So you live in Bolton Hill. How often do you venture west of Eutaw Place? Maybe you go to the post office every so often. You might not think that there’s much else to draw you to Pennsylvania Ave.
You’ll have a great reason to head there on Saturday, April 16 from 1–4 pm, when the No Boundaries Coalition and Jubilee Arts are hosting the annual Boundary Block Party at the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Presstman St.
In 2008, the first block party was held on the Eutaw St. median, the unofficial but generally accepted boundary separating Bolton Hill from Madison Park and Marble Hill. From the start, the block party set out to encourage more open involvement between the whole 21217 community.
Over the years, it has grown bigger and moved just a few blocks west to the Upton Triangle at the boundary of the Upton, Druid Heights, and Sandtown-Winchester neighborhoods.
And the fun has grown too, with music to dance to, grilled food to eat, fresh produce to purchase, and face painting and sidewalk chalking for the kids. The premise is simple: provide a fun-filled opportunity to mingle with neighbors on all sides of the boundaries that often keep us apart.
This year, Bolton Hill’s Social Action Task Force will host the second Party with a Purpose—a Stoop Party at 1529 Bolton St. starting at 11:30 am on April 16, the day of the Boundary Block Party. Around 1 pm, everyone at the Stoop Party will proceed en masse to the Block Party. Plan to make a day of parties—celebrating our neighborhoods and neighbors.
At the Block Party, will you socialize with residents across Central West Baltimore like you’ve known each other for years? No. Will you make a new friend who lives a few blocks west of you? No, you probably won’t.
Most likely you’ll hang with those you know from Bolton Hill. But maybe you’ll strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know while waiting in line for a hamburger. Maybe your kids will work on a sidewalk chalk landscape with kids they wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for the Block Party.
You might learn about the superb work that Jubilee Arts does with youth and the arts. Or that the Avenue Bakery, about a block north of the Boundary Block Party site, pays delicious homage to Pennsylvania Avenue’s rich jazz legacy and heritage from the Civil Rights Movement. Or that there’s an indoor roller skating rink and bowling alley at the Shake and Bake, farther south on Pennsylvania Avenue.
You might even feel compelled to attend a No Boundaries Coalition meeting across the street at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church on the second Tuesday of the month, giving you another reason to return to Pennsylvania Ave.
Creating space for people who ordinarily don’t interact won’t magically make us friends. The promise of the Boundary Block Party is in the introduction it offers neighbors who’ve only known each other as strangers. It provides opportunities for social exchanges that could start to mend the social fabric stretched threadbare, over the decades, across Baltimore’s neighborhoods.