June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013

Vacant homes on Reisterstown Road in Park Heights. Photo by Casey McKeel.

Every Monday in the Park Heights neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore, groups of between two and fifteen residents meet to talk about one thing in particular: housing. Most are people who face eviction, foreclosure, forced home sales due to redevelopment, or unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Some have no problems at all; they just come to support others. What they are finding is that the housing situations they each face are not unique to them.

Image source: www.steinershow.org

On Friday, June 21, the Marc Steiner Show featured Lawrence Brown as he discussed his Indyreader essay entitled, "Avarice and Avatar in Charm City: Stepping Up the Fight Against Displacement and Dispossession." The discussion covered the historical antecedents of displacement and dispossession and turned to recent gentrification and displacement efforts in the Middle East and Greenmount West communities in Baltimore. The participants discussed strategies for confronting displacement and dispossession, including community organizing, anti-displacement as a fundamental principle, and changing the city charter from a strong mayor system to a council manager form of government to increase community voice and participation.

Image source: geographicalimaginations.com

I had the pleasure of watching the documentary, "Dirty Wars," by Jeremy Scahill. The film, in my view, affirms the conclusion that if the U.S. continues to fight this "war on terrorism" with its own acts of terrorism, then the security of the American public will remained threatened. As Scahill points out in the documentary, the Obama administration has generated a "targeted kill list" that grew from a few names to hundreds of names and now thousands of names. The more people killed the more people who will be willing to spare their lives for revenge. There is a vicious cycle that even if the "war on terror" ends today, the effects of the U.S. government's violent acts will be felt for a long time.

416 East 31st Street in Baltimore. Photo by Kate Drabinski.

To walk around Charles Village and Greenmount today is to move through rapidly changing neighborhoods, those changes marked by steady decrease in trees and flowers and fancy cornices atop the ubiquitous brick homes as one travels east from St. Paul Street. There are layers and layers of stories here, of planned development, racial segregation, of bars and restaurants and the stuff of daily life. One of those layers is a distinctly gay history, one whose outlines and traces have to be pointed out as they fade behind the more visceral daily reminders of racism.

Image source: www.rosalux-nyc.org

Javier Sethness Castro, author of Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe and For a Free Nature: Critical Theory, Social Ecology, and Post-Developmentalism, gives his feedback on this year's Left Forum, an annual conference of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, organizations and interested public. Indyreader would like to encourage everyone from Baltimore who attended the Left Forum to share your feedback with our readers.