June 11, 2018 - Neighborhood Tour
On the final Friday of every month, Live Baltimore heads out of the office and into one of Baltimore's 278 neighborhoods. Each month, we love what we find! May was no different.
While many of our Final Friday tours begin with coffee and conversation, this time around team Live Baltimore was treated to a full breakfast with a large cast of neighbors. This welcoming party was indicative of how much Coldstream Homestead Montebello neighbors really care about their community.
Our breakfast host, Leanna Wetmore, has lived in her beautiful home since 2006 and was eager to share her enthusiasm with us.
"I love my neighbors," she said. "Our neighborhood is a good mix of people who have come here and stayed and a mix of old timers who are holding down the block... I just can't imagine living anywhere else."
Linda Lomax, who has lived in CHM since she was 19 years old, moved to the neighborhood to be closer to her grandfather.
"The house next door was for sale, so he called my mom," Lomax said.
And 27 years later, she still lives in the community and has become an active advocate for being a good neighbor.
"The thing I love is that we are neighbors who are building our neighborhood together," she said.
As we started our walking tour, it was clear to see how much care goes into keeping the neighborhood looking good.
"When grass is high at a vacant house, the neighbor will go cut the grass," Lomax said. "We have other neighbors who clean the block every day and don't ask for anything in return because they understand the value of a clean community. And we try to teach the kids here these values too...That's what makes this the place for me; it's the love for our community."
Our tour took us to see Clifton Park, which is an incredibly large park in the heart of the City and home to an 18-hole golf course. We also walked up Hillen Road toward Lake Montebello which is just a few blocks away. Almost every neighbor we heard from mentioned how access to these outdoor spaces are the most beloved amenities in their community.
Anthony Walters, who grew up in Anne Arundel County, spent his childhood playing outdoors, surrounded by nature. By age 15, his family moved to a community in South Baltimore where he had to walk through concrete neighborhoods to get to parks. He decided as an adult to move to a community where he could enjoy greenspace: CHM was the perfect place for that.
"Where I live at on 30th Street, I can walk outside and immediately see grass and trees," he said. "I walk my dog right on that greenspace and we are close to the lake and parks."
John Ciekot, who works at Civic Works inside the neighborhood's Clifton Mansion, said the ample amounts of greenery throughout the community helps children grow up in a healthy environment.
Civic Works is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen communities through education, skills development and community service. Ciekot and Civic Works has been involved in the CHM neighborhood for about 25 years.
"Nature is a necessary ingredient in growing up to be healthy," he said. "I think the CHM neighborhood definitely has a healthy share in that kind of development."
And having accessible schools in the area also feeds the community's desire to support their local children. Walters is reminded each day of the importance of investing in education and how his neighbors value it. He can see City College High School from the steps of his home. Just a few blocks away is the Monarch Academy, a public charter school serving students in K through eighth grades and a short distance from there is Morgan State University.
"This is the only neighborhood I know where your kid can go from kindergarten to college and walk to all of them," Walters said.
But most of all, the consensus of the neighbors is that their collective efforts are building momentum around their own community.
Shawn James lives on 32nd Street and moved to the neighborhood from the Catonsville area about 16 years ago. James is known for his beautiful artwork that can be found throughout the City on the sides of buildings, including several throughout CHM and nearby.
"Everywhere I look, I see opportunities to grow and thrive or be better," he said. "I see people who are going the extra mile to make a difference and it makes me happy to be part of this community."