I remember being very interested in building things as a child. I don’t think this made my childhood unique in any way; if it was, toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos wouldn’t have been or continue to be so popular. Lincoln Logs were created in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright, son of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and a talented architect in his own right. Legos were brought to the United States in 1961 and quickly became an American childhood favorite. Both toys are in the Toy Hall of Fame (yes, this exists!). Both are symbolic of child’s creative nature. Aside from the themed Lego kits, which have a predetermined structure, these toys give kids hundreds, even thousands of pieces with which they are able to give their imaginations three reality-based dimensions.
With Legos and Lincoln Logs, I built bridges and forts and houses and buildings. I often took my toys outside to satisfy my notion of versatile landscapes. Cities grew tall on sidewalks and Lego farms sprawled through backyard grass. I had a vision for the way I thought things should be and I made it happen.
The city of Baltimore has been around for a bit longer than Lincoln Logs, Legos, and myself. Founded in 1729, Baltimore has been growing and defining itself for nearly three centuries. Despite its age and experience, Baltimore still exudes a youthful demeanor. Other cities around the country of similar age have grown old and reflect their age. Through their process of maturation, many other cities have achieved a certain level of esteem and with that, a cultural sclerosis. The ethos of these cities is well defined and it is hampering creativity and innovation.
As Baltimore has gotten older, the city has remained open and malleable. Though Baltimore is rough around the edges and knows what it’s like to struggle, the city remains dynamic and rife with opportunity. Those who have a vision for a better Baltimore are surrounded by a multitude that also want to make Baltimore better. The conversation is happening. Just like a child playing with Legos and Lincoln Logs, Baltimore residents have the opportunity to make their visions a reality. Groups like the Citizens Planning and Housing Association facilitate community action, inform residents, and support political reform. The citywide Vacants to Value program creatively addresses neighborhood blight and offers individuals the opportunity to transform their communities. The conversation is happening. Don’t be afraid to share your dreams for Baltimore. Together, we can build a better city. Tell us what you envision for a better Baltimore; if you can see your dreams already becoming reality, send us a picture. We’d love to know about your new ideas and what it is that you treasure.