As a newcomer to Charm City, it’s managed to quickly capture my heart with its quirky neighborhoods and rich history. Being a transplant from the Midwest, Baltimore’s industrial past has easily made me feel at home. Like other metropolitan areas, Baltimore has been struggling during the economic crisis of the past few years and is turning to development to raise its profile. This neighborhood reinvestment is especially needed here as Baltimore City’s population has been declining since the 50’s. A loss of almost 35% of city residents has left Baltimore with numerous vacant homes and near-abandoned blocks.
Reinvestment to the rescue!
Mayor Rawlings-Blake has made it the mission of her administration to add 10,000 new families over the next decade by improving streets, renovating recreation centers and creating laws and policies that make for a more welcoming city. Mayoral efforts can only go so far, though in crafting a Baltimore that we all want to live in. All the reinvestment in the world can easily be undone by residents who disagree with the vision of those driving change. [This is the part where you come in!] By lending your voice and helping to create changes in this City of Neighborhoods, Baltimore can be crafted and rebuild in the spirit of those who live here and never gave up on it.
Highlandtown is a great example of this, they’re working with the Project for Public Spaces to improve public spaces and celebrate arts and culture. This ‘Neighborhood of Immigrants’ has held placemaking events that have led to neighbor-generated projects coming to fruition such as crosswalk murals that help locals feel connected and visitors realize that they’re entering a distinct neighborhood. The Southeast Community Development Corporation has helped these efforts by compiling the Creative Placemaking Report generated from resident discussions of how to shape their community. This report outlines short and long-term goals as well as potential partners to get them done.
By working together, including all voices and deciding their own future, Highlandtown is on the way to becoming Baltimore’s next ‘it’ spot. These transformations can happen in every neighborhood. If new energy is what your community wants, it’s up to you to make your voice heard and set the trajectory. It’s hard work, and there are long meetings involved, but knowing your neighbors and coming together to see a project to completion is priceless.