“How can I help? Do you need me?”
~Ava, Community Mobilizer in Station North
I’ve started to delve a bit deeper into my local community here. I can bicycle anywhere from here all the way to Mt. Vernon and know where the streets lead. The other day someone asked me why I liked Baltimore compared with any other city. I told her that I liked Baltimore because of the availability of people’s stories. I feel as if people are more likely to tell you their stories here compared to cities like New York, D.C., or Boston.
On Saturday I wandered over to 2640 St. Paul Street where I attended the Charm City Flea Market. The venue is St. John’s of Baltimore City Methodist Church but is also a venue for performances, community meetings, and flea markets. Local businesses were displaying their wares of Boh-themed memorabilia, candles, jewelry, and coffee. I definitely felt more at home when a woman asked me where Maryland Ave was, and I pointed due west.
On Sunday I prepared myself for the Superbowl. I looked up places where I could watch the game since no one was at home to watch it with me. I ended choosing to watch it on a projector screen at The Ottobar, a small and grungy performance venue. The inside reminded me a lot of grungy bars in Berlin and made me feel right at home as I downed a few beers and ate some of the potluck nachos, Ro-Fo (Royal Farms) fried chicken, and pulled pork while watching the Panthers lose to the Broncos bisected by a confused and politically charged halftime show.
As I continue to immerse myself in my surrounding neighborhoods’ cultures, I ask myself what is my role in this community. I am starting to see the interconnectedness of issues and realities from varying degrees of the social, economic, racial, political, sexual, and religious spectrums. Already I know that issues here aren’t black and white, but a multitude of shades that all have their own subjective narrative waiting to be shared.
“We realize the connections among the issues; not compartmentalizing the different issues and struggles. Because we can’t discuss gentrification and eviction of families in public housing without Black Lives Matter, LGBTIQ+, or poverty.”
~Tony Romano, Right to the City Alliance