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Berwyn residents transform trolley trail, one box at a time

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Posted on: November 11, 2021

By Hannah Marszalek

 

The Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail offers a scenic walking and biking adventure, and well away from the noise of Route 1. Four longtime city residents, Marina Dullnig, Lena Dullnig, Kathy Everett and Gina Tomko, have been beautifying the trail by painting transformer boxes along the path.

Lena Dullnig and the birds she painted.
Courtesy of Hannah Marszalek

Marina Dullnig, who has lived in College Park for more than 30 years, has been painting over the town’s graffiti for a long time, using paint donated by her neighbors, including Tomko. Dullnig was painting one of the transformer boxes a solid color, covering some graffiti, when Everett suggested they decorate it with art, instead.

Lena and Marina Dullnig, Gina Tomko and Kathy Everett with the first transformer box they painted.
Courtesy of Hannah Marszalek

Dullnig and Everett started discussing this project in the middle of May, and the four of them painted the first box in early June. They each painted a different part of the box, completing the project in a few hours. Dullnig’s daughter Lena, who recently graduated from Montgomery College with a degree in graphic design, painted two birds on the box, inspired by a pet bird she once had. Tomko painted the sun and the moon, a design she chose after seeing it on a T-shirt.

“I think what’s cool about walking along this bike path is that no matter what direction you’re coming from, you’re hit with this color,” Everett said.

They painted their second box in early October, drawing inspiration from Wassily Kandinsky’s piece, “Color Study.” They added culturally current phrases — Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter and Love is Love — all testaments to the welcoming atmosphere of the Berwyn neighborhood. 

“This neighborhood is amazing because everyone is so close,” said Tomko. “We all know each other and help each other out.”

Moving forward, they plan to paint another transformer box along the trail in Lakeland. In the 1800s and the early 1900s, this neighborhood was home to a tight-knit African American community that was later displaced in the 1970s, when the City of College Park undertook what they deemed an urban renewal project, Everett said. The city promised to provide new homes to these displaced residents, but failed to live up to that promise. Many of these families, some of whom had lived in Lakeland for generations, were never able to return.

Mayor Patrick Wojahn and the College Park City Council have recognized and apologized for the city’s actions against these families, and recently established a committee to bring restorative justice to Lakeland. 

And that transformer box along the trail in Lakeland? Everett said they will paint a tribute to Lakeland’s history “to honor them and show them love.”

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