All You Need is Love

September 29th, 2010

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— Erica @ 11:27 am

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Baltimore, Maryland, endearingly referred to as Charm City. A city name that evokes visuals of crab feasts, beehive hairstyles, Edgar Allen Poe, Hairspray, and indecipherable vernacular. Those, of course, are the positive associations, the terms of endearment—the elements that make Baltimore, according to its benches, “The Greatest City in America.” But quickly one’s mind will move from these positive associations to more negative associations. With the advent of the popular T.V. show The Wire, a popular drama chronicling the lives of Baltimore drug dealers through the eyes of police officers and drug dealers alike, many people often associate Baltimore with violent crime and drug-related violence, overlooking the city’s quirky and thriving artistic community, ultimately letting the city’s history of violence cast a shadow over its potential for improvement.But not all have lost their faith in Baltimore. Many residents of good old B’more are as attached to the city as old bay seasoning is to its crabs. Of these hopefuls, one local artist, muralist Michael Owen, has decided to launch the Baltimore Love Project, a city-wide art initiative aimed at “expressing love by connecting people and communities across Baltimore City through love themed murals.”

The murals all share the same basic design- a graphic of four hands spelling out the word love (click on murals to check out some pictures). This image will be painted on twenty walls spread evenly throughout Baltimore city, spreading the love to all inner-city neighborhoods, inspiring residents to act on feelings of love, rather than aggression.

I was thrilled to hear about this project (ironically, I learned of its existence just one week before I graduated college and moved to California), but seven days of Baltimore love are better than none at all. The message of love, in a community often torn apart by rivalries and gangs, has the potential to become either preachy and cliche or raw and powerful. But from its completely singular slang and accent to its quirky characters and traditions (take for example, Honfest), Baltimore has never fallen victim to the cliche or predictable. I can only hope that the Baltimore Love Project will follow the city’s unique legacy and show Bawlmer as it is: gritty, striking, and completely lovable in its imperfections.

Sam Scheidt, a local photographer commissioned to take photos of models wearing the Baltimore Love Project’s t-shirts, summed up the sentiments of the project nicely: “I think it’s a pleasant thing to be riding around Baltimore and coming across a consistent visual cue, a reminder, if you will to be more kind, to love. For me, the exciting thing about it is its consistency because the same mural will be painted regardless of neighborhood being rich or poor. Just love.”

To learn more about the project or see how you can contribute, please click here

Erica Hellerstein is a new editorial intern at New Village Press in Oakland, California. She recently graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied creative writing and romance languages. As one may have gathered from her major, she is a writer herself, and is an enthusiast of fiction writing in all of its forms. She has written for a variety of blogs, online journals, and newspapers, and has been an active member of the editing world since 2008, where she interned at Ulysses Press, a Bay Area based publishing company. Erica is an avid traveler, and is currently working on a lighthearted compilation of her travels throughout South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

She spent her junior year in college studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the city that never sleeps (south of the border). While in Argentina, she became involved with teaching creative writing at a children’s shelter in a shantytown outside of the city. She witnessed the power of creativity, education, literacy, and the magnitude of teaching creative pursuits. She decided to pursue a potential career in this path and since then has taught creative writing workshops in middle schools throughout Baltimore, and is currently interning for 826 Valencia, a creative writing center in San Francisco founded by the Bay Area based author, Dave Eggers. She wrote a series of articles musing upon the differences between teaching creative writing in inner-city Baltimore and rural Argentina that were in the Johns Hopkins Public Health Journal, Epidemic Proportions. She believes that many children are hidden geniuses, often without the resources and means to nurture their creative talents. She hopes to devote a sizable portion of her life to fostering genius, creativity, and literacy arts with children around the world.

And finally, for some final shameless self-promotion: Erica is always looking to freelance, so if you are interested in featuring her writing, feel free to contact her at

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One Response to “All You Need is Love”

  1. What a beautiful writer! Lovely to read..

    Comment by Alana — October 20, 2010 @ 11:31 am


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