Patterson Park neighbors turn alley into artwork

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 24, 2016

It might be the last place you think to have a party, but after a group of residents in Patterson Park decided to turn their alley into a work of art it's now become the meeting place for neighbors.

“We wanted to do something that would bring people out into the alley, turn the alley from a neglected, kind of scary space, into a public space where we could socialize and enjoy,” said Robbyn Lewis, a community leader in the Patterson Park neighborhood.

Lewis knew about the Healthy Harbor alley makeovers where neighbor’s clean-up the back walkways, and add designs, but this group wanted to go further.

“As we started talking about what we wanted, our aspirations, we realized that we wanted to go big. We really wanted to go big,” Lewis said.

Last Saturday, after a year of planning, a large group met in the alley of North Potomac Street to sweep, pressure wash, then paint.

“It brought out almost 80 people. Eighty neighbors came out – children, adults, old folks, new neighbors, everyone took part and we did something amazing together in a space that people don't typically think about as a destination,” Lewis said.

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They transformed the alley into something not only visually appealing, but also a reminder that what's discarded in the street could end up in the Baltimore Harbor.

“Ultimately this design represents what runs underneath our neighborhood and that's the Harris Creek,” Lewis said.

“People forget they can have a direct impact on the quality of the water and what ends up in the harbor. So, all of our storm drains drain directly into the Baltimore Harbor with no filter,” said Leanna Wetmore, Community Coordinator for the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

Which is why they're asking that everyone do their part to help clean it up, whether that's an alley makeover or the beginning of a conversation.

“It really starts with just getting to know your neighbors, sharing a vision, identifying some of the problems, and really working with the city in partnership to come up with solutions,” Wetmore said.

And Lewis is hoping their most recent project will have a ripple effect throughout the community.

“Look at your alleys as an opportunity for community building, for beautification, for connection, for hope,” said Lewis.

Healthy Harbor Initiative funded the alley makeover. Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, MECU, Devon Creek Foundation and Patterson Park Audubon also contributed to the project.

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