, we investigated the overlooked yet meaningful public spaces between an idyllic hilltop and historic neighboring streets. New Public Sites are not just in big cities, but also among rural towns and suburbs alike. Rebecca Juliette from BmoreArt still made it up and posted this on the group show.

Infinite Thanks for all the support. Let’s keep on projecting thoughts from radical walks through 2016 and beyond. Check back for updates on my forthcoming tour shattering Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Spectacle, and other delightful spring walks.

Cheers,

Graham signature teal

 

 

 

PS: Many thanks also to Baltimore Clayworks and School 33 for the opportunities to lead wanders through Mount Washington and of Baltimore City’s amazing murals.

SiteLines Success

140927SiteLines-PPL-Trophy-Success

Thank you all for making September’s SiteLines walking tours an empowering success of public space activation! Among four tours will nearly 100 participants, we collectively explored the thrilling Urban Sublime of Baltimore’s ever shifting invisible public spaces. We Crossed the Highway to Nowhere, climbed to an impressive, if damp, Reservoir Chill, mindfully Wandered Old Town Mall and indeed made Power Plant truly ALIVE! Stay tuned for an announcement in early 2015 about the forthcoming SiteLines web series culminating in a solo show on the west side of downtown.

140927SiteLines-PPL-Urban-Sublime