Our Version of All Saints’

First, we must acknowledge the very happy occasion of a birth and a birthday:












Baby S was born On Friday, October 13. And Kid J celebrated his 2nd birthday on the 20th! His badge is a teeny tiny flip-phone with a text message that reads: “HELLO NANNY” (his favorite words).

Many former guests and neighborhood friends joined us in celebrating All Saints’ on Sunday, October 29. The house felt full and lively. Each room in Lydia’s House is dedicated to a different (sometimes unconventional) saint. At this worship service, we remembered them using props, stories, and prayers. Here, Annie represents the Blessed Mother Mary.


We also introduced our 2017 “Saint of the Year”: the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray!

Rev. Murray is the one in the frame. An activist, feminist, lawyer, priest and poet, Rev. Murray inspires us by her work, her life, and her refusal to take no for an answer.

Born Anna Pauline Murray in 1910 in Baltimore, Pauli lost both of her parents at an early age. She enrolled in college but the Great Depression caused her to leave school and seek work. She ended up in a Works Program where she met Eleanor Roosevelt, whom would later become a life-long friend. Pauli also became a published writer during this time for her poems, articles, and stories.

Pauli grew in her involvement with the Civil Rights movement. In 1940 she was arrested for refusing to sit at the back of the bus in Virginia. This was 15 years before Rosa Parks! In 1941 Pauli enrolled at Howard University in DC. She graduated top of her class and received a fellowship to Harvard Law, but they took the fellowship back when they realized she was a woman. Pauli continued her education at the University of California where she received a degree in law.

In the early 1960’s Pauli worked with the mainstream civil rights movement, including Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. She was unhappy about the way women in the movement were put on the sidelines in favor of male leadership. In 1977 Pauli became the first African American woman to become an Episcopal priest. She died in 1985.

Pauli was ahead of her time in many ways. She also identified as gender non-conforming, and would be considered part of the LGBTQ community today. She lived proudly as the child of God she was created to be, and shows us what bravery and commitment look like.

Chipotle generously catered our post-worship dinner (that may have been some folks’ favorite part). Above is a scene of the melee. Do you get the feeling of many little crawlers, toddlers, and kiddos underfoot? The babies of Lydia’s House are growing up!

Norwood Flora & Fauna: Temporary Beautification for Abandoned Space

The new building when Lydia’s House first acquired it, in May:











The same building, on October 29:












Lydia’s House’s new building was facing a long year of renovations. The windows would need to be covered, and we wanted to do that in a way that would be beautiful, and show that the building had new owners who cared about it. We connected with Woven Oak and Garden Camp, hoping that local kids could be involved in some kind of creative project to make this popular corner more beautiful. In mid-September Erin, Laura, Elizabeth, and I made some drawings from observation around the neighborhood. Elizabeth collated these drawings into a design, spread out over the shapes of the windows at 4502 Carter Ave. She chose six colors and created for us a simple but beautiful plan.

On an early morning in the last week of September, Ben and I bought 25 sheets of plywood. We got right to work cutting them to size, then priming and sealing them. Over the weekend, Deb and I finagled the Lydia’s House projector to enlarge the drawings and cast them on the boards.












Here is our tracing scenario, erected among the primed boards. We outlined the drawings in pencil, and wanted to finish them all that weekend, because on Monday the kids would start painting!


























This was our very first day of painting, with Girls’ Safe Space! Almost every weekday in October, kids’ after-school groups (facilitated by Grace and Erin) worked on the panels.












The next week, the Girls’ Safe Space girls finished the “hummingbird” panel.












These two created some very painterly cabbages.












We soon realized that “adult touch ups” would be needed. We also found that by painting the outlines in advance, kids were freed up to have more fun just filling big spaces with color. And why make a mural if you can’t go big?
















A scene from “the warehouse”. Making progress!












There is a method to the messiness.
















The kids of Garden Camp carried their panels safely across the street, to work outside in the lovely weather.


















A beautiful day with eggplants.











We brought a segment up to Lydia’s House, so the guests and their kids could have a hand in painting.











And then the day came to install! Here I am, in the air, “not terrified”. We got help from some Habitat for Humanity Young Professionals.
















There’s my co- associate Deb in the air with a drill. Some folks just passing by stopped to help, including our buddy Brent who advised us on ladder safety. He also suggested that we pre-drill the screws into the boards, which was very helpful.












We found a second drill and really got into the swing of things. Work like this is fun but also frustrating, each window had its own challenges. There were even a couple of times we had to remove a panel we’d already installed, to straighten it out or make it fit better.












Goodbye SNACKS!


Here’s some before & after images from each window panel:































































I really loved working on this project with Elizabeth, Erin, Grace, and all the kids. It was truly a collaborative and community-based project, and it couldn’t have been done without the work of many hands.

-Taylor, Lydia’s House Associate