If you walked along the Inner Harbor yesterday you might have noticed couples posing for pictures in a big blue steel heart. Though bare of words today, very soon the Inner Harbor Project’s long-awaited Code of Respect (see below) will be etched into the heart sculptures.
Inner Harbor Project executive director Celia Neustadt explains, “The Code of Respect is a set of guidelines that aims to sustain a positive vibe, a sense of safety, and a feeling of trust between everyone in the Inner Harbor.”
The steel hearts, designed by Baltimore’s own Ashton Design, not only visually remind everyone who enjoys the waterfront that “Respect Starts in the Heart,” but codifies reasonable etiquette expectations that all Inner Harbor stakeholders crafted together. The effort’s ultimate goal is to lessen tensions, heighten trust, and build a stronger Baltimore community.
The Inner Harbor Project grew out of Celia Neustadt’s college Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project. Neustadt, a Baltimore City College graduate and then Pomona College student, was studying PAR – a research strategy that learns about community issues and their causes with the local community, rather than for the community. As fights, youth and police tensions, riots, and crime were plaguing the Inner Harbor, Neustadt had chosen an optimal YPAR study.
Now made up of 100 youth from many area schools, the Inner Harbor Project’s pioneer members were City College students. One of the first teens to join was Diamond Sampson, now a 19-year-old at Catonsville Community College and the nonprofit’s Youth Executive Leader. Diamond is also the lead manager of the Respect Starts in the Heart campaign which officially launches at the Maryland Science Center at 7 p.m. May 26, 2016.
Diamond Sampson explains, “For the past two years, my team has been conducting focus groups with stakeholders, businesses, tourists, private security, locals, youth, and police officers to get feedback and suggestions from the public on the current rules and possible improvements. Our hope when everyone sees the Code of Respect is to realize that with a little compassion, we can all get along and have a fun and safe experience.”
It’s also important to note the extensive list of partners that have worked together to make the Inner Harbor Project’s research, youth and police engagement training, Hood2Harbor Peace Ambassadors, the Harbor Card, and now the Code of Respect possible. The Code of Respect project partners are: Allied Barton Security Services, Ashton Design, Constellation, The Cordish Company, Downtown Partnership, Elemental Metalworks, Maryland Science Center, Maryland Transit Authority, Transdev, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, and Visit Baltimore.
The Code for Respect was added on 5/27/16 after the launch party: