In 2021, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT) was awarded a $50,000 Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery Grant to help adapt streets in service of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
Graham Projects was an integral part of the BCDOT Lake 2 Lake Project application alongside fellow community partners Bikemore and Black People Ride Bikes. The grant funded community engagement activities for traffic calming, mobile bike shop pop-ups, group bike rides, and the pavement art installation at 33rd Street and Hillen Road.
This project leveraged existing BCDOT plans for traffic calming at the main intersection gateway to Lake Montebello at 33rd Street and Hillen Road as well as maintenance and repairs to The Big Jump shared-use path leading to Druid Hill Park. Graham Projects provided project branding design, facilitated community engagement, and solicited community-based design inspiration through COVID-19-safe pop-up drawing events and via COLORoW, our custom online public art drawing tool. Based on the public conversations and drawings submitted by residents, Graham Projects developed design proposals that over 500 residents voted on in selecting the final work of traffic calming public art.
Community partner organizations, Bikemore and Black People Ride hosted a community event in November 2021 celebrating the project and unveiling the traffic calming plan by BCDOT and the community inspired pavement art design by Graham Projects named Rayobello. Local residents inspired the design by sharing their cherished experiences witnessing colorful sunrises and sunsets as seen from the lake.
Graham Projects is growing rapidly – and thanks to two new hires, we will be serving even more communities in making place happen.
Melvin Jadulang (he/him) is the Director of Operations and Engagement for Graham Projects. Melvin has worked in organizational management for advocacy groups and nonprofits, and has a background in real estate and entrepreneurship. Born and raised in Hawaii, Melvin relocated to Baltimore when his husband, Randall, got assigned to Fort Meade.
Zoe Roane-Hopkins (she/her) is an Associate Placemaker and Project Designer who works closely with Graham on design development and proposals. Zoe studied landscape architecture at Penn State, then received her MA in Industrial Design at the Savannah College of Art & Design.
We asked them a few questions about their personal mission, proudest achievements, their work at Graham Projects, and what placemaking/public art projects they’d love to work on.
What’s your guiding principle for everything you work on?
Melvin: Meet people where they are at and allow them to be heard. Make sure they know they are valued, and that happens when you follow through: let people know what’s going on with a project and how they can help.
Zoe: Be kind to people and be kind to the earth. I do very thoughtful design and I like to listen – listening to people, the planet, and translate it into something that’s colorful, dynamic and interesting. I like to shift perspective through all my designs.
What’s one of your proudest achievements?
Melvin: In 2019, I worked with my East Baltimore Midway neighborhood to convert four vacant lots into a community green space. The Boone Street Commons has different elements to engage the community: garden, park, and a picnic area/event space.
Zoe: Winning an award for my Space Frame design in the Design for Distancing competition last year. A friend told me to submit – I pulled my design together in two days and submitted right at the deadline. After my design was posted on Instagram, local landscape architecture firm EnviroCollab reached out to me about installing the Space Frame at a BelAir-Edison neighborhood event.
What will you be doing with Graham Projects?
Zoe: I split my time between EnviroCollab and Graham Projects, so every day is a little different. I recently submitted a design proposal for pavement art, and at our Pigtown pop-up event, I connected with community members on traffic calming and bumpout pavement art. I created coloring pages for people to use to give us their ideas. The community was enthusiastic – I liked talking with them and listening to their ideas.
Melvin: As the director of operations and engagement, I facilitate the processes, whether it’s with the community that’s invited us, or the actual project from start to finish. Part of my role involves keeping us true to the Graham Projects philosophy of making place happen and making sure the community is represented in the work we’re doing with them.
What are some of your dream projects? Is there a concept that you’d love to execute in collaboration with Graham Projects?
Melvin: I want to create opportunities so that a neighborhood can experience high quality placemaking and public art on any budget. We’re shifting the narrative to say that placemaking & public art can exist anywhere, and that means making it accessible for all. I’m also interested in developing a kit or service for neighborhoods that encourages and supports engagement in the placemaking process.
Zoe: I’d love to do a cross collaboration between EnviroCollab and Graham Projects that pulls together street art and landscaping architecture components.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Zoe: I play ukulele, guitar, and piano – I like to write songs & make animations to accompany them. I’m trying to learn the banjo, too. I also enjoy hiking and camping, and once the weather cools down I’ll go backpacking with my boyfriend. I really like to cook and currently I’m working through recipes in a dim sum cookbook I got for Christmas.
Melvin: I like taking bike rides through Baltimore. Finding cool new restaurants and cafes and visiting breweries & pubs are also fun. I like building furniture, like a bench or table. And of course gardening!
If you would like to collaborate with Graham Projects on improving a public space in your neighborhood, connect with us here!
While we may be under an extended stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Graham Projects is keeping busy with public art in the service of people and places. Springtime is usually when we are deep in community engagement and designing projects for installation in the summer and fall. Like many organizations, we’ve had to carefully retool our work while practicing social distancing.
In lieu of public meetings we’ve been working the phones, online hangouts, video chats, and zooms. COVID won’t stop our creative action, so today we are proud to announce our new online placemaking toolkit, Make Place Happen. Use the resources at Make Place Happen for “Do-it-Yourself Urbanism” and/or participating with our current placemaking projects!
Our new DIY Urbanism website was co-designed and built by the amazing artist-designers Tobey Albright and Mollie Edgar of Hour Studio. They took our ideas and colors, skillfully designed the website and brand, and helped us realize the most exciting part of Make Place Happen: the COLORoW online public art design tool. COLORoW is short for “COLOring the Right of Way”. It is a coloring book-like web app for drawing your own artistic crosswalk or pavement mural.
Residents are invited to use COLORoW to share their ideas with us for specific projects in their neighborhood. Participants can draw what they would like to see in their public space, download the drawing, and then share it with us along with text and other visual inspiration via an embedded upload form.
Using everyone’s drawings as inspiration we will develop our always exciting array of design options. Like with our face-to-face workshops, but online, Graham Projects will then shareback the community-based artwork for resident feedback and selection.
Check out the new Make Place Happen website, and stay tuned for added features to come; including a store for creative street stencils, a guide for making pavement art, and a local “how to” for kid-friendly play streets.
I’m honored and humbled to announce that I have been awarded a 2018 Open Society Institute (OSI) Baltimore Community Fellowship providing me with eighteen months of funding and organizing support as I collaborate with residents on reconnecting our West Baltimore neighborhoods with Druid Hill Park. Through the Druid Hill Complete Streets project I will be working with my neighbors to ensure that a forthcoming Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) planning effort is as reflective of community voices as possible as we seek to convert the dangerous barrier highways around Druid Hill Park into complete streets safe and accessible for all – especially the approximately 50% of area residents who do not drive. Complete Streets are streets designed and operated to be safe and accessible for all, including pedestrians, transit users, wheelchair riders, and people who rely on bicycles. During the fellowship I will be working with local youth to create traffic calming public art to slow down cars and improve pedestrian safety. Potential ideas include mural-filled crosswalks, artistic planters protecting pedestrians, and creative signs reminding motorists where pedestrians have the right-of-way.
West Baltimore’s historic work class neighborhoods of color have systematically been denied safe access to Druid Hill Park due to dangerous six-to-nine-lane-wide highways constructed over community opposition between the 1940s and the 1960s. Click here to read my story about the history behind the highways cutting off the neighborhoods of Mondawmin, Penn North, and Reservoir Hill from Druid Hill Park. The formerly two-lane, park-front streets of Auchentoroly Terrace and Druid Park Lake Drive were widened into high-speed highways primarily serving suburban commuters at the expense of park access for local residents.
Structurally racist urban planning decisions to build highways around Druid Hill Park make it difficult for the residents to enjoy the park’s public health benefits, including exercise, healthy food, and clean air. The Baltimore City Health Department’s 2017 Neighborhood Health Profiles show that the majority working class, African American communities around the park have some of the city’s highest mortality rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Click here for the Penn North / Reservoir Hill and Greater Mondawmin health reports. Census data also shows that approximately half of residents in the immediate area code of 21217 do not drive. As pedestrians, transit users, wheelchair riders, and people who rely on bicycles, our residents deserve priority access to the park.
Since moving to Auchentoroly Terrace in 2013 I’ve listened to my neighbors talk about and experienced firsthand the need for more crosswalks, narrower roadways, less vehicular traffic, and slower speeds. With no playground in our neighborhood, I all too often witness small children on foot and bike darting across eight lanes of high speed traffic to reach the safe green spaces and play areas of Druid Hill Park. I also see how my retired, car-free neighbors are unable to reach the Druid Hill Farmers Market due to a lack of safe, convenient crosswalks. Most at risk are wheelchair riders who along sections of the park are blocked by non-ADA pathways.
In response to community transportation needs, 7th District Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III convened the Druid Hill Park Stakeholders group in early 2017. The group includes representatives from Mondawmin, Auchentoroly Terrace, and Reservoir Hill; Baltimore City agencies including the Departments of Transportation, Public Works, and Recreation and Parks; as well as non-profits including Bikemore, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and Parks & People. We are also reaching out to more local leaders and organizations to bring into the planning and advocacy effort. Thanks to the councilman’s leadership, in February 2018 Baltimore City DOT agreed to conduct a major transportation study to address our community’s concerns. This study will build on two ongoing local initiatives, the Big Jump Baltimore and the Baltimore Greenway Trail Network northwest trail planning effort. As an OSI Community Fellow, I will work full-time with my neighbors to shape this forthcoming transportation plan for rebuilding the dangerous barrier-highways of Druid Park Lake Drive and Auchentoroly Terrace as accessible boulevards that safely connect our most vulnerable residents with Druid Hill Park.
The Druid Hill Complete Streets initiative will support community education, creative urban planning, and traffic calming through public art. We will organize community-led walking tours in which youth, seniors, wheelchair riders, elected officials, and city planners learn from one another while seeking common ground for enacting equitable park access. We will also creatively engage residents in the ongoing DOT planning process through a new website, social media campaign, and activities at places like the Druid Hill Farmers Market to get input from residents who may not be able to make traditional public meetings. Lastly, we will collaborate with youth to create traffic calming public art around Druid Hill Park based on community design workshops in which residents will identify sites for enhancing pedestrian safety and reconnecting with the park. These low-cost interventions will have an immediate positive impact on park connectivity and public health while enabling residents and the public at large to envision the possibilities for complete streets.
The schedule of events and public art production will be determined by the yet-to-be-confirmed DOT study timeline. The Druid Hill Complete Streets project will bring together diverse neighborhood groups to shape the upcoming improvements around the park, empowering communities to claim our public spaces through creative city planning and public art interventions.
All tours are free and open to the public, but spots are limited so be sure to register. The Fall 2018 New Public Sites tours are made possible with support from Arlington Arts and Free Fall Baltimore.
Free Fall Baltimore is presented by BGE, and is a program of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
As one of the most diverse corridors in the country, Arlington, Virginia’s Columbia Pike in many ways represents the future of American culture and urbanism. On Wandering the West Pike walking tour participants will learn about how residents new and old are adapting suburban public spaces along Columbia Pike to meet their urban needs. Join us to explore and reimagine the public spaces of Columbia Pike’s West End. Learn about transportation improvements currently under construction. Imagine future public art projects taking place along the Pike, including “The Pike” by Donald Lipski. Learn more…
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a celebrated success of waterfront redevelopment, but its spectacular looks disguise a contested past and challenging present. Join us on Inner Harbor Baltimore Drift to discover 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. Learn more…
As a major thoroughfare in Baltimore’s premier arts district, North Avenue in seeing increasing arts, entertainment, and education development. The Station North Avenue tour explores the history of North Avenue as a transportation and cultural corridor, and the ongoing impact of creative placemaking in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Learn more…
Druid Hill Reservoir Interchange will explore the overlapping embankments and sidewalks to nowhere between the Jones Falls Expressway and the Druid Hill Park Reservoir. The tour will focus on the history of the the park and surrounding highways, and details about the current reservoir construction project. Along the way, we will also share about the community movement afoot supporting pedestrian safety improvements around the park. Learn more…
Its July in Baltimore, which means its time for the nation’s largest free art festival – Artscape! Building off of the outrageous success of last year’s Dancing Forest of inflatable trees, I’m now teaming up with with fellow Baltimore public artist Becky Borlan on Choose Your Own Adventure!Choose your own Adventure will transform the Charles Street Bridge at Penn Station into a colorful playscape of pedestrian pathways and hanging beach balls. Spray chalk lines will mark a site-based map converging under a forest of beach balls hanging from an open air structure.
Choose your own Adventure takes inspiration from the natural paths taken by street-crossing pedestrians, the Jones Falls and train tracks below, and the joyful experiences of summer-inspired toys. The kinetic environment will feature hundreds of colorful, translucent beach balls and multiple lounging options for festival goers to find respite from the summer sun. Participants who choose to explore will discover curious signs offering choices for adventures beyond. Through tactical urbanism and creative design, the installation will preview possibilities for completely transforming the Charles Street Bridge into an immersive pedestrian environment and playful visionary experience.
As we close out 2017 I’m thankful for the numerous neighbors, leaders, artists, and organizations I have had the honor of working with to Make Place Happen in Baltimore and beyond. From championing pedestrian accessibility around Druid Hill Park, to exploring the robust and emerging civic spaces and public art of Arlington County, to colorfully reconfiguring concrete paving for playful action, place is truly what we made of it. Public space is not just constructed out of tactile materials like pavement, landscaping, and benches, but also the intangible – knowledge, organizing, and programming. Through New Public Sites walking tours we poetically re-experienced everyday public spaces while learning from community leaders and civil servants how to affect change at the block level. Artscape showed that streets and bridges don’t have to be just for cars, but can also be spaces for ecstatic pedestrian interactions. Workshops like the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Visioning Home created spaces for inclusively mapping out creative futures for the city. I am inspired by my collaborators who believe that we can expand such temporary zones of autonomy into lasting places of accessibility, well-being, joy, and freedom.
Since going full-time for Graham Projects I’ve had the honor of investigating, activating, and improving numerous public places in Baltimore and beyond. 2016 was a great year for making place happen with inspiring people. I am thankful.
At the invitation of the Waterfront Partnership, Melvin Thomas and I made a 103’ long Harbor Hopscotch.
My New Public Sites – Five Points Denver walking tours and immersive map installation went gangbusters at RedLine’s 48 Hours of Socially Engaged Art Summit. Along the way, I was honored to share the megaphone and learn from half a dozen local speakers.
With support from BikeMore and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, my home street Auchentoroly Terrace got a temporary Footprints Crosswalk to help pedestrians better connect with the Druid Hill Park Farmers Market.
Working with an inspiring network of cultural organizers across Baltimore, I helped lead Citizen Artist Baltimore get-out-the-vote vote efforts. Bigly surprises aside, we informed local candidates of the values of our city’s diverse arts and cultural communities and educated voters on the importance of local races and ballot initiatives.
I was honored to be invited by Baltimore Heritage to join their board of historic and cultural preservation advocates. I’m excited to be working with them on saving Baltimore’s most meaningful places.
The Public Art for Central Avenue Streetscapeproject continues. Falon Mihalic and I are busy closing in on our final design for a 25’ tall, pedestrian-empowering Periscope. Stay tuned for the full announcement and renderings…
All are invited to jump the Harbor Hopscotch from now through the end of summer! Harbor Hopscotch is a 103’ long, colorful hopscotch court playfully activating a ramp entrance to West Shore Park at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The temporary installation of teal, electric blue, and fuchsia colored spray chalk was commissioned by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore to bring more people into the south end of this prominent public space. Pedestrians strolling on the Inner Harbor Promenade are met with a large project ground graphic inviting them to hop up the ramp leading into West Shore Park. The graphic also encourages participants to share pictures of each other jumping using the hashtag #HarborHopscotch and @waterfrontpartnership.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Arcade Parade on Saturday, October 15th. Together the F-POPS team, Hungry March Band, and over one hundred people festively wandered through Midtown’s largest network of privately owned public spaces. Under LeWitt stripes waving, the Arcade Parade fomented the Social Life of these Small Urban Spaces through festive music, critical observation, site specific play and interventionist sound. Through blocks played and plazas performed, Holly Whyte Way is cemented as path and place.
More pictures and info about Friends of Privately Owned Public Space at f-pops.org.
Special thanks to the 27 backers on kickstarter and the many other volunteers and supporters who helped make the Arcade Parade possible.
Organizers: Brian Nesin, David Gryder, Graham Coreil-Allen, Christina Kelly, Elena Volkova. Performers: The Hungry March Band, the children on scooters, Simone and Claire Ghetti