A few weeks ago, The 6th Branch family was informed of some rather shocking news. The consequences could have been devastating to us all, like a fire starting to spread wildly, but this hasn’t been the case, and the forward progress remains steadfast. Rich Blake stated in a previous posting: “… what I do know is that our staff and volunteers are continuing to execute weekly Friday service projects” and I was inspired to write about just how true that statement is. I wanted to share how blessed I am to be a part of the family in the Oliver community.
As an avid volunteer and recent addition to the Advisory Board, I have tried to attend every Semper Friday since they started. While I cannot attend every Friday, I know that none of what we do in Oliver can be done by one man alone, nor will the progress be hindered by one man alone. With that said, the projects require upkeep like any other community area. The flowerbeds need weeding, the grass needs mowing, the tire swing’s rope needs replacing and graffiti that still pops up now and again needs scrubbing.
On July 19, I went to Bethel Street and as I arrived I saw Executive Director, Dave Landymore weed-whacking away with a community member hustling beside him, and our new intern, Dylan Miller was mowing grass. I was met by smiling, sweaty friends standing beneath one of the trees that provides ample shade. Instantly, I found myself in discussions about the next steps for Oliver, with particular attention to Bethel Street that very day. “We need shade” was the resounding message.
As warm as Baltimore can get, shade coverage is something we don’t seem to appreciate in this city. We often take it for granted and often do not realize just how many areas around Baltimore City lack this simple solace. However, here in Oliver and other communities it has become a growing matter of attention; today specifically, with the focus on creating shade coverage for the Bethel Street Playscape.
On this particular Semper Friday, MICA students, in coordination with T6B, Whole Foods of Mt. Washington, and the Neighborhood Design Center were working together to create a recycled, reproducible shade structure to be completed by September of this year (in plenty of time for our Cardboard Challenge on October 5!). This kind of creativity, dedication and commitment is always refreshing and exciting. Even on a 100+ degree day in Baltimore City, after recovering from shocking news, T6B volunteers are more committed than ever and are out working hard toward what they believe will provide the best outcome for the people of Oliver.
When you find something to believe in, something that makes you feel truly purposeful and gives you a sense of satisfaction, you don’t let that go easily. More significantly you don’t let the bumps in the road deter your forward progress. I think this is the truth of The 6th Branch as it stands today.