Longing and Alienation
Baltimore is a majority African American city in a former slave state. The juxtaposition of those traits have resulted in a tension between longing for and alienation from the environment. These are the stories of three Baltimore projects that, when combined, capture the nature of the uneasy relationship.
Baltimore Stories: Narrative and the Life of an American City
The children of the Barclay School laugh about a squirrel. We have asked them to imagine a Baltimore they want –a utopian city. We have brought along two artists to depict what they say. They talk of squirrels so often that it becomes an in-joke, brilliant because for a squirrel one needs a tree. They spoke in singulars—one squirrel, one tree.
Smart Connected Communities
We asked about the changes that adults wanted in their neighborhoods. Many mentioned more green space. They may not have known it but they live in a city that is verdant in other neighborhoods. The major migratory flyway is the birthplace of residential redlining; the racial segregation map takes the shape of a butterfly.
Nest + Flow
We walk along the Gwynn Falls Parkway, part of one of the longest parkways in the country, designed by the Olmsted’s. We hear the roar of cars—Interstate Highway 83 is built partially over the wide stream. Artist Jann Rosen Queralt and biologist Dr. Lea R. Johnson are showing us the green hidden from the motorists.
We pass the award winning Maryland Zoo, built on the land of a former plantation where slaves harvested the now-extinct Druid peach. The large freed black, urban population was joined by other black farmers who moved north in the Great Migration between 1916 and 1970. Yet for many, an agrarian past is ancient history. When the March family opened a health food store in the underserved neighborhood, they found that many had almost no experience with fresh produce.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has thrown racial and social inequities into sharp relief. The ongoing work will be to examine how those inequities reach other aspects of our lives, including the impact and relationships with the environment. In our discussion, we will discuss how underserved communities consider the environment in their daily lives.