Jack's Journal: Vol. 8, Issue 15
How the Rebuilding of Ground Zero is Connected to Baltimore's Resurgence
By Bernard C. "Jack" Young
I looked out the window of my hotel room in Lower Manhattan, and as I reflected on the winged beams of the Oculus, the bird-like structure at the heart of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a wave of optimism washed over me.
Just a few hours earlier, while riding the train from Baltimore, my mind raced thinking about the many challenges facing my city.
· Violent crime has reached crises levels, with homicides, carjackings, and assaults each up significantly compared to last year
· We face a skeptical federal government that publicly displays hostility toward our city's push to reform policing practices - the very thing that could help drastically reduce crime
· Our public schools face a multi-million dollar budget deficit that has, in part, led to an erosion of trust among parents who've grown tired of a cycle of cuts to enrichment programs, like art and music
· And in 2014, more people in Baltimore died as a result of heroin intoxication than from homicides
The list is downright daunting.
But standing there, looking out over the resurrected site of America's deadliest terrorist attack, the seeds that represent Baltimore's legislative branch as the best resource capable of aiding our city's rebirth were planted firmly in my heart and mind.
I've long held faith in local government as a tool for the greater good of its citizens, but this belief was re-affirmed during a two-day gathering at New York City Hall of 13 council presidents from some of America's largest cities.
The brainchild of the National League of Cities, the Inaugural Convening of City Council Presidents, Speakers and Chairpersons, brought together the legislative leaders of cities from San Francisco to Boston, and San Diego, Ca., to Philadelphia, Pa., in an attempt to share best practices and begin to tackle some of the shared problems we face in the areas of public safety, economic development, and critical infrastructure upgrades.
During sessions Friday and Saturday, we rolled up our sleeves and engaged in tough conversations that focused on creating alternatives to incarceration, combating the negative impacts from federal de-regulation, and explored the power of building local neighborhood economies through community development opportunities.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaker of the New York City Council, talked about the steps her city has taken to increase civic engagement through a participatory budgeting process.
Vi Lyles, the leader of the Charlotte City Council outlined her push to grow by thousands the number of affordable housing units in her city.
London Breed, head of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has been a part of her council’s push to reduce homelessness.
Darrell Clark, president of the Philadelphia City Council, recounted his city's fraught push to impose a ban on sugary beverages.
And Albus Brooks, president of the Denver City Council, talked candidly about how his city has grappled with racial disparities in arrests after the legalization of marijuana.
And that list of topics barely scratches the surface of the free-flow of ideas that centered on leveraging the power of the legislative process to help solve entrenched problems that are similar across jurisdictions.
America's legislative bodies are, as one attendee noted, "where the rubber meets the road."
As Congress continues to function largely in the background of the lives of our constituents, the importance of local legislatures will take on increased significance.
Roderick M. Hills Jr., a law professor at New York University's Law School, who's researched efforts by cities to gain autonomy, told us to pool our resources and "push back against federal and state preemption efforts."
"I want to encourage you all to create a cooperating network and share legal strategies that can help your cities respond to challenges from the federal government and your state legislatures," Hills said. "You need to look at how various state courts are ruling against local attempts at autonomy and offer a way forward."
Hills' advice was a concrete example of the power that lies in local legislatures and their abilities to solve pressing problems facing people who live in cities.
The fact is that America's cities provide the fuel that helps propel the U.S. economy, according to an April 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute.
"Large US cities, defined ... as those with 150,000 or more inhabitants, generated almost 85 percent of the country’s GDP in 2010, compared with 78 percent for large cities in China and just under 65 percent for those in Western Europe during the same period," the report states. "In the next 15 years, the 259 large US cities are expected to generate more than 10 percent of global GDP growth—a share bigger than that of all such cities in other developed countries combined."
And Baltimore, with an active city council that represents the vanguard of our city's turnaround, is no exception.
Earlier this year, I convened a broad cross-section of Baltimore's grassroots philanthropic and business communities to hammer out a governing structure that will guide our efforts to create a historic $12 million Children and Youth Fund.
In March, the council fought for the rights of our immigrant community by unanimously passing a resolution reaffirming Baltimore as a "Welcoming City."
In April, we continued to advance reforms to public safety that will result in Baltimore becoming a model of constitutional policing.
And in the coming weeks, members of the City Council, under my leadership, will make good on its promise to invest an additional $10 million in educational programs that benefit our youth.
Much like the rebuilding of Ground Zero, Baltimore's efforts at a comeback won't be painless or speedy.
We'll hit bumps along the way, and regularly question whether our forward progress is real.
But my time in New York City taught me an important lesson. Baltimore will rise again.
BGE Green Grants Program Now Accepting Applications
Grants of up to $10,000 available to 501c3 organizations focused on improving the environment
BALTIMORE – Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (BGE) is now accepting applications for the 2017 Green Grants program. All 501c3 nonprofit organizations within the BGE service area that focus on conservation, education, energy efficiency, pollution prevention and community engagement are eligible to apply at www.bge.com/giving. Applications must be received by May 16, 2017.
Grants range from $1000 to $10,000 and are available to both new and existing programs that clearly demonstrate a commitment to environmental improvements in the community and to enhancing environmental stewardship throughout BGE’s central Maryland service area. Since 2013, the Green Grants program has provided more than $1,300,000 to nonprofit organizations throughout central Maryland.
“Since Green Grants started in 2013, we’ve helped 121 different organizations positively impact the environment in many different and meaningful ways,” said Alexander Núñez, BGE’s senior vice president of regulatory and external affairs. “We look forward to seeing creative ideas and programs put forward by this year’s applicants that will make a difference in the quality of life in the communities we serve.”
Since its founding in 1816, BGE has partnered with Maryland communities to enhance our neighborhoods. Through the use of shareholder dollars, BGE supports programs that deliver measurable and sustainable impact in the areas of energy efficiency, the environment, education, economic and community development, and emergency response and safety.
BGE’s corporate citizenship aligns with its parent company, Exelon Corporation. As part of Exelon’s 2012 merger, Exelon and its subsidiaries committed to maintaining an average of $7 million in annual charitable giving for 10 years. The BGE Green Grants program fulfills part of that commitment.
YouthWorks Needs Your Help
Please help YouthWorks reach its goal of offering summer employment to 8,000 Baltimore City youth.
Become a Hire One Youth Employer - Baltimore’s private-sector employers can hire great workers this summer through the Hire One Youth strategy. Interview responsible and motivated 16- to 21-year olds and select at least one to hire. Youth participants get a high quality work experience. You add a prepared employee. For more information, please sign up at baltimorecity.gov/hireoneyouth or contact Harriett Diles at 410-396-JOBS (5627) or Hdiles@oedworks.com.
Become a YouthWorks worksite - Government agencies, non-profit organizations and community groups that would like to serve as YouthWorks worksites can register online at youthworks.oedworks.com. Young people would be placed in summer jobs with your organization and you would provide supervision and mentoring.
Make a tax-deductible donation - Online donations can be made through the Baltimore City Foundation, Inc. at baltimorecityfoundation.org. Choose MOED - YouthWorks 855-00. Checks can also be made payable to Baltimore City Foundation/YouthWorks and mailed to MOED, 101 W. 24th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.
Out & About in Baltimore
On Thursday, April 13, Council President Young welcomed to City Hall a group of students from Baltimore's Roland Park Country School. The students were members of the school's mock trial class.
Coming Up In Baltimore
Friday, May 5th & Saturday May 6th from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Mount Vernon Square at The Washington Monument
“Not Your Mother’s” FlowerMart. This year we have "Old Traditions…With a New Twist!" On hand at the festival will be Boordy Vineyards Wine Bar, a craft beer garden featuring Baltimore’s best brews, blossoms open-air food hall-raw bar & crab cakes & smoothies, plus live entertainment on 2 stages! The festival will also feature Flowermart traditions like Lemon Peppermint Sticks, grand hats, arts, crafts, flowers, flowers & more beautiful flowers, children’s camp, dog parade, contests--over 100 vendors! The event is free and open to the public.
5th Annual African American Children Book Fair
Saturday, May 6 at 10 a.m.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum
BGE is sponsoring a youth book fair at the Reginald Lewis Museum. They will be giving away free books, there will be performances and art activities. The event is free and open to the public.
Career Pathways & Resources Fair
Tuesday, May 9 from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.
IMET Colombus Center, 701 E Pratt St.
Tourism is a top Baltimore employer with exciting opportunities for local talent and career progression. Visit Baltimore, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, invite you to network with top Baltimore area employers from a variety of industry sectors; head from individuals and inspirational speakers who have either found success and/or want to help you find yours; take advantage of a variety of free resources in one place to help you with your job search.
KLUTZ® The Amazingly Immature Exhibit Opening
Saturday, May 20 at 8:30 a.m.
KLUTZ® The Amazingly Immature exhibit will open at Port Discovery. With activities such as pulling a tablecloth out from under a place setting to learn about inertia, building a boomerang as an introduction to elements of aerodynamics, and folding paper rings to explore geometry, the KLUTZ® Amazingly Immature exhibit will offer you the opportunity to embrace your inner zany genius while exploring what these behaviors can teach you about science, engineering, math, and literacy.
All Cancer Cures 5K Family Fun Walk/Run
Saturday, May 20 at 8:30 a.m.
Druid Hill Park
Please join Black Professional Men, Inc. as they host a 5K in Druid Hill Park to help raise money to fight cancer. Check in at Registration Tent from 8:30am to 9:30am. During registration you can drop off donations, pick up T- shirts for everyone that has pre-registered & raised $50 or more, enjoy refreshments, food to purchase, vendors for profit /non-profit vendors, & music, decorate a Cancer Ribbon Tribute for memorial. The recommendation minimum is $100. For more information contact Min B. Bordley at (443) 550- 1276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Portions of the proceeds benefits local cancer organizations.
PACE Solar Symposium
Thursday, June 8 from 4 - 7 p.m.
Mex Tequila Bar, 26 Market Place, Power Plant Live
Join Inman Solar, Maryland Commercial PACE, Greenworks Lending and a host of guest speakers for an afternoon of great food and drinks. This presentation will discuss the state of solar in Maryland & how companies are using PACE to install on-sight solar generation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake
Becoming a mentor is easy. Mentoring is about real relationships that help young people overcome obstacles and thrive. From education to extracurricular activities to community engagement, young people benefit from mentoring. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake Community One-to-One Mentoring Program connects young people with caring adult mentors. Matches are provided with professional supports, inclusive of a case manager, and monthly low to no cost activities. We ask that volunteers commit to mentoring a child for a minimum of one year and to plan two to three match activities per month. To apply contact Leticia Sharp at 410-243-4000 or visit www.biglittle.org/volunteer to complete an online application . Visit Big Brothers Big Sisters on Facebook: BBBSGreaterChesapeake, Twitter: @bbbsgc and instagram: bbbsgc.
Online Homebuyer Education Course
24 hours a day/7days a week
Looking to buy a home? Don't just take your best shot, make it a slam dunk! eHome America can help make your homebuying experience a winning experience! Learn what you need to know about the homebuying process, on your own schedule, from any computer. The cost is low, but the information is invaluable. Visit us at www.ehomeamerica.org/ for more information, or to register online. Information courtesy of Steven C. Kinney of the GO Northwest Housing Resource Center on 2300 Garrison Blvd., Suite 140. For more information e-mail email@example.com or call 410-947-0084.
GO Northwest HRC Free Foreclosure and Prevention Counseling
Every Wednesday from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM by appointment only
2300 Garrison Boulevard, Suite 140
This workshop is for individuals who are behind on their mortgage and/or facing foreclosure. Free workshop and free parking! Appointment is required. Call 410-947-0084 x104 for more information.
1056 West Baltimore Street
HomeFree USA uplifts Baltimore communities and empowers families. Resources include homebuying guidance, credit help, mortgage advice, and rebuilding communities. For more information call 410-878-1405 or visit www.homefreeusa.org.
Adult Education Classes in Baltimore City
Baltimore City Community College
Locations throughout Baltimore City
The Baltimore City Community College and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City will offer Basic Skills (Pre GED) Classes at the following locations: Eager Street Homes, 709 E. Eager Street; Gilmor Homes, 1515 Vincent Court; O'Donnell Heights, 1200 Gusryan Street; Pleasant View Homes, 201 N. Aisquith Street; Westport Homes, 2343 Norfolk Street; Brooklyn Homes, 4140 Tenth Street. You must be at least 17 years of age to enroll. For more information call 410-396-3212.