We are in this together, Baltimore. Nothing more depicts Baltimore’s strong will to transform itself into a better place and the refreshing sight of sectors coming together like the project that happened in the Franklin Square Community on August 22nd.
A team of Baltimore based community groups including Parks and People Foundation, Bon Secours, Celebration Church, and many others has banded together to transform an open space located in the Franklin Square Community at 1824 W. Saratoga Street. The goal was to transform an open lot where once stood abandoned row homes; a neighborhood dumping ground into a community gathering place, a place for healing, a place for play. Collectively, multiple neighborhood leaders and activists saw a vision for a place that would welcome nearby residents, encourage gardening, build stronger neighborhood bonds, and give children a much-needed place to play.
Play 4 ALL, a division of Cunningham Recreation, has an initiative called Healing Communities Through Play™ in which a GameTime playground donated by family-owned, 3rd generation Cunningham Recreation is provided. Both law enforcement and residents are invited to build it together since both groups share a common goal to create safer neighborhoods.
The work accomplished through the Healing Communities Through Play™ initiative addresses the need to rebuild trust and bring the community together. Engaging sectors that have a strained relationship and asking them to work together on a playground project does more than provide a longstanding structure. The community build day opens opportunities for people ranging from police officers, city leadership, residents and youth to make connections on a more equal, human level. A positive connection that hopefully will foster greater dialog and develop a deeper sense of understanding during future interactions. Humanizing is a step towards harmonizing communities, deterring violence and generating greater respect for one another.
The Kirby Lane Park playground, gardens, and community space will serve as the capstone of an endeavor that has been a labor of love, driven by the will to fulfill a community’s potential. More importantly, the playground is an instrument that demonstrates how multiple groups can work together for the greater good.