The mission of RHHP..

The mission of RHHP is to provide a Christian community setting where persons of various cultures learn from each other, the surrounding neighborhood, and life in Baltimore city. We believe that people's lives are blessed by being part of faith communities.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 RHHP Thanksgiving dinner

Lots of work went into the preparation of the event including the roasting of two turkeys
Pastor Dave Greiser let the devotion
Sharing and giving thanks

there was an abundance of food...
and abundance of conversation and fellowship
One again RHHP hosted its annual Thanksgiving potluck. About forty residents and friends shared in the festivities. Pastor Dave Greiser led the devotions and read from the Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 14, 2013

RHHP residents win three prizes at the neighborhood greens cook off!

CJ working serving her collard green salad for votes

CJ making his smoothie of fruits and greens.

Newly arrived RHHP resident Tracie serving up Remi's cabbage with peanut soup to a voter.

all that was left of Remi's entry to the contest

CJ accepting 2nd prize for the vegetarian category
RHHP residents Remi and CJ participated in the Whitelock Farm Harvest Festival Greens Cook Off this past Saturday. Remi, defending champion from a couple of years ago in the non-vegetarian category, entered a dish of cabbage with peanut sauce (vegetarian) while CJ entered a dinosaur kale salad and a smoothie of strawberries, ginger, kale and other fruits. For a small fee, members of the public were allowed to sample all the entries and cast their votes.

When the popular votes were tallied, CJ's kale salad won second prize while Remi's entry won third prize in the vegetarian category. However, a panel of three judges selected Remi's entry as the overall best entry. For his effort, Remi was rewarded with a dinner for five at the Woodberry Kitchen. He will treat his wife and children when they join him in Baltimore. Well done CJ and Remi!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More plumbing challenges

George, the plumber from Saffer to the rescue
feeding the snake into the clean-out
Not the kind of snake you buy from Home Depot
The culprits- roots and 
Ellen examining the main culprit - paper towel!
We had sewer water backing up into the basement yesterday afternoon. After deciding that professional help was necessary, we called Saffer Plumbing. George, a very nice plumber came to our rescue and snaked out the sewer line. The culprit turned out to be a small amount of roots but it appeared that the main cause of the backup was a paper towel. Looks like we need to mount a education campaign on the proper use of the plumbing system! The weekend emergency visit set us back a bit over $400 but we were able to resume our normal routines again. In addition to saving us from having to find relief elsewhere, George the plumber also regaled us with adventures in his professional life as a plumber. You can't imagine stuff he finds in clogged sewer lines!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Unexpected dinner guests

Impromptu banquet!

Guests visiting in the living room
We invited three neighbors for dinner last night and ended up with almost twenty guests. A bunch of our Rwandan and Congolese friends stopped by. Fortunately Remi had earlier cooked up three batches of Cameroonian delicacies for me and so we had plenty of food to share. The visitors also whipped up a bunch of fufu which made everyone fed and happy.

Nifty trick for removing fufu from the pot. Just set the pan upside down on a plate and let the steam from the fufu push the pot up. At some point, you just lift the pot off the fufu and serve!

RHHP bypass surgery

The plumbers from Brubaker Plumbing in Lancaster came down a few weeks ago to replace some pipes that were on the verge of rupturing. No more rust particles coming out of our kitchen sink! Despite all the plumbing work that have been done over the past few years, I am sad to say that there will be more work to be done.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

It was a sad day.....

Isacc, my favorite MTA driver
Yesterday was a sad day in my commuting life. Isaac, who had been driving the #5 bus route for the past few months, will be reassigned to another route next week. In a city claiming the title of Charm City but not known for its customer service, he is a beacon of cheerfulness and courtesy. He drives carefully without the lurching starts that many drivers make. He always makes sure that the elderly are seated before pulling away from the curb. He greets his passengers with a kind word. It is great way to start the commute.

Each morning, he greets all his passengers with a cheerful smile. He often waits an extra 30 seconds when he sees a passenger hurrying to the bus stop. When I am slow to get out the door, he will linger at the stop across from our house for an extra few seconds to see if I will come charging out the back door! Since I was out of town until Thursday, yesterday was my first day this week to take the bus. He actually was happy to see me and told me he was glad that we had a chance to say goodbye! He said that he had been honking his horn to make sure that I was not missing my ride. (Another regular on the bus attested to that.) When I arrived at my regular stop, we shook hands,wished each other the best and parted ways.

I will miss him. but knowing that he is around spreading his good cheer makes me feel a little better about this city. I hope we get another driver like him.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One way to be the salt of the earth...

The following is an interesting piece in last Sunday's (June 16) NY Times. The author concludes that our behavior is malleable and susceptible to environmental influence to the extent that we can behave differently as we move from one neighborhood to another. He sounded ambivalent about that. Perhaps it further shows how easily we can be manipulated. He should already know that since he teaches marketing!

 As a Christian living in Reservoir Hill, the author's conclusion elevates, albeit by a few notches, my optimism about being able to improve our block if not the neighborhood. At times, picking up litter and sweeping up broken glass on the sidewalk outside our house feels like a futile attempt to push back the tide but I think that there have been improvement. The idea that changing the environment can bring about change in human behavior suggests a practical (and servant-like) way we can live out the Gospel command to be the salt that flavors the earth - being change agents by changing the environmental cues!

 Where We Are Shapes Who We Are

IN the early 1970s, a team of researchers dropped hundreds of stamped, addressed letters near college dorms along the East Coast and recorded how many lost letters found their way to a mailbox. The researchers counted each posted letter as a small act of charity and discovered that students in some of the dorms were more generous than others.
Nearly all of the letters dropped near uncrowded dorms — residences where comparatively few students lived on each floor — reached their intended recipients. In contrast, only about 6 in 10 of the letters dropped near crowded dorms completed the journey.
Apparently, the students in high-density housing, where everyone was packed close together, felt less connected to their college mates and this apparently dampened their generosity.
Later, when the researchers asked a different collection of students to imagine how they might have responded had they come across a lost letter, 95 percent of them said they would have posted it regardless of where they were living.
Most people, in fact, think of themselves as generous. In self-assessment studies, people generally see themselves as kind, friendly and honest, too. We imagine that these traits are a set of enduring attributes that sum up who we really are. But in truth, we’re more like chameleons who instinctively and unintentionally change how we behave based on our surroundings.
Consider another experiment, conducted in 2000. A team of contractors in Glasgow, Scotland, installed a series of blue lights in prominent locations citywide. The lights were designed to make unsightly districts of the city more attractive, but after a few months the city’s crime statisticians noticed a striking trend: crime rates declined in the locations that were bathed in blue.
The lights, which mimicked those atop police cars, seemed to imply that the police were watching. In 2005, police in Nara Prefecture, Japan, installed blue lights at crime hot spots and got a similar result: the overall crime rate fell. When others tried the approach, they found that littering and suicide attempts also declined beneath the blue glow.
Theories abound on why the blue lights might deter crime: perhaps because their bright and attention-grabbing incandescence makes shadowy niches feel more open and exposed — or, quite the opposite, that they have a mysterious calming effect. But even subtler interventions seem to have similar consequences.
For example, people behave more honestly in locations that give them the sense they’re being watched. A group of psychologists at Newcastle University in northeast England found that university workers were far more likely to pay for tea and coffee in a small kitchen when the honor-system collection box sat directly below a price list featuring an image of a pair of eyes, versus one with flowers. The researchers alternated the pictures of eyes and flowers each week during their 10-week experiment, using eyes from both men and women, to make sure that no single image affected the outcome. In every week featuring the eyes, the “honesty box” ended up with more money.
That study inspired police in West Midlands, England, to place large posters featuring a pair of eyes around town — which, at least according to anecdotal reports, led to a reduction in crime.
Mirrors have the same effect and are arguably even more powerful, because they compel us to peer, metaphorically, into our own souls.
Other environmental cues shape our actions because they subtly license us to behave badly. According to the heavily debated broken windows theory, people who are otherwise well behaved are more likely to commit crimes in neighborhoods with broken windows, which suggests that the area’s residents don’t care enough to maintain their property.
The theory’s authors, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, hypothesized in a 1982 article for The Atlantic Monthly that if the broken windows in a building were not repaired, people were more likely to break additional windows in the structure. And that, in turn, would only encourage more vandalism.
The same goes for a sidewalk with litter. The more litter there is, the more accumulates. Eventually, people start discarding bags of trash from takeout restaurants there, and this soon leads to more crime in the neglected area.
SINCE 1982, when Professors Wilson and Kelling proposed their theory, the littering example has received plenty of experimental support. In one study, social psychologists placed paper fliers on 139 cars in a large hospital parking lot and watched to see what the car owners would do with them.
Again, the environment appeared to shape the response. When drivers emerged from the hospital to find a parking lot littered with scattered fliers, candy wrappers and coffee cups (arranged by the researchers, of course), nearly half of them removed the fliers from their cars and left them on the ground. In contrast, when the researchers swept the parking lot clean before the drivers returned, only 1 in 10 dropped the flier.
Unwittingly, the drivers adopted the behavior that seemed most appropriate given their understanding of the area’s prevailing norms.
These studies tell us something profound, and perhaps a bit disturbing, about what makes us who we are: there isn’t a single version of “you” and “me.” Though we’re all anchored to our own distinct personalities, contextual cues sometimes drag us so far from those anchors that it’s difficult to know who we really are — or at least what we’re likely to do in a given circumstance.
It’s comforting to believe that there’s an essential version of each of us — that good people behave well, bad people behave badly, and those tendencies reside within us.
But the growing evidence suggests that, on some level, who we are — litterbug or good citizen, for example — changes from moment to moment, depending on where we happen to be.
These environmental cues can shape and reshape us as quickly as we walk from one part of the city to another.

Adam Alter, an assistant professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is the author of “Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave.”