Calling Baltimore My Home

I was so pleasantly surprised to come across an article by travel writer George Horbica in the Huffington Post proclaiming Baltimore a travel-worthy destination and highlighting several reasons to visit.

I haven’t seen many travel articles that revel in Baltimore’s charms. Ok, I haven’t seen any.  And Horbica has found nine reasons to get excited about Baltimore- and he talks about them in a widely read online publication! I was very excited. I am not a Baltimore native, but I have chosen to live here, and I’ve been enjoying city life for five years. (Nine if you count my college years that were primarily spent in the suburb of Towson, with occasional trips to various events around the city). And since I’ve lived here, I’ve felt that I have to continually justify my choice to family and friends that remain sprinkled across New England.

Yes, Baltimore.

Yes, I like it. I am loving it.

Yes, The Wire was filmed here but….

But there’s more. There’s something special happening. It was happening before I got here, is happening now, and will continue for a long time to come. Baltimore is undergoing a renaissance. Where crime used to dominate Baltimore’s reputation, the arts, the creative community, and organizations serving the public interest have begun to assume distinction. There is also an online magazine dedicated to talking about just this!

Baltimore has been very welcoming to me. More people nod, smile, make eye contact, and say hello to me when passing on the streets here than ever would in Boston (an exception to this rule is the average Hopkins student). Baltimore, being a city of neighborhoods, offers numerous unique opportunities within city limits. The city provides diversity (of the racial, economic, sexual preference, educational varieties), and distinctive social outlets. In addition to being a great deal friendlier than my hometown, I can see art, art, and more art. And lots and lots of local music. The city is a haven for creative types, with a self-aware populace that identifies problems facing city residents and works to come up innovative solutions. There are museums, restaurants, and neighborhoods that are all deserving of time and attention from tourists as well as residents. Real estate is affordable and the tech community is thriving. And we’re right on the water!

There is an uncommon integration of cultural organizations, educational institutions, non-profits, artists, community members, and community leaders coming together to support their community and enhance the quality of life for all residents. These organizations are not only successfully integrating themselves into community life, but also becoming accepted, integral parts of their communities.  These groups are forming coalitions to implement some of the nation’s leading revitalization efforts.

The union between these groups facilitates a feeling of inclusion and veritable movement towards bettering the quality of life across the Baltimore City landscape. Stakeholders are identified and encouraged to voice their concerns and desires. Thoughtful individuals and groups come together on a grassroots level and are making strides towards increased neighborhood safety, better schools, and greater cultural and economic development.

Upon reading the travel article written by George Horbica, I was excited because I felt that people outside Baltimore were starting to see what I see. Baltimore is community oriented, creative, fun, and full of potential.

I was therefore deeply disappointed to see the news this week, when a story was picked up nationally about a tourist being beaten in Baltimore. The authorities are still parsing out the details of the event that took place on St. Patrick’s Day. Not only is this event horrible in and of itself, it feels like a defeat for those who are working so hard to make the city a safe place, an interesting place, a city that people are excited to visit and where they can feel proud about living. The details of the case are still incomplete, preventing prosecutorial action for the moment and it seems unclear what will become of this case.

For me however, it is clear. Though disheartened that this may continue to be people’s perception of Baltimore, I can continue exploring and pursuing the good I see in the city. And the more I know, the more I’ll continue to share. Because all in all, I am still excited and proud to call Baltimore my home.

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