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Berlin’s Community Development Week recruiting kids 5-17

(Oct. 15, 2015) What does community mean to you?
That’s the question the Town of Berlin will be asking during “Community Development Week,” a statewide initiative organized by the Community Development Network (CDN) of Maryland.
While many other towns are holding information sessions based on financial opportunities tied to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Berlin Economic and Development Director Ivy Wells said she chose to focus on a slightly younger demographic.
During the week of Oct. 19-28, Berlin will invite children 5-17 to submit drawings for a children’s public art project called “What is Community?”
Wells, a fan of public art, used similar initiatives while working in the same capacity in Sykesville. During an art and wine festival in her former town, for instance, she used an old high school chalkboard in a campaign called, “Before I Die, I’d Like to…”
“It was kind of a thought-provoking question and toward the end of the day, during the art festival, you couldn’t even find space to write and everybody gathered around to see what everyone else wrote,” she said. “It was well received and the public really enjoyed it.
“I’m a huge proponent for public art and I’m hoping to bring what I started in Sykesville now to Berlin,” Wells added.
Submissions can be drawings, short definitions, or even essays, according to Wells.
“For the younger kids, I’m looking for drawings,” she said. “You never know what a child is thinking until you see them draw a picture of it. So many different kids have different views of life and, hopefully, it will be interesting to see the different takes of what kids think community really is.
“Some people may think community is family, some people may think community is their neighbors, or maybe the playground,” Wells continued. “Each person has his or her own definition.”
Each entry will qualify children for a chance to win a prize donated by Berlin shop World of Toys. First place in two age categories, 6-10 and 11-17, will each win a toy.
Entries must be dropped off at the Visitor’s Center, on 14 South Main Street, by 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Entries will be displayed Oct. 19-28.
Wells will also use the occasion to feature several downtown businesses that have taken advantage of DHCD façade grants.
“I have flyers here with before-and-after pictures, so people can see all the great things that Community Legacy Grant funding offers through DHCD, which is heavily involved with the Community Development Network,” she said.
The flyers will be put in the windows of businesses that used the grants, along with art from the “What is Community?” project. The Visitor’s Center will also display winning work.
Following the contest, Wells said the town would turn the entries into a permanent notebook-style display at the Visitor’s Center.
“I want people to feel curious. I want people to think and to learn. That’s the goal of this campaign,” Wells said. “Hopefully, in doing this, these kids can think of ways to volunteer and to make our community better.”
For more information, contact Wells at or 410-629-1722, or Odette Ramos, Executive Director of CDN, at 443-801-8137