Three big, blue, steel hearts appeared around the Inner Harbor Tuesday, and they’ll get some finishing touches Friday.
The sculptures—all hearts, all the same shade of blue—are in place near the Science Center, the aquarium and one, the largest, stands in the middle of the harbor’s promenade. Soon, they’ll all include The Code of Respect, an initiative long in the works, from the Inner Harbor Project.
“The Code of Respect is a series of six guidelines created by youth leaders at the Inner Harbor Project to lessen tension, heighten trust and build a stronger community at the Inner Harbor,” Executive Director of the Inner Harbor Project, Celia Neustadt said.
The code will be unveiled at an event Thursday and vinyl wording will be added to the sculptures tomorrow. According to Diamond Sampson, the youth executive leader of the Inner Harbor Project, it’s been a long time coming.
“We spent two years just doing focus groups with the community, with the public, teens, officers, private security, even tourists if we could grab them to come in,” Sampson said.
The group got a lot of feedback from their surveys, and, Sampson says, people kept repeating the idea of “respect.” The Inner Harbor Project was was able to boil the data down to the six guidelines.
“I just want people to reflect on the space and the community and just to remember to have compassion for one another and that we can really install respect and build a stronger community, starting with the center of our city,” Sampson said.
While all the sculptures will show the Code of Respect on them, they’re not all identical. Two of the sculptures resemble pillars, with heart-shaped windows that allow for a vantage point over the harbor or into the city.
The largest sculpture, the one in the middle of the promenade, is a hollow heart that’s large enough for people to climb on and take pictures with.
“We want people to take pictures and make videos all throughout the heart,” Sampson said. “Just to have a very interactive piece so people can actually feel connected to our message.”
That message? Respect starts in the heart.
“Just saying like a simple help to someone can go a long way to open up doors and bridges to build a strong relationship that we kind of need within the city,” Sampson said.
The Inner Harbor Project started four years ago this month and employs 40 youth leaders. It’s a youth-led organization dedicated to increasing feelings of community at the Inner Harbor.
“The Inner Harbor is really the heart of our city, and this effort has been created by young people who really wanted to build a sense of understanding with people who are like each other, and also not like each other, in the Inner Harbor,” says Neustadt.
And, although the sculptures are new, they’ve already started to catch the attention of some Baltimore locals.
Carmen Cabeza posed for a photo with John Chalmers.
“Because we in love, and when I saw the heart, I was like, ‘we neeed a picture in there, right by the heart,’” Cabezas said.
Sophie Fortunato of Mount Vernon, said the heart was a “nice addition” to the harbor.
“Especially now with everything that’s been going on, that sounds like a nice symbol,” she said.
The Inner Harbor Project is using the hashtag #StartsInTheHeart for their campaign and to get visitors to share pictures with the heart sculptures. Follow them on Twitter at @InnerHarborProj.