In May our organizers began a process of engaging, identifying and learning from local leaders in and around McCulloh Homes.
At the corner of Dolphin Street and Druid Hill, the high-rises of McCulloh View rises. It has also been identified as one of the most dangerous corners in the Baltimore City. This is where we started. We met with a dozen potential Community Promoters, whose job it would become to knock on doors and start conversations in the area. The first weeks were exciting and busy, as we knocked on doors and spoke to people who hadn't been given a voice at all in the efforts to address crime and violence in their neighborhoods.
We spoke to survivors of gun and other violence, and their families. Some preferred to stay home and keep themselves safe by isolating from what often happened right outside of their doors. Others made a habit of engaging: whether with one another. One court was forming their own unofficial security force reminiscent of what our parents had. People would watch out for each other, shared information, names and numbers. Watch out for each others' children. Another woman single-handedly confronted those who lingered on her stoop. A neighbor shared how their need for medical care, to treat injuries sustained during past violence, was read as drug-seeking by medical care providers. He noted that he felt like no one else came around to really listen and cared about them. That is when we knew we were in EXACTLY the right place!
Around the corner, and down the block, others felt that there had been arrests that made it feel safer where they were. Over and over we heard, "no one is talking to us." So we did. We talked. We made first contacts. We made follow-up calls. We held a first event in the auditorium at McCulloh View, and got an earful!
There were many leaders in that room: former union members, those with experience in security (on both sides of that uniform), those with complaints about the responsiveness of those who managed City View, and those ready to take on the systems that drive crime.
Now, we need to give them somewhere to take all of that energy! We have work to do, and a lot of new friends to help us do it! Are you one of them? Join us.