Check out my photos and a short video that illustrates Baltimore’s Light City: Ramsey Row. All rights Reserved

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The city of Baltimore has long has its share of ups and downs, of pain, loss, and sorrow. It has also had its share of fun, happiness and love. Like any decent sized city, it also has its share of unjust practices, inhumane humans, killers, and snakes and those who want nothing more than to see the city burn for their own gain. But enough about those in positions of power and politicians! Kidding…but only a little. Honestly, it’s one of the cities in which I’ve chosen to live and I have come to enjoy it, in spite of flaws. I’ve lived in cities with easier access to public transportation (an east coast cities known for its harbor and missing “r” in many words and then the other for its melting pot) and both places were fine and fun. Sure, they also came with life lessons such as how to survive as an immigrant in a different country, how to live in a big city, who to trust and who to run away from, etc. I’ve also worked for several years in an adjoining city as well as in the step sister of one of the above referenced cities, and while it’s great to have access to very good restaurants and clubs, and great spaces for art, I don’t want to have to rely on a rail system that is in dire need of repairs, a city in which “what do you do?” is the number one question, and honestly, I want my city and state to have rights and a system slightly less corrupt that isn’t run by real life Sopranos types.

What I realized about Baltimore over the years, is that you can still have a bit of a small town feel where you know some of your neighbors but still have access to good art, to great restaurants, to fun bars, etc. Live here long enough and if you don’t get to know everyone who inhabit the same spaces or at least recognize the “Norms” (a Cheers TV show reference for those who are wondering about Norms).

It feels like there’s a shift in diversity in the city and while I still will not go to certain places in MD because they openly advertise that they do not like brown people, there isn’t a place in the city that I feel is off limits. Are there neighborhoods that are less desirable in terms of a high crime rate than others? Of course there are. Will I visit some of the less than desirable neighborhoods without people who are familiar with them? Of course I will not. This is common sense. The same way I wouldn’t visit certain neighborhoods in Hell’s Kitchen and Brooklyn back in the day, or Bromley or Jackson Square as a kid, or certain section in Southeast DC just fifteen years ago even though it was a short ride away. Common sense. That, and an understanding that some of the people in these places would view me just as suspiciously as those who display confederate flags in Rising Sun and in Essex, Maryland.

Look, I know that this and many cities have a long way to go in terms of political leadership, acceptance from the older citizens who haven’t traveled more than fifteen miles outside of their comfort zones to learn that not everyone is black or white or straight of church-going and that as a group, there are some who are hell bent on hating and making this town a hell hole. However, idiots like these exist everywhere, even in the lovely West Coast towns that I’ve visited in which most of the people are genuinely nice, polite and giving. I also say that while the friendliness factor isn’t very high, in fact it’s very low compared to the West Coast, it is also not as repressive, full of fake smiles and cute phrases that insult you as they’re being sweetly whispered into your ear, and it’s definitely not as harsh as those who will threaten your life with a tire iron for taking an extra inch of parking space on what they consider “their” street. However, do these cities and towns have people who are full of love, light and happiness and have residents who would welcome you? Of course they do!

I hope the shifting dynamics such as influx of newer residents for jobs and the friendliness factor continues to improve and honestly, I hope those who insist on focusing only on what’s wrong without lending a hand to make things better, move. You are not a tree. You are not a rock. Move to a place you love so that you can enjoy life, become friendlier, become a person who makes things better. Why? I want you to be happy and I don’t want you miserabling (yes, my word) my city up.  Look, I’m not giving only a rose-colored glasses account. Many of us know about the recent and decades old injustices, race-related systemic oppression and all of the media touted and firsthand oral reports of hardship. This isn’t to say these things and accounts aren’t real. They are. But so are the good vibes of love, happiness, and excitement about living in a place that you can call home, one in which you can find a job that allows you to earn a decent wage so that you can explore the world or at least, provide decent meals for your loved ones, one in which you can go to a bar and still afford a drink (not a PBR or Natty Boh for $7 and up!). A town that allows you to hop a train and visit a huge array of cities with great restaurants, art and theatres if you want that big(ger) city feel!

Oh, and if you don’t like it, fight to make it better. Elections are coming up. You know what to do and what you need. Don’t focus on what will go wrong, as something always will. Focus on what’s going well and what we can do to make it better. Love you all!

Oh, and to those who think I am all starry eyed and lacking the ability to see this city’s downsides, I say that sure, the video and my description is not representative of all of Baltimore. Sure, the Inner Harbor, Harbor East, Roland Park and other neighborhoods receive preferential treatment in the city, Hampden is slowly moving up but I still have issues in places off 36th St., but I still attend the Hampden Festival and like this Baltimore Light City, I think it’s nice to have events that are family-friendly and free of charge that showcases art with a conscience as many of the art highlight in several forms, the inequalities due to race, drug use, how the people who were born and raised in the city are treated, etc. Oh, and while the energy giant who charges exorbitant fees (Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.)  is sponsoring this, I figure since I have to pay their fees anyway to have  a little thing called electricity, I figure they should be a darned sponsor and give something back, even if it is a tax write off for them. So there! Happy now that I can share some of the bad too? 😉

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