Welcome Lindsey Henley to our blog.
Lindsey will be regularly contributing her perspective on Baltimore and its triumphs and challenges. This is her first posting.
“In a recent statement given over the airwaves of WYPR, Baltimore Community Foundation’s President and CEO, Tom Wilcox, invited the residents of Baltimore to take another look at their city. While it is easy for residents and outsiders alike to conjure up Baltimore’s blemishes, it remains difficult for those same people to recognize the exciting and innovative things going on in the city- and there are many.
It is time to open our eyes to the good and to seek out the positive things the city of Baltimore has to offer. To begin, Wilcox cites Forbes Magazine, which finds Baltimore to be second in the nation for number of high-tech jobs and Rolling Stone, the magazine that declared Baltimore to have the best live music scene in America. To the surprise of many, Baltimore is poised and ready for the future both with employment opportunity and an increasingly prominent creative class.
Richard Florida, a social scientist who is known for his research and reporting on economic competitiveness, prosperity, and cultural and technological innovation developed the concept of the “creative class”. This creative class is made up of workers from various industries, from the arts to journalism to technology to finance. As the president of the Baltimore Community Foundation notes, these sectors, most notably technology and the arts, are Baltimore’s strengths and they are “critical to our future”.
Where can you find this creative class, and what are they up to?
Recently, artists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and community builders convened at an event called Create Baltimore 2. The event brought together over 150 individuals concerned about Baltimore and committed to the city’s future. With a mission to unite dynamic and diverse audiences, the open nature of the event allowed participants to determine the discussion points and navigate the conversations with an empowering sense of engagement. Topics discussed ranged from public transportation, women and technology, and how to improve city education to the future of arts in Baltimore.
The convergence of so many curious, caring, and interested individuals created a feeling of electricity- a palpable excitement in which people recognized Baltimore as full of possibility and potential. The self-awareness of each participant played a role in fostering a strong sense of activism in the crowd; each had a unique Baltimore experience, and each had a unique hope for the future. At the conclusion of the event, each conversation was expected to have generated a plan of action and steps to take in order to move forward.
As Tom Wilcox says, “we must all become champions of Baltimore”. We must take our experiences, and not be self-conscious about the negative we may see in the city. We must be self-aware, seeking out the incredible good that is in Baltimore, and be active participants in building a strong, safe and supportive community.”