I am so excited about all of the projects that we are going to work on in this class that it is hard to know where to begin talking about them. Each one is so valuable in what they will bring to the community that they hope to serve, the minds that they will open, and the lives that may be changed in the process.
So let me start here: I love Baltimore. I love this city for everything it is and everything it isn’t. I love the grime, and I love the pockets of beauty that creative and talented Baltimoreans have made here. I love it like a mother loves a child… A child that sometimes struggles with heroin use. I think that the people here are some of the most genuine people you will ever meet. And I want to do everything that I can to help communities feel empowered instead of hopeless. But there is so much work to be done. Baltimore needs help. This is a segregated, racist, poor city. Hopelessness is visible in the rows of boarded up houses on either side of the “white stripe,” and in the hundreds of abandoned lots that have been left to become rat cities.
Once upon a time, I was a Registered Nurse. I witnessed what our current food system does to people’s bodies when they don’t have the means, or the knowledge to make healthy lifestyle choices. But being a nurse made me feel helpless. The food industry and the health care industry seemed to me to be conspiring together to fill the wallets of the few, while others paid dearly, many times with their lives. I was powerless to do anything about the system and it took a toll on me mentally and emotionally.
Once I quit nursing and started working with children I realized that I could try to change people’s minds about food before their dietary habits negatively affected their lives. For the past few years I have been working with Title I schools in West and East Baltimore City. I have also worked with Baltimore’s Food Not Bombs to bring organic produce to people in communities that would have no access to it otherwise. It has been so fulfilling to work with other people who believe that gentrification is not the only way to make this city better, and that people who are historically disadvantaged should be helped and not taken advantage of.
Hearing Ed Orser talk about the history of West Baltimore reinforced my desire to be a part of some kind of change for that part of the city. It was interesting to add his knowledge to what I already know about Baltimore’s rich West side history. I loved hearing a success story of someone who changed their diet and extended their life. Hearing stories like that makes it all worthwhile to me. The Farmer’s Market project is especially exciting to me because it could make a large and lasting impact on that area. Once the market is established, people will have something there that they can count on every week. There is no use in teaching your students that they should be eating vegetables if they have no way to get their hands on them. This is how a culture is changed;slowly, over time. I have very high hopes for this project.