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no t your fat he r ’ s p hil a n t hropy · de ’ v on bro w n · a ne w s k y l ine f or b a lt imor e december 2011 issue no. 90




The burgeoning U.S. Latino population makes its way to Charm City.

Artículo de primera página traducido al Español


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410-323-2788 Urbanite #90  december 2011  5

Shop. Work. Donate. Shop any one of our 26 locations. 6  december 2011

this month

#90  December 2011

feature 36

departments 36


El Nuevo Baltimore

about the cover: Illustration by Michelle Santos “I wanted to create an illustration that embraced the vibrancy and richness of various Latino cultures and influences through bold and bright colors, pattern, line, and shape, reminiscent of some Latino muralists,” says illustrator Michelle Santos. “The radiating waves of sun rays symbolize the warmth and positive energy that emanate as Baltimore welcomes the latest wave of immigrant communities establishing, forming, and contributing to our city, and various architectural sites symbolizing the transformation of neighborhoods. Finally, I wanted to capture the hope that lies in the future of, with, and for our children in the little girl holding the American flag.”

web extras


by Lucy Hood Baltimore’s burgeoning Hispanic community is breathing new life into down-and-out neighborhoods and could be a force for broader change—but only if we can make them welcome here.

19 21 ——

Baltimore Observed De’Von Brown wants government to work for the people again.

on the air

Urbanite on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM December 5: Baltimore’s alternative currency December 12: The rise of the Latino community December 19: De’Von Brown’s impact on politics as usual

Publisher’s Note What You’re Saying What You’re Writing Don’t Miss The Goods

baltimore observed

27 Up by the Roots by Michael Corbin How a young candidate set out to overthrow a broken political system and rebuild trust between government and people on the streets. 29 Update 31 The Buck Stops Here 33 Voices

—— poetry

53 Northerly by Rachel Adams 55

—— space

55 Creative Class by Andrew Zaleski A lounge bar pieced together from repurposed items flips the script on swank.


45 Give It Up


by Brennen Jensen This is not your father’s philanthropy: New efforts in marketing and tech wizardry aim to foster a new generation of givers.

food + drink

59 Recipe for Disaster by Rebecca Messner How food helps us cope when Mother Nature rears her ugly head

more online at Poetry Rachel Adams reads her poem, “Northerly.” Music Check out tracks from Yeveto’s latest album.



63 Dining Reviews 65 Wine & Spirits

—— arts + culture

67 Angling for the Stars by Charles Cohen A monumental sculpture proposed for the banks of the Patapsco River will reshape Baltimore’s skyline. 69 Book 71 Music 71 Theater

—— 73 The Scene —— 82 Eye to Eye Urbanite #90  december 2011  7

Discover an experience like no other An early gift just for you!


minutes FRee

issue 90: december 2011 publisher Tracy Ward general manager Jean Meconi editor-in-chief Greg Hanscom senior editor Ron Cassie assistant editor Rebecca Messner digital media editor Andrew Zaleski editor-at-large David Dudley online editors food/drink: Tracey Middlekauff arts/culture: Cara Ober proofreader Marianne Amoss contributing writers Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Michael Corbin, Heather Dewar, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Brennen Jensen, Michelle Gienow, Clinton Macsherry, Richard O’Mara, Robin T. Reid, Andrew Reiner, Martha Thomas, Baynard Woods, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac editorial interns Lindsay Bottos-Sewell, Anissa Elmerraji, Krishana Davis production manager Belle Gossett


hRs FRee

designers Kristian Bjornard, Lisa Van Horn staff photographer J.M. Giordano production interns Sarah Thrower, Dave Volpe senior account executives Catherine Bowen Susan R. Levy account executive Natalie Richardson sales marketing associate Erin Albright

Follow Us! Restrictions Apply. First time users only. Must be 18 years old. Offer expires December 31, 2011.

84 DAYs

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advertising/sales/marketing intern Adrienne Price bookkeeper/distribution coordinator Michelle Miller creative director emeritus Alex Castro founder Laurel Harris Durenberger — Advertising/Editorial/Business Offices 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, md 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-243-2115

410-484-6800 1836 Greene Tree Road / Baltimore, MD

Editorial inquiries: Send queries to (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily share the opinions of its authors. To subscribe or obtain assistance with a current subscription, call 410-243-2050. Subscription price: $18 per year. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission by Urbanite is prohibited. Copyright 2011, Urbanite llc. All rights reserved. Urbanite (issn 1556-8105) is a free publication distributed widely in the Baltimore metropolitan area. To suggest a drop location for the magazine, please contact us at 410-243-2050. Postmaster: Send address changes to Urbanite Subscriptions, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, md 21211. Urbanite is a certified Minority Business Enterprise.

bottom Photo by Sarah Thrower; middle photo by Fred Kenner; top photo By Rob Chester; photo of Tracy Ward by Sarah Thrower


publisher’s note

Rachel Adams is a Baltimore native who now lives in Washington, D.C. She is the managing editor of a quarterly academic journal that focuses on post-Soviet states; the editor of Lines + Stars, a literary journal; and a freelance writer. Her poems have previously been published in Blueline, Arsenic Lobster, Town Creek Poetry, Four and Twenty, Blue Unicorn, Barrier Islands Review, Ophelia Street, and Grasslimb. Her poem in this issue, “Northerly,” was first written on a napkin in an underground bar on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C., far removed from the hills of upstate New York where its seeds were planted (p. 53). Michelle Santos is a painter and proud mother of three. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she made her way to Baltimore in 1990 to pursue a master of fine arts degree at Maryland Institute College of Art, where she studied under abstract expressionist Grace Hartigan. In her free time, Santos paints community murals, like the one she finished in October to honor past directors of the Druid Heights Community Center. She also written and illustrated I Breathe Goodnight, a children’s book about bedtime relaxation that she hopes will be published soon. Santos created this month’s cover illustration. Born and Raised in Richmond, Virginia, photography intern Sarah Thrower is an aspiring documentary photographer and senior at Maryland Institute College of Art. For this issue, Sarah worked on photographs for “El Nuevo Baltimore” (p. 36), which looks at the city’s burgeoning Latino community. “It was intriguing for me because it was a neighborhood that I hadn’t explored in Baltimore,” she says, adding that she also stumbled upon some great places to eat.

with the completion of our last issue of 2011, it seems like a good

tracy ward

time to reflect on Urbanite’s mission for the past eight years and the direction we’re headed in 2012 and beyond. As some may know, my background, my vocation, is in community development, where I worked for twenty years before launching the magazine. So I write as a community developer currently using a media company and the power of narration to do my work. I believe stories matter. They have impact. I’ll give you a recent example. Not long ago, reading the Sun over breakfast, I spotted an incredible, frontpage image of these beautiful kids playing football. The story, however, was about budget cuts jeopardizing their football league. More than anything in the world right then, I did not want any of the beautiful children in our city to get less than their due. In the right-hand column, there was a Constellation Energy and Excelon merger article—an example of yet another corporation with exorbitantly rewarded executives—a fraction of whose resources could solve the plight of those kids. I got upset, and I wanted to do something about it. Throughout its life, Urbanite has looked for ways to motivate beyond fear as “if it bleeds, it leads” stories do, trying to foster dialogue—the kind of meaningful dialogue that empowers connection and commonality and can solve complex problems.   It’s been ninety issues of assembled words and imagery. Choices made, others set aside—a new narrative for Baltimore, a narrative that imagines Baltimore as it could be, whose central message says we can make different choices now. We have the resources we need. We have the talent.    We’ve made an effort to reflect a diverse Baltimore in our pages. We’ve made space for stories that explore possibilities without shirking from realities, suggesting alternative approaches. We celebrated innovation, emerging trends— arts, culture, recreation, and music, too—while promoting the notion of sustainability. And we found we had made a connection with readers. We’ve partnered with the Open Society Institute, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and other local foundations on editorial coverage, both in print and online. We are fostering new partnerships to move the mission beyond print and our website. My dream is that Urbanite will eventually move into other cities, amplifying dialogue in new communities, connected by a new kind of publication. Hopefully, cities will begin to connect with each other as well. More than ever, I am inspired by those using their platforms in innovative ways to create connections to solve problems more effectively. Marin Alsop. Doreen Bolger. Kwame Kwei-Armah. The Walters Art Museum. And this is why, in 2012, Urbanite is dedicating our year to highlighting the work of innovative collaborators. So what is the message to our readers? Each of you contributes to the Baltimore narrative. Those kids are counting on you.

Coming next month

What’s on the Horizon? Three visions for Baltimore’s future

Urbanite #90  december 2011  9


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NOW ON VIEW! Generously sponsored by The Rouse Company Foundation Supported by The Johns Hopkins University through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Media Sponsor City Paper Sonia Delaunay. Plates 1 and 34 (details) from the portfolio Compositions, Colors, Ideas. 1930. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Friends of Art Fund, BMA 1997.152.1 and .34. Š L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague, 20110824

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what you’re saying s house renovat ion ritty city’? · row more: the next ‘g i t l a b · ! h s i f n e k fran no. 89 e 2011 issu november

special section

could take … Consider certain sects in India where it is no shame to beg and live as simple and monkish a life as possible, serving others, to become a revolutionary and actually try to change society. Otherwise, to paraphrase Bobbie Dylan, it ain’t a-changin. Heck, these days even white, middle-class graduates can’t even find jobs. t I know these almost seem like s La flip and mean suggestions, but I’m just trying to be real. Fortunately, our country is so rich that one can live around the margins better than is possible to More than half the people released do so in third-world countries. from prison each Med School Redefined

e e r F t a

year wil behind bars again. How l soon be can we help them stay out?

—David Eberhardt

War (On Drugs)! What is it Good for? Re: “Nolle Prosequi,” a post on our online Crime & Punishment blog, about solutions to the War on Drugs: From the Outside, Looking In Re: “On the Outside,” Nov. ’11, about mass incarceration in Baltimore: more must-read journalism on criminal justice and re-entry by @ mrcx05 in @UrbaniteMD —@RDFoxworth

congrats to my dear friend Michael Corbin—keep these well-written articles coming. They draw attention to the prison and ex-offender problems and point out creative solutions. But, to sound a dissenting note—and it’s a big but—after being in prison twenty-one months (in the federal system in 1970–71 for an anti-war protest), and after thirty-three years of social work at the Baltimore City jail, I have seen the same article, the same statistics (roughly), the same conclusions, funded by the same sources, and with the same critical letters written in response by me since 1970! The problem is thinking in the same old tired box because, until we have socialism and conquer racism in this country, the prison industrial complex will prosper; nothing will change. Thus, the article is not realistic. The inmate population is not a voting force, although we have some good efforts to register them at the city jail. I like the spiritual side and the fact that ex-offenders may find in Islam a bit of ventilation for their anger. As to jobs: I could advise ex-offenders on two other profitable paths they

it is totally unrealistic to assume that the demand for drugs can be stopped and that we can live in a world “free from drugs” … That’s why legalization and regulation is the only rational, efficient, and effective alternative to solve the so-called drug problem. I do not think that anybody in their right mind could possibly think that legalization and regulation is the silver bullet. The main point of contention, instead, is that legalization and regulation … is not a question of abstinence or punishment, but one of rational management of the drug problem, which … is not just about consumption but production as well. My point is that any rational, responsible, and caring individual should be able to understand that a regime seeking to legalize and regulate the production and consumption of drugs CANNOT be as destructive and corrosive—socially, economically and politically speaking—as the current prohibition regime is. —David Valenc

My Neighborhood is Fine Re: “Not in My Neighborhood,” Nov. ’11 a reader’s response to the Oct. ’11, editor’s note: just read reader Geoffrey Bennett’s letter in the November issue and felt the need to comment. I did as Mr. Bennett suggested and took a look at the City Paper’s Murder Ink map. With the exception of the Northern Corridor (which happens to be served by the MTA Light Rail), the red murder flags are fairly evenly

distributed across the city. While most of the murders are categorized as African American, I fail to see the point Mr. Bennett is trying to make. Is Mr. Bennett purporting that the absence of rail transportation is the reason that there have been no murders in Canton, Fells Point, or the Inner Harbor this year? These areas are served by MTA bus lines. What would prevent the same murderers from accessing these areas by bus? I live in Charles Village, a block and a half from where Stephen Pitcairn was murdered in July 2009. Charles Village is not served by rail transportation, yet crime occurs here. The tired, old notion that public transportation facilitates crime is complete rubbish and is simply unfounded. The benefits of building the Red Line (or improving Baltimore’s public transportation system in any way) certainly outweigh any perceived fear of increased crime. Honestly, do residents really believe that the Red Line will bring murder to Canton and Fells Point? —Mark Martindale

It's art Re: “Artwork’s Limitations,” Oct. ’11, a reader response to “Eye to Eye,” Sept. ’11, about The Dew Love Dharma Tent: just read a reader’s complaint (see “What You’re Saying,” Oct. ’11 Urbanite) regarding this art. It was described as “obviously cruel, obscene, and, thus, pornographic picture of animal abuse …” The reader went on to say that this turned her stomach enough that the Urbanite would lose her as a reader. Of course, her description made me want to see what all the fuss was about. After seeing the art and reading the artist’s thoughts on it, all I can say to the disgruntled former reader is: It’s art; get over yourself. —Z.O.

correction: The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative mentioned in “How to Fix a Rowhouse,” Nov. ’11 Urbanite, is running in fifteen cities, not thirteen. The incomplete total came from the organization’s website. GHHI is a project of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. Join the conversation. Follow us on Facebook (and use the “Suggest Urbanite” button to recommend us to friends) and Twitter (@UrbaniteMD). E-mail us at or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Urbanite #90  december 2011  11

Enjoy the Holidays 1. Babe. The renowned casual-chic women’s boutique has relocated to Fells Point! This larger, more glamorous retail space allows for much more hand-picked inventory, offering the best of the best from BCBGeneration, Ella Moss, Splendid, Charlie Jade, and many more trusted brands. Best Weekend Wear 2011 from Baltimore Magazine!



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2. Buddhist Psychotherapy First Therapy session is Free! We all suffer, but most suffering is not necessary. Seeing where we are stuck and developing the courage to let go of unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we are able to grow in new ways that allow for gentleness, peace, and joy. 3. DeBois Textiles Check out our great selection of winter coats and faux furs. Boots, sweaters, vintage wools, leathers and so much more. Authentic vintage clothing for men, women and children at greatly reduced prices. Award-winning thrift store located in our warehouse—all under $10. 4. Milk & Honey Market Milk & Honey Market is a neighborhood café/deli & grocery, offering locally and regionally sourced produce, meats, & dairy as well as specialty groceries, artisan cheeses & fresh bread. Place your holiday orders now for local pastured turkeys, fresh pies, meat & cheese plates and much more! We have lots of goodies for your office, your home & your stockings. 5. Studio C Jewelry & Gifts Local artist Constance Scott designs oneof-a-kind jewelry for a following of hip customers looking for unique creations not found elsewhere. Baltimore’s best kept “secret,” Studio C offers a unique assortment of affordable gifts in addition to stunning jewelry. Choose from a diverse selection of handcrafted gifts and home accessories—many “upcycled” from everyday objects. 6. Fashion Atttic The Fashion Attic in Fells Point is “Baltimore’s Best Consignment Shop” five years running! We consign and sell gently used women’s clothing and accessories. Excellent clothing at excellent prices. Buy your winter wardrobe here and SAVE! We also carry a nice selection of Holiday Wear! Gift Cards Available.

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11. Stebbins Anderson Stebbins Anderson: a Baltimore tradition since 1867. Stebbins offers everything from a light bulb to a beautiful patio set or a lovely sofa. While at Stebbins stop by our new store, Stebbins for Her, a ladies boutique featuring Vera Bradley, Fossil, Honora cultured pearls and fashion jewelry. Stebbins, the store that works for you! 12. Emporium Collagia An eclectic, artful mix of unique home goods and fashion accessories in Historic Fell’s Point. Local collage artist and merchant Luana Kaufmann offers a collage of holiday shopping delights: glassware, ceramics, jewelry, soap, candles, stationery, books, men’s and children’s gifts, botanicals, and ornaments, as well as her own dreamlike, found-image collage art.

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2. Historic Ships Pearl Harbor Memorial Ceremony with Admiral Robert Papp, Jr., Commandant USCG, marks the 70th anniversary of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Special guest Lord Greenway, World Ship Trust chairman, will present the Maritime Heritage Award to TANEY. 12/7/11 - 12 noon - USCGC TANEY - Pier 5 - Open to the public. 3. The Red Garter MODERN, CHIC, SOPHISTICATED. The Red Garter has established itself as the premier women’s boutique in Baltimore. The Red Garter features unique and exciting sportswear, outerwear, handbags, accessories, and special occasion dresses. Please join us as we celebrate this holiday season and enjoy our gift to you: 20% OFF your entire purchases during the month of December. 410-653-9363.

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m y fi r s t h i k e a b o v e t r e e line—approximately 10,000 feet above sea level, where the bitter conditions allow little to no vegetation—was on the side of a Pacific Northwest Cascade Range volcano named Mt. Shasta. The season was autumn, only two years ago. Anyone in decent hiking shape can make the jaunt from the parking lot along the dirt trails and underneath the towering Ponderosa pines and white firs. And everyone should. Each step took me away from the buzzing highway, further from the trains’ bullhorns. Away from the breaking news and the rhythms and blues of what has become the latest American routine. About 1,500 vertical feet up from the trailhead (a rather mellow, gradual incline), the only sounds I heard were the high winds whistling through the evergreens, the fallen leaves—brown, yellow, and red—occasionally rustling on the forest floor, and the steps of my hiking boots massaging the earth in 4/4 time. More quiet than the hustle and bustle even at

silence the trailhead, but not silence. Not yet. As these external waves of sound became less frequent intruders of my eardrums, the internal sounds of my mind multiplied. Did I bring the house keys? ... I’m kinda hungry … I sure wish I wasn’t alone … What a great idea it was to move here … I hope I don’t run into a bear … or a mountain lion. The voices of my mind gave me the quaint feeling of having spoken to an old friend for the first time in years. With less being forced into my ears, I was able to really listen to myself—or whoever was tickling my mind. Still hiking, I remembered the time I was given a free session from a hypnotist at a health fair sponsored by my former employer. My mind became similarly clear and empty. I also recalled the many hours of practicing yoga, focusing on my breath—which was now silent—and reaching that familiar meditative state. The higher I hiked that hill, the deeper I traveled into the depths of my mind normally obscured by noise—even music. The metaphor was not lost on me.

I reached the barren landscape above 10,000 feet vertical elevation and sat down on a rock. No trees. No leaves. No people. No sound. My mind as barren as the landscape surrounding me. Empty, and silent. —Reggie Stiteler currently resides in Fells Point, where he slings coffee and pastries by day while singing and slapping his bass guitar by night. More of his writing can be found at

i l o o k e d a t t h e c l o c k —8:10 p.m. I had just sat down on the sofa and was contemplating what to do next. The silence sounded good. Excavation on the rowhouse next door—who excavates in this neighborhood?—had resulted in water in my basement as well as damage to my house’s foundation. There had been a Baltimore earthquake and hurricane in between rainy days too numerous to count, and finally, today, the concrete had been poured and the yard cemented, ending at least the underground work on the property. So, yeah, the silence was good. Urbanite #90  december 2011  15




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what you’re writing Was it raining? I heard what sounded like rain on the kitchen skylight and got up to listen more closely. No, it wasn’t rain. It sounded like something was behind my countertop microwave. I approached slowly and moved the microwave carefully—nothing. Yet, the noise persisted as I stared at my plastic wall tiles. And stared. And then … Oh, my god …. I knew. Rats had gotten cemented in between the neighbor’s new wall and my 60-year-old drywall. They had probably been hanging out under my vintage add-on kitchen during the excavation process and now were unable to get to the alley for their nocturnal ventures. None of that mattered at the moment. I knew what was between them and me. I could now hear them outside the wall behind my refrigerator, and I stared at those plastic tiles. The gnawing would last about fifteen minutes, then silence, then gnawing again. What the hell were they doing? An hour or so passed. I heard them coming from two more locations—somewhere under my sink and somewhere under my back door. Now it was an unrelenting gnawing, scratching, rat noise in surround sound. What was going on under the back door? Even though the kitchen light was on, I walked toward the back door with a flashlight. Could I see something? Like what? Not sure what I was looking for but nothing to see, only gnawing to hear. I went to the lighted basement to see if I could see or hear anything from there. Nothing. I turned around to head back up the steps. OK, I thought, OK, and took a deep breath. Then, I saw a rat—a few feet in front of me, running across my basement floor. —Carol Steibe, a Baltimore native, appreciates silence more than ever. However, she is still jumping at every noise every evening and still keeping baited rat traps in the basement.

t h e r e w a s a t i m e w h e n we’d talk passionately all night, in between making love, of nothing and everything. Such fun in the present, such plans for the future. We would travel, have at least two but no more than four kids, live in a big house with a fireplace, throw fabulous parties, be politically active, write a novel together, retire someplace interesting. And in the way of new lovers, we would never stop talking. Time has let in a chilly void. The talk is only at the dinner table, and only of the recent past and near future. The soccer goals scored, the homework completed or not, the instruments practiced, the rooms tidied, the playdates scheduled. Chatter and minutiae of five busy lives. Too much chatter, not enough passion for one of those lives. Now the void between us is filled with unspoken cold words of that further future that I now dread. Dissolution, custody agreement, division of assets, child support. The courtroom will be quiet, I’m sure, with only the sound of a ticking clock as the

judge reads the papers and dissolves this lovely life built on sand. —Name withheld

s o m e p e o p l e a r e a f r a i d of the machine. Not me. I have always been pragmatic about medical procedures. Sticking out my tongue to say “Ah,” holding out my left arm to receive a needle. I approach these things the same way I might pick up a pen. So when the nurse in her dark blue scrubs hands me the bright orange squishy earplugs, I don’t mind. I just rub them between my fingers, stick them in my ears one at a time, and listen to their whispery song of expansion. I hop right up to lie face down on the slightly concave metal shelf. The shelf is lined with pillows, but there is no hiding the fact it is made of metal. It takes only one and a half seconds for the coldness to begin to seep into my skin. There are two holes for my breasts to go through. This is for them, after all. When the test is finished there will be two perfect circles imprinted on my skin. I have heard some people freak out when the shelf starts being swallowed into the larger round body of the machine, but I don’t mind small spaces. Generally, they comfort me. I don’t like staying in one position for almost an hour. The discomfort of this gets all wrapped together with the loud ticking noises; the long buzzes like angry insects and the fast clicks as if someone is hammering sharp bursts of air against my ears. When it gets quiet I don’t know if I can breathe a nice full belly breath or if the sounds are about to start up again. There is nothing predictable on which to hang the ache that creeps behind my shoulder blades and starts moving up my arms. Do tears running down your cheeks count as moving? I am going to quit. I am going to tell them I can’t do this any more. They said they would talk to me! Where are they? Clickety clickety buzz thwat buzz. The patterns aren’t musical. If they were, I might be able find a door into them that could take my mind away from the pain. Without warning a voice speaks into the chamber, “You’re all done now.” As the shelf moves back into the open air, I bring my arms down along my sides and melt into the relief of silence. —Sindee Ernst is a transplanted New England writer who supports others in writing their stories on www. She loves playing banjo and bird-watching and dances with the Charm City Rapper sword team.

“ i a m s o s o r r y , c h i l d r e n , but I always cry during this part of the story. Please forgive me.” Miss Singer placed the open book neatly on her lap, pages down. She folded her hands and hung her head.

Then she cried—not loudly, not long—but she was definitely crying. I felt the thick push and pull of her emotions within my own small frame. Quietly, I panicked. What Wilbur, my classmates, and I did not know was that Charlotte was going to die. Charlotte knew it. Miss Singer knew it too. Wilbur knew that death was a merciless and final thing you were rescued from through the selfless love of an unlikely friend. A little gray spider had saved him with words of celebration and praise spun with tender-hearted purpose in the dusky corner of an old barn. Each message in her web justified his existence to a cold and unforgiving world that had been ready to discard and consume him from birth. Her love, woven in silk, placed a seal of protection on his life that, once seen, no one dared break. Now redeemed, how could he bear the injustice of her demise? Miss Singer told us the terrible truth that made her cry before she read it aloud that morning. She couldn’t stop the story now— just like Charlotte couldn’t lie to her friend about the inevitable. The moment my teacher trusted me with that truth, my little body became a vessel for a very grown up and other kind of sad. Its cruel advance crowded my lungs and quickened my heart. Its clutch neatly crushed my throat. Skinny, cross-legged, and 7, I steeled myself to support the weight of it all, in silence. —Nancy Lee Mitchell has lived in Baltimore all her life. She is a local artist, performer, and teacher, and her current writing is based on the incredible imaginings of her 6-year-old son. This is the first time she has ever submitted anything to people who publish things.

“What You’re Writing” is the place for creative

nonfiction from our readers. Each month we pick a topic. Use the topic as a springboard into your own life and send us a true story inspired by that month’s theme. Only previously unpublished, nonfiction submissions that include contact information can be considered. We reserve the right to edit heavily for space and clarity, but we will give you the opportunity to review the edits. You may submit under “name withheld” to keep your essay anonymous, but you do need to let us know how to contact you. If you’ve already changed the names of the people involved, please let us know. Only one submission per topic, please. Send your essay to Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211, or e-mail it to Submissions should be shorter than four hundred words. Because of the number of essays we receive, we cannot respond individually to each writer. Please do not send originals; submissions cannot be returned.

Topic Deadline Publication Selling Out Dec. 12, 2011 February 2012 Living Without Jan. 9, 2012 March 2012 Party On Feb. 13, 2012 April 2012

Urbanite #90  december 2011  17



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images (clockwise from top left): © Richard Gunion |; no photo credit; photo by J.M. Giordano; Photo courtesy of Keur Khaleyi African Dance Company; photo by John Ciekot; photo by J.M. Giordano

don’t miss 2


4 3



1 DECEMBER 8, 5:30–7:30 P.M.

3 December 15–20

5 DECEMBER 21, 8 p.m.




If you missed them during Artscape, you can see Urbanite staff photographer J.M. Giordano’s Big Girls: eight, 12-foot-by-5-foot nude photos inspired by Helmut Newton’s Big Nudes, opening December 15 at the Metro Gallery. Proceeds of the sale go toward breast cancer research.

Baltimore bad-boy John Waters, director of your favorite sexploitation cult classics like Pink Flamingos and Desperate Living, will discuss his love of perverted gifts, holiday horror stories, and an obsession with St. Nick during his one-man holiday spectacle, A John Waters Christmas, at the Lyric Opera House.

Watch Clifton Mansion—the Italian-style villa in Clifton Park once owned by Johns Hopkins (the man, that is)—light up when Civic Works hosts their annual Tower Lighting. The event honors the hundreds of Civic Works employees, volunteers, and friends who have been working to make Baltimore a better place for the last fifteen years. R.S.V.P. required. FREE 2701 St. Lo Dr. 410-366-8533


Go caroling through the bright lights of Hampden with jazz and blues legend Lea Gilmore during City Sidewalks. Part of the Creative Alliance’s Art to Dine For series, the walk will begin at home goods store Trohv with a vocal warm-up and include stops at the neighborhood’s lovingly gaudy decorations on 34th Street. Desserts and hot mulled wine will be served after the singing’s over. Snuggies and mittens will be provided. $40 921 W. 36th St. 410-276-1651

Free 1700 N. Charles St. 410-244-0899

4 DECEMBER 16, 9 p.m. MUSIC

It’s a triple bill of Baltimore goodness: Bespectacled electronic music prodigy Dan Deacon will perform at the Ottobar with the Dan Deacon Ensemble on December 16, along with ethereal, psychedelic band Celebration and found music masters Matmos (famous for sampling recordings of liposuction and other surgical procedures). $10 2549 N. Howard St. 410-662-0069

For more events, see the Scene on page 73.

$30–$80 140 W. Mt. Royal Ave. 410-685-5086


Celebrate African American heritage and culture at the Baltimore Museum of Art’s 15th annual Kwanzaa Family Day. Inspired by Hand Held: Personal Arts from Africa, an exhibition at the BMA that showcases everyday 18th and 19th century objects like hats, combs, and baskets from twenty-one African countries, the celebration includes a performance by Keur Khaleyi African Dance Company and storytelling from Baltimore actress/dancer/teacher Maria Broom. Free 10 Art Museum Dr. 443-573-1582 Urbanite #90  december 2011  19

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20  december 2011

Record & Tape Traders UKAZOO Books Far Corners Travel

the goods

what ’s new in style, shopping & beyond

Back to Basics

anissa elmerraji

Photos (clockwise from left): photo by Joni Schrantz; Photo by Devon Rowland Photography; photo by Kevyn Matthews

“What has attracted people to our furniture is how fitting it is in Baltimore,” says Will Phillips, co-partner of Sandtown Millworks (115 N. Charles St.; 410-656-9777; www.sandtown, of the one-of-a-kind tables, desks, mirrors, bookshelves, and beds he and business partner John Bolster have been crafting out of wood salvaged from Baltimore homes and buildings. The furniture designs highlight the unique characteristics of each piece of wood, like nail marks, nicks, and notches. Phillips says that the pieces exude a sense of permanence and durability. But if that’s not enough assurance, he guarantees the furniture (which runs anywhere from $400 to $2,500) will outlive its customer— or he’ll repair or replace it for free.

On the Rebound

krishana davis No longer do your old books need to lie abandoned on a shelf collecting dust, thanks to Caitlin Phillips, owner of Rebound Designs ( The Maryland-based company turns old books into fashionable purses in a twelve-hour process. To do this, Phillips removes the covers from books she saves from yard sales, thrift stores, and libraries, and uses a variety of tools, among them a knife, sewing machine, and glue. Although she has an affinity for math and science textbooks, Phillips has made purses out of Pride and Prejudice, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Fahrenheit 451, to name a few.

Fancy feast

andrew zaleski Having served in the film catering industry in New York City, executive chef Kevyn Matthews knows fine dining. What he didn’t know was that his Doberman Pinscher, Greta, likes it too. Seven years later, The Dog Chef (301-785-2998; was born, with Matthews concocting culinary creations just for canines: organic proteins like beef or bison, fresh vegetables, and dessert treats. Dog owners can choose one of several plans for Matthews’s weekly feeding service—he delivers to areas in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.—and his custom dog treats can be found in Baltimore’s own Sorso Cafe.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  21

A holiday Shopping Oasis At The Village of Cross Keys, discover an alluring collection of distinctive one of a kind shops along with some of your favorite nationally known stores, all over flowing with holiday treasures.

“There’s No Other Shopping Place Quite Like It.”

jean pool 410.466.1177 Voted Best Denim Store in Baltimore, 2011 J Brand, 7, Hudson, AG, Joes, Citizens and all the quality brands you’re familiar with!

Carl’s Salon & Day Spa 410.435.9400 Walk-Ins welcome! 1st visit with consultation 50% off. Still serving Baltimore over 8 centuries.

Jones & Jones 410.532.9645 Jones & Jones fits any occasion with exquisite cocktail and day dress along with sophisticated sportswear and unique jewelry.

The Pied Piper 410.435.2676 Baltimore’s Best for Kids. Classic and contemporary clothing, unique gifts and accessories. Infant to Teen.

Holiday Shopping

Octavia 410.323.3066 Make your holidays shine with a gift from Octavia! Follow us on Facebook

Barston’s Childs Play Bowers and Snyder Opticians Carl’s Salon & Day Spa • Chezelle • Chico’s Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa Gore Dean Home Collection • J.Jill Jean Pool • Jones & Jones • La Terra Octavia II • Pied Piper • Ruth Shaw • Talbots The Store Ltd • Williams-Sonoma

Holiday Dining Crossroads Restaurant Donna’s Café and Coffee Bar Village Square Café

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the goods

Bright Spot

krishana davis

Photos (clockwise from left): courtesy of Hanger Alley; Courtesy of jhill design; photo by Sarah Thrower

Opened in Fells Point last month, Hanger Alley (2007 Fleet St.; 301-485-9544; www. is a women’s apparel and accessories boutique that sells whimsical vintage-inspired dresses, sweaters, bathing suits, and plus-sized items ($10–$68). Because owner Nichole Daley has lived on both coasts, she knows and stocks a broad range of American labels. Daley says the affordable bright and vibrant clothing she sells is fit for the young professional woman to the music scene lover and will change seasonally.

Crabby Calendar

anissa elmerraji In Places I Have Never Been, Jennifer Hill’s new print calendar, Baltimore makes the cut alongside exotic destinations like Kingston, Jamaica, and Marrakech, Morocco. “I spent a lot of time watching The Wire,” says Hill, owner of Boston-based JHill Design (857-225-4917; www.jhilldesign. com), explaining why Charm City was included in the set of seventy-eight bold prints she describes as “very graphic and multilayered.” The Baltimore print, which features red and blue crabs set against a geometric depiction of rowhouse bricks, will also represent “June” in Hill’s 2012 calendar.

By Hand, for Hands

anissa elmerraji Like a hand-crafted violin or a block of Roquefort, some things just get better with age. But a towel? “The more you wash them, the softer they get,” says Carla Wing, owner of Federal Hill boutique Phina’s for the Home (919 S. Charles St.; 410-6850911;, the only shop in Maryland that sells the new Nandina Organics Heirloom Collection of towels. Made from Turkish bergama organic cotton, these towels are hand-loomed, which makes for longer cotton fibers, meaning softer, more absorbent towels, wash after wash. Act fast: Phina’s carries a limited stock; once sold, customers will have to place an order.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  23

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Making Fridays Merrier Receive a $10 Shop Etc. Mall Gift Card with $75 or more in purchases. While supplies last. Fridays, December 2, 9 & 16, 4 - 8pm To receive your gift card, present same day receipts between 4 - 8pm at the Redemption Zone located in Center Court *Offer while supplies last. Must be 17 or older & present ID. To claim your $10 gift card, bring your same-day Mondawmin Mall receipts for purchases totaling $75 or more and purchased on one of the following Fridays, December 2, 9, 16, 2011 to our Redemption Zone in Center Court. Redemption Zone hours are 4-8pm. For complete terms see Redemption Zone or

2401 Liberty Heights Avenue Like us on Facebook!


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Visit our website for Holiday hours and information.


Join Anquan Boldin of the Baltimore Ravens in supporting our low-income, at-risk neighbors’ basic needs.

We are an engaging enlightening Community of faith

We are emmanuel episCopal ChurCh Christmas serViCes

DeC 18 10:30am Lessons and Carols DeC 24 4:30pm Children’s pageant 6pm & 10pm Festival Holy Eucharist DeC 25 10:30am Holy Eucharist (spoken) Urbanite #90  december 2011  25

baltimore observed features  /  update / voices

Up by the Roots How a young candidate set out to overthrow a broken political system and rebuild trust between government and people on the street Photo by j.m. Giordano

By Michael Corbin

De’Von Brown looked like a preacher on Sunday as he stepped to the podium. He took a beat to eye the camera and take in the small but enthusiastic crowd that had gathered at Terra Café on East 25th Street last spring. “I am here today to announce that I am running for city council in the 12th district,” said the 21-year-old Maryland Institute College of Arts senior. “I offer change … Baltimore can do better than The Wire. We are more than this.” Brown, an aspiring filmmaker, knows intimately the power of images to control a narrative and make meaning. His 12-year-old innocence and pathos were captured in the 2006 documentary Boys of Baraka, about a group of Baltimore youth who were sent to school in Africa through a program that attempted to protect kids from the depredations of the inner city. By invoking The Wire, Brown let the crowd know that both his life and the city of Baltimore had become the raw material of other people’s storytelling. “It’s time for a different story about Baltimore,” he said. The democratic process had the taint of illegitimacy, Brown told the crowd. Even at the local level, politics didn’t seem to be of, by, or for people—particularly young people like those on North Caroline Street in East Baltimore, where he grew up and still lives with the grandmother who raised him.

This boy’s life: De’Von Brown went from Boys of Baraka to city council candidate.

What’s happening in

doubledutch boutique best women’s boutique 2006-2011 3616 falls rd. 410.554.0055 in watermelon sugar eclectic home furnishings 3555 chestnut ave. 410.662.9090

in the details fashion for men and women 813 w. 36th st. 410.889.0380 inthedetailsshop

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minás gallery & boutique vintage and new clothing and gifts 815 w. 36th st 410.732.4258

breathe books baltimore’s only new age bookstore 810 w. 36th st. 410.235.7323

Find out more about holiday events at

28  december 2011

milagro a global boutique-clothing, jewelry and folkart 1005 w. 36th st. 410.235.3800


david’s on the avenue quality used furniture & consignments 914 w. 36th st. 410.467.8159

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the verandah by the rustic gourmet everyday, homestyle indian eatery 842 w. 36th st. 410.889.0999

december Dec. 10 & 11, 17 & 18 Santa Comes To The Ave. Dec. 2 - 1st Friday in Hampden Dec. 4 - Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade Dec. 31 - New Years Eve Ball Drop with Baby New Year on 34th St.



antique exchange treats for you & them, old & new! 3545 chestnut ave. 410.532.7000

The “Best of Baltimore” all in one place. Hampden is your one-stop shopping for buying local holiday gifts, indie fashion, incredible dining, cutting edge salons, and relaxing spas.

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Feature 1 / update  baltimore observed Both at the café that day and on the streets during the campaign, Brown made the case that he had some things that present-day political leaders and storytellers lacked: authenticity, street-level credibility, and manifest love for the community. “This campaign will be about service to real people in the community,” he said. Brown lost the election by a wide margin to the incumbent, but even so, it is worth looking at what he was trying to do. Brown was not just out to win a political race. He hoped to rewrite a contract between the people and their government. In 1998, University of Maryland professor Gary LaFree wrote a book called Losing Legitimacy, arguing that street crime in places like Baltimore was not merely a function of economic conditions, inequality, demographic forces, or changes in policing strategies, as was then, and is largely still, the conventional wisdom. Instead, he argued that the best predictor of crime was whether people believed that government officials and social institutions were legitimate. If you believed that the social contract applied to you, you were less likely to become a criminal. LaFree, who today directs the university’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was ahead of his time. Today, many others have taken up his argument in an effort to explain crime’s continuing decline in America and Baltimore despite historically bad economic conditions. Ohio State University history professor Randolph Roth, author of the award-winning 2009 book American Homicide, says the theory explains why people kill. (See “Murderland,” Jan. ’10 Urbanite.) Roth and others have even proposed an “Obama effect” to explain the continuing drop on urban crime. “The inauguration of the first black president and the passing of the Bush administration re-legitimized the government in the eyes of many Americans during the first few months of 2009,” Roth says. “African Americans and other racial minorities, who live disproportionately in America’s cities, were more deeply affected than anyone else, and it is likely that their greater trust in the political process and their positive feelings about the new president led to lower rates of urban violence.” It was precisely this trust that De’Von Brown was trying to foster with his city council run this summer. I met Brown in 2004 when, after the Baraka school closed, I became his English teacher for four years at a Baltimore public high school. Still as raw and guileless as he was in the film, Brown had a growing consciousness that people often promised more than they could deliver, and that the world beyond North Caroline Street had its own set of opportunities and obstacles. He knew he had been given opportunities and became committed to giving others opportunities too.

Brown ran for class president, making the same arguments in his run for city council. “We got all kinds of cliques in here, but we need to come together as a school,” he said in 2006 from the improvised podium in the cafeteria at lunch. He won that race overwhelmingly. Some teachers at the school raised their eyebrows and whispered their concerns when Brown was befriended by Katie O’Malley, a Maryland district court judge and wife of then-mayor and now-governor Martin O’Malley. “Guilty white liberal getting over,” a fellow teacher told me at the time. You heard the same kind of complaint this summer when Governor O’Malley endorsed Brown in his city council race and went door to door with him in his community: Why was the governor putting in work for this 21-year-old, bypassing all the protocols of the city’s Democratic Party machine? “Sure, I got opportunities. People have helped me out,” Brown said when I asked about what some thought of his benefactors. “But isn’t this what we are trying to do? Give people opportunities?” “I think O’Malley came to work with De’Von because he knew it was the right thing to do,” says Preston Prentice, who spent his middle and high school years on North Caroline Street and served as Brown’s campaign manager. “In politics we found out the ‘grassroots’ doesn’t have enough money to compete. O’Malley has had to play that game of money politics, but he doesn’t owe anybody in Baltimore now, and he knows what East Baltimore needs when he is honest with himself.” Prentice, who works as project manager for a federal government contractor, says there is value in the stories that have been told about Baltimore in recent years. “What Boys of Baraka and The Wire have done is to remove the argument of ignorance,” he says. “Nobody can claim that they don’t know what is going on down on Caroline Street. “I grew up with guys who had to make choices. You have people who have committed criminal acts, but who aren’t criminals. You understand what I am saying?” Prentice continues. “If you know what is going on, you say, ‘But for the grace God go I.’ De’Von knows this and I know this and that is why we ran for city council … The representatives have become complacent about representing the people here.” Brown, always looking at the bigger picture, amends Prentice’s comments. “It’s not just about the failure of politicians,” he says. “People need to feel that they are part of something. Right now, in my community, many people don’t.” This is the final piece of a year-long series about criminal justice, funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. To read the whole series, go to Find Michael Corbin’s Crime & Punishment blog at

update by Anissa Elmerraji

pencils down After the No Child Left Behind Act went into effect, schools nationwide began revising their curricula to make gains on standardized tests (See “Testing in Progress,” Sept. ’09 Urbanite). The Baltimore Sun reported that the National Assessment of Educational Progress results released this November by the Nation’s Report Card revealed that Maryland students’ scores in fourthgrade reading and math were among the top five states. Despite these results, only one-third of fourth-grade students scored proficient or advanced in reading. More disappointing still is the gap between white and African American students. Although scores continue to improve, African American fourth-grade students scored twentyeight points lower than white students in math this year.

bikers barred Despite the roughly one thousand daily bicycle commuters in Baltimore, moves toward making the city more biker-friendly have been received with mixed-feelings (see “Shifting Gears,” June ’11 Urbanite). In October, this same ambivalence greeted the removal of the half-mile bike lane that ran from Gwynns Falls Parkway to North Avenue, says Baltimore Brew. Some protested the installation of the bike lane in May; the biking community was upset about losing the lane, which they felt showed respect for cyclists. William Brewer, president of the Whittier-Monroe Community Neighborhood Association, claimed that the short, poorly marked lane did more harm than good for cyclists, especially since impatient motorists had a tendency to reclaim the lane during rush hour.

the fast track With an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion, Baltimore’s proposed Red Line—a 14-mile light-rail line that will run from Security Square to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center—has been referred to as the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Maryland (see “Follow the Red Line,” Oct. ’11 Urbanite). According to the Washington Post, in October, the Red Line was chosen to receive expedited environmental review, a decision that could potentially cut two years off the planning process. A measure to promote jobs creation, this White Housesanctioned move is a source of anxiety for supporters of the Purple Line—a 16-mile transit line link to the Washington Metro—who doubt that the Federal Transit Administration will fund the simultaneous construction of two Maryland Transit Administration projects.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  29

Tay Williams-Jackson ‘11 • Friends’ Black Awareness Club • Hip-hop choreographer • Student Diversity Leadership Council • Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools The George Washington University Class of 2015

Balanced. Morally centered. Responsive. Coeducational.

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Feature 2  baltimore observed

The Buck Stops Here

A new Baltimore currency encourages local spending … but will people use it? By Martha Thomas

Photo by Sarah Thrower


hen the question of whether to accept BNotes first came up, Elissa Strati, owner of Avenue Antiques in Hampden, was skeptical. “I have forty-five merchants in the store. I have to write checks to them,” she says. The alternative currency launched last spring just wouldn’t work, Strati said. “I have to keep meticulous records.” Lately she’s come around. “The BNote is another dollar,” she says. But with a tangible advantage: “It encourages people to shop locally.” Another reason for her change of heart: The register, as it turns out, isn’t clogged with the distinctive bills, etched with likenesses of Edgar Allan Poe and Frederick Douglass. She encourages the cashiers to offer customers change in BNotes, and if she does find herself with too many BNote bills in the till, “it’s easy enough to exchange them for dollars.” BNotes are the brainchild of a small organization known as Baltimore Green Currency Association. The group’s executive director, Jeff Dicken, claims a lifelong passion for economic systems and markets—he collects comic books and invests in the stock market. The BNote, says Dicken, is a weapon in the fight against “the corporatization of America.” “When you spend $1 at a corporate chain like Walmart or CVS, only 15 percent comes back into the community,” he explains. “If you spend that dollar at a local place, 45 to 60 percent stays in the community.” Baltimore is not alone in its efforts to detach from big corporations and big banks. Alternative currencies have been established in Ithaca, Detroit, and Western Massachusetts, where locals use “Berkshares” to shop at a farm market, get a massage, or visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. There’s also the Bitcoin, the controversial invention of a computer code writer that can be used on the Internet.

BNotes, printed on durable paper with a gold foiling, are distributed through “cambios”—the Spanish word for exchange— housed in such local businesses as the Hampden law office of Murray Blum and the Lauraville headquarters of Zeke’s Coffee. While each BNote equals $1 when used to purchase goods and services—at a little more than 130 Baltimore businesses as of November 1—notes can be purchased from the cambios at a 10 percent discount. The 18,000 BNotes in circulation at the time of writing were backed by a cache of U.S. dollars, which Dicken says are “untouchable” until the system gets larger, and “there’s leakage”— that is, some BNotes will leave circulation or go out of state.” (Indeed, a recent post on the group’s website, www.baltimoregreencurrency. org, came from an out-of-state Poe fan who wanted to purchase BNotes for his collection.) At that point, BNote organizers say they hope to free up some funds to finance micro-loans and other community projects. But they are hesitant to be specific. “One of the principles of the organizers is not to overpromise,” says Julie Ferriss, a member of Green Currency’s board of directors. When pressed, she describes the possibility of a debit card that would allow its users to make BNotebacked purchases citywide. “But it wouldn’t be set up through big banks.” Indeed, the point of alternative currencies is to break away not only from corporate merchants, but also from the banks that many blame for the current economic crisis. It’s not a new idea. “The notion of alternative currencies is deeply embedded in the American psyche,” says Dr. Richard D. Schubart, a history teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. “It wasn’t until the Civil War that a uniform currency was established.” Schubart was living

in Exeter, New Hampshire, at the time Ralph Borsodi, who influenced both the back-to-the-land movement in the 1970s and the libertarian ideals of the state he called home, experimented with an alternative currency dubbed the “constant.” “He wanted to create a tangible currency that was immune to inflation,” says Schubart The constant was pegged to commodities—for example, a note might be worth 5 gallons of heating oil—and those who possessed it needn’t worry about the fluctuating market, as the constant would remain, well, constant. Constants were in circulation when my family moved to Exeter in the early 1970s, and my mother remembers using them in many of the family-owned stores on Water Street at the time. The Exeter Banking Company, Schubart told me, agreed to back the constant with U.S. dollars. But the local bank at that time was more George Bailey than Bank of America, and Borsodi’s vision was a way of staving off the dramatic inflation he correctly predicted in the 1970s. (Borsodi died in 1977.) Today’s alternative currency movement is, like Occupy Wall Street, an effort to re-claim economic autonomy and ideally to rebalance the country’s wealth—which, as we have all heard lately, has grown disproportionately among the top 1 percent of Americans in the past twenty years. But my question to those behind BNotes is, where can you buy a quart of milk? Katherine Thomas, a sales associate at Avenue Antiques, offers BNotes to customers as change for their purchases but doesn’t use them herself. “They’re not convenient for me,” says Thomas, a resident of Hampden. “I don’t use the places that take them.” For now, BNotes are accepted at restaurants like Woodberry Kitchen, Café Hon, and the Dogwood. You can get highlights (beginning at $85) at Sprout Salon, or have your kitchen remodeled by Greenbuilders. This seeming disparity—that BNotes are most easily used for goods and services out of reach for many Baltimoreans—is not lost on the folks at Baltimore Green Currency. “We’d love to have some farmers or Eddie’s (the locally owned grocery store) on board,” says Jeff Dicken. Julie Ferriss points out that the BNote is “one small piece of a much larger picture.” The currency, she says, “is one piece of an alternative economic system. It’s not the solution to everything.” —Martha Thomas wrote about local efforts to cook with invasive species in the November ’11 issue of Urbanite.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  31

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voices  baltimore observed

Protecting our Bodies McKay Jenkins sounds an alarm in What’s Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World, chronicling the plasticizers, pesticides, and flame retardants that human beings inhale, ingest, and absorb. Interview by Ron Cassie

Photo by J.M. Giordano

after the discovery of a tumor near his hip, McKay Jenkins, married, father of two, began investigating the manufacturing and consumer use of synthetic chemicals, particularly those in everyday products such as plastic bottles, cosmetics, toys, carpets, and cell phones. The implementation of synthetic chemicals for commercial purposes has largely gone unchecked, Jenkins concludes, and although it is impossible to conclude directly, they are likely linked to increasing rates of some cancers, reproductive problems, learning disabilities, and other health issues. urb: Jumping off the page early in What’s Gotten Into Us? are references to body-burden studies, where researchers test for the presence of various synthetic chemicals, such as plasticizers, pesticides, and flame retardants in people’s bodies. mj: Going into this story, I had a bit of a personal scare. Lo and behold, it turned out to be a benign tumor. I was never sick, never had cancer, never had to go through chemotherapy. Nonetheless, it was a traumatic experience. As a journalist, the logical thing to do would’ve been to get tested myself, but my wife and I decided not to do that, feeling it would’ve added more trauma. There are a variety of different groups—some are environmental groups with a legislative agenda, others interested in science and policy—that hire outside researchers. So I decided to go to Maine where some of this work was being done. People submit blood, hair, and urine. The evidence points to the ubiquity of these chemicals, not in laboratories, rivers, or lab rats, but literally, they find them in people. Other studies have

found them wild animals, the breast tissue of Beluga whales, atop South American mountains, and in the bodies of the Inuit in the Arctic Circle. The wind literally blows them [synthetic chemicals] around the world. urb:

Many of those who tested positive in the Maine study for the presence of synthetic chemicals grew up far from factories, commercial farms, or mills in remote areas. On average, you report, participants harbored thirty-six toxic chemicals, including traces of chemicals used to make Teflon and Scotchgard treatments. The body-burden studies themselves are a new tactic, correct?

mj: Groups calling [synthetic chemicals] an environmental issue have not gotten traction. Calling it a health issue has not been effective. Calling it a health issue that affects kids—that works. The political driver tends to be moms because it’s not just their own health, but also the health of their kids, for women of childbearing age. urb: Was the discovery that Bisphenol-A [BPA] was leeching from reusable, environmentally righteous Nalgene bottles a canary in the coal mine moment for the danger of synthetic chemicals in consumer products? mj: It’s interesting. Out of the thousands of chemicals that may harm people, why would it be that BPA popped to the surface [of media attention]? Was it that BPA was also used for things like baby bottles, and heated liquids caused it to leech faster? “Oh god, the heated bottle on the stove in middle of the night? I might be giving hormone-disrupting chemicals to a baby.” That’s

a resonate image. What about stain resistant carpeting? Why not that? And BPA is still being used, just not in baby products. urb:

You also write about pesticides, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals—traces of everything from anti-depressants to Viagra—entering the water supply. mj: The water treatment systems we have in place are not technologically advanced enough to address the problems we have. These contaminates can’t be killed. We’re used to dumping a bunch of chlorine in there. On the East Coast, they were built 150 years ago to combat cholera and dysentery, which they do well. urb:

What’s been the reaction to book?

mj: “God, I don’t want to read that” has been one of the strongest reactions. Consciously, people don’t want to know what chemicals are being used in their cosmetics, green lawns, microwave popcorn. Similar to Michael Pollan’s book The Ominivore’s Dilemma, about fast food, the book sets out to open people’s eyes about the connection of many consumer products to their health, the environment, workers’ rights. What I was interested in is why and how we got to this place. There are 50 million acres—the size of Nebraska—of lawn in this country. How did this come about? How did it come to be that our houses had to smell like lavender or apple pie? Rather than baking an apple pie, a company will sell you a synthetic spray that smells like apple pie.

  For an extended interview with McKay Jenkins, where he talks more about the chemicals that have gotten into us, head to Urbanite #90  december 2011  33


Confidence Is Blind Blind Industries and Services of Maryland helps children build self-esteem. by Robin T. Reid

Jason Polansky (front) travels independently utilizing his long white cane during BISM’s 2011 summer program.


ason Polansky is OK with being blind. Being diagnosed with a rare condition at birth that left him with no eyes hasn’t stopped the 15-year-old from swimming on his school’s team or from learning to read or riding a bike or from anything else

Programs and Services

that kids do. But one thing he was not OK with was cooking. Enter BISM’s Independence 2011 program for high-school students preparing to transition to college and employment. This past summer Jason and eleven other

teenagers from Maryland and other parts of the country lived in apartments on the Towson University campus and took part in the seven-week residential camp run by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). The students were responsible for basic house-cleaning duties, studied Braille, took computer classes, learned travel skills, and cooked their own meals. One of the first meals Jason prepared was pork chops. “I learned how to use the stove and the oven, which I hadn’t really done much with before,” he recalled. “So I plan on cooking more often for my family.” Independence 2011 is one of several programs BISM offers for blind youth. The programs offer participants a place to learn the skills they’ll need to live independently while developing their confidence through a variety of activities. One of the keys to the programs’ success—and to BISM’s programs for adults and seniors as well—is that they employ blind mentors and instructors. Spending time with other blind people shows the children that they can live their lives like everybody else, reinforcing the belief that it is OK to be blind. “We provide kids with a place to blossom,” said BISM President Fredrick J. Puente. “Until they come here, many of the kids’ parents have been protective, and people have usually told them no, they can’t do something. We tell them yes, they can do things and then go about teaching them how to accomplish what they want. I recall one little 7-year-old girl who was so excited because she got to cut her own pancakes at camp.” To round out the youth programs, BISM also offers workshops for parents of blind children. The programs are designed to ensure that the parents help children gain the confidence that comes with taking on new tasks and developing new abilities. “BISM must reach out to as many youths as we can with this critical independent skills training,” Puente said. “After all, there are an estimated two thousand blind school-age children like Jason in Maryland alone. When somebody comes here to BISM with no confidence, we show them that the sky’s the limit.”

All of the training programs and services offered at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland are free to Maryland residents. BISM provides these programs for blind and low-vision people of all ages:

• Braille • Computer skills (using voice-assisted technology) • White cane mobility training

• Independent living • Career development • Residential retreats

• In-home training for seniors

For more information, please call 1-888-322-4567 or go to You are invited to visit BISM’s headquarters, just off I-95 at 3345 Washington Blvd. in Baltimore, to take a tour of the classrooms, library, fitness room, and kitchens.


Ability Is Blind

Through BISM programs, blind seniors are able to live independently.

Photo of Jason Polansky by Tanner Shepherd; photos of Norman Seward and Fredrick J. Puente by J.M. Giordano


dapting to the aging process is never an easy thing. It’s particularly tough for seniors who are blind or losing their vision. For those seniors, the threat of losing their independence and becoming entirely reliant on others becomes more pronounced. Understanding this, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) developed special programs for people older than 55. While they can be tailored to meet each person’s particular needs, the programs all share a goal of nonvisual instruction infused with a positive philosophy about losing sight. The methods vary from cooking lessons to fitness classes to learning Braille to group outings that incorporate the use of public transportation with something fun, like a picnic or going to a restaurant. And all are free. Carol Roysdon signed up in August for one such program, SAIL (Seniors Achieving Independent Living). She lost her sight two and a half years ago and was steered toward SAIL by her counselor through Maryland’s Department of Rehabilitation Services. “The biggest thing I’ve gotten back is my self-confidence,” she said during a break between computer and Braille classes. “You walk out of here feeling good about yourself every day, even if you fail a little.” Norman Seward got so much out of

Norman Seward, a graduate of BISM’s SAIL senior program, is now a volunteer Braille instructor.

the SAIL program that he signed up to volunteer to teach Braille as part of it. “It’s a beautiful atmosphere, and the people were so knowledgeable about blindness,” the retired chef said. “I’ve been blind for many years, so I’d been to many blind service organizations before. BISM is the best in the state for seniors.” BISM takes its senior programs on the road, as well. The organization provides workshops in various community centers and in-home training for seniors who are not able to attend programs at BISM’s Baltimore headquarters. It also holds residential retreats that last four days.

During this time, seniors learn the basics of independent living from blind instructors and mentors. To make sure it’s not all work, participants go out for social events, such as attending a symphony or a dinner theater. For seniors who are losing their sight or who already have, BISM is a crucial resource. The services also benefit their families. Yet BISM provides something less tangible and more important than anything else, according to Seward: “It’s therapy for me; it inspires me.”

BISM Wants to Hear from You


he mission of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland is very simple: “to positively change people’s attitudes about blindness.” For more than a hundred years, we have been empowering individuals like Jason, Carol, and Norman with training, education, and job skills so that they may gain confidence, live independently, and find work. We invite you to join our effort. Become a volunteer at headquarters or one of our satellite offices in Cumberland and Salisbury. Stop by and take a tour to witness for yourself how lives are changed every day. Or if you can, invest in the futures of all the individuals we touch by making a donation. P.S. If you or a family member is in need of our services, give us a call at 1-888-322-4567. We are positive we will change your attitude about blindness!

Frederick J. Puente has been president of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland since 1995.

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland

3345 Washington Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21227 888-322-4567 •

community is ic n a p is H g in urgeon ighborhoods e n t u -o d n Baltimore’s b -a wn nly w life into do ltimore está hange—but o c a B r e e breathing ne d d a a o r n b a p r is dH de a force fo nte comunida e. y las afueras r ie e o c r h e t and could be r e n o e m fl c o l a lc e L e n ae ás ke them w na nueva vid un cambio m a r if we can ma a p a rz respirando u e fu odría ser una ue se sientan q s o m e c a la ciudad, y p h ros sólo si nosot o r e p — o li p m a bienvenidos.


o take a trip down Eastern Avenue from Upper Fells Point east through Highlandtown and Greektown is to pass through a landscape layered with the lives and livelihoods of generations of immigrants. The juxtaposition of old and new is most noticeable in Greektown, where restaurants with names like Zorba’s, Acropolis, and Ikaros are interspersed with the Habanero Grill, the Panaderia y Pasteleria Vargas, and the Charro Negro Bar and Grill, where a neon sign that once beckoned customers to Mylos restaurant hovers above the awning. The old has also made way for the new in church pews, on newsstands, and on grocery store shelves, including those at Santoni’s Super Market on East Lombard Street. Savino and Yolanda Santoni, Italian immigrants, opened the supermarket in 1930. Over the years it expanded into a chain of eight stores and then retracted again into one building located in Highlandtown. When it opened, it catered to the Italian, Greek, German, and Polish immigrants who populated the area northeast of the Inner Harbor. Now stocked with canned tomatillos, jicama, yucca root, and tamale mix, Santoni’s also serves the new wave of immigrants. Today’s newcomers no longer traverse the Atlantic and disembark at the port. Instead, their starting point, more than likely, is Latin America, mainly Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. They come to Baltimore because they know someone or hear there is work or the rent is cheap or the city is generally welcoming to immigrants. If they follow the beaten path, they end up somewhere along the Eastern Avenue corridor, which not only feels a lot like home, but also offers an array of services to help Latino immigrants gain a foothold. Others have settled in Brooklyn and other parts of south Baltimore, as well as pockets in the northeastern and eastern parts of the city.

Baltimore City is home to an estimated 50,000 Latinos. Even the official tally from the U.S. Census Bureau, which is considered to be quite low, indicates fast-paced growth between 2000 and 2010. While the city lost an estimated 52,300 residents overall, it gained roughly 15,000 Hispanics, representing an increase of 134 percent. It signals a large growth spurt in a city where the overall population has been in sharp decline since the 1970s. Smaller pockets of other ethnicities from around the globe— Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean—are also growing, but not in the same numbers as the Latino population. And it has led some to wonder whether, in fact, the Hispanic population could fill the void left by the largely white and African American flight. Given the opportunity, says Charro Negro owner Jesús Romero, Hispanics could be a force for change, both economically and politically. Greektown alone, Romero says, was in many ways a ghost town when he first opened his bar and grill three years ago, but in the not-too-distant future, he says, it could be Latino Town. “We are definitely going to make a difference,” he says. “The Latino population is growing rapidly, and the majority is dedicated to working hard, improving their lives, and abiding by the law.” casa de maryland, a nonprofit founded in 1985, provides a

timeline for the growth of the Hispanic population in both the city and the state. The organization started out in Takoma Park in the basement of a Presbyterian church, where members of various congregations gathered to assist those fleeing from civil strife in Central America. It now has seven offices throughout Maryland and provides a vast array of services, including English instruction, citizenship classes, tax preparation, and legal referrals.

By / por: Lucy Hood


Photography by / Fotografía por J.M. Giordano translated by / traducido por Monica Bracho Handyside

iajar por la Avenida Eastern desde la parte norte de Fells Point a través de Highlandtown y Greektown es pasar por un paisaje que muestra la vida y el modus vivendi de generaciones de inmigrantes. La intersección de lo antiguo y lo nuevo se hace más evidente en Greektown, donde los restaurantes con nombres como Zorba’s, Acrópolis, e Ikaros se mezclan con El Habanero Grill, La Panadería, La Pastelería Vargas, y el Bar Restaurant Charro Negro, y un letrero de neón que una vez atrajo a los clientes de Mylos, se alza sobre el Bar Restaurant Charro Negro. Lo antiguo da paso a lo nuevo en los púlpitos de las Iglesias, las ventas de periódicos, y los anaqueles de las tiendas de víveres, incluyendo el supermercado Santoni en la calle Lombard Este. Savino y Yolanda Santoni, inmigrantes italianos, abrieron el supermercado en 1930. Al pasar de los años lo expandieron a una cadena de ocho tiendas y después lo consolidaron en un edificio en Highlandtown. Cuando abrió servía a inmigrantes italianos, griegos, alemanes, y polacos que habitaban el área noreste del puerto de Baltimore. Ahora almacenan tomatillos enlatados, jícama, yuca, y mezcla para hacer tamales, Santoni también sirve a la nueva ola de inmigrantes. Los que recién arriban hoy, ya no atraviesan el Atlántico y desembarcan en el puerto. En cambio el punto de partida, es más probable que sea América Latina, principalmente México, El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala. Vinieron a Baltimore porque conocían a alguien o escucharon que había trabajo o que la renta era barata o que la ciudad de alguna forma les daba la bienvenida a los inmigrantes. Si seguían el camino, terminaban en algún punto del corredor de la Avenida Eastern, que no sólo se siente como su propio hogar sino que ofrece una gama de servicios que ayudan a la comunidad de inmigrantes Latinos a arraigarse. Otros se han establecido en Brooklyn y en otras partes del sur de Baltimore, así como en zonas aledañas de la parte este y el noreste de la ciudad.

La ciudad de Baltimore es hogar de una población estimada de 50,000 Latinos. Aún el conteo oficial de las cifras de Buró de Censo, que son consideradas como muy bajas, indica un crecimiento acelerado entre 2000 y 2010. Mientras la ciudad perdió un estimado de 52,300 residentes, en general ganó 15,000 hispanos, representando un incremento del 134 por ciento. Esto representa un amplio crecimiento en la ciudad donde la población ha tenido un marcado descenso desde los años setenta. Poblaciones pequeñas de otros grupos étnicos de todo el globo—África, Asia, y el Caribe—también están creciendo pero no al mismo ritmo que la población Latina; y conduce a preguntarse si, de hecho, la población Hispana puede llenar el vacío que dejaron los blancos y los afro-americanos. Si se les da la oportunidad, dice Jesús Romero, propietario del Bar Restaurant Charro Negro, los hispanos pudieran ser una fuerza real para el cambio, económicamente y políticamente. Sólo Greektown, dijo él, era de alguna manera un pueblo fantasma cuando el abrió su bar hace tres años, pero no en un futuro tan distante, podría ser un pueblo Latino. “Definitivamente vamos hacer diferencia,” dijo él. “La población Latina está creciendo rápidamente, y la mayoría está dedicada a trabajar de forma ardua, mejorando sus vidas, y apegándose al cumplimiento de la ley. Casa de Maryland, una organización sin fines de lucro fundada en 1985, provee una cronología del crecimiento de la población Hispana en ambos el Estado de Maryland y la Ciudad de Baltimore. La organización se fundó en un sótano de Takoma Park en una iglesia presbiteriana, donde los miembros de varias congregaciones se reunieron para asistir a aquellos que escapaban de guerra civil en Centroamérica. Ahora tienen siete oficinas a lo largo de Maryland y proveen una vasta gama de servicios, incluyendo instrucción en inglés, clases de ciudadanía, preparación para impuestos, y asistencia legal.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  37





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Rumba: El bar localizado en la parte norte de Fells Point es uno de los varios locales comerciales cuyo propietario es Nicolás Ramos, un inmigrante mexicano quien también fue trabajador del campo. Rumba: The Upper Fells Point bar is one of several local businesses owned by Nicolás Ramos, a Mexican immigrant and former farm worker.

The Baltimore City office opened in 2002, and its staff of two had a single focus: helping Latino immigrants file claims for unpaid wages. It now has a new location, a full-time staff of six, a total staff of eleven, and a much broader mission. But one thing that has stayed the same is the presence of Candelaria Flores, a native of El Salvador who came to the United States in 1995. Flores has been there from the beginning. She initially worked on unpaid wage claims, and now she’s a gatekeeper of sorts who fields the myriad requests from those who walk in the door. The queries cover the gamut of health care, legal, and financial concerns, and it’s Flores’ job to connect immigrants with the people and places that can help them most. That might be a private attorney, a consulate, a city office, or one of the many nonprofits—the Esperanza Center, Assisi House of St. Patrick Church, or Adelante Familia—that work in one way or another with Baltimore’s Latino community. If the query, however, has to do with learning English, citizenship classes, finding work, tax preparation or unpaid wages, then it’s handled in-house, so to speak. (“Casa” means “house” in Spanish.) Casa de Maryland also issues membership cards, which serve as an ID in city health clinics and public schools and as a proof of address in banks, and it operates a work center designed to be a safe substitute for the 7-Eleven on Broadway where immigrant day laborers typically show up to look for work. When Flores picks up the phone or greets visitors from her command post at the group’s Baltimore office on Fayette Street, she follows Casa de Maryland guidelines and does not ask about their legal status or where they’re from, although the accents may provide a clue. Instead, she listens. One day in early October, Flores listened as a woman asked how she could get an ID for her 15-year-old daughter. Flores didn’t have an answer for that question, but in the course of the conversation she learned that the caller’s husband was a legal permanent resident.“So I said, ‘Why don’t you visit an immigration attorney,’ and I gave her the number [of one], and I also suggested that her husband come here, take the classes, and become a U.S. citizen.” Flores, who hopes to be a U.S. citizen by the beginning of next year, was 16 when she came to the United States in the mid-’90s. She initially found work cleaning stores and over the years learned English, got a GED, found better-paying work, and bought a home. She and her husband live in a house he owns. Flores’ time in the United States, she says, has given her a great deal of respect for the political process and the right to vote. “You need to be

La oficina de Baltimore abrió en 2002, y con sólo dos empleados tenía un enfoque común: ayudar a los inmigrantes Latinos a llenar solicitudes por sueldos no pagados. Ahora tiene un local nuevo con seis empleados a tiempo completo y un total de once empleados cuya misión es mucho más amplia. Pero una cosa que ha permanecido en el tiempo es la presencia de Candelaria Flores, oriunda de El Salvador, y quién vino a Estados Unidos en 1995. Flores ha estado ahí desde el comienzo. Ella inicialmente trabajó en demandas por sueldos no pagados, ahora recibe una miríada de peticiones de aquellos que llegan a buscar ayuda. Las solicitudes van desde cuidado de salud, asistencia legal, y problemas financieros, y es la labor de Flores referirlos a la gente y lugares que más puedan ayudarlos. Esto puede ser un abogado privado, un consulado, una oficina del gobierno ó una de las muchas organizaciones sin fines de lucro, el Centro Esperanza, la Casa Assisi de la Iglesia de San Patricio ó Adelante Familia— que trabaja de una u otra forma con la comunidad Latina de Baltimore. Si la solicitud, sin embargo, tiene que ver con aprender inglés, clases de ciudadanía, encontrar trabajo, preparación de impuestos, entonces se maneja en CASA por decirlo de alguna manera. Casa de Maryland también emite tarjetas de membrecía, que sirven como identificación en las clínicas populares de la ciudad, las escuelas públicas y como prueba de residencia en bancos. CASA de Maryland opera como un centro de trabajo diseñado para ofrecer seguridad y ser un sustituto al 7-eleven en la calle Broadway donde los inmigrantes se aglomeran a buscar empleo. Cuando Flores atiende el teléfono o saluda a los visitantes desde su puesto de trabajo en la oficina de Baltimore en la calle Lafayette, ella sigue las directrices de Casa Maryland y no pregunta sobre el estatus inmigratorio o de donde provienen, aunque los acentos pueden dar una pista, ella escucha. Un día a principios de Octubre, Flores oyó a una mujer preguntar como ella podía obtener una identificación para su hija de 15 años. Flores no tenía una respuesta para esa pregunta pero en el curso de la conversación ella se enteró que el esposo de quien llamaba era un residente legal. “Entonces dije, ‘Por qué usted no visita a un abogado de inmigración,’ y le di el número [de uno], y sugerí que el esposo venga aquí, tome las clases, y se convierta en ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos.” Flores, quien espera ser una ciudadana de los Estados Unidos al comienzo del año próximo, tenía 16 años cuando vino a los Estados Unidos a mediados de los años noventa. Inicialmente consiguió trabajo limpiando tiendas, y al pasar de los años aprendió inglés, obtuvo el diploma de

Urbanite #90  december 2011  39

able to participate, because that’s how things get done here.” It takes a lot of work, she says, but there is a process for effecting change. “There is a system. There is a way.” She is looking forward to casting her first ballot. “It’s very important to me what my representative is going to say because it influences my life,” she says. “If a law gets passed, you know you have to abide by it. So it’s important that you have a voice when that gets passed.” And, if the vote doesn’t turn out the way one hopes, she says, “at least you have a voice.” The process for becoming a U.S. citizen, however, can be daunting for someone who didn’t grow up speaking English or learning about the founding fathers, the thirteen original colonies, and the separation of powers. Applicants must have a green card, be 18 or older, and have been in the United States for the previous five years. Then there’s a twenty-minute interview with someone from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service; the interview includes a language assessment and a civics test, and for some it’s so nerve-wracking that even the introductory “Hello, how are you?” can be a challenging question. In addition, there’s much confusion about the process. Take, for example, the woman who called about getting an ID for her 15-year-old daughter. Her husband has a green card, but she believed that since she is in the United States illegally, he could not become a U.S. citizen. “That’s how rumors go around and hurt people,” Flores says. “I told her, ‘As far as I know, that’s not true, but see an attorney.’” Others, she says, “think that because they have bad credit they cannot become citizens. That is not true either.” But it is indicative of the confusion that surrounds the dos and don’ts of illegal immigration. When it comes to education, for example, a 1982 Supreme Court ruling allows undocumented immigrant children to attend public school, but recently approved legislation in Alabama, while not challenging the court ruling directly, raises the issue by requiring school systems to keep tabs on a student’s legal status. The Alabama law also deems invalid any contract made

secundaria, encontró un trabajo mejor pagado y adquirió una casa. Ahora tiene tres casas que renta. (Ella y su esposo viven en la casa que él tiene.) Ella ha trabajado en Casa de Maryland por nueve años. El tiempo que Flores ha pasado en los Estados Unidos, dice ella, le ha dado un gran respeto por el proceso político y el derecho a votar. “Uno tiene que ser capaz de participar, porque así es como se hacen las cosas aquí.” Toma mucho trabajo, dice ella, pero el proceso afecta el cambio. “Hay un sistema. Hay una manera.” Ella espera ejercer su primer voto. “Es muy importante lo que mi representante va a decir porque influencia mi vida,” dice ella. “Si una ley se aprueba, uno sabe que tiene que cumplirla. Entonces es importante que uno tenga una voz cuando eso se aprueba.” Si el voto no resulta de la forma que uno espera, dice ella, “por lo menos uno tiene una voz.” El proceso de convertirse en un ciudadano estadounidense, pude ser dificultoso para alguien que no creció hablando inglés o aprendiendo sobre los padres fundadores de las trece colonias originales y la separación de poderes. Los solicitantes deben tener tarjetas de residencia, ser mayores de 18 años, y haber estado en los Estados Unidos los cinco años previos. Hay una entrevista de 20 minutos con alguien del Servicio de Inmigración y Ciudadanía; la entrevista incluye una evaluación del idioma; un examen de educación cívica y para algunos puede significar un ataque de nervios con una simple frase introductoria. “Hola, ¿cómo está?” puede convertirse en una pregunta difícil. Adicionalmente, hay mucha confusión sobre el proceso. Tomemos, por ejemplo, el de la mujer que llamó, para obtener una identificación para su hija de 15 años. Su esposo tiene una tarjeta de residente permanente, pero ella creyó que como está indocumentada en los Estados Unidos, él no puede convertirse en ciudadano estadounidense. “Así es como los rumores se esparcen y hacen daño a la gente,” dice Flores. “Yo le dije, ‘Según lo que yo sé, no es verdad, pero vaya a ver a un abogado,’” dice ella. “Ellos piensan que como tienen mal crédito no pueden convertirse en ciudadanos. Eso tampoco es verdad.” Pero es indicativo de la confusión que rodea a lo que se debe o no hacer con la inmigración ilegal. Cuando se refiere a la educación, por ejemplo, una decisión de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de 1982 permite a los hijos de indocumentados asistir a la escuelas pública, pero una legislación recientemente aprobada en Alabama, aunque no desacata la decisión de la corte, trae a colación el

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Latino businesses: Carla Albarado, 36, has worked for three years at Gisselle’s Unisex Hair Salon on S. Broadway. Latino owned businesses have spread through Highlandtown and Greektown in recent years, and now other parts of the city as well.

Negocios Latinos: Carla Albarado, 36, de la peluquería ‘Unisex Hair Salon’ en la calle S. Broadway. Los negocios cuyos dueños son latinos se han expandido a lo largo de Highlandtown y Greektown en años recientes, y ahora también a otras partes de la ciudad.

with illegal immigrants; it bans them from receiving public benefits; it prohibits landlords from renting to them and employers from hiring them; and it requires police to check the legal status of everyone they stop. Some of the law’s provisions have been blocked by court-ordered injunctions, but the law itself is broader in scope than any other statewide effort to curb illegal immigration, and that includes Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law last year that at the time was considered the toughest in the nation. Several other states, counties, and municipalities have implemented efforts of their own. Some, including Frederick County and nine jurisdictions in Virginia, authorize local police to arrest, detain, and turn undocumented immigrants over to federal authorities; some require certain employers, typically state agencies and contractors, to verify the legal status of their employees; and forty-seven states, including Maryland, have imposed restrictions making it difficult, if not impossible, to get a driver’s license. Sponsors of these local initiatives say they are taking action because the federal government is not. The Obama administration’s response has also been piecemeal. The U.S. Justice Department, for example, is challenging anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama, and South Carolina, and the president has said that deportation proceedings will focus on those who have criminal records, but he has not yet followed through with a campaign pledge to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. as immigrants have left places like Arizona, Ala-

bama, Virginia, and nearby Frederick, many have sought refuge in Charm City. Casa de Maryland is just one of dozens of nonprofit and governmental organizations that provide services to the Latino community. The city’s vast network of churches has a long tradition of assisting immigrant newcomers. And elected officials have made an effort to reach out to the Latino community, largely through the city’s Hispanic affairs liaison office and the relatively new Baltimore City Hispanic Commission. But there is much more that needs to be done, according to Latino advocates. Casa de Maryland, for example, would like to see small business incentives, educational and after-school programs for the young, and a public safety strategy that offers Latinos greater protection from both street crime and overzealous policing efforts. Two summers ago Latinos were the victims of a rash of violence that took the lives of two Honduran men. One was shot and the other was beaten. In addition, day laborers are often the targets of theft (see “Life in the Shadows,” June ’09 Urbanite), and while the police department has made efforts to raise cultural awareness and put Spanish-speaking police officers on the street, there are still concerns about local police enforcing federal immigration law. “Is there a racial profiling problem?” asks Elizabeth Alex, lead organizer of Casa’s Baltimore office. “It’s not like every day, but there are instances. It comes down to the fact that there are no written guidelines for an officer, for where the limit is.” The instances “tend to be linked to harassment,” she says. “Someone looks Latino; they get pulled over; they‘re asked more questions than I [would be asked as a non-Hispanic].” In short, she says, “There is no reason that an officer should be asking for someone’s green card.” Concerns about these and other issues formed part of a questionnaire that Casa in Action, a political organization established by Casa de Maryland, submitted to those running for mayor, city council president, and the fourteen city council seats that were up for election this fall. Not all responded, Alex says, but of those who did, eleven received Casa’s nod of approval. Of those, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Councilman James Kraft emerged with the most detailed plans for helping the Latino community. To show their support, Rawlings-Blake, Kraft, and at least five other candidates made an appearance in September at a political rally held at Arcos, a restaurant owned by Nicolás Ramos, one of many Baltimore Hispanic business leaders who are working through the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, and

requisito de que los sistemas escolares lleven un conteo del estatus legal de los estudiantes. La ley de Alabama también invalida cualquier contrato con inmigrantes indocumentados; prohíbe que reciban beneficios públicos; y que se les renten viviendas, o que se les contrate y requiere que la policía verifique el estatus inmigratorio de quien detengan. Algunas provisiones de la ley han sido bloqueadas por la corte que ha ordenado su invalidación, pero la ley en si misma tiene un alcance más amplio que cualquier otro Estado cuyo esfuerzo sea contrarrestar la inmigración ilegal, y esto incluye Arizona, donde la gobernadora Jan Brewer ha aprobada una ley el año pasado que en su momento fue considerada la más estricta de la nación. Algunos otros estados, condados, y municipalidades han implementado esfuerzos propios. Algunos, incluyendo el condado de Frederick y nueve jurisdicciones en Virginia, animan a la policía a arrestar, detener y a entregar a inmigrantes indocumentados a las autoridades federales; algunos requieren a ciertos empleadores, típicamente agencias estatales y contratistas a verificar el estatus legal de sus empleados y 47 estados, incluyendo Maryland han impuesto restricciones haciendo difícil, si no imposible, obtener una licencia de conducir. Los que patrocinan estas iniciativas locales dicen que están tomando acciones porque el gobierno federal no lo hace. La respuesta de la administración de Obama ha sido escasa. El Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos, por ejemplo, se está oponiendo a la ley anti-inmigrante en Arizona, Alabama, y Carolina del Sur, y el presidente ha dicho que los procesos de deportación se centrarán en aquellos que tengan antecedentes criminales, pero él no ha tenido constancia para realizar una campaña que conlleve a una reforma comprensiva de la inmigración. Como los inmigrantes se han ido de sitios

como Arizona, Alabama, el condado de Prince William, Virginia, y el cercano Frederick, muchos han buscado refugio en el charm de la ciudad. Casa de Maryland es una de docenas de organizaciones sin fines de lucro y gubernamentales que proveen servicios a la comunidad Latina. La vasta red de Iglesias en la ciudad tiene una larga tradición de ayuda a los inmigrantes que recién llegan y las autoridades electas han hecho un esfuerzo en tratar de servir a la comunidad Latina, a través de la oficina del enlace para asuntos latinos y la relativamente nueva oficina de la comisión Hispana de Baltimore. Pero hay mucho más que necesita hacerse. De acuerdo a los que abogan por los Latinos, Casa de Maryland, por ejemplo, quisieran ver incentivos a los negocios pequeños , programas educacionales después del horario escolar para los jóvenes, y una estrategia de seguridad pública que les de mayor protección a los Latinos en lo que se refiere al delito en las calles y los esfuerzos de represión policial. Hace dos veranos los Latinos fueron víctimas de un espiral de violencia que dejó dos hondureños muertos. A uno lo acribillaron y a otro lo mataron a golpes. Adicionalmente, los jornaleros son víctimas de robos (ver “Vidas en las Sombras” publicado en Urbanite Junio 2009) y aunque la policía ha hecho esfuerzos por elevar la conciencia cultural y contratar oficiales que hablen español, hay aún quejas de que la policía local hace cumplir la ley de inmigración. “¿Hay un problema de perfil racial?” se pregunta Liz Alex, gerente de CASA en la oficina de Baltimore. “No es como todo los días, pero hay episodios. Se reduce al hecho de que no hay directrices para un oficial de policía acerca de donde está el límite.” Los episodios “tienden a ser acosos,” dijo ella. “Alguien luce Latino; lo paran; hay más preguntas que si uno no fuese hispano.” En resumidas cuentas, “No hay razón para que un oficial de policía le pida a alguien la tarjeta de residente permanente.” Quejas sobre estos y otros problemas forman parte de un cuestionario que Casa de Maryland envió a los que se nominaron para alcalde, presidente del concejo, y los catorce candidatos a ocupar un puesto en el concejo de la ciudad de Baltimore en este otoño. No todos respondieron, pero todos los que sí lo hicieron, recibieron la aprobación de Casa. De ellos, la alcaldesa, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake y el concejal James Kraft emergieron con planes detallados de cómo ayudar a la comunidad Latina.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  41

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the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs to work on business and legislative issues, minority contracts, and educational opportunities. Ramos came to the United States in the 1970s. He began his journey in Texas and along with his brother and five friends made his way in a Galaxie station wagon first to Tennessee, then Georgia, South Carolina, and ultimately Maryland. Ramos and his compatriots landed in Laurel at about the same time then-president Ronald Reagan was putting his signature on the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. More commonly known as the Simpson-Rodino act, it granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants who could prove they had been in the United States since the beginning of 1982. When Ramos received his green card, he moved to Baltimore, where, he says, the cost of living was lower and jobs were more plentiful. He found work that paid twice as much as what he had been making in Laurel. He also opened a bank account and bought a house, then another and another, accumulating a total of ten buildings in Upper Fells Point and Highlandtown. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the area was rundown, but with Johns Hopkins a few blocks north and the waterfront a few blocks south, he saw potential. “There were a lot of ‘For Sale by Owner,’ signs” he says, “so I called the owners and asked if I could put

Para mostrar su apoyo, Rawlings-Blake, Kraft, y otros cinco candidatos hicieron una aparición en septiembre en un rally político que se celebró en Los Arcos, un restaurant cuyo propietario es Nicolás Ramos, uno de los muchos líderes Hispanos que trabajan a través de la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Baltimore, la Cámara de Comercio de Maryland, y la Comisión de Asuntos Hispanos de la Oficina del Gobernador que trabaja en asuntos legislativos, contratos a las minorías, y oportunidades educativas. Ramos vino a Estados Unidos en la década de los setenta. Su viaje comienzo en Texas, junto a su hermano y cinco amigos y recorrió en carro primero Tennessee, después Georgia, Carolina del sur, y finalmente Maryland. Ramos y sus compatriotas aterrizaron en Laurel casi al mismo tiempo que el ex-presidente Ronald Reagan firmaba la Reforma Inmigratoria y la Ley de Control Migratorio de 1986. Conocido más comúnmente como la Ley Simpson-Rodino, que confirió amnistía a los inmigrantes indocumentados quienes pudieran probar que habían estado en Los Estados Unidos al comienzo de 1982. Cuando Ramos recibió su tarjeta de residencia permanente, se mudó a Baltimore, donde dice él, el costo de vida era menor y había más empleos. El encontró trabajo que pagaba el doble de lo que ganaba en Laurel. El abrió una cuenta bancaria, compró una casa, después otra y otra, acumulando 10 edificios en la parte norte de Fells Point y Highlandtown.

(Izquierda) Transformación: La población Latina de Baltimore ha crecido 134 por ciento en los últimos 10 años según cifras del Censo de los Estados Unidos. (Derecha) la próxima generación: Los cuatro hijos del dueño de los Tres Arcos, Nicolás Ramos, Ryan Luis, 10, Raquel, 14, y Nico, 12. Gabriella, 18, (no incluida en la foto) asiste a la Universidad Dickinson

(Left) Transformation: Baltimore’s Latino population has grown by 134 percent over the last ten years, according to the U.S. census. (Right) Next generation: Three of Arcos owner Nicolás Ramos’s four children, Ryan Luis, 10, Raquel, 14, and Nico, 12. Gabriella, 18, (not pictured) attends Dickinson College.

down a deposit and make monthly payments, and then I started to fix them up, paint them, rent them, sell them—and that’s how I started my realty and construction companies.” In addition to Arcos, Ramos now owns two realty companies, a construction company, and La Rumba bar, and he attributes his success to Simpson-Rodino. He has four children, one of whom was the first Latina president of her senior class at Mercy High School; another is a fourth-grader who one day hopes to be president. Referring to himself and the rest of the Galaxie occupants as members of the Simpson -Rodino generation, he says, “We came out from the shadows. We all opened our own companies, bought our own houses, and became businessmen.” Ramos believes that the entire country, including Baltimore, would benefit greatly if Congress passed a new Simpson-Rodino-style amnesty law allowing for the legalization of more recent arrivals. Like him, they would be more likely to open bank accounts, accumulate a credit history, and invest in property. They would be in a much better position to contribute to the city’s economy. To date, the economic impact has been limited, due in part to the legal and socioeconomic status of many of the newcomers, says Dr. Donald F. Norris, chairman of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. While the tremendous growth in the Latino population has led to a certain degree of impact, “there continues on pg 77

A fines de los ochenta y principios de los noventa el área estaba en condiciones deplorables pero a pocas cuadras de Johns Hopkins y a pocas cuadras al sur del puerto, el vio potencial. “Habían muchos letreros a la venta entonces llamé a los propietarios y les pedí si podía hacer un depósito y pagar mensualmente, empecé a arreglarlas a pintarlas, a rentarlas y a venderlas—y fue así como comencé mi compañía de construcción y bienes raíces. Adicionalmente a Los Arcos, Ramos ahora es propietario de dos compañías de bienes raíces, una compañía de construcción, el bar La Rumba, y atribuye su éxito a la ley SimpsonRodino. Tiene cuatro hijos, uno de los cuales fue la primera presidente Latina de su clase de secundaria en la escuela Mercy y otro en cuarto grado quien aspira a ser presidente algún día. Refiriéndose a él mismo y al resto de los ocupantes del carro que transitó varios estados, y miembros de la generación Simpson-Rodino, dijo él, “Salimos de las sombras.” Todos abrimos nuestras propias compañías, compramos nuestras casas, y nos convertimos en hombres de negocios.” Ramos cree que el país entero, incluyendo Baltimore, se beneficiaría si el congreso aprobara una amnistía al estilo Simpson-Rodino permitiendo la legalización de aquellos que han arribado más recientemente. Como él, abrirían cuentas de banco, acumularían historial crediticio, e invertirían en propiedades. Estarían en una mejor capacidad de continúa de la pg 77

Urbanite #90  december 2011  43

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This is not your father’s philanthropy: New efforts in marketing and tech wizardry aim to foster a new generation of givers.


arlier this fall, Rick Gerriets, company member of Baltimore’s 3-year-old Annex Theater, had a problem. It was the sort of conundrum familiar to youthful, upstart theatrical ensembles everywhere: How to come up with the cash needed to stage a season’s worth of shows? While Annex had a $10,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, the funds were specifically designated for an education program working with high school students. When it came to putting their own shows on the boards, the thespians-on-a-shoestring largely looked inside their own linty pockets. But with ambitious plans to kick off their season with a retooling of the The Threepenny Opera , the theater needed a financial Plan B. “We had to do more fundraising so we didn’t bankrupt ourselves every time we wanted to do a production,” Gerriets says. So Annex turned to Kickstarter, a website that allows individuals and organizations to post fundraising appeals for creative projects online where they can be bandied about across sundry social media networks, soliciting donations of as little as a buck—“crowd funding” is one name for it. Annex set a goal of raising $3,500, putting together a Kickstarter appeal that included a video message from the company and the promise that Gerriets would hug everyone who gave. In little more than thirty days, some sixty-three “backers” had ponied up $3,685. Casting and rehearsals were scheduled, and Gerriets began limbering up his arms with hopes that his backers would come out for a show and perhaps get a hug. “It’s sort of like a plug-and-play development campaign for arts projects,” Gerriets says of Kickstarter. “It worked out really well for us due in large part to how supportive the community is in Baltimore.” Susan Malone, executive director of Wide Angle Youth Media in Charles Village, had different woes. Her elevenyear-old charity, which trains city school kids to produce videos about their lives and communities, has an annual budget of around $350,000, thanks largely to public and private grants. But the grant dollars were not enough to do everything Malone wanted to, and she also wanted to generate more grassroots support. “We wanted to hit the people already involved in our social network but not necessarily giving by traditional means,” Malone says, “and at the same time reach out to new young donors that want to give five or ten bucks.” Wide Angle turned to GiveCorps, Baltimore’s own online giving platform, launched just last summer, which melds Kickstarters’ crowd-funding concepts with cost-saving coupon incentives like those on the daily deal site, Groupon. Wide Angle has raised more than $1,800 through GiveCorps to date from more than sixty donors, many of whom, Malone reports, now receive the group’s e-newsletters and invitations to screenings. Despite the proliferation of inventive, wired-up ways to raise funds online—Kickstarter, CrowdRise, Razoo,, Causes, Kiva, and now GiveCorps, to name just a few—in-person donations still pull in nearly 80 percent of donations for charities nationwide, according to a recent study by Blackbaud, a software and marketing firm serving the charity world. Web philanthropy works best following natural disasters, when images of cataclysm and dire human tragedy hit the media sphere. With online giving, relief charities can raise millions in days, instead of

46  december 2011

weeks or months, but the flood of money quickly slows to a trickle as the media turns its attention to the next heartwrenching story. Still, some wonder if there isn’t real potential to move the needle on online giving. The “crowd funding” approach of pooling small donations can be a near-term godsend for struggling charities, while at the same time, perhaps grooming a new wave of givers—“digital natives” who never read a paper newspaper or knew a world before Google. Can Philanthropy 2.0 shake up giving here in Baltimore? “Anything that promotes people being generous and giving is good from where we sit,” says Gigi Wirtz, director of communications at the Baltimore Community Foundation. “I feel like the emergence of social media giving and the explosion of new giving platforms is really helping to move the image of charitable giving from, maybe, something stodgy that your parents do, to being a key ingredient in this modern, examined, online life.” jamie mcdonald co-founded GiveCorps following an epic effort in raising money the traditional way. After retiring in 2003 from the world of high finance as a managing director at Deutsche Bank, she began doing volunteer fundraising for the Center for Urban Families, a charity in the Mondawmin neighborhood addressing the challenges faced by low-income parents. She spent three years pressing the flesh while making fundraising rounds from Perry Hall to Pasadena as part of a trying, but ultimately successful, $8 million capital campaign. “It was clear to me that, in Baltimore, every nonprofit is going after the same small group of foundations, the same group of corporations, and maybe five hundred wealthy people in town,” McDonald says. “You could spend a day going from nonprofit to nonprofit and ask to see their target list, and everybody would have the same people on it. What I found missing was that people really weren’t building support from the bottom; they weren’t cultivating the next generation of donors.” This is understandable, McDonald allows: In a protracted economic malaise, where endowments have withered and giving dipped, charities were not inclined to employ largely untested techniques to reach shallow-pocketed young donors—many themselves feeling the pinch of this dented business clime. (Think of a 25-year-old with a master’s degree working as a barista and living at home). Still, McDonald felt there was a real value in getting wellcrafted, project-based appeals for small donations in front of younger donors’ noses. And what better way to build the appeal than to offer, in return for giving, discounts or gift certificates to popular merchants and eateries such as Woodberry Kitchen and the B&O Brasserie? She launched GiveCorps in July, along with Beth Falcone, a former banking executive. Today, McDonald and Falcone are co-chairs. Among their slogans: “Every donation needs a nation behind it.” “We had aspirations similar to what the founders of Kickstarter probably had, but Kickstarter is really just a donation transaction processing platform,” McDonald says. “We don’t see ourselves as fundraisers. We see ourselves as a marketing company providing access for nonprofits to reach younger people.” GiveCorps promotes itself at events such as Hampdenfest and Ignite Baltimore, signing people up to receive emails about daily fundraising causes called the “Big Give.” These appeals usually include a video about the effort and always


A helping hand: Steve Haddad, principal of Sangha Solutions, helps small and mid-sized charities prepare online appeals for funding through sites like Kickstarter and GiveCorps. As of now, Haddad thinks sites like GiveCorps are more about raising awareness for various causes rather than raising substantial funding through direct fundraising.

have a clear fundraising goal and line-item breakdown of exactly how the money will be used. For instance, the $1,500 recently sought by the Irvine Nature Center will go toward a city youth camping program, paying for ten sleeping bags and five tents. This way, folks who can only give $10 or $20 get a sense of how their modest gifts can have real impact, rather than just disappearing into the general coffers. GiveCorps itself is a for-profit and retains 3 percent of all donations to cover the costs of credit card processing, which is about the norm for online giving. (Kickstarter donations, for example, are processed through, where credit card processing charges vary from 3 to 5 percent, depending on the size of the donation.) GiveCorps also keeps an additional 7 percent as a “marketing fee.” While Kickstarter only charges a 5 percent additional fee, McDonald says her charges are justified because, unlike Kickstarter, which does very little to promote appeals, GiveCorps uses its growing email list to spread the word. As these sites proliferate, donors wanting to do the most good would be wise to pay attention to such numbers. For instance,, which launched in Washington last year and is presently moving into Baltimore, looks similar to GiveCorps but only donates as little as 5 percent of “deal” income to charities. Groupon, meanwhile, wowed Wall Street last month when its initial public offering brought in $700 million—the biggest haul since Google went public back in 2004. Some question, however, whether Groupon can hold its own amid the proliferating copycats, such as LivingSocial and Google’s still-emerging Google Offers. Though Groupon’s fees vary from deal to deal, their cut is generally around 50 percent. (If a merchant offers $20 of food for $40, the merchant really sees just $10 of each deal sold.) Groupon is also rolling out its own online donation component, called G-Team. Gertrude’s, the restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art, has used both Groupon and GiveCorps. “We did Groupon when they first got started, mostly out of curiosity, and I don’t think we would do that again, “ says chef/owner John Shields. “But GiveCorps makes a lot of sense. It attracted a whole different demographic than Groupon. I believe people that go to it have in mind first being able to donate to causes they believe and then, second, getting a reward.” Gertrude’s GiveCorps offer was $20 of food for $40 and its cause was Moveable Feast, a Baltimore charity providing food for shut-in patients with HIV/AIDS or other illnesses. So far twenty-one donors have helped the charity raise around $1,000. GiveCorps currently has about 3,000 subscribers, and once the list passes 10,000, there is talk of additional charges for both charities and merchant participants. Presently, only registered charities can participate, so all donations are tax deductable. But McDonald says they are thinking about allowing more grassroots community-based projects to be included as well—“so if you are local person who just wants to clean up a vacant lot, you wouldn’t have to go through the rigmarole of becoming a charity just to raise a few hundred dollars for soil and seed,” she explains. Wide Angle Youth Media signed on early, partly because the group’s offices are in the same building as GiveCorps, but also because McDonald feels it is the sort of “hip, young” cause that could appeal to young givers. It’s not just for the youngsters, though: The United Way of Central Maryland used GiveCorps to raise money to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need. This 86-year-old human services Urbanite #90  december 2011  47

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Some aspects of philanthropy will never move into cyberspace. We are not going to see this on a nonprofit’s website: “Click here to give $10 million and then enter your name as you want to appear on the side of the new hospital wing.” organization, long associated with workplace giving, would appear to personify the philanthropic establishment. But then United Way has been more proactive than most in reaching out to young donors and using social media. The organization also has an “emerging leaders” program for the under-40 set that meets regularly for happy hours and such. Members pledge to give a mere $5 a week. “GiveCorps is an interesting model, and we didn’t feel like we were losing anything if we signed on early,” says Lindsley Stys, director of marketing and communications for United Way of Central Maryland. “So far it’s definitely helped us reach new people who probably otherwise wouldn’t be familiar with United Way.” Still, despite some small successes, Web-based systems have yet to make major inroads into our giving scene. Studies show that online giving, while growing each year, still just represents between 7 and 13 percent of the charity world’s haul. Giving through social media platforms is still emerging as a philanthropic player. “I think nonprofits are just starting to learn about some of these platforms and determine how best to use them or if they should use them,” says Dawn Edwards, managing director of development at the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations. “Some are so new it’s hard for us to say exactly how popular they are.” Steve Haddad, principal of Baltimore’s Sangha Solutions, a fundraising consulting firm serving small and mid-sized charities, has helped a number of his clients, including the SEED School and muralist Michael Owen (the man behind the Baltimore Love Project), prepare online appeals through GiveCorps, Kickstarter, and Facebook’s Causes platform. But much of his work is about more traditional fundraising, such as connecting nonprofits with foundations. He feels GiveCorps and the others are, at this point, largely about “cause awareness and marketing rather than actual direct fundraising.” “If you are a small nonprofit with limited staff and resources, how much energy are you going to direct towards raising $1,000 through online fundraising versus actually meeting face-to-face with donors and supporters with the potential to raise significantly more money?” he asks. “Where these online fundraising and sites do make a huge difference is in building the base of a nonprofit giving pyramid. It’s all about finding a balance.” Another area where online platforms excel is in spreading the word about various causes through social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. “What these platforms are doing

is making giving public and social,” says Alison Fine, coauthor of The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, who studies social media’s impact on philanthropy. “The direct mail donor had the option, in their own house, to either toss that piece of paper in the trash or write a check. No one other than the charity knew who gave. Now causes become part your online identity. It enables anyone to not only help financially but be a champion of the cause.” so far, givecorps’s impact can be measured in financial ripples, rather than waves. The company has raised around $35,000 for area charities. But its value in simply promoting causes is harder to quantify. McDonald says her goal is to have 50,000 to 75,000 people getting the Big Give email each day. If just 1 percent of these folks were to give $25 a day, it would translate to around $5 million each year. “That would put us among the largest givers annually in the city as a collective entity,” McDonald says. Would this be all new giving? Would it reduce donations that would have been made elsewhere through other channels? McDonald doesn’t know. Katya Andresen, chief strategy officer for Bethesda’s Network for Good, the ten-year-old “grand dad” of on-line giving platforms that has raised over $500 million for charities, thinks these new forms of giving can lead to an overall increase in philanthropy—if charities take advantage of them. “If you look at giving as percentage of our GDP, it really hasn’t changed much, ever,” she says. “Unfortunately, a lot of nonprofits don’t realize the potential of these technological developments, and they are not structured to develop relations with donors who are not coming to them by writing checks in the mail. For us to ultimately grow that giving pie larger, the [nonprofit] sector needs new systems in place to thank and engage donors coming to them through the new media platforms.” Back at Frederick Gerriets’s small theater, plans are already underway to do just that. Future fundraising will be done using a mix of online outreach and old-school meetand-greets. Facebook and face time. “We’re definitely going to take the database we created through Kickstarter and contact [the people who gave to that campaign] and keep the relationship going,” Gerriets says. The first step could be all those hugs. —Contributing writer Brennen Jensen is a former staffer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  49

Open for New Business Securityplus FCU: Helping You Spend Life Wisely

During a time when

many financial institutions are making headlines for all the wrong reasons, Securityplus FCU hopes to make headlines for all the right reasons. Established seventythree years ago to serve the financial needs of employees of the Social Security Administration Baltimore field office, membership is now open to anyone in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The first credit union branch was located downtown in the Candler Building. Today there are branches located in Woodlawn, Franklin, and Roland Park (early 2012). While credit unions offer the same products and services as a bank, “All income generated, after expenses and reserves, is used to benefit our members,” explained Securityplus FCU Chief Executive Officer Richard Williams Jr. “Our not-forprofit status allows us to operate at a lower cost.


Richard Williams Jr., Chief Executive Officer

“We currently offer a zero percent balance transfer to a Securityplus FCU Visa credit card, and there is no fee for doing this,” he added, “Banks will charge a certain percentage to roll over a balance. Plus, we won’t charge interest on the balance for the first six months. “We also offer a rewards program for purchases made using a credit union check card,” Williams continued. “With the possibility of banks charging to conduct check card transactions, we are paying our members to use their card!” Securityplus FCU also offers savings and checking accounts, credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and more. If you can’t make it into a branch, you can access your funds at 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 6,400 shared branches (partner credit union locations), and 1,700 participating 7-Eleven stores through a virtual commerce (Vcom) unit.

The credit union also offers online and mobile/ text message banking, and is looking to expand its online banking capabilities in the near future. “We offer access to your account 24/7,” Williams said. “Through online banking you can schedule bill payments and never worry about paying on time again. You also have the ability to conduct transfers between your accounts at other financial institutions, and all of these services are free. If people are concerned about costs in this economy, they should do business with a credit union.”

Securityplus FCU offers you: • Free checking ($50 minimum balance) • Access to more than 43,000 ATMs • Online and mobile banking • Rewards for check card purchases • Low auto loan rates • Low interest credit cards • No credit card balance transfer fees

At a time when many people are facing financial hardship, “We will work with you to achieve your financial goals,” he said. “We have a knowledgeable staff, and you can count on great service from Securityplus FCU whether it’s online, over the phone, or in person. We want to help you spend life wisely.”

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“I’ve been a member for thirty-five years. I have never had a problem…the service is instant and the staff is always friendly.”

It is a financial institution that provides the same products and services as a bank. However, when you bank at a credit union, you own a piece of it.

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Creative Class A lounge bar pieced together from repurposed items flips the script on swank. By andrew zaleski

On the mark: The Marquee Lounge, now just a bar, will eventually be a fullfledged restaurant.

It’s a spectacle of orange, red, yellow, and blue perched above multi-colored bottles of hard liquor. Walking along Eastern Avenue, you almost can’t miss it: a wall-length mural of a phoenix rising from the ashes, which beckons you through the glass doors of the Marquee Lounge at the Creative Alliance.

Inside the bar are no booths, just open table seating, and patrons mingle freely. The ambience— soul music, the clinking of glasses, vibrant paintings hanging on exposed brick walls, the muted lighting—lends the lounge a cohesion that makes it feel welcoming. But as your eyes scan the room, you notice that none of these worn wooden chairs are

Dream team (left): Kuo Pao Lian, Pavlina Ilieva, and Gabriel Kroiz worked together to keep the Marquee Lounge construction on budget. Boarding school (below): The wood beams adorning several of the bar’s walls came not from a catalog, but from 100-year-old rowhouses in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Sight to see (bottom): At night, the wall-length phoenix mural is visible from the opposite side of Eastern Avenue.

identical, though they’re all painted a uniform black. Weathered wood beams cover some of the walls. Steel panels outline an alcove just inside the door. Herein these observations lies the Marquee Lounge’s strength: being a patchwork of purchased, found, and repurposed items, a commingling of old and new elements. “It feels like a lounge,” says Andre Mazelin, the Alliance’s house manager. “The lights are really low … it feels warm with the brick, the dark tones. But it’s chill. It’s still Creative Alliance, even though it looks splashy and chic.” Splashy, chic, and still the Creative Alliance was what the designers of the Marquee Lounge had in mind. But for almost a decade, the room the lounge inhabits remained just a storage space; the Alliance’s limited budget made hiring a contractor problematic. During that time, Gabriel Kroiz—a local architect long connected with Baltimore’s arts scene who ultimately served as the project architect— was “involved with [the Creative Alliance] just advising and trying to move them towards jumping into [building the Marquee Lounge] with both feet.” At Kroiz’s suggestion, the Creative Alliance enlisted the help of Kuo Pao Lian and Pavlina Ilieva, the husband-wife team behind Fells Point’s PI.KL Studio, a firm that specializes in “design/build.” Lian teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art; Ilieva teaches at Morgan

56  december 2011


One strong shot: Former Creative Alliance resident Lauren Boilini was given free rein to transform the wall behind the bar into a piece of artwork.

State, where Kroiz directs the architecture and environmental design program. Typically, a contractor designs and prices a construction project from start to finish, something “which immediately drove [the Creative Alliance] over budget,” says Ilieva. In the case of the Marquee Lounge, applying design/build meant that construction was priced at each step of the building process; there was no final drawing of what the finished lounge would look like. The group started with the kitchen, installing the hood over the oven, the walk-in cooler, and the necessary plumbing and electrical components. All of a sudden, two-thirds of their budget was gone. But by not working from an initial blueprint, they were able to cut costs when it came to designing the lounge’s interior. They did that by finding materials that directly reflected the spirit of Highlandtown— and, counter-intuitively, cost less. Century-old,

2-by-6 oak boards, reclaimed from rowhouses in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., vertically line several of the walls. Steel plating encases the front face of the bar, itself a long, solid slab of white marble—a fitting homage to a

“It feels like a lounge … it feels warm with the brick, the dark tones. But it’s chill. It’s still Creative Alliance, even though it looks splashy and chic.” Andre Mazelin, house manager for the Creative Alliance

Baltimore neighborhood known for its marble stoops. The chairs were thrifted from city consignment shops. Former Creative Alliance resident artist Lauren Boilini painted the phoenix mural. And the track lighting above hangs from the floor of the Patterson Theater’s old

film bunker—where highly flammable, 35-millimeter film was once stashed. “It made the project better, the ability to make decisions as the space starts to materialize, as you start to see it,” says Ilieva. While the plan is to eventually have the Marquee Lounge running as a full-fledged restaurant, for now it remains a bar open Friday and Saturday nights. Although, since its March opening, the lounge has hosted multiple events, including Food=Art and two Sunday brunches—catered by Blacksauce Kitchen and Infused Spreads—with a third happening December 4. “We’ll all feel better once the full vision is realized,” Mazelin says. “But people are here. People are starting to discover us.”

 To see more photos of the Marquee Lounge, go to

Urbanite #90  december 2011  57

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Recipe for Disaster How food helps us cope when Mother Nature rears her ugly head

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By Rebecca Messner

my block of bolton street has an abysmal track record for power outages. Every time the sky rumbled this summer, the lights in my apartment flickered and went out. We sweated through the nights, kept awake by the heat, the periodic blare of fire engines, and the edge that comes from sleeping with your windows open in Baltimore City. But just down the street, the lights were on at b Bistro, the neighborhood eatery that lives by the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. “The owner of the restaurant, Qayum Karzai, he’s an Afghan, and they’re tough people,” says chef Jamie Forsythe. “He looks at blackouts and 36 inches of snow, thinking, ‘Why can’t we be open?’”

Post-disaster utopia: From Manhattan bars offering drinks for I.O.U.s during the blackout of 2003 to New Orleans restaurants sharing meals post-Katrina, food becomes a coping device during times of unrest.

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feature / recipe  food + Drink B even kept cooking during the blizzards of 2009, when Bolton Hill’s streets went unplowed for nearly a week, feeding a captive audience of residents who couldn’t make it out to the store. At one point, the kitchen crew hiked nearly half a mile through the snow to rescue a stranded produce truck, hauling vegetables back to the restaurant on foot. Compared to this wintry hardship, runof-the-mill summer blackouts are modest inconveniences. Forsythe straps headlamps to the heads of his line cooks and offers guests extra glasses of wine before plating cold appetizers—this summer: marinated beets, heirloom tomatoes, and cheese. He sends his staff zooming to Safeway for dry ice and cooks down in the basement kitchen, where one gas oven and a six-burner range can function with enough ventilation to prevent setting off the restaurant’s fire suppression system. “It’s something all cultures share, that communal aspect of coming together over a meal,” says Forsythe. “That gets kind of lost, with our schedules, the pace of our lives.” When Mother Nature shoves us out of our comfort zone, our daily routines become trivial, and we’re often pulled together with others—all sharing a communal experience, all concerned with the basics: food, shelter, survival. There’s a kind of joy to be found when things fall apart. Sociologists have a term for it: “post-disaster utopia.” As Rebecca Solnit writes in her 2009 book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, “When all ordinary divides and patterns are shattered, people step up—not all, but the great preponderance—to become their brothers’ keepers. And that purposefulness and connectedness bring joy even amid death, chaos, fear, and loss.” You often see the phenomenon in cities under stress, whether it’s candlelit Manhattan bars offering drinks for I.O.U.s during the Northeast blackout of 2003 or New Orleans restaurants handing out gumbo to neighbors and volunteer crews after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. So powerful was the drive for the comfort of food that the New Orleans Times-Picayune began a giant recipe exchange immediately following Katrina and eventually published a cookbook: Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. In the wake of the storm that washed out the city, people who had lost everything wanted to cook and eat the things that reminded them that their hometown was still alive. Five years later, Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker concluded that the disaster had made a lasting impact on the culinary climate of the city. “In a very intense, concentrated space of time, people found out what really mattered to them,” Richard McCarthy, a manager of the city’s farmers markets, tells her

later in an interview. “Food became the most important ritual of our lives.” Cooking dinner without basic utilities presents a whole menu of hazards, of course, from eating unrefrigerated food that’s gone bad to filling the house with carbon monoxide by running a gas generator or lighting up a grill indoors. A representative of the Baltimore City Fire Department also warns against using the barbie on fire escapes, decks, and rooftops. “Usually, fire escapes are open on the bottom, and most grills have vents where embers fall through.” His suggestion: Set up grills and portable camping stoves curbside. And if you use a generator, don’t bring it in the house or garage. As a reminder, the health department also offers, “When cooking is not possible, many canned foods can be eaten cold.” At the apocalyptic end of August, after the earthquake and before Hurricane Irene blew in, I, like the stranded businessmen of Manhattan and the cooks of New Orleans, turned to food. The earthquake was silly, I know. By the time we figured out what it was, it was over. And yet, for days afterward, my nerves were rattled, as it were. My fiancé and I stared nervously at the cracks growing ominously in our apartment’s 140-year-old ceilings, one just above our bed (we would eventually move the bed). We kept the radio on at a constant background drone, and I scoured Facebook for other Baltimoreans’ hurricane preparedness. Fortunately, our fridge was full of CSA vegetables, so before things got any worse, I did the only thing I could think to do: I chopped. I was taught to make pesto the old fashioned way, by Pia, the woman who acted as my mother during a yearlong exchange program to Italy when I was 17. There was no blender, just a knife. The chopping, which seems endless when you’re making pesto by hand, was calming during a year of homesickness. It was a task—simple, time-consuming, and requiring only a modicum of concentration—and the end result, if all went well, would taste good, an added bonus. And so, while my man was out buying candles and canned beans and Irene began to blow her first menacing, gray gusts, I chopped. With my new, razor-sharp mezzaluna knife (it’s a curved blade attached to handles on either end), I minced garlic and hacked at fresh basil leaves until it turned into a green paste. Chop, scrape, chop, scrape. The cracks in our ceiling grew; the sky darkened. But performing this simple task made me feel better. So did eating the pasta afterward. The hurricane came and went, and, miraculously, the power on our block stayed on. Chunks of our ceilings did fall, however (just after we moved the bed), and after the pesto had finally run out, we escaped to b, to join our neighbors and celebrate our survival.

Natural Disaster Pesto One of the beauties of pesto is its versatility—ingredients can be substituted depending on your taste and what’s in season. Traditional pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese (olive oil is pretty much a given). You can substitute kale for basil, cashews or walnuts for pine nuts, and any hard, flavorful cheese for Parmesean (Asiago or Pecorino work well). A favorite alternative pesto of mine is made simply with cilantro, roasted pumpkin seeds, and lime juice. special equipment : Mezzaluna knife in case of emergency : LED headlamp—allowing for two-handed chopping in the dark ($6–$45 at H&H Outdoors, 424 N. Eutaw St.; 410-752-2580) Portable camping stove ($25–29 at H&H) ingredients measurements are approximated – measure to taste

1 large bunch basil leaves, picked 3–4 cloves garlic, peeled ¼ cup pine nuts ½–¾ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated ¼ cup olive oil Pasta—long, flat noodles like fettuccine or linguine— this allows the pesto to adhere to more surface area. Avoid tubular pasta like ziti or penne, where the pesto might caught inside the pasta and not distribute evenly.

Begin by chopping a handful of basil together with one clove of garlic—chop until garlic is minced and the leaves become a paste. Add more basil and another clove to the paste, periodically scraping the mixture together. Continue chopping basil and garlic, and add pine nuts, a little at a time. Once the first three ingredients are chopped to a paste, transfer to a small bowl and add olive oil, a tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency. Stir in cheese, and add more ingredients to taste, if desired. Bring a pot of water to boil (if necessary, outside at least six feet from the house on your portable camping stove). Cook pasta al dente. Mix in pesto while pasta is still warm and stir until evenly covered. Pesto also keeps frozen for up to six months. –R.M.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  61

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dining reviews  food + Drink

Fresh feast: Indigma grinds all of its own spices.

Indigma photos by Sarah Thrower

by baynard woods


n the night of December 7, 2010, Tony Chemmanoor, the owner of Indigma, got a phone call. “They told me there was a fire, and I might not be able to open for lunch.” As it turned out, the fire would keep

Indigma closed for more than half of the next year. In August, Indigma finally reopened right across the street—in the same building where Chemmanoor opened his first restaurant in Baltimore in 1987. The restaurant is now graced by large windows looking out onto Mt. Vernon Square and high ceilings that make it more welcoming than Indigma’s previous incarnation. And while the menu has been expanded, the food still follows the formula that defined Indigma before the fire: fresh and innovative Indian cuisine. Indigma grinds all of its own spices, and you can taste the difference. This is especially apparent in the more standard dishes like saag paneer (the ubiquitous Indian cheese cubes in spinach) and channa masala (chickpeas in a tomato curry). The open-face samosas are a brilliant reinvention of this almost fast-food staple of Indian appetizers. After drizzling the potatoes with coriander chutney, Indigma puts flash-fried spinach, tomato, and slightly burnt garlic on top of the fried shell. Not all of the standard dishes come out so well. The sauce on the lamb vindaloo tasted like a mix between Texas Pete and Prego. But there is so much to choose from that it is easy to overlook this misstep. During his time away from the kitchen, Chemmanoor grew more ambitious, adding a number of delicious southern Indian and

The Wine Market By martha thomas


he Wine Market’s conceit—restaurant in a wine shop—has become familiar since the place opened as a trend-setter in 2004. But in the past year or so, the Wine Market has rebuilt its bar, added a second dining room, and polished its concrete floor to a terrazzo-like gloss. Oh, and it’s also gotten a new chef. The transition in the kitchen is noteworthy mainly because you might not even notice, and that’s a clue to the restaurant’s success. Chef Andrew Weinziri, who was promoted from executive sous chef when Chris Becker left last summer to join the newly formed Bagby Restaurant Group, combines a love of substance with a flair for colorful flavors and textures. The seasonal menu is designed almost entirely with organic, locally sourced ingredients—though Weinziri isn’t above throwing in a little Meyer lemon, chopped olives, avocado, or out-of-season tomatoes when the mood strikes. Portions are substantial, even as each dish is artfully composed. A scallop crudo is slices of cold seared scallops fanned on an oversized square plate around chopped cucumbers and salty roe, in a swirl of sweet jam made from

Gold standard: The Wine Market remiains a favorite, despite switches in the kitchen.

Albarino wine. A rectangular plate of wilted dandelion greens is dressed with sweet baby beets, and crumbles of smoked bleu cheese and sprinkled with crispy pork belly crutons. A hearty entrée, duroc braised in maple

Indo-Chinese dishes to the menu. The pork chow mein and Szechuan beef reflect the three hundred years that Chinese immigrants to Calcutta have been mixing the ingredients and flavors of the two countries into an exciting fusion. But it is the southern Indian dishes that you’ll find yourself craving. The Chetinnadu chicken—named for the region surrounding Madras—is bursting with taste. Tender pieces of chicken come cooked in a sauce of black pepper, lime, and curry leaves. Each of these ingredients comes across clearly while creating an intoxicating whole. Likewise, the coconut cream and curry give the Kerala-style fish moilee sauce such a complex flavor that you’ll keep dipping your naan into it long after the fish has been devoured. Many dishes come with coconut chutney and mustard curry, leading you to wonder how you’d ever gone without them. Like a phoenix, Indigma has risen from the ashes. But Chemmanoor is still not satisfied. Looking over at the scaffolding hanging in awkward layers around the burnt shell of his former location, he says, “They say it will be ready maybe in April …” He pauses and adds, “This is not temporary. We want to stay here. But we want to do something there also. Like old times.” (Lunch Tues–Sun, dinner Tues– Sun. 801 N. Charles St.; 443-449-6483; www.

syrup, is sweet and robust, gently falling apart like succulent pot roast, accompanied by sweet parsnip “tots” and a pool of apple butter. Lest you are too lulled by all that sweet, a slice of pickled Asian pear on the side, tart with vinegar, will snap you back to reality. Grilled swordfish (from Florida) shares the plate with chunks of butternut squash and strands of leek, an aromatic violet mustard broth and roasted grapes. With 3-ounce, recommended wine pairings available, you can work your way through the already spirited menu with added sparkle. Owner Chris Spann says Weinziri is working to incorporate more actual wine into his recipes (witness a short rib hot dog with sparkling wine mustard, the bistro steak with Syrah shallot marmalade, and the occasional alcohol-infused dessert). The desserts are as alluring as the main plates, ranging from a tangy coconut lime pudding with blueberry sorbet to a coffee pot de crème with Kahlua whipped cream and chocolate biscotti. Life in a town with so rapidly changing a restaurant scene can result in a little myopia. Every now and then it’s worth re-focusing on the originals. (Lunch Tues–Sat, dinner Mon– Sat, brunch Sun. 921 E. Fort Ave.; 410-2446166; Urbanite #90  december 2011  63

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wine + spirits  food + Drink

Ain’t Life Grand

A dockland shrine to the aristocrat of liqueurs By Clinton MacSherry

before 11 o’clock one Monday morning J atustOne-Eyed Mike’s in Fells Point, flanked by

walls displaying hundreds of bottles of Grand Marnier liqueur and some pirate kitsch, two heavily inked, robustly bearded 20-somethings shot the breeze over quarts of Natty Boh at the bar. But Fells Point’s bars have long catered to the unconventional drinking hours of sailors, bikers, bohemians, and workers from local industries seeking refreshment whenever their shifts happen to end. For all the angst over the gentrification of Baltimore’s waterfront neighborhoods, elemental aspects of their character remain. Even in a bar devoted to luxury liqueur, you can still guzzle cheap beer before noon. Baltimore has often seated the scruffy beside the scrubbed, gritty next to grand. So the oxymoron of a Fells Point watering hole being the site of the world’s first Grand Marnier Club isn’t too hard to swallow. It’s part of the plan, according to proprietor Mike Maraziti. “People really like the contrast, the juxtaposition of it all,” says Mike Maraziti says. “You can drink beers at the bar or dine in the back with table linens, wearing a suit or shorts and flip-flops.” Maraziti and a former partner founded the Grand Marnier Club shortly after acquiring the space in 2003. “We’d been talking about mug clubs and ways other bars give people a reason to come back,” Maraziti says. “Grand Marnier has been my drink of choice forever, so we thought, ‘What could we do with Grand Marnier?’ Somehow a snifter club didn’t cut it.” The partners hit on the idea of selling memberships that conferred reservation of a bottle stored at the bar, “and we sold thirty-two in the first month,” Maraziti recalls. Initial memberships now run $175, including a bottle. Once it’s drained, new bottles cost $80, with incentives offered the more times a member reups: ten renewals earn a free bottle; fifty entitle the member to Grand Marnier’s limited 150th photo by J.M. Giordano

anniversary bottling gratis. More than 50 of the club’s nearly 1,800 members have reached the latter level, notes Maraziti, including two whose memberships have spanned more than 300 bottles. The roster includes locals, business folks who visit Baltimore regularly, and “a couple dozen people from France,” he adds. I wonder how all this would sit with the liqueur’s originators, whose history traces back to a distillery established in 1827 near Paris. Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, a descendant of the founder, created the recipe for Grand Marnier in 1880. (Still kept secret, it essentially blends cognac with a distillate of Citrus bigaradia orange peels from Haiti.) Lapostolle’s friends and associates, including luxury hotelier César Ritz and gastronomic godfather Auguste Escoffier, helped popularize Grand Marnier among Europe’s well-heeled and highborn. It’s said to remain a favorite of Britain’s royal family. Flourishing business has allowed the current generation of the Marnier-Lapostolle family to expand, notably into Chile, where they produce some of the country’s most celebrated wines. But they haven’t grown too highfalutin for an occasional visit to One-Eyed Mike’s, most recently in October for the U.S. launch of a new $1500 ultra-luxe bottling made with 75to 100-year-old cognacs. I wasn’t invited, but I’ll content myself with the Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge ($35, 80 proof). Light amber, with heady aromas of medicinal herbs, honey, and burnt citrus rind, it coats the palate in bittersweet orange. Hints of pine and maple syrup ride the finish. Grand Marnier has long been a darling of mixologists, who substitute it for more plebeian orange liqueurs in aristo-versions of cocktails like the Cosmopolitan and highlight it in new-fangled concoctions like the Reverse Margarita. I’ll savor mine neat, thanks—or maybe with a beer chaser. Urbanite #90  december 2011  65




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Angling for the Stars photo by Brian Rassmussen

A monumental sculpture proposed for the banks of the Patapsco River will reshape Baltimore’s skyline. By charles cohen


The 236-foot sculpture proposed for the Westport Waterfont project.

oes the icon make the city or the city make the icon? Like it or not, Baltimore is about to find out in a massive way. If developer Patrick Turner has his way, the largest contemporary sculpture in North America will soon be installed at Westport Waterfront project, a $1.5 billion “second downtown” planned for the post-industrial wilds along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. (See “Edge City,” Jan. ‘10 Urbanite.) To get an idea how large this artwork will loom, take a gander at Silo Point, the former grain elevator jutting up over Locust Point that Turner has turned into a tony condominium development. Turner says it’s going to be that high. It will stand 236 feet, just west of the I-395 overpass, in the space where Cirque Du Soleil has set up its striped tent, where some 175,000 cars will drive past it every day. The sculpture will be created by John Henry, whose sculptures anchor buildings, plazas, and estates from Frisco, Texas, to Hannover, Germany. Henry’s use of massive steel and bold, primary colors gives it an Alexander Calder feel, but while Calder played with balance, Henry puts his energy into trajectory. He uses girthy steel that piles loosely like well-placed kindling. His work vectors toward the stars.

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courtesy of The History Press

Feature / Book  arts + culture The Westport sculpture will rise from private property, meaning public input is at the owner’s discretion. And while Turner has gone out of his way to get input from the city’s arts community, he doesn’t pretend that this will please everyone. “Art is like flipping a coin,” he says. “I don’t think there is one piece of art that appeals to everyone.” Henry, 68, fell in love with Baltimore when he underwent open-heart surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital last year. He visited several times and says that while the city faces formidable issues, it still projects a sense of optimism—a sentiment that echoes that of his skywardslanting sculptures. Henry says his design reflects the city’s industrial past but also the dynamic, budding modern city. “I wanted to build something iconic and at the same time work with the scale of Baltimore—the city as a whole and its architecture,” he says. According to Turner, early champions of including sculpture in the Wesport development were Aris Melissaratos, a former secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development who is now a special advisor to the president of Johns Hopkins University, and Mike Galiazzo, the executive director of the Regional Manufacturing Institute. Both men are champions of art as economic development, and they first considered placing the sculpture in Harbor East. They asked Turner to show Henry a view from his Silo Point development. It was then that Turner pushed for Westport. “In a new development it has more synergy,” Turner says. St. Louis has its Gateway Arch. Seattle has the Space Needle. And in the next two years, Baltimore will have its own monumental sculpture reshaping the skyline. Still, building in the land of the giants is risky business. For every beloved Statue of Liberty, there is an example of a massive sculpture that people love to hate. Take the 315-foot monument to Peter the Great installed in Moscow in 1998. Standing on a ship and posing like the ultimate conqueror, Peter looks like something out of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The monument earned a spot on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of the world’s ugliest statues in 2010. The ultimate illustration of the illusive nature of creating art as skyline icon comes from what is arguably the world’s most recognized massive sculpture: the Eiffel Tower. When the tower was constructed in 1889, critics couldn’t vent enough vitriol. The project actually sparked riots. Today, of course, the French can’t exude enough pride. The tower is climbed and decorated with an ever-changing light theme. Not every sculptural goliath earns such adoration. A public sculpture in Portland, Maine, was finally torn out this fall. “In one way it was a conversation piece,” a local bar owner tells

the New York Times in a recent story, “but the conversation just was never positive.” What is the secret to a successful public sculpture? “People want to have a stake,” says Toym de Leon Imao, a visiting Fulbright Scholar and sculptor at the Maryland Institute College of Art who is studying American public art sensibilities. He notes that even if a large sculpture stands on private ground, the public may feel a sense of ownership over it, particularly if it changes the skyline. “It’s important not to have the people feel like they have been pushed aside.” One Baltimorean who has spent a lot of time contemplating how outdoor instillation impacts the community is Rebecca Hoffberger, the founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum. Today the museum is bedecked with installations—an art bus, a motorcycle and rider on the roof, a golden hand that sticks out the side of the building. But seventeen years ago, Hoffberger stood before the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association to tell them of her plans to erect a giant whirligig by famed outsider artist Wallace Simpson on a building that abuts the hill that is one of Baltimore’s most esteemed historic sites. One resident stood up and said, “We don’t want your whirly and girlies in Federal Hill,” she says. But after the installation had time to spin for a while, that same objector pulled her aside and confessed that it was one of his favorite pieces. Hoffberger believes that public art works best when it interacts with people. “In a city that does not have a lot of money, I look at things that can bring joy,” she says. Whether the new Westport monument will bring love or its opposite remains to be seen. Because the sculpture will be on private land, the only public input will concern zoning issues, not aesthetics. But last year, as a courtesy, Turner presented a model of the sculpture and the plans to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, which took no official position. The office’s executive director, Bill Gilmore, offering his personal opinion, praises Turner for being bold enough to create a visual declaration of Baltimore as a dynamic city of art. This was the same thinking that paved the way for the Male/Female statue by Jonathan Borofsky, which stands sentry over Penn Station. The sculpture incited criticism when it was proposed and continues to spark strong feelings at both extremes. But like it or not, the sculpture sends a strong message, says de Leon Imao. “It’s such a statement to come out of Penn Station and see this form,” he says. “We’re not just a stodgy stopover. We’re a modern city.” Turner says he wants to amplify that message in Westport: “I think it will be a huge signal for other artists about Baltimore,” he says. —Charles Cohen is an Urbanite contributing writer.

Salacious City Wicked Baltimore: Charm City Sin and Scandal by Lauren Silberman (The History Press, 2011) By Anissa Elmerraji


alking about Baltimore’s more than two hundred annual homicides or the impropriety of a certain unscrupulous mayor is bound to make Baltimoreans feel more ashamed than entertained. But in Wicked Baltimore: Charm City Sin and Scandal , the latest in the “Wicked” series from The History Press, author Lauren Silberman’s decision to pull scandalous stories from the past coats them with a far-removed nostalgia that makes them easier to digest. In fact, they’re delicious. Wicked Baltimore covers three centuries of some of the city’s earliest bad behavior, spanning the late 1700s to the early 1900s. It’s no surprise that Poe, Baltimore’s iconic macabre mascot, is the subject of an entire chapter, especially in light of the recent threat faced by the Poe House. “Poe and Baltimore are so deeply linked with one another that it seemed a natural fit,” says Silberman in an interview. In the book, Silberman theorizes about Poe’s mysterious death in a Baltimore gutter in 1849. Challenging the generally accepted story that Poe died from throwing back a few too many, Silberman speculates that conditions like rabies, a brain tumor, syphilis, or even improper medical treatment may have actually done him in. Poe’s body now lies in Baltimore’s Westminster Hall, and more mysterious yet, was visited each year on January 19 by the “Poe Toaster,” leaving three roses and a bottle of cognac. The book includes lesser-known stories of scandal too, like that of Ellen Wharton, the “Baltimore Borgia,” who was (or maybe wasn’t) responsible for murdering her husband, son, and a series of unfortunate houseguests. “Do I think she poisoned them? Yes, I totally think she poisoned them,” says Silberman,” But I’m not sure if she poisoned them on purpose.” “The city loves its more salacious side,” says Silberman of Baltimore, a city that’s been saddled with monikers like “Harm City” and “Bodymore” but chooses to engrave its park benches with a slightly contradictory claim: “The Greatest City in America.” From John Waters’ subversive cinema to “The Block,” Baltimoreans embrace the city’s not-so-charming reputation, and that’s what makes the book so appealing. Deny it if you will, but Wicked Baltimore speaks to our inherent thirst for sin, violence, and intrigue. Plus, you might even learn something. Urbanite #90  december 2011  69

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70  december 2011

music / Theater  arts + culture

Soundtrack to Your Life

Remote Unelectrified Villages by Yeveto, 2011 by BAYNARD WOODS


Top Album art by Andrew Liang

t’s no surprise that Yeveto was created to perform a live, original score at a Creative Alliance screening of the 1920 German film Der Golem. The instrumental band’s new album, Remote Unelectrified Villages (and I don’t just mean “album” figuratively—this is a vinyl deal), feels like the score to a movie that is both lush

Life is a Cabaret

The Holiday Cabaret at Center Stage, December 15–18 Ariel’s Tempest at the Candlelight Concert Society, December 4

and deeply personal—an epic indie created out of a series of small scenes. For that first engagement, Russell de Ocampo, Yeveto’s keyboard player, and drummer Ben Hoffman, fresh off the breakup of their band Rhino Virus, had a little over month to come up with a band and ninety minutes of music. They recruited Gregory Rago on guitar and found cellist Amy Cavanaugh on Craigslist. They didn’t need a vocalist, and they’ve simply never added one since. “You can’t just play the same thing over and over if you don’t have vocals to distract people,” says de Ocampo. “The instruments have to carry that weight and keep the music interesting. Every instrument has to be like the voice.” That can be a tall order. So much instrumental rock music drifts off into the background. But Yeveto’s 2007 release, For Stars and Atoms, shows the band tackling the problem head-on. All four musicians try to strangle the extra air out of songs with their

instruments. And I mean that in a positive way. The intense sonic squall of For Stars and Atoms leaves no room for a vocalist’s breath and no room for the listener to miss it. On Remote Unelectrified Villages, the heavy fog of distortion has lifted, leaving bare the lustrous structure of the songs. The music is less abrasive and more unabashedly beautiful. Some people may prefer the harder edge of Atoms, but Villages often makes the extra noise seem unnecessary. De Ocampo’s Moog and Hoffman’s drums set both a pace and a mood with their measured rhythms. When Cavanaugh’s cello rises out of this groove with a plaintive swoop, Rago answers with a sparkling African-sounding guitar run. These conversations create scenes that gradually shift into new, unexpected soundscapes. A song will take you from ’80s synth-pop through the lavishly orchestral, and on to heavy metal in a way that seems inevitable. Occasionally, there may be an indulgent or extraneous gesture. But even without vocals, the songs ultimately coalesce with a kind of musical logic that resembles a good plot. For more information, and to listen, visit The band plays the Metro Gallery on December 9 at 9 p.m.

Nichols, whose former title was Gen Next Coordinator. The kick-off cabaret will include jazz singer Felicia Carter with bassist Amy Shook, the Divine Voices of Praise Gospel Choir, and both klezmer and steel drum bands.

By Martha Thomas

The Candlelight Concert Society, which has been hen Kwame Kwei-Armah bringing renowned classical took over as Artistic Director music groups to audiences in at Center Stage, one of his first acts Columbia for forty years, has was dismantling the cabaret-style its own formula for wooing seating—where the audience sits younger fans. CandleKids was in small groups at tables—in the established when the society fourth-floor Head Theater to restore “decided it would be a good idea a more traditional division between to bring arts to children in a Raucous revue: Singer Felicia Carter and bassist Amy Shook bring the party to Center Stage. audience and stage. Not long after, way they could enjoy,” says artistic diAnd while the fact that Center Stage has Center Stage announced its big plans for the rector Holly Thomas. This year’s holiday show tapped the business side of its administrative holidays: a cabaret. will be a performance of Ariel’s Tempest by staff by appointing the promotions director, But the holiday festivities aren’t designed to students of the Peabody Opera outreach prorather than a theater director, may tell it all, keep people in their seats. “It’ll be a minigram. The fully costumed mini-opera is a twist Nichols has experience staging parties that festival, with things going on in every space,” on the Shakespeare romance about a group of double as performance events at the theater. says Charisse Nichols, promotions director. castaways living on an island whose leader, a She was responsible for such events as the 2006 The Holiday Cabaret is the first of three schedduke, has enslaved an “airy spirit” called Ariel. costume shop fashion show complete with a uled cabarets (each is four nights long) for the The production, says Thomas, “is The Tempest DJ, a bossa nova band, and local artists, and season, and evidence of a broader goal at Cenfrom Ariel’s point of view.” the Japanese-themed bash the following year. ter Stage—a goal shared pretty much univerFor that first party, says Nichols, “we had a line sally by established arts institutions: getting For more information on the Holiday Cabaret at Center around the building of people waiting to get in.” younger people to step through the door. “We Stage, visit The Center Stage team is hoping the cabaret want to get young people into the lobby, in the For tickets to Ariel’s Tempest at Candlekids, visit www. series generates the same kind of buzz. “We’re hope that they’ll eventually find themselves going for a hybrid of theater and party,” says inside the auditorium,” says Kwei-Armah.


Urbanite #90  december 2011  71







FInAl DAYS! EnDS JAn. 1 LoSt for centuries. FouND by the Walters Art Museum. Discover how an international team of experts resurrected the Archimedes Palimpsest, a hidden manuscript by one of the ancient world’s greatest thinkers,

Holiday Lunch Menu December 12TH - December 23RD M - F • 11:30AM - 2:30PM

Archimedes of Syracuse.

WHAT WILL YOU DISCOVER? 600 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD / 410-547-9000 / this exhibition has been generously supported by an anonymous donor and by leadership gifts from the Selz Foundation and the Stockman Family Foundation.

72  december 2011

Annapolis | 410.990.0033 Baltimore - Pier 5 | 410.230.0033 Baltimore - Water Street | 410.783.0033 Pikesville | 410.837.0033 | Valet Parking Available

the scene

this month’s happenings compiled by anissa elmerraji and Rebecca Messner


©2011 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.


Arthur Magida describes the troubling relationship between Eric Jan Hanussen, a Jewish mystic and fortune teller, and the Nazis during the years before World War II in his book The Nazi Séance: The Story of the Jewish Psychic in Hitler’s Circle (see Urbanite, Nov. ’11). Magida, a writer-in-residence at the University of Baltimore, reads from the book at the Ivy Bookshop on December 2. (6080 Falls Rd.; 410-377-2966) On December 4, spend An Afternoon with Gil Sandler, host of WYPR’s Baltimore Stories. Sandler will talk about his fifth book, Home Front Baltimore: An Album of Memories of WWII, which transports readers to a turbulent era in the city’s history by combining historical articles and photos from papers like the Baltimore Sun, the News-American, and the Afro-American, and personal anecdotes of wartime Baltimoreans. (15 Lloyd St.; 410-732-6400; On December 10, take the kids to the second annual Baltimore Reads Holiday Fair, where story time, free books, and a visit from Santa await all who attend. Enjoy a free lunch and learn how you can volunteer with Baltimore Reads, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing local literacy. (501 N. Calvert St.; 410-752-3595; www.baltimore On December 10, Neal Conan, host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, narrates A Winter’s Night: Ensemble Galilei, a

festive evening of traditional music, poetry, and stories. The lineup includes Liz Carroll on fiddle, Jackie Moran on banjo and bodhran, and whistler Kathleen Keane, along with hometown players Sue Richards (Celtic harp), Ginger Hildebrand (guitar and fiddle), and Carolyn Surrick (viola da gamba). (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creative


This holiday season, enjoy one of George Frideric Handel’s most celebrated oratios—Messiah. Originally composed in 1741, Messiah has long been one of the most commonly performed choral works in Western music. Conducted by Edward Polochick, the performance features the Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale and will take place at the Meyerhoff on December 2. (1212 Cathedral St.; 410-783-8000; www. Controversial soul queen Erykah Badu performs at Rams Head Live on December 2 with her new group, the Cannabinoids. The group emphasizes a grittier hip-hop sound and features the production skills of Symbolyc One, who has worked with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé, and Badu’s longtime musical director, R.C. Williams. Expect a new album from the group in early 2012. (20 Market Pl.; 410-244-1131; www.rams The 18th annual Night of 100 ELVISes, on December 2 and 3 at Lithuanian Hall, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. With free beer in hand,

enjoy dozens of bands playing Elvis’s best tunes and feast on a complimentary Southern buffet complete with fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dessert. Don’t miss the Elvis ice sculpture by Art HongPong or the hotrods on display by Baltimore car club the Karb Kings. (851 Hollins St.; 410-494-9558; Traditional and not-so-traditional (think James Brown, klezmerized) klezmer music comes to the Creative Alliance on December 17 during ! Colossal Klezmer Shlakht ! Come early for a free dance lesson and stay for the percussion beats of Tom Goldstein, who will drum for nouveau klemzer band The Lost Tribe. (3134 Eastern Ave; 410-276-1651; Once described by a Pitchfork music review as “earnest, folk-influenced indie rock with touches of noise and dream pop,” Baltimore duo Wye Oak, whose name is a tip of the hat to the former state tree of Maryland, plays at the Ottobar on December 17 with offerings from their latest album, Civilian. Philadelphia-based Indie-rock band Pattern is Movement opens. (2549 N. Howard St.; 410-662-0069;


You’ve most likely seen at least one incarnation of the timeless fairytale classic, Cinderella. But have you seen it in puppet form? On December 3, Bob Brown Puppets stages a whimsical rendition of this happily-ever-after story, featuring narration by Rheda Becker and Sergei Prokofiev’s classic score. (1212

Cathedral St.; 410-783-8000; www. Don’t be a scrooge—experience Dickens’ seasonal classic with the world premiere production of A Christmas Carol—In Concert. On December 16 and 17, Bob Christianson’s rendition of this Christmas classic will feature a full symphony orchestra, chorus, and full cast, including surly Ebenezer; his long-deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and a host of insightful ghosts. (1212 Cathedral St.; 410-783- 8000; Catch The Little Dog Laughed through December 18 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. Directed by Steve Goldklang, the play follows aspiring movie star Mitchell Green as he tries to make it big in Hollywood and catch the eye of a forbidden love interest. (251 S. Ann St.; 410-276-7837; On December 22 and 23, Baltimore’s burlesque acrobats Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey will flip, twirl, swing, and strip during Trixie and Monkey’s 7th Annual Holiday Spectac-u-thon. The award-winning duo has performed alongside John Waters and appeared on the fourth season of the NBC reality series America’s Got Talent. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651; www.creative

visual arts Historical artisan Lauren Muney will capture your likeness in shadow form at Silhouettes for the Holidays on December 3 at the Johns Hopkins

On December 2, don your ’60s mod attire for a screening of Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s widely successful experimental film, Chelsea Girls, with an introduction from Baltimore filmmaker Matt Porterfield. Taking its name from New York City’s Hotel Chelsea, the original three-hour film, which follows the lives of several of the hotel’s young female inhabitants, is presented in split screen with alternating soundtracks and both black-and-white and color photography. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651;

Urbanite #90  december 2011  73

Holiday Cabaret Dec 15–18

Jazz Artist Felicia Carter, st. Veronica’s Youth steel Drum orchestra, a Klezmer band, PLUs the Divine Voices of Praise gospel choir! Everything you love about the holidays—with a twist.

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SPECIAL OFFER*: save $10 off our best seats (AP/A sections) if you purchase by Jan 4 for performances Jan 4–19 only. Book online or by phone, Promo Code 12GL10OFF. *Special offer not valid Saturday nights; based on limited availability; no refunds or exchanges. | 410.332.0033 centerstagemd centerstage_md 74  december 2011 GSS_Holiday Urbanite 5.25x10_OL.indd 1

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the scene Homewood Museum. Trained in the tradition of 18th and 19th century silhouette artists, Muney is one of the last cut-paper experts in the Mid-Atlantic. (300 N. Charles St.; 410-516-5589; www. On December 11 at the Walters, Kevin Kallaugher (KAL for short), political cartoonist for The Economist, will discuss his work at Kal-ander Konversation with KAL. After signing copies of his award-winning 2012 Kal-endar, KAL will teach guests his craft with a complimentary drawing lesson. (600 N. Charles St.; 410-396-7100;

Artwork by Deming Harriman

community On December 1, the Washington Monument will glow during A Monumental Occasion, the city’s official monument lighting. Buy refreshments from local vendors while being serenaded by choirs from the area. Get there early to grab a good spot for the grand finale—a fireworks and laser show accompanied by music. (669 N. Charles St.; 1-877-BALTIMORE; Ring in the New Year with a choreographed fireworks show over the Inner Harbor at Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular 2011 on December 31.

Before the countdown, enjoy live music at the Inner Harbor Amphitheatre. (Pratt and Light streets; 1-877-BALTIMORE;

GREEN/SUSTAINABLE What watershed do you live in? If you don’t know, Baltimore Green Works will help clue you in on December 13 as part of their Live & Learn workshop series. Blue Water Baltimore (BWB), a local organization that works toward restoring Baltimore’s waterways, will discuss water health, rain gardens, rain barrels, and conservation landscaping in historic Clipper Mill. (2002 Clipper Park Rd.;

HOME/DESIGN Travel via motorcoach to some of Baltimore’s finest bed and breakfasts during the Baltimore Bed & Breakfasts’ Second Annual Holiday House Tour on December 4. At each B&B, enjoy holiday refreshment and rediscover some of Baltimore’s historic charm. Each ticket sale helps support Moveable Feast, a Baltimore-based charity that provides meals and support to victims of HIV/AIDS. (50 Albemarle St.; 443-5694160; www.betterbaltimorebedand

STYLE/SHOPPING On December 4, stop by Merry Mart for a selection of hand-crafted clothing,

jewelry, handbags, children’s toys, art and more. Hosted by Baltimore mixedmedia artist Jen Menkhaus and jewelrymaker Allison Fomich, the show features artists from Charm City Craft Mafia, the Baltimore Etsy Street Team, and other local crafters. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410276-1651;

FOOD/DRINK Whiskey Island’s renegade spice master, Mick the Pirate, teams up with Hugh Sisson, founder and managing partner of Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Brewery, to host Eat My Stuff and Drink Some Beer at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on December 8. Sisson will bring five of his Heavy Seas beers to try alongside specially paired dishes prepared by Mick. (1415 Key Hwy.; 410-727-4808; www. The Jewish Museum of Maryland celebrates its latest exhibition, Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture and American Jewish Identity, with Chanukah, Christmas Day, and Chinese Food on December 25. Celebrating the unique relationship between American Jews and Chinese culture, this family-friendly event will feature games of mah-jong, Chinese lantern and origami making, and, of course, Chinese food. (15 Lloyd St.; 410732-6400;

More than 250 students, alumni, faculty and staff of Maryland Institute College of Art will assemble their handmade wares for the fifth annual MICA Art Market, December 7–10. Get your friends and family unique, Baltimoreinspired holiday gifts, including jewelry, illustrations, paintings, prints, posters, sculptures, T-shirts, and textiles. Proceeds from the market will fund needbased scholarships. (1300 W. Mt. Royal Ave.; 410-255-2300;

Urbanite #90  december 2011  75

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continued from pg 43

is only so much in the form of gentrification that they can do,” he says. “It requires people with affluence coming into poor areas and buying property and improving property values,” he says. “The Latinos moving to this country are by and large working class, poorly educated, and they are here for economic opportunity, and they live in areas where they can afford to live.” The median household income for the city’s Latino population is significantly lower than it is for whites ($37,868 per household for Latinos vs. $54,514 for whites). And immigration reform is not likely, at least not anytime soon. Even so, Latino advocates want the city to provide reasons for Latinos to stay. one place that’s trying very hard

to bolster Latino participation is Lakeland Elementary and Middle School in South Baltimore. School leaders have created numerous reasons for parents to visit the school, including a parent breakfast, where eggs, bagels, English muffins, and juice are served along with an agenda of school-related issues. The parent breakfast is the brainchild of Assistant Principal Luis Espinoza, who says there were fifteen parents at the first breakfast meeting last year. Attendance grew throughout the school year to an average of forty, and nearly sixty showed up for the first meeting of the current school year. Roughly half were Latino. Espinoza views the breakfast gatherings as an essential way to communicate with parents—to listen to their concerns, answer their questions—and, he hopes, improve academic performance. “I want to make sure our parents have a chance to help their kids learn,” he says. “My family was from Mexico, and I remember seeing my dad struggle with speaking to teachers sometimes. I can’t imagine being a parent and not being able to help my child.” Plus, he says, “It’s proven that when parents and families are involved, there is better academic success; there is more reinforcement of education at home.” In addition to the breakfasts, the Family Community Engagement Committee recruits parent volunteers for myriad projects; Baltimore City Community College provides semiweekly English classes for adults; the school sponsors monthly workshops on everything from school safety to test prep; and earlier this year the staff worked with parents and community leaders to go trick-or-treating on Halloween and to organize an anti-violence rally for the neighborhood. Lakeland also has eight Spanishspeaking staff members, including Espinoza and Principal Najib Jammal, and

Viene de la pg 43

contribuir con la economía de la ciudad de Baltimore. Hasta la fecha, el impacto económico ha sido limitado, en gran parte al estatus socioeconómico y legal de muchos los que recién han llegado, dice Donald F. Norris, Jefe del Departamento de Política Pública en la Universidad de Maryland en el Condado de Baltimore. Mientras

just about everything is translated from English to Spanish. That includes the monthly workshops and parent breakfasts. Even parts of the building are labeled with words in both languages—for example, bathroom/baño, gym/gimnasio, window/ventana. “The language barrier is not an excuse here,” says school secretary Jacqueline Fonseca, who has worked at the school for seventeen years and serves as co-chair of the family community engagement committee. From year to year, she says, enrollment hovers around six hundred. This year it’s at 629, and nearly a third of the students are Latino. In the lower grades, which are more indicative of a burgeoning trend, the split is nearly 50-50, half Latino and half African American; and at the pre-kindergarten level, two-thirds of the kids are Hispanic. The pre-K stats “blew my mind,” Fonseca says. As school secretary, Fonseca’s job is similar in many ways to that of Flores at Casa de Maryland. Fonseca, too, is a gatekeeper. She fields a steady stream of calls and walk-in queries from students, staff, and visitors, including an ever increasing-number of parents who do not speak English, and when they call, she wields her limited Spanish. “Un momento por favor,” she says, hoping to keep them on the line so she can get a Spanish speaker on the phone. It’s a minor detail, but it’s telling of the school’s efforts to get parents in the door in hopes that their children will become the next generation of business and community leaders. Or, as Fonseca says, “when you and I are [retired] and in our rockers, [today’s young people are] going to run this country one way or another, and we do our best to make sure all of our kids go somewhere positive. Whether they’re Hispanic or not, it’s the same deal. They are our future, and it’s to our benefit to do the best we can for them now.” —Contributor Lucy Hood has written about Latino, immigrant, and education issues for the Harvard Education Letter and the American Journalism Review, among other publications.

el tremendo crecimiento de la población Latina ha conducido hasta cierto grado a la revitalización, “hay sólo una parte que pueden hacer en términos de transformar los vecindarios y hacerlos más prósperos,“ dijo él. “Requiere de gente con recursos que venga a las áreas pobres y compre propiedades y mejoren el valor de éstas,” dijo él. “Los Latinos que se mudan a este país son mayoritariamente clase trabajadora, con poca educación, y están aquí buscando una oportunidad económica y viven en las áreas que les son asequibles.” El ingreso medio de la población Latina de la ciudad de Baltimore es significativamente menor a la de los blancos ($37,868 por hogar para los Latinos vs. $54,514 para los blancos); y la reforma migratoria no se vislumbra a corto plazo. Aunque esa sea la situación, los que abogan por los Latinos quieren que la ciudad de Baltimore provea razones para que estén aquí. Un lugar que se está esforzando en hacer que los Latinos participen es la escuela elemental Lakeland y la escuela media en la parte sur de Baltimore. Los líderes escolares han creado un número infinito de razones para que los padres visiten la escuela, incluyendo desayuno donde huevos, panes, pasteles y jugos se sirven junto a la agenda de asuntos escolares. El desayuno para padres es una idea original de Luis Espinoza, quien dijo que hubo 15 padres en el primer desayuno el año pasado. La asistencia creció durante el año escolar a un promedio de 40 y llegó hasta 60 al comienzo de este año escolar. Aproximadamente la mitad de los padres eran Latinos. Espinoza ve las reuniones para desayunar como una forma esencial para comunicarse con los padres y oír sus preocupaciones, responder a sus preguntas y esperar que mejore el rendimiento académico. “Quiero asegurarme que nuestros padres tengan la oportunidad de ayudar a sus hijos a aprender,” dijo él. “Mi familia era de México y recuerdo ver a mi papá teniendo dificultades para hablar con los maestros a veces. No me imagino ser un padre y no poder ayudar a mi hijo.” Además, dice él, “Esta comprobado que cuando los padres y familias se involucran, hay mejor éxito académico; hay mayor refuerzo de la educación en la casa.” Adicionalmente a los desayunos, el comité para involucrar a padres y familias recluta padres voluntarios para una miríada de proyectos: El Colegio Universitario de Baltimore da clases de Inglés para adultos dos veces por semana; la escuela ofrece

talleres mensuales en todo desde seguridad escolar hasta preparación para los exámenes y a comienzos de este año escolar los padres y líderes comunitarios organizaron actividades del día de brujas y un rally contra la violencia en la vecindades. Lakeland también tiene ocho miembros del personal que hablan español, incluyendo a Espinoza y al director Najib Jammal, y casi todo se traduce del inglés al español. Esto incluye talleres mensuales y los desayunos para padres. También hay partes de la escuela etiquetadas con palabras en ambos idiomas por ejemplo: bathroom/baño, gym/gimnasio, window/ ventana. “El idioma no es una barrera aquí,” dice la secretaria de la escuela, Jackie Fonseca, quien ha trabajado 17 años en la escuela y sirve como jefe adjunta del comité para involucrar a la comunidad. De año en año, dice ella, la matrícula ronda por los 600. Este año está en 629 y un tercio de los estudiantes son latinos. En los grados inferiores, lo que es más indicativo de la tendencia creciente, la mitad es origen Latino y la otra mitad afro-americanos. En el pre-kinder dos tercios de los niños son hispanos. Las estadísticas de pre-kinder, “me dejaron muy sorprendida,” dijo Fonseca. El trabajo de la secretaria Fonseca es similar al de Flores en Casa de Maryland. Fonseca también está al frente y recibe un flujo de llamadas, visitantes, y estudiantes incluyendo un número creciente de padres que no hablan inglés, y cuando llaman, ella responde en su español limitado. “Un momento por favor,” dice ella, esperando encontrar a alguien que hable español para que atienda el teléfono. Es un detalle menor, pero muestra los esfuerzos de la escuela en promover que los padres vengan y que sus hijos se conviertan en la próxima generación de líderes comunitarios y de negocios. O como Fonseca dice “cuando tú y yo [nos jubilemos] y estemos en nuestros mecedores, [los jóvenes de hoy] van a líderizar este país de una forma u otra, y hacemos lo mejor para que nuestros niños hagan algo positivo. Si son hispanos ó no, es el mismo trato. Son nuestro futuro y es para nuestro beneficio que hagamos lo mejor por ellos ahora.” —Lucy Hood, quien contribuyó para este artículo, ha escrito sobre Latinos, inmigrantes, y asuntos educativos para publicaciones de la Universidad de Harvard y el Review de Periodismo Estadounidense, entre otras publicaciones.

Urbanite #90  december 2011  77

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The Jewish Museum of Maryland

Opening October 23, 2011

at the Herbert Bearman Campus presents

Interior of Attman's delicatessen, c. 1984. Photo by Elinor B. Cahn. 1985.031.002; Introducing the grandson to deli at Attman’s, 2010. Courtesy of Dr. Howard Woolf; Max Abramowitz family before Shabbat dinner, 1945. Courtesy of Audrey Polt. CP 14.2010.034; Rose Cohen, Fannie Katz, and Marlene Katz Sollod salt fish for Passover, c. 1949. 1992.095.001; Cracking crabs on Polt back porch, 1999. CP 14.2010.014; All food photography by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr.



Photo by Michael Cantor

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FREE Holiday Gift Wrap & Coffee Friday, December 16 ~ Friday, December 23 Fridays: 10am-8pm Monday - Thursday 10am-3pm Saturday: 10am-6pm Sunday: 12-4pm

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Urbanite #90  december 2011  81

eye to eye

at first glance, Jordan Bernier’s Untitled is likeable. Meandering, colorful shapes float on a white background, interlocking and repeating in a complex arrangement of receding and advancing structures. Pared down to simple colored pencil on paper, Untitled is a quizzical analysis of visual systems, of relationships between shape and color, and employs a scientific approach to building complex schema. Verging on decorative, and undoubtedly beautiful, Bernier’s work stands as a counterpoint to much of contemporary art, which tends to value intellectual concept over visual craft. cara ober The artist cites Pennsylvania Dutch quilts and historicara ober is urbanite’s online cal Islamic pattern as sources of inspiration and has been arts/culture editor. to receive exploring folk art in his studio practice for about eight her weekly e-zine, go to ezinesignup. years. Used to embellish everyday household objects, traditional crafts reflect the physical and psychological attributes of a place in time, typically as an abstracted version of the local flora and fauna. Following this logic, Bernier’s work directly reflects Baltimore at the turn of the 21st century: an intricate, geometric, urban grid, full of diversity, surprises, and quirky elegance. Bernier’s hand renders these patterns—simplified and endlessly repeated—with a playful sensibility that belies the convolution of the systems he develops and imbues them with a lively sense of spontaneity and wonder. Like visual candy, its bright colors and intricate geometry have the power to dazzle young children, interior decorators, and art curmudgeons alike.

82  december 2011

Jordan Bernier Untitled, 2011 Colored pencil on paper 11”x14”

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December 2011 Issue  

Can we make Baltimore's burgeoning Latino community feel welcome? Plus: How GiveCorps is revolutionizing philanthropic giving; a new Baltimo...

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