Setbacks Are Gravel For The Road Ahead

Hey! What’s new in Baltimore?
I don’t know!
Hey! What’s new in Baltimore?
Better go back and find out.
What’s new in Baltimore?
What’s new in Baltimore?
What’s new in Baltimore?

-Frank Zappa

ICY Signs had the great honor to start Love Letter to Baltimore on the East Side, where Baltimore starts. It’s an amazing neighborhood, where the people are stronger than the buildings. We were given one wall to paint on Milton Street that faced the Amtrak line, and that was daunting enough, but we asked for the opportunity the paint the adjoining 36 houses on the block. Baltimore Housing swiftly granted us permission and I started talking to the neighbors while Mike and Dan started priming the buildings.

Everybody I approached with a hello said hello back and gave thoughtful responses to my questions, “What do you love about Baltimore? What do you hate about Baltimore?” The greatest loves are community, diversity, The Ravens, and crabs. The greatest hates are Lack Of Unity, Violence and Crime. And really a lot of people were reluctant to speak on the hates, they just thought the city needed more unity. So that is where FOREVER TOGETHER comes in. For all the danger that exists in the area, the youth were all free to run the neighborhood, safe under the watchful eyes of the community. If I left my son at the local playground in the West Village of Manhattan for 10 minutes, I’d be scolded by my wife. Here on Eager Street, is a whole movement of kids that ride bikes, (yell “PULL IT UP” and they all pull wheelies) walk the streets, and really HANG OUT and watch life happen. I talked to a house full of youths that live directly across from the houses we painted, aged 7-16, and I asked them what it should say and the older ones spoke for everybody, in unison, “OUT THE MUD!” I said “Like you’re not stuck anymore?” “YEAH.” Wow, O.K. that’s really tough, but a little short haha!  To me it’s clear that parents are trusting the youth to overcome any situations they meet in the street, and these youth have repaid that trust with the type of positive mental attitude that can tear down vacant buildings and build a park to relax in.

Forever Together is for the youth of Eager Street, especially 6 youths murdered in the house with the T that starts Together, and especially for the youth that had to grow on in the shadow that lunacy cast on the block. But it’s also for the youth of Montford Street, of Milton Street and Ashland Avenue. We painted it as a prayer that they maintain the love and friendship they now enjoy, always and all days. The words will come down brick by brick before school starts again, but the meaning is already written on their hearts, “I AM HERE BECAUSE ITS HOME”.

Check the links for the great coverage of the project from The Baltimore Sun, CBS 13, Baltimore Magazine, an awesome drone camera video shot by Michael Northrup, a ton of photos on our site and as nice as all that is, the highest praise we received was from Baltimore-raised Susan Hambleton “Steve has done something stunning and full of honor and remembrance. I’m very touched.”  Service is our only product.