News / USA

'Porch Art' Brings Baltimore Neighborhood Together

The meetings have the founder’s porch to a sidewalk near her Baltimore home - where the children explore a new art form every week
The meetings have the founder’s porch to a sidewalk near her Baltimore home - where the children explore a new art form every week

Multimedia

Four years ago, Beth Barbush, an artist and community activist in Baltimore, Maryland, started gathering neighborhood children on her porch to do arts and crafts projects. The occasional meetings soon turned into a weekly get-together called “Porch Art”.  Today the program is one of the largest and longest-running art programs in Remington - one of Baltimore’s historic but crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Porch Art started in the summer of 2007, with just a few art supplies from Beth Barbush’s basement … several children bored with summer vacation …  and a lot of enthusiasm.

“I started by doing it one night a week, an hour-and-a-half a week, just hanging out with kids and it really benefited me because I got to know the people here and I think it benefited them because it gave the kids something to do,” Barbush said.

The meetings soon moved from Beth’s porch to the sidewalk near her Baltimore home - where the children explore a new art form every week.  This day’s project is print calligraphy - but they have also dabbled in painting, sculpture and drawing.  Anyone who does not feel “artsy” can do sidewalk chalk or play with a hula hoop.

“Every week we do something cool and interesting that I want to do," said middle school student Toha Mohamed. "We do arts and crafts; we put things together, glue stuff so that’s why I want to come.”

The art projects are taught by various guest artists and local volunteers. Among them, many parents who join soon after their children do.  Catherine Bear is the mother of a Porch Art child and says the program is about community building and trust.

“My child gets to do something one day out of the week, something that she wouldn’t do any other day and she gets to spend time with other kids and do art," she said.

Today’s meeting is also the kick-off of a music tour.  Local musicians volunteer to play instruments while the children do their art projects.  Jason Reed says the program makes a difference in the neighborhood.

“Having a bunch of houses crammed together, close doesn’t make a community and its things like this that do," he said. "I am not going to say this reduces crime and saves life but none of these people would steal from each other, none of these people would hurt each other, so there is a sense of caring and responsibility and that can’t be underestimated.”

The program is run without any outside financial support; most of the art supplies are donated or bought by local volunteers.

“Anyone can do this. You can do it with whatever skills you have," Beth Barbush. "If you want to do it with music, cooking, if you want to do it with theater or art or gardening. I think it’s an example for others that anyone can start a program like this."

Beth Barbush says “Porch Art” changed her whole life in Baltimore. This is the first time she has known all her neighbors by name and the only time she has truly felt part of a community.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs