This year's Seven Generations event has been more than a weekend event and has had a reach much wider than Roland Park.
The initiative officially continues until Friday, May 20 with the weekday effort aimed at decreasing automobile use by walking, biking, carpooling and riding public transportation instead. More neighborhood students are riding bikes to school this week and are joining groups of other students and parents in "walking buses" to nearby schools.
Momentum has definitely built since the first Seven Generations event last spring. With thousands of colorfully designed doorknob pamphlets, Roland Park also targeted households in nearby Homewood, Tuscany-Canterbury, Charles Village and Hampden. Area schools, colleges and universities joined the effort too.
In what Mike McQuestion, Roland Park Civic League sustainability co-chair, calls a "social phenomenon," 1,200 to 1,500 people attended two-day weekend events made possible by Baltimore City, the Roland Park Civic League, five business sponsors, six community leaders and about 100 volunteers.
The weekend activities began bright (or not so bright) and early Saturday morning. A steady drizzle did not stop crowds from turning out. When I arrived at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School for the annual native plant sale, eager buyers huddled around a large and well-grown selection. I spotted people I knew from several of the targeted communities,as well as from Homeland and Medfield.
Due to rain, exhibitors set up booths inside the school. These exhibitors educated, advocated and recruited residents for causes ranging from recycling, composting and alternative energy to watershed protection and organic foods. City College students read poetry. Local musicians jammed. Kids wrote poetry and played recycling games.
Across the street at the Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the films "Kilowatt Hours" and "Chemical Lawn" were shown.
At Bryn Mawr School, a Re-Use Yard sale was held to benefit the Habitat for Humanity Build a Block program.
When I stopped at the bank in the historic Roland Park Shopping Center, a large group gathered around Charlie Duff, an expert in Baltimore architecture and history. He lives in Bolton Hill, but he was leading a walking tour of the community for this year's Seven Generations weekend.
Also giving tours on Saturday were Blue Water, Friends School and Roland Park Country School.
Just before Saturday's event ended at 3 p.m., I popped over to Hawthorn Road to see an impressive rain garden that was installed last fall next to a private Roland Park residence.
On Sunday, southbound Roland Avenue was closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a third ciclovia. Because of spring school, sports and miscellaneous activities, the turnout did not beat last fall's 1,500 pedestrians, cyclists and skaters. Still, an estimated 1,000 came out to enjoy exercising and socializing in the middle of the normally busy thoroughfare. Having police officers patrolling on motorcycles brought not only safety but also a new attraction to young event-goers.
St. David's Church held a curbside cookout to raie money for its student outreach trip to Honduras. The new senior facility, Symphony Manor, offered free drinks and lemons with peppermint sticks at a tent near the library.
I'm with neighbor Beth Gantt, who hopes this Sunday-closing of one side of the street might continue more regularly.
And one of the best things I overhead Sunday was that the city is interested having ciclovias in other neighborhoods with wide boulevards, perhaps Fulton Avenue. This would be a great way to bring more recreational opportunities to urban neighborhoods along with further environmental education and action.
The Iroquois Indian maxim says, "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."
Kudos to Roland Park community leaders for their vision, determination and organization that can now benefit other Baltimore neighborhoods.