What is it like to enforce parking in Annapolis?

For: Chesapeake Inspired Magazine

June 30, 2014

If you think you can trick Cindy Gaines, I have some disappointing news for you: You can’t.

Gaines is a PEO (that’s Parking Enforcement Officer) in downtown Annapolis. She spends about 10 hours a day walking her assigned district, eyes peeled for vehicular ne’er-do-wells. She knows all. She sees all.

Why am I telling you about Cindy Gaines? Warm weather is here, which means it’s time to head downtown for ice cream and people watching. It also means figuring out how to avoid the dreaded parking ticket.

But what about the person whose job it is to write that ticket? We wanted to find out what it’s like to help make sure visitors and residents alike have ample parking while in and around the state’s capital. Those much-maligned and underrated heroes: the city’s Parking Enforcement Officials.

We asked, and Gaines agreed to let me walk with her as she did her rounds near St. John’s College one sunny Wednesday afternoon.
My first question: Why does she do it?

“I think of myself as a public servant,” Gaines says. “The people that I serve are the people in this community who pay to live here, pay for the [resident parking] stickers, and a lot of times they can’t find a place to park.”

Read more here.


Candidates Agree: Community Connections a Priority

For: The Afro American

July 16, 2014

Former prosecutor Marilyn Mosby says her recent win over incumbent Gregg Bernstein in the race for Baltimore City State’s Attorney won’t change her presence on the streets of Baltimore City. There are still about four months until the general election on Nov. 4 (fewer if you consider early voting, which runs October 23-30). Mosby (D), will likely take on Baltimore City defense attorney Russell Neverdon (I), for the job.

Mosby says she’ll be using that time to continue reaching out to the people of Baltimore. “I [was] involved in the community . . . before I ran for elected office,” she said. Mosby said she, her husband, and members of the community hit the streets at 7 p.m. every Friday night for a prayer vigil. “We have to have that consistency,” she said. “Educating voters, attending festivals, attending farmers’ markets – going across the city as much as we can.”

For his part, Neverdon must work double duty. He must continue collecting signatures to get on the November ballot, while working to connect with voters and get them to the polls. Neverdon won’t say how many signatures he has, but says he’s confident he will have double the roughly 4,000 needed for a spot on the ballot.

Neverdon changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Independent to run for this position. He says that he did it to give city residents more of a choice.

“There are more than just Democrats in Baltimore,” he said, noting that the city is made up of many different kinds of people – people of different nationalities, genders and sexual orientations.

“This is not about me,” Neverdon said. “I really need people to realize that your vote has value. You need to be a part of the process so that people understand that you mean business.”

He says his campaign has teams of people working with citizens to get them register to vote. He also does expungement education workshops to help people clean up their criminal records.

Although the Mosby/Neverdon race is still heating up, both Antonio Hayes and Cory McCray took their districts by storm, earning seats as House of Delegates representatives of Baltimore’s 40th and 45th districts respectively. Both men credit their dogged determination to get face time with as many constituents as possible with their success. –

See more at: http://www.afro.com/candidates-agree-community-connections-a-priority/#sthash.1FOcVDbM.dpuf

Don’t Gloss Over the Art of Lipsology

For Chesapeake Inspired 

November 18, 2013

Bowie resident Anna Snodgrass thinks I need more hugs. She says a restful vacation all alone wouldn’t be bad, either. She also recommends I see a doctor for a pain that seems to be affecting the right side of my body.

She’s not wrong. When I’m not writing, I’m a wife and mother to two kids, ages 3 and 5. Plus, I’m just getting over a bout of mononucleosis (apparently, it’s not just for teenagers anymore).

How did she learn so much about me? Easy, she read my lip print.

Just like you can have your palms read, you can have your lips read. Snodgrass is an expert in Lipsology — the art of lip-print reading. She was recently interviewed by Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the Emmy Award-winning “The Dr. Oz Show,” and appeared on national television on the topic.

Snodgrass says that your lips can tell all kinds of things about you before you even say a word. The art of Lipsology was developed and trademarked by Washington resident Jilly Eddy. Eddy has trained six people to do it — and Snodgrass is one. She says that by simply coating your lips with lipstick (any color will do) and kissing a piece of paper, she can uncover health issues, learn your personality traits and even help you create a better life.

Read more here.

Outdoor Halloween Hauntings

For Chesapeake Inspired 

October 5, 2013

Want to take a trip down a haunted trail? Want to feel what it’s like to make your way through a centuries-old, torture chamber? Want to star in a Hollywood horror film without making a trip to California? If so, there are lots of spooky (and local) options for you this fall.

“It’s all about detail,” says Allen Bennett, who runs Bennett’s Curse, a seasonal haunted house in Jessup. That means, the torture chamber has to feature real, antique pieces from Europe to help it look and feel like the real thing.

“You want to suspend belief,” he says. “If it’s supposed to be a dungeon, you should have real steel dungeon cells and if you touch the walls, they should feel like real stone.”
His indoor attraction is actually three different haunted houses under one roof — the House of the Vampyres, Zombie Kingdome in 3D, and the Sanctuary of Insanity. He says he loves coming up with different ways to make people scream.

“It’s something that’s always come natural to me,” Bennett admits. “I challenge myself to be as creative as possible, thinking about what would scare me and seeing if that would apply safely to the general public. We want to scare as much as possible.”

Read more here

The Art of Upcycling: Turning Trash into Treasure

For Chesapeake Inspired, August 19 2013

It takes a special something to look at a pile of trash and see treasures — but if you can do it, you just might be an upcycler.

Upcycling is similar to recycling in that items are reused to keep them out of trash cans and landfills. But, instead of creating a completely new product — like, paper or bottles — upcyclers use their hands and their minds to create fun, interesting and beautiful items from found pieces.

Artist and Baltimore resident Kirsten Lapointe says she uses found objects in her home and her work. She has upcycled desks, vanities and tables — all from things she or her husband found on the street.

“I’m a born trash picker. Every time I see something that’s shiny or interesting,” Lapointe says. “It must be part of my creativity.”
Lapointe and her husband teamed up to create a mosaic table from a table base she found on the street. Even the floor of her house has been re-purposed. They took up carpet and found that the floor beneath didn’t look so nice, so they painted it.

Lapointe frequents stores like Goodwill looking for interesting objects for her artwork. “Kitchy stuff, earrings, old books,” she says. The found piece can be an inspiration in itself or it can help flesh out an idea she has already been working on.

Read more here.

Meet Mr. All Annapolis, John Frenaye

For Chesapeake Inspired September 3, 2013

If you live in or love the city of Annapolis and have anything to do with social media, chances are you have a connection to John Frenaye. If his name doesn’t sound familiar, his Facebook page, “All Annapolis” might. The page is part news site, part community calendar and 100 percent dedicated to life in Maryland’s state capital. It is also wildly successful. It has well over 60,000 likes – that’s more than Annapolis’ 38,880 residents!

All Annapolis is the Facebook counterpoint to Frenaye’s popular website, Eye on Annapolis. He says he built the site because he didn’t want to speak *to* his readers, he wanted to speak with them. It’s a living, breathing page with updated news information and plenty of community member interaction.

Frenaye didn’t originally plan to become a writer– in fact he’s not even a Maryland native (he was born and raised outside of Philadelphia and moved here in 1996). He actually began in the travel business and has owned several travel agencies. He says that somehow, news giant MSNBC found him and asked him to write for their travel page. There, he learned a lot about writing, reporting and how online news works.

“I put them up on a pedestal, they were the gurus,” he says. “They knew all about social media, and blogging and everything else. I took what I learned from them and my experiences there and we’ve grown ever since.”

Read more here.

Annapolis’ Ellen Allen has her own business in the bag

Tuesday, July 16 2013

for Chesapeake Inspired Magazine

When I spoke with Annapolis-based handbag designer Ellen Allen, she was somewhere between Maryland and New York City, with her 11-year-old son, Mac, in tow. The two had traveled to NYC the day before to pick up an order of the bags Allen designs in her Annapolis-based studio. Some of the bags are assembled in New York, but they weren’t quite finished, so the mother-son trip turned into an impromptu sleepover. Luckily, she says, she’s packed just enough for the two of them in one of her own bags – a carryall tote called the Eastport.

Allen says the unplanned nature of the trip is all part of the balancing act she manages every day as she heads up a rapidly growing handbag business. She, her husband, her small staff, and even her two kids (she also has a 9-year-old son) all help handle trips to China and New York; internet and in-store orders; and more to make the business work.

It’s hard to miss someone carrying an Ellen Allen bag. They are brightly colored and preppy – evocative of sailboats, polo shirts and the streets of downtown Annapolis. And that’s not a coincidence. Allen draws a lot of inspiration from Maryland’s capital. The patterns she creates for her bags are inspired by local landmarks and the bags themselves are named after familiar places. They have lots of pockets and are made with laminated fabric so spills can be easily wiped away.

Click here for the rest of the story