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Westport on the Verge • Reinventing the Kids’ Menu • Get Fit! Urbanite’s Wellness Guide january 2010 issue no. 67











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Introducing the biggest thing to come out of Tinseltown in years. It’s Cinema Cash, the new blockbuster scratch-off game from the Maryland Lottery. You could win up to $30,000 instantly, or mail in two non-winning tickets for incredible second chance prizes like: - TRIP TO AN MGM MOVIE PREMIERE - HOME THEATRE PRIZE PACKAGE - MOVIE TICKETS FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR You could be on the red carpet before you know it. Pick up the new Cinema Cash scratch-off ticket, available at your favorite Maryland Lottery retailer and let yourself play. Go to for complete rules and details.

The Maryland Lottery® encourages responsible play. Remember, it’s just a game. METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYERTM & © 2009 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

innovative spaces

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“Making a big difference in the lives of others through random acts of kindness.” Singing in choral groups during the holiday season was a favorite pastime memory for one of GBMC’s oncology patients. When her treatment prevented her from being able to join a choral group last season, and Diane learned about it, she invited the patient to join the GBMC Holiday musicians for performances in the hospital’s main lobby. Being part of the group made a hallmark memory for the patient, and proved that random acts of kindness can make a significant, positive difference for others.

Read more extraordinary stories at

Diane Moniuszko Core Clinical Lab

putting your mind at ease

Sharing the Spirit of the Season


january 2010 issue no. 67

features 36

keynote: the intelligence officer

aneesh chopra, president obama’s technology advisor, on how to stay in the lead of the global innovation race interview by marc steiner

the greatest thing since … 40 from flying boats to free food, we take the measure of the year in ideas and find ten simple ones that might change baltimore.

48 27

edge city

developer pat turner wants to turn a long-neglected waterfront neighborhood into a glittering second downtown. but where will the westport of the future leave the westport of the past? by martha thomas

departments 7

editor’s note

god machines

you’re saying 9 what one foot in front of the other you’re writing 11 what fresh start: leaving the mountains, shaking it off, and missing mom


15 17


this month: a mummy autopsy, a charity swim, and honoring dr. king

the goods: custom-made couture. plus: a green carwash, a hip haircut, and urban cycling

baltimore observed 21 back in the saddle?

the race to save baltimore’s mounted police unit by stephanie hanes

best shot 25 their using an elite sport to open doors for city kids this month online at

by amanda digiondomenico


more great ideas from local universities an interview with author anne tyler


the urbanite guide to getting healthy and being well by tracey middlekauff

eat/drink 57 the children’s table

de-nuggetizing the kids’ menu by michael yockel

on the air:

urbanite on the marc steiner show, weaa 88.9 fm jan 7: aneesh chopra on american-style innovation jan 19: american homicide author randolph roth on why we kill jan 28: big changes in westport

on the cover:

illustration by kristian bjørnard


reviewed: the reserve and 13.5% wine bar

63 wine & spirits: lunchtime sips 65 the feed: this month in eating art/culture 67 murderland

why do americans kill each other so much? by michael corbin

plus: anne tyler’s latest, opera for the mtv generation, and this month’s cultural highlights eye to eye 78 urbanite’s creative director, alex castro, on matthew kern

w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m j a n u a r y 1 0


Issue 67: Januar y 2010 Publisher Tracy Ward Creative Director Alex Castro Genera l Manager Jean Meconi Editor-in-Chief David Dudley Managing Editor Marianne K . Amoss Senior Editor Greg Hanscom Literar y Editor Susan McCallum-Smith

In 1887, construction started on the Eiffel Tower.

Proofreader Robin T. Reid Contributing Writers Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Brennen Jensen, Clinton Macsher r y, Tracey Middlekauff, R ichard O’Mara, Andrew Reiner, Mar tha Thomas, Sharon Tregask is, Michael Yockel, Mar y K . Zajac

It was finished in 1889.

Editoria l Interns Amanda DiGiondomenico, Brent Englar Design/Production Manager Lisa Van Horn Traffi c Production Coordinator Belle Gossett Designer K ristian Bjørnard Videographer/Website Coordinator Chris Rebber t Production Interns Tyler Fitzpatrick, Kelly Wise Senior Account Executives Catherine Bowen Susan Econ Susan R . Lev y Account Executives R achel Bloom Cour tney Lu xon Adver tising Sa les/Events Coordinator Erin Albright Adver tising Intern Shantez Evans

a lot ca n happen in t wo years.

Book keeping/Marketing Assistant Iris Goldstein Founder Laurel Har ris Durenberger Advertising/Editorial/Business Offi ces 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050 ; Fax: 410-243-2115 w w

At Towson University’s Graduate School, two years is the difference between where you are now and where you want to be. With more than 70 affordable programs, you’ll get the practical knowledge and experience you need to go further in your career, or start a new one. And it only takes two years — sometimes even less.

Get started. Visit

Editorial inquiries: Send queries to (no phone calls, please). The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. Urbanite does not necessarily support 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 2010, Urbanite LLC. All rights reserved.

Thinking outside.


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 certifi ed Minority Business Enterprise.


uTOW-GRAD-2009-7438_Eiffel_AUG.indd rbanite january 10


6/29/09 4:57:38 PM

courtesy of Stephanie Hanes

photo by Kelly Wise

photo by Kelly Wise

contributors In August 2007, Urbanite designer Kristian Bjørnard moved to Baltimore with his girlfriend to attend Maryland Institute College of Art’s graphic design MFA program. Before that, he was working and living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where his time was divided between making biodiesel, bicycling, selling cookware, and doing design work for a variety of clients. After graduating from MICA in May, Bjørnard joined the Urbanite staff in August; in addition to manning Urbanite’s design desk, he manages a freelance practice and continues to research what sustainable graphic design looks like. His design for this month’s cover, an “ideameter,” is inspired by the depth gauge of a U-boat. Editorial intern Brent Englar is an aspiring playwright originally from Reisterstown, although a recent job temporarily transplanted him to Los Angeles to work as a sales representative for a chemical company. Prior to that he taught English and SAT prep at a Baltimore County high school. Englar graduated from Drew University in 2002 and spent several post-collegiate years as a would-be actor in New York City. He currently lives in Mount Washington. When he’s not at Urbanite— where he has written about new businesses and products (p. 17) and ideas that could change Baltimore for the better (p. 40), among other things—Englar works as an editor for an educational publishing company in Baltimore. Baltimore native Stephanie Hanes is a freelance reporter and former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun. She recently returned home after four years reporting in southern Africa, where she wrote for the Christian Science Monitor, Smithsonian, Africa Geographic, People, and other publications. In this month’s Urbanite, she checks in with some urban wildlife, chronicling the efforts to save the city’s imperiled mounted police unit (“Back in the Saddle?” p. 21).

editor’s note

January is List Season, and as humankind ventures cautiously but opti-

mistically into the Tens, we couldn’t resist putting a bona fide top-ten list on the cover. Something about adding that zero to the end of the year brings out the ranker in us all, even when the decade in question is the murky, cataclysm-packed bum ride that was the Aughts. This is Urbanite’s second Breakthroughs issue, our annual salute to big ideas on the boil that may (or may not) shift paradigms, change games, and otherwise rock our worlds in the years to come. The term is not used loosely: Each of the ten notions we explore in our cover package (“The Greatest Thing Since …”, p. 40) has the potential to transform city life as we know it. They’re also fairly simple, in principle if not in execution—no domed underwater crab farms or orbital Preaknesss platforms here. And we shy away from unproven gee-whiz technologies, if only because the wonders of the gizmosphere often fail to achieve their planetshattering expectations. But sometimes, of course, they do. As a child, I considered becoming inventor, despite a marked lack of mechanical or mathematical ability. It sounded fun, whomping up marvelous contraptions in a spark-belching mad-scientist lab like Bell and Edison. But my timing felt about a century too late: This was the 1970s, and clearly everything worth inventing had already been invented. Televisions, telephones, radios, airplanes, and automobiles were all just refinements of 19th-century ideas; the age of innovation had been exhausted. In other words, I’d roughly arrived at the worldview that the science writer John Horgan would later outline in his book The End of Science , which argued that the major elemental breakthroughs of pure science—DNA, evolution, relativity—were done deals, and there wasn’t much left for future scientists to do except tweak this body of understanding and pick up their checks. The revolution was over. The 1990s were lousy with preemptive “The End of …” declarations (Horgan published the book in 1996, a few years after Francis Fukuyama’s infamous The End of History and the Last Man), but this still elicited howls of protest from actual scientists. It seems even more unlikely today, given the technological firepower about to be trained on some Very Big Questions. Exhibit A: The Large Hadron Collider over in Switzerland, a super-sized particle accelerator that could rewrite the physics textbooks and unravel the mystery of all that weird dark matter that is supposed to be holding the universe together. (At press time, the collider was working again, despite a theory, espoused by two physicists who may or may not have watched a lot of Star Trek, that “reverse chronological causation”—or destructive ripples in time—were being generated by the machine in the future because the hypothetical Higgs boson that it is supposed to create is “abhorrent to nature.” It’s complicated.) There’s nothing quite as awesome as the Large Hadron Collider in this month’s Urbanite, sadly, but we found a few good ideas that come close, and none of them would cost anywhere near €3 billion or inadvertently open up a black hole. Certainly, it’s hard to imagine a time more in need of new approaches. The decade we’ve just put to bed, whatever we end up calling it, looks more and more like a graveyard of bad, old ideas, a false start to the shiny new millennium we were all so excited about ten years ago. Good riddance to it, and let’s try this again. A kid today should not lack for inventions that need inventing, or revolutions that need starting. —David Dudley

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urbanite january 10

photo by Chris Rebbert

what you’re saying

born to run Just wanted to send along a thank you for the article “Running for Their Lives” (December) by Amy Reinink. As a volunteer with Back on My Feet, I try to explain to my friends in my own words how important the running group is to both our residents and to us, the volunteers. Reinink’s article captures the determination the runners have to overcome depression and addiction to regain control of their lives. As I train for my first marathon next year, I will keep this article as my constant reminder that we can all achieve 26.2 miles. —Charmaine Dahlenburg, Baltimore ladies’ men Your “Keynote” interview with family advocate Joe Jones (November) fails to point out the prime reason for absent fathers: mothers who, by their own choices, allow themselves to become with child by men with little or no skills in parenting or any desire to be a parent. The one study cited suggests that the relationship between the expectant mother and the father is one where the woman anticipates marriage to her child’s father, but in most cases this does not happen. Mr. Jones says that when the relationship starts to disintegrate, start intervention at that point. I say that no type of intervention is possible at this point, but that intervention should have begun long before the female could produce

offspring. To begin with, make young girls fully aware of a male’s perception of the sex act. (It is just that, an “act.”) Second, instill in young girls a positive value system that assists them in the selection process when considering potential partners, and thus, potential fathers. Finally, tell girls the reality: Being a mother is a painfully hard task, and it does not validate their womanhood. —Jerome Emile Ball, Baltimore care for free The Pro Bono Counseling Project, a nonprofit based in Baltimore, was pleased to see Urbanite’s recent piece on the health insurance crisis (“Cover Me!”, November) While we are grateful that you are keeping medical health care struggles and available resources in the spotlight, we couldn’t let this opportunity go by without mentioning to your readers the importance of access to availability and quality mental health care for all those in need. As the economy struggles and the uninsured or working poor go without jobs and/ or medical health insurance, it is even more critical that the community has appropriate low-cost mental health resources at hand. The Pro Bono Counseling Project, celebrating eighteen years of service to more than 13,000 low-income and uninsured families and individuals in the state of Maryland, is a forward-thinking project that is now

serving as a model for seven other states. Our generous cadre of more than 1,500 licensed therapists across the state demonstrate their commitment to improving their communities by volunteering their time to counsel individuals in need of mental health support. If you or your loved one could benefit from pro bono mental health care, please call our office for a confidential consultation. —Whitney C. DeBoer, MSW, is associate director of the Pro Bono Counseling Project. clarification We did not properly identify the subject of the photograph that accompanied the December article “Seeing Clearly.” The photo showed Earl Byrd, not Ernest Turner, who was quoted in the article.

We want to hear what you’re saying. E-mail us at mail@urbanitebaltimore. com 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.

w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m j a n u a r y 1 0


what you’re writing

photo by Kelly Wise

Fresh Start

With every mile, the gloom and

apprehension in the backseat of our station wagon grew. I sat in my usual spot behind the driver, staring out the window, fighting tears, and ignoring my younger brother and sister. Rain streamed down the windows. Wind shook our heavily loaded car. The Appalachian scenery I loved so much appeared dreary, blurred, even threatening. I thought of everyone we’d left behind: my grandparents, my dad, our enormous, tightly knit family. I missed them already. I couldn’t imagine a new life away from them. My mother refused to be affected by the rain or our attitudes. Both hands on the steering wheel, she pointed our car toward California. She sang with gusto to the beat of swishing windshield wipers and an oldies station she’d found on the radio. Between songs, the announcer relayed news of mudslides and closed sections of road in towns we’d just passed. There was no going back. Mom got excited and turned the volume up when she heard the familiar notes of a Beach Boys song. “Girls, it’s your new song!” she said and began to sing. “Well, East Coast girls are hip, I really dig those styles they wear …” My stepdad snorted from the passenger seat, and my sister rolled her eyes. I turned again to the window and saw my reflection: a painfully shy teenager with fair skin and dark hair, clothes somewhere between preppy and disaster. There was never anyone farther from the Beach Boys’ California girl. We pulled into a rest stop to use the facilities and break into our cooler. I stood under an overhang, stretching my legs and waiting for my siblings. Mom came over and put her arms around me.

“Please,” she said. “Just give it a chance?” I saw in her eyes how much she wanted us on her side. This move wasn’t a disaster for her. It was an adventure. It was freedom. It was a fresh start. —Amy Carr Galloway lives in Millersville with two comic sidekicks: her 5- and 7-yearold sons. She works for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is pursuing a master’s degree in writing at Johns Hopkins University.

I’m feeling sad, or mad, or maybe

I’m just disappointed. I go to the park. I don’t know why, I just do. Now I’m there. I go sit under a shady tree. I think, I draw, I sing. Then I get up. And I run. I run across the soft grass, my hair in the wind, my face in the sun. I run straight across the grass. Never slowing down and never getting tired. I stop. I flop onto the grass. It’s all better now.

—Katrina Schmidt is a sixth grader at St. Casimir’s Catholic School in Canton.

The call came early in the

morning. It was my real estate agent. Yawning, I eased back onto the sofa, ready to go over the last details of settlement proceedings on the sale of my Washington, D.C., home. Instead, in a calm Caribbean voice, he asked, “Do you know you’re in foreclosure?” I stood up. “I’m not in foreclosure,” I said, clutching the receiver. “It’s some kind of mistake.” How could I be? I was set to sell my home in D.C. the next day, followed closely by the purchase of my new Baltimore home.

I wasn’t in foreclosure. Far from it; I was in transition. More to the point, I was in recovery. It had been six months since I was rushed to the emergency room with no insurance, diagnosed with an intestinal virus—what one doctor called a “superbug.” It left me 40 pounds lighter, balding (attributed to the weight loss and medication), and so weak my mother came from Florida to take care of me for almost three months. By the time I came out the other side, my savings had dwindled and my part-time position as an office manager had long been filled. The economy had also turned upside down, and I, along with several million other Americans, was unemployed. Faced with homelessness and the realization that no matter how many LinkedIn or Facebook connections I added, there were no job offers, I put my house on the market. Three weeks after listing it, I received an offer that allowed me to pay off my mortgage and purchase the Baltimore home, with a little left over to replenish my depleted savings. Shortly after, I started a new job in Baltimore. Every day, I remind myself that the best gift I give myself is the belief that everything will work out. —Willett Thomas is a freelance writer living in Baltimore.

I was 8 years old; it was Septem-

ber, not long after the new school year had started. My two sisters, my brother, and I had been pulled from our classes, taken to the principal’s office, and handed over to two strangers. No explanations were given. The strangers drove us home—not to take us to our mother but to take us from our mother. As the strangers rushed us around, gathering a few clothes and cramming them into paper bags, my mother cried with low, soft moans. I was too young to recognize the ache of a mother having her children ripped from her. When I asked one of the strangers if I could take my baby doll, she said, “No, you’re only going for a couple weeks.” I never saw my doll again. That day, my life and the person I knew myself to be ended. My mother was no longer my mother; my siblings were no longer my siblings; my home was no longer my home. The social service system decided my mother was unfit to be my mother. My father, who had deserted us long before this incident, again abandoned us. With my mother deemed unfit, he signed the papers giving up all parental rights. I quickly discovered that the system offered a foster child two choices: conform

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He doesn’t think his snoring is serious. * * * What he doesn’t know is that his snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, which could cause a stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. He doesn’t know that he’ll be diagnosed and treated at the state-of-the-art Sleep Lab at the University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center. And he hasn’t learned how soundly he’ll sleep once its multidisciplinary team of specialists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan just for him.

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umm .edu /sleep | 800-492 -5538


—Charlotte Irby lives in Belcamp and works in Baltimore for the Department of Veterans Affairs as the senior technical writer-editor for the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. She is working toward an MS in professional writing at Towson University.

“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 WhatYoureWriting@urbanitebaltimore. com. 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


Best-Laid Plans Jan 11, 2010 Fired Feb 9, 2010 The Most Beautiful Thing Mar 9, 2009

Publication Mar 2010 Apr 2010 May 2010

Highlighting Local Talent Join AIABaltimore (The American Institute of Architects, Baltimore Chapter) to hear from the winners of the 2009 AIABaltimore Excellence in Design Awards program as they discuss their architecture firm’s design aesthetic and vision.


and be ignored or rebel and be destroyed. I chose to conform. I made that choice after I had refused to call my foster mother “Mother.” “You’re not my mother,” I had shouted at her. She looked at me with her icy gray eyes and spoke each word distinctly. “You will call me Mother or I will have your bag packed and you will leave this house tonight.” I called her Mother. My fresh start led in many directions: military, marriage, parenthood, college, and a career in something I love, editing. So much good has come from this early life change, blessings beyond measure. But through it all—as the child I once was and as the mother I am now—my heart still aches for my mother. ■

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Hord Coplan Macht, Inc. Chris Harvey, AIA JRS Architects, Inc. John Srygley, AIA

Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects Michael Murphy, FAIA Rohrer Studio Dianne Rohrer, Jim Suttner, AIA Ziger/Snead Architects, LLC Steven Ziger, AIA

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site 600 North Paca Street, north of Franklin in Seton Hill

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Through Nov 8, 2010

In 2008, the Walters Art Museum’s mummy got a virtual autopsy. “Mery”—who lived between 850 and 750 B.C.—was given a CT scan by the University of Maryland to find out more about her cause of death, age, and other characteristics. The findings, displayed on computers, are accompanied by an exhibit of pieces from ancient Egypt.

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Bull Riders Invitational

Jan 2 & 3

Eight seconds: the length of time a rider has to hang onto a pissed-off, one-ton bull in order to earn points. See dozens of world-class riders compete for the $1 million prize, awarded at the end of their American “Built Ford Tough Series” tour. Baltimore is the first stop.

1st Mariner Arena 201 W. Baltimore St. $10–$100 410-547-7328

The Lonely American

Jan 10, 3 p.m.–4 p.m.

WYPR’s Tom Hall moderates a discussion about whether Americans are becoming more socially isolated. The panelists are Dr. Jacqueline Olds and Dr. Richard Schwartz, psychiatrists and the authors of The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century . You may want to take a friend.

Baltimore Museum of Art 10 Art Museum Dr. Free 443-573-1700

Martin Luther King Day

Jan 18, noon

The city honors the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with its tenth annual parade, featuring high-energy performances by high school marching bands, floats, equestrian units, and more. Cultural institutions around town—including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture—are also holding commemorative events; contact each museum for more information.

Parade steps off at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Eutaw St.

Baltimore Home Show

Jan 29–31

Get hip to the latest trends in home improvement at the Home Building and Remodeling Show. Attendees at the three-day expo will learn about flooring, roofing, kitchen and bath remodeling, and more—and start dreaming of spring projects.

Baltimore Convention Center 1 W. Pratt St. Adults $6, children younger than 18 free Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling 952-881-5030

Polar Bear Plunge

Jan 30

Every year, more than 25,000 brave folks jump into the icy Chesapeake. The funds they raise beforehand benefit the Special Olympics. Sign up to take a dip alongside such local celebrities as world champion ice skater Kimmie Meissner and Ravens Joe Flacco and Adam Terry—or just watch the action from the shore.

Sandy Point State Park 1100 E. College Pkwy. Annapolis

Photo credits from top to bottom: © Department of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore; © Michael Klenetsky |; courtesy of WYPR; courtesy of the Baltimore Offi ce of Promotion and the Arts; © | Kutay Tanir; photo by Ian Furlong

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Happy Feet 

Double Duty 

The formula of Benjamin Lovell Shoes (618 S. Exeter St.; 410-244-5359; is fashion minus pain. “Our whole business is based on style with comfort,” says store manager Josh Love from the Harbor East location, which opened in 2006 (there are five other locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey). The top sellers in the women’s department include La Canadienne boots, which are handmade in Montreal. Benjamin Lovell is also one of a handful in the country to sell limited edition Timberlands, which Love says are favorites among male customers. The store only reorders a style if it sells well, so the merchandise is constantly being refreshed. Benjamin Lovell also dabbles in philanthropy: The company participated in the Soles4Souls program, collecting shoe donations in exchange for $10 off a pair of shoes. The Harbor East location alone collected two hundred pairs for people in need.

Fells Point boasts nearly 150 bars and restaurants, 120 shops and boutiques, and numerous clubs, theaters, and museums. But for Joe Traill, owner of the Mount Washington-based Joe’s Bike Shop, the neighborhood lacked something. “It’s one of those places in Baltimore where you can live without needing an automobile,” he says, “and we thought a bike shop provided a much-needed service.” So last October, Traill expanded his cycling business to Fells Point (723-B S. Broadway; 443869-3435; The new store offers the same basic services and inventory as the Mount Washington location (5813 Falls Rd.; 410-323-2788)—youth, mountain, road, and cyclo-cross bicycles, plus apparel, helmets, and other gear—but will focus more on urban cycling. “We like to say that our product selection is a complementary mix to what we provide in Mount Washington,” says Traill, who plans to rent bikes from the Fells Point shop this spring.

photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick

—Amanda DiGiondomenico

—Brent Englar

To Each Her Own Late last year, Jill Andrews—the former master draper at Center Stage—struck out on her own, launching Jill Andrews Gowns (3355 Keswick Rd., Suite 101; 410-338-2525; www. to create custom bridal and party dresses. Located in Hampden’s former police station building (see Urbanite, May ’08), the atelier is a soothing space, decorated with antique dress forms, a sparkling chandelier, and a large birdcage whimsically filled with feathers suspended in glass globes. There, Andrews and co-owner and seamstress Sara Mathes (also formerly of Center Stage) meet with each client individually to plan a dream gown. “The dresses I do are very personal,” Andrews says. “They’re reflective of the bride. It’s not about the dress wearing the woman.” Other services are available, from alterations to custom lingerie, corset, and veil and headpiece design. “There’s a part of me that’s a hopeless romantic,” Andrews says, “and I channel that in my dresses.” —A.D.


Hipster Clipsters When Bill “The Barber” Puller saw an ad for stylist-turned-owner Lisa Hawks’ Chop Shop in 2008, he knew it was something different. That certain something Puller sensed was Hawks’ vision for the business: a stylish boutique that’s edgier than your granny’s beauty parlor but not as stuffy as a high-end salon. “It’s the customers’ space,” Hawks says. “They own it.” The Chop Shop relocated from a few doors down the street to its current location in June 2009 (4321 Harford Rd.; 410-426-2300;, expanding its services to offer private rooms for facials ($10–$70), waxing ($8–$87), massage/wellness treatments ($45–$125), and acupuncture (yes, they take insurance!). Haircuts range from $16 to $40; single-process coloring is $50, and highlights start at $65. Any plans to offer more invasive beauty treatments? Hawks shakes her head and repeats her mantra: “Bangs before Botox, sweetie.” —Shannon Dunn photo by Steven Parke

Something Old, Something New ReThreads Boutique (6416 Frederick Rd.; 410-744-5744; www.newthreads is billed as “Catonsville’s best-kept secret,” and it seems to be the case—despite the owner’s wishes. Proprietor Janelle Williams says she urges her customers in vain to spread the word. “They all want to keep this place to themselves. I tell them, ‘I need the business!’” Williams, a self-proclaimed shopaholic who splits ownership of the shop with her husband, James, has the store stocked with new and secondhand women’s apparel and accessories, with pieces from major labels like Liz Claiborne and Tommy Hilfiger. The latest addition to the shop is Janelle’s Jewels: a collection of new, fashion-forward necklaces, bracelets, and earrings crafted by local Catonsville artisans out of natural gemstones, Swarovski crystal, and sterling silver. Prices range from $15 to $100; a portion of the profits benefits St. John’s Christian Community Church’s soup kitchen. —A.D. photo by Kelly Wise

Green Washing Washing your car in your driveway is hardly eco-friendly; all those soap suds and chemicals flow into the Chesapeake Bay. But are professional car washes any greener? The folks at Canton Car Wash (1101 Ponca St.; 410-633-0055; say so. In addition to using mainly biodegradable detergents, Canton employs a “soft touch” process that cleans better than more common “touchless” washes, which blast vehicles from a distance with heated water and powerful chemicals. Canton also recycles up to 80 percent of its wastewater— and offers customers free Wi-Fi and a full-service coffee bar while they wait. It’s part of a strategy that emphasizes efficiency in all aspects of the business. “We try to be quick and also add other services so we’re not wasting people’s time,” explains co-owner Chris Rivera. For $40 per month, you get unlimited washes—particularly enticing these days, considering the havoc wreaked by slush and road salt. —Brent Englar photo by Kelly Wise

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baltimore observed

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Back in the Saddle? W

ith the JFX humming its midday background music, Robert Coe walks through the Baltimore Police Department’s Holliday Street stables, giving his work a once-over. The stalls are clean, the horses have fresh hay and water, and their police-blue nameplates are shiny: Barney. Blackie. Belle. The department’s longtime hostler takes off his boots, satisfied, the way he’s done for thirty years. And then he hears a thud—metal horseshoes on a wooden gate. Coe smiles and walks over to Barney, a massive tan horse. “When he don’t get any attention, he’ll start kicking the door,” he explains as he rubs the animal’s forehead. Usually Barney would be patrolling the streets of Baltimore right now, but Mounted Unit Sgt. John Ambrose, who rides him, is out on another equine mission today—overseeing the removal of arabber horses from the Fulton Avenue stables, which city officials said were in a “deplorable” condition. The arabbers’ horses are on their way to new county pastures. And it is not lost on Coe that his mounted unit—another longtime city tradition—may well follow.

by stephanie hanes  |  photography by j.m. giordano

Horse cents: Officer Jill Murphy and her four-legged partner, Butch. If Baltimore’s budgetstrapped mounted police unit is to survive beyond this year, it will need tens of thousands of dollars in public donations.

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horses are out on the street, the kids want to pet them,” Ambrose says. Marc Beckoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Expanding Our Compassion Footprint , has written extensively on animal emotions and human-animal bonds. He says that service or therapy animals such as horses can break down entrenched social barriers—whether in prisons or educational settings or on the streets of a city. “People are really attracted to animals,” he says. “It’s just the way it goes.” But animal-human empathy carries little weight in municipal budgets. According to police estimates, there were around three hundred mounted units in the United States at the beginning of the 1980s. Today, about a hundred survive. During the past few years, municipalities such as Boston and Toledo, Ohio, have retired their police horses altogether. Supporters of Baltimore’s unit hope it will be part of a different trend. Around the country, horse lovers have rallied to raise money for threatened mounted units. Massachusetts resident Nady Peters started the nonprofit group Mint for Mounts after a failed campaign to save Boston’s Mounted Unit. Now she raises funds for retired police mounts and offers support to other threatened mounted units nationwide. She believes the tide is turning. “We’re seeing cities where they’re bringing them back,” Peters says, mentioning St. Petersburg, Florida, as an example. “They are a huge asset to police department, and I think cities realize this after they are gone for a while. They are missed.” Few understand this better than Coe. His father, uncle, and cousin worked in the stables, and he started working with the Baltimore Police Mounted Unit when he was 22. Back then there were twenty-four city police horses, instead of today’s total of six. He recalls the time a particularly stubborn animal threw his officer in Druid Hill Park, then trotted alone back down Interstate 83 to the stables. “These horses, we take good care of them here,” he says. “They know their jobs, hon, just like anybody. And they know this is home. They go out on the street, they deal with the traffic, they deal with the noise, they come in here and it’s like nothing’s bothering them. Look—he’s falling asleep now. That’s how relaxed he is.” Content with the petting, Barney does, in fact, appear to be dozing. Coe says that he could work full time at the Timonium fairgrounds, where he now has a second job. But his heart, he says, is here. He takes one last look at the stalls. “It’s just a shame,” he says. “It’s just a shame that people might let them go.” ■ —Stephanie Hanes

baltimore observed green giant: What do you know? Constellation Energy, parent to Baltimore Gas and Electric, has a green streak. (See Urbanite, September ’08.) Constellation unveiled plans in November to take over construction of a 70-megawatt wind farm in Garrett County. One week later, the company announced it will build a 17-megawatt solar power plant in Emmitsburg. Company spokesman Lawrence McDonnell told the Sun that the newfound interest in renewables is driven by rising consumer interest and government incentives: The state plans to sign twenty-year contracts to buy electricity from solar and wind installations, including Constellation’s. Of course, there’s a stick that goes along with this carrot: A 2008 state law requires Constellation and other Maryland utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewables by 2022 or pay hefty fines.

u p d at e

This summer, the Baltimore City Council eliminated the mounted unit from the city budget, shifting the burden of supporting the $150,000-a-year operation to private citizens. “It caught us as a total surprise,” Ambrose says. “We found out that the only way we’d survive this year was to get private funding.” As of December, residents and businesses had donated more than $90,000— enough to keep the unit going until July. After that, its best hope is to be restored to the city budget. “Our commissioner [Frederick H. Bealefeld III] has been very adamant about us sticking around,” Ambrose says. “But I was told that if the money runs out, we’re done.” A century ago, horses were an integral part of urban life. In The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), historians Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr document how factories, fire departments, and mass transit systems ran on horse power. “Humans could not have built nor lived in the giant, wealth-generating metropoles that emerged in that century without horses,” they write. But with the rise of internal combustion, most urban horses disappeared; those that remained during the 20th century were typically used in the tourist carriage trade, though in Baltimore, a dwindling team of arabbers continue to use horses to haul produce carts. (See Urbanite, July ’08.) Animal rights activists typically disapprove of modern urban horse usage, saying that the animals should not be exposed to the pollution, noise, and pavement of a city. But police horses are different. “Typically, carriage horses live in subpar conditions,” says Stacy Segal, an equine protection specialist with the Humane Society of the United States. “Their caretakers are usually not familiar with proper equine care; they’re often not trained for being on city streets. In comparison, in the police units, the officers and the horses themselves go through training. As long as they’re done properly, we see the units as a benefit to the horses and to the people that they serve.” And those benefits are numerous, says Ambrose. Horses are indispensable for crowd control—conventional wisdom equates one mounted officer with ten on foot—and handy for any number of urban policing applications. A mounted officer is better able to look over rowhouse fences or see what’s going on all across the Inner Harbor. Trash barricading an alley? No problem for a horse. A suspect fleeing on foot? No contest. But perhaps the greatest benefit of mounted units is more intangible: community relations. Baltimore might be a city plagued by racial and economic divisions, by mistrust between citizens and police, but all of that is forgotten when a mounted officer comes clopping up the street. “When the

school’s out: The school at the Maryland Penitentiary, a.k.a. the Metropolitan Transition Center or “MTC,” in downtown Baltimore, was scheduled to close as of December 31. (See Urbanite, September ’09.) All five of the school’s teaching positions were eliminated in the latest round of state budget cuts. “In the larger picture of the state budget, it’s such an irrelevancy to most people,” says GED prep instructor (and Urbanite contributor) Michael Corbin. The school served between one hundred and two hundred prisoners at any given time, providing basic reading, writing, and math lessons in addition to the GED prep. The state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which runs the schools, says classes at the MTC were dwindling and that “correctional education” programs elsewhere in the state will continue to operate. But Corbin finds irony there, too. “A lot of those guys in [the Maryland Correctional Institution in] Hagerstown are doing life,” he says. “These guys [at the MTC] are headed back to the streets of Baltimore.” envelope, please: A few of Baltimore’s beloved music makers have been nominated for Grammys. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a contender for Best Classical Album for its recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers featuring the Morgan State University Choir and the Peabody Children’s Chorus. Mass producer Steven Epstein gets a separate nomination for Producer of the Year, Classical, and BSO conductor Marin Alsop conducted another nominee: Jennifer Hidgon’s “Percussion Concerto.” Meanwhile, the kids’ rock band Milkshake is up for Best Musical Album for Children, for its collection Great Day. Winners will be announced January 31.

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urbanite january 10

Their Best Shots


n a Friday afternoon in November, Meadow Mill Athletic Club is teeming with high school students carrying squash racquet bags and wearing windbreakers bearing the insignias of area prep schools: Roland Park Country School, St. Paul’s, the Park School. Off to one side, a boisterous group of students from Booker T. Washington Middle, wearing oversized T-shirts and red gym shorts, are reluctantly doing arm stretches. These young athletes are participants in SquashWise, a program for twenty-five middle schoolers at Booker T. Washington near Upton and the Baltimore Civitas School in Coldspring. The mission of the 2-yearold program is both academic and athletic. Three times a week, students are bused to the Hampden gym. While half work on their game with high school varsity squash players, the others get homework help and participate in enrichment activities on such topics as leadership and achieving one’s potential. Seventh-grader Jasmine Williams has been enrolled in SquashWise since 2008. She spent time away from her West Baltimore home for the first time this past summer when she participated in the Harlem StreetSquash sleepaway camp, where she

earned the “Most Improved Player” award. And her academic performance has also gotten better. “When I first came here, I didn’t know how to do long division,” she says. “Now I do.” Many happy returns: High school volunteer John Harriss practices squash with John Abby Markoe, a McQueen, a Baltimore Civitas School student in the SquashWise program at Meadow former college squash Mill Athletic Club. player, co-founded SquashWise in 2008 when she realized BalSquashWise is supported by a nonprofit timore lacked an urban squash program like arm of Meadow Mill, the MMAC Foundathose in Boston and San Diego. An archetion, which gym president Nancy Cushman typal prep-school sport that often serves as a founded in 2007 to support four programs networking pursuit for well-to-do professionthat use sports and fitness for philanthropic als, squash is generally inaccessible to most ends, including bMOREfit, which gives career public school kids; it requires special courts training in fitness and nutrition to at-risk and equipment. But that’s exactly why it can urban young adults. “Squash is an equalizer,” open doors. “Squash is the hook,” Markoe Cushman says. “No matter how hard you hit says. “Our donor base is [largely] made up the ball, it’s just going to bounce back.” ■ of people that play squash. It’s close to their —Amanda DiGiondomenico hearts, and they want to give back.” And it can serve as a pipeline to college: George Washington University (Markoe’s alma Each month, Urbanite profiles people and mater) recently became the first U.S. univerprograms that are transforming the city, one sity to offer squash scholarships. block at a time. To nominate a transformer, e-mail

photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick

baltimore observed



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The 5 Faces of Fitness

Understanding your workout personality can go a long way toward helping you stay on track.


The Lone Wolf You are the “I” in team. Being stuck with perky aerobicizers is a one-way ticket to Quitsville. You go for solo pursuits like swimming, running, or martial arts disciplines that require long hours of deliciously solitary practice.

The Urbanite Guide to Getting Healthy and Being Well

The Team Player Left on your own, you’ll hit the martini bar instead of the barbells. You need a support group or a workout buddy to make it fun for you. You’ll thrive in group fitness classes.

by tracey middlekauff photography by kevin weber


ops. Another year (or is it a decade?) has come and gone, and you’re no closer to being in shape and feeling healthy than you were last year at this time. You meant to join a gym and start a yoga program and bike to work and go for long walks and wake up early and work out … you really did. So what happened? You got busy, or bored, or you re-aggravated that trick knee from college and had to drop the regimen after a week. Or maybe you didn’t even know where to start. Look around and you will find yourself in good company. Despite a burgeoning fitness industry and ever-more-compelling evidence linking excess weight to a constellation of public health problems, we keep getting bigger and bigger: The average Marylander has put on at least 18 pounds since 1988. The nonprofit United Health Foundation estimates that by 2018 more than half of Maryland residents will be obese, with the projected cost of additional health care to treat increased illness landing north of $7 billion. Kind of makes the cost of gym membership pale in comparison. Face it: There are countless excuses and ways to fail, and you know them all. But there are also a lot of ways to avoid failure in your fitness endeavors. It comes down to anticipating pitfalls and roadblocks—and finding a program that works for you. If you haven’t exercised for a while, check with your doctor before starting any fitness regimen. And most experts agree that you would be well served to enlist the help of a trainer, fitness instructor, or other exercise specialist to get you going in the right direction. So read on for tips, insights, and ideas to help you get motivated and stick with the program this year.

The Competitor You like the group, all right—as long as you can beat everyone in it. Channel that fighting spirit into team sports or competitive pursuits such as racquetball. The ADD Exerciser You get bored easily, flitting from group exercise to weights to yoga. Variety is good, but stick with something long enough to see results or you may get discouraged. Ask a fitness specialist to design a program that combines variety with focus. The Apathetic Exerciser You know you should shape up, but deep down you think there’s no point. You need a kick in the pants—someone to whom you’re accountable. That could be a take-no-prisoners group fitness teacher, a personal trainer with a drill-sergeant style, or even a friend who depends on you to take him to the gym.

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Choosing a Gym There are more than fifty licensed health clubs just in Baltimore city and county. Here’s how to choose the one that’s right for you.   » Check a map. It must be a convenient trip from your work or home. Don’t make this any harder than it already is.   » Take a look around. Every gym has its own distinctive culture, and you need to feel comfortable. Donavon Israel, fitness instructor and personal trainer at Federal Hill Fitness and Mount Vernon Fitness, cautions against what he calls “socializing gyms.” “If you see a bunch of people just standing around talking, that’s not such a good sign,” he says. “You want to see people working out.”   » Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Join a gym that has activities you’d actually enjoy. Think swimming is fun? Then go

with a facility with an aquatics program, such as Lifebridge Health & Fitness, the MAC Timonium and Harbor East, or Merritt’s Downtown Athletic Club. Interested in learning how to play squash? Meadow Mill Athletic Club may be your gym. You get the picture.   » If you can’t stand the thought of waiting in line for equipment or sharing a locker room with the sweaty masses, you may want to look into a private training gym, such as INLINE Private Training, True Balance Training Studio, or Charm City Fitness. At these facilities, you’ll get more personalized attention and have access to much smaller group classes, but you will pay more for the privilege.

So you’ve forked over your hard-earned Benjamins and joined a gym. Congratulations! Now you have to actually go. Where to start? All the machines, the free weights, the endless number of group classes can seem a bit daunting. Any gym worth its salt is going to have some sort of introductory program for newbies. Take advantage of it, even if you’ve had some athletic experience in the past and think you’ve got it all figured out. After all, you don’t want to fall back into the same old bad habits that caused you to stop the last time. For Virna Elly, who decided to return to the gym after a long illness had kept her from exercising, the introductory program offered at MAC Timonium made all the difference. MAC’s Healthy Start program takes members through the first sixty days. “[Healthy Start] began with an evaluation, soup to nuts: my level of fitness, my goals, my injuries,” Elly says. “[The trainers] want to know when they can push you, and they’ll help you out if you’ve hit a plateau.” Steve Ehasz, fitness director for the MAC at Harbor East, says each member gets two supervised group exercise sessions and a fitness specialist to help him or her navigate the program. “It’s a great entry point for new or returning exercisers.”

The Time Crunch

Other programs to help you get acclimated:

Too busy to work out? Pshaw. If you can find the time to brush your teeth, you can exercise. It just might take a little ingenuity.

  » Lifebridge’s Face2Face program offers five meetings with a trainer to set goals and monitor progress.

Park the car. Walk, run, or ride a bicycle to work to burn calories during the commute.

Do yoga on the job. For ten to twenty people, Utkatasana Yoga will come to your workplace and teach a one-hour power flow class during lunch hour (or earlier, if you prefer). They’ll even provide the yoga mats. At just $15 per person, you have no excuse to slack off.

Sit on an exercise ball at your desk. Balancing on an exercise ball rather than slumping in your office chair is a good way to wake up those core muscles. Have a pro show you the right technique—and you probably shouldn’t sit on the thing all day.

Set up a home gym. Forget those contraptions sold on infomercials. Jon Kaplan, fitness and wellness director at Meadow Mill Athletic Club, says all you need is an exercise ball, dumbbells, and a jump rope. Have a trainer give you routines to do when you can’t get to the gym.

  » Prospective Merritt Athletic Club members can get a free weeklong membership, which includes a seven-day fitness and eating plan.   » Brick Bodies offers Empower, a six-week personal training program specifically designed for women that includes a Q&A session addressing women’s health issues.

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1501 S. Clinton Street, Suite 200 I Baltimore, MD 21224

Why Isn’t This Working? Common Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them You’re doing the wrong exercise for your body. Exercising every day but seeing no results? INLINE Private Training owner Josh Kirk says the problem may be the exercise, not you. That’s why it’s so important to work with someone who understands your body and what it needs to function optimally. You’re overdoing it and burning out. “A lot of people over-train,” says trainer Donavon Israel. “They’ll run forty-five minutes a day, five days a week. They injure themselves, and they quit.” Words to the wise: Start slowly. Your goals are unrealistic. You won’t be ready to model swimsuits after a few trips to the gym. Set reachable goals. If you’re working on your own, Kirk says, “taking a balanced, somewhat educated approach, you could see small changes in energy, flexibility, strength, posture, and general body shape within thirty days.” For really significant changes, give it at least three months. You’re not stretching. The most common injuries for new exercisers are pulls and strains, says Dr. James Dreese, a sports medicine physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center. There’s some dispute over how effective pre-exercise stretching is, but Dreese advises doing it for fifteen minutes: “Begin with light exercise and gradually increase the intensity.” You’re bored by your routine. Boredom does not breed success. “You don’t enjoy the treadmill? Don’t get on the treadmill!” Israel says. “You like sports? Make that a part of your workout.” Find things you enjoy. You’re not planning ahead. Are you always scrambling to find your workout clothes or forgetting to take your gym bag with you to work? “Pack a gym bag and keep it in the car,” says Meadow Mill Athletic Club fitness director Jon Kaplan. “Plan it into your schedule. Make time.” You’re wearing the wrong shoes. Yes, sometimes it really is the shoes. “Old or illfitting shoes can lead to injury,” says Steve Ehasz, fitness director at MAC Harbor East. “The first time you buy shoes, go to a store where people will actually look at your feet and fit the shoe.”

A Personal Trainer Primer What do celebs do when they need to tone their tushies and eradicate the booze bellies they got on vacation in Cabo? They hire a personal trainer to harass them back to health. At most gyms, personal training is an extra service, although costs generally go down the more sessions you purchase. Expect to pay more for offsite sessions. If you can afford a trainer two or three days a week, great—but it’s not essential. Fitness instructor Donavon Israel says a good trainer can set you up with a routine that you can do on your own, “even if you can only meet every other week or so.” For some clients, personal training is essential for overcoming injury-related obstacles. JoAnn Presbitero, who taught high-impact group fitness classes for ten years, thought her workout days were over after she broke her foot tripping over a dog toy. Then she found a new way to work out with Josh Kirk at INLINE Private Training. “Josh has kept me motivated by teaching me more about my own body,” she says. “He explains each exercise and what my body is doing as I am performing the movement. That self-awareness is what keeps me going.” Another big plus to personal training: accountability. “Working with a trainer is an appointment,” Israel points out. “You’re less likely to cancel an appointment than just not show up to the gym.”

Some things to consider when shopping for a trainer:   » Ask your potential trainer what they would do for your specific body type. One size does not fit all.   » Will the trainer offer a free consultation? That’s helpful in assessing whether or not you’ll feel comfortable working together. INLINE, for example, offers a one-hour free evaluation.   » Know what approach you’ll respond to. Do you need a cheerleader or a drill sergeant? Be honest with yourself.   » Do you have orthopedic issues? Heart disease? Has the trainer worked with your specific health problem before?   » Ask about small group training. Generally, the cost is less than half of what a private session would run. A group could be just you and a friend or a small handful of strangers. You won’t get a completely individualized program, but you will get a lot more personal attention—and motivation—than you would in a large group exercise class.

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The Wellness Equation


ccording to MAC’s Steve Ehasz, true fitness has five components: strength, flexibility, endurance, nutrition, and rest/rejuvenation. “Wellness is having that balance in your life,” he says. “Not taking any days off? Stressed out? You may be fit, but that doesn’t mean you’re well.” That’s where mind/body disciplines such as yoga and Pilates come in. They can help you learn to breathe properly, de-stress, and, yes, also deliver an impressive workout: toning, strengthening, and stretching you out. “When you run on a treadmill, you have to distract your mind [with music] so you can keep going,” says Anjali Sunita, owner of Baltimore Yoga Village. “But yoga is a more mindful way of moving.” Moving mindfully can help prevent injury, and doing movement with a purpose can help prevent boredom—and that means you’re more likely to stick with it.

Finding a Good Yoga Teacher If your yoga teacher doesn’t know his or her stuff, you could end up with an injury. Some tips on how to spot a top-notch instructor:   » “Look for someone who gives you options,” says Anjali Sunita of Baltimore Yoga Village. You want a teacher who can offer variations of the movements for various levels, from beginner to advanced.   » “ Yoga is already challenging, so why emphasize that?” Sunita asks. “[The instructor] should be able to explain how to relax in the pose.”   » Look for a teacher who focuses on the breathing. That’s part of what gives the movement its purpose.   » Make sure the teacher explains the benefits of the pose. “I’m not one to exercise unless I know the benefits and why I’m doing it,” she says.   » Sunita says a wide age range in the class a good sign. It means the instructor is able to accommodate different fitness levels and needs.


urbanite january 10

A Physical Reboot

With apologies to Road House fans, pain actually does hurt. And pain may not only keep you from exercising; it can also often prevent you from moving comfortably in your daily life. Enter the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method. Though somewhat different in approach, both of these systems attempt to retrain your body so that you can move in an efficient, pain-free way. Alexander Technique instructor Nancy Romita, who teaches privately and in classes at Towson University, says that the technique—devised by a Shakespearean actor in the 1890s to combat vocal and breathing problems—helps provide movement skills for better coordination during exercise. It can also be useful for folks who are just returning to exercise after an injury or “people who want to invigorate their exercise plan with some new body knowledge to enable better performance and reduce the risk of injury.” One client, yoga teacher Sarah Ittmann, turned to Romita because knee and hip injuries were getting in the way of her running—not an ideal situation for an aspiring triathlon competitor.

Ittmann’s been able to both get rid of the pain and gain a greater understanding of form and function. “Pain can be frightening. We’ll do anything to avoid it, and in the process we’ll misalign ourselves like crazy,” she says. “Alexander Technique can really help with that. You can apply it to your life and your workout. It’s like you’re walking around with yourself as your own teacher.” For Paris Kern, who instructs clients in a method of movement re-education developed by Russian-born physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, it’s about looking at the whole body. “Let’s say you’ve been biking and you develop hip pain,” she says. “You go to the physical therapist, and your hip pain goes away. You start biking again, and it comes back. Now what?” Rather than look only at the hip, Kern will help you understand what you chronically do with your whole body that’s getting in the way of healing and ease of movement: Maybe you favor the outside of your foot when you pedal, or maybe your posture is to blame. “Most of our injuries are things we do to ourselves that are outside of our awareness,” Kern explains.

Emotional Rescue: Qigong

Bend it Like Gumby: Pilates

There are countless forms of qigong, an ancient Chinese discipline that links simple, repetitive movement with breath in an effort to improve the circulation of chi, or life force. The slow, graceful movements associated with qigong are somewhat reminiscent of tai chi, though qigong is generally much easier to master. Once you learn a form, you can practice it on your own, just about anywhere. Matt Hayat, who teaches workshops in Kiai qigong at Baltimore Yoga Village, explains that while the Western approach to fitness tends to emphasize the external physical component, the Eastern method takes a more holistic view, combining the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the self. He believes that qigong can help people acknowledge and express some of the buried emotions that often surface when they return to an exercise program after a long hiatus. If ignored, Hayat says these emotions may unconsciously make you uncomfortable enough to abandon your attempts at fitness. Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, he says, “You should expect there to be an emotional component to this practice.”

There’s a common misconception that Pilates—a full-body conditioning program consisting of more than five hundred movements designed to improve strength, flexibility, posture, and coordination—is only for dancers or yoga addicts. Not so, says Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn, founding director and instructor at the Pilates Center at Goucher College. “It can be done at any phase of life. I’ve had clients with MS, fibromyalgia, clients who were pregnant, and people recovering from injuries.” Like yoga, Pilates is a mind/body technique, helping to bring balance to both your fitness routine and your life. It’s also great for injury prevention, thanks in part to the long, lean, flexible bodies it helps create. Plus, it’s hard to get bored and quit when there’s so much to think about, including breathing patterns, transitions between movements, control, precision, and engaging the core muscles. “It keeps clients stimulated,” Ahearn says.

photo by Ben Moon

The Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method

Yo-glossary Can’t tell vinyasa from pranayama? Fear not—here’s the 411 on some common yoga styles. Ashtanga: Very vigorous, athletic, and challenging. Not for someone brand-new to yoga and fitness. Power yoga, a newer style, derives many of its movements from Ashtanga. Bikram: A very demanding style in which a set series of postures is practiced in a superheated room. Adherents swear by the purifying properties of the perspiration and believe they get a deeper stretch in the intense heat. If you don’t like to sweat—a lot—this isn’t for you. It’s also not a good idea for anyone with high blood pressure. Type-A personalities are often drawn to this style. Hatha: This more meditative style usually includes breath work (pranayama), classic yoga postures (asana), and relaxation. May be practiced by beginners and advanced students. Iyengar: Postures are held for a relatively long time in this challenging and precise style, which emphasizes proper alignment in all poses. Restorative: You won’t get a workout from this deeply relaxing practice, but your body and brain will emerge refreshed. Vinyasa: In this style—also called “flow” yoga—postures are linked together with fluid movements synchronized with your breathing. Vinyasa can be gentle or incredibly vigorous; it’s often practiced in a heated room, though not as hot as Bikram.

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urbanite january 10

Gearing Up PrAna Yoga Clothes: So slimming, so stylish, so downright comfy that you’ll think you’ve achieved nirvana before you even utter your first “ohm.” $55,

Withings WiFi Body Scale: Because shame is a powerful motivator … The Withings WiFi scale enables you to record your weight and body-mass index on a secure website and/or via an iPhone app. You can even set it to automatically tweet your progress (or lack thereof) to your Twitter followers. $159, www.

GoWear Fit: Sometimes only the cold hard facts can keep you motivated. The BodyMedia armband monitors your energy expenditure, which you can then download to an online activity manager to monitor your progress. Monthly subscription required at www.; also available through INLINE Private Training.

Under Armour Proto Speed Trainer II: Everything is more fun in a new pair of shoes— especially silver and pink ones. $ 89.89,

Selected Resources

Trek Ion 3 bike light: Stay out on the road longer in the wintertime and make your evening commute safer with ultra-bright LEDs. $24.99, available at Joe’s Bike Shop, www.

photo credits clockwise from top left: courtesy of Withings; photo by Ben Moon; photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick; courtesy of Vibram FiveFingers; courtesy of BodyMedia, Inc.; courtesy of Under Armour, Inc.


 ⁄   

Lifebridge Health & Fitness 1836 Greene Tree Rd., #1 410-415-5475

INLINE Private Training 1300 Bank St., third floor 410-522-0562

Susquehanna Yoga 12-A W. Aylesbury Rd. 410-308-9950

Merritt Athletic Club Ten locations, including the Downtown Athletic Club (DAC)

True Balance Training Studio 1021 N. Cathedral St. 410-800-2812

Greater Baltimore Yoga 9628 Deereco Rd. 410-560-2980

Brick Bodies Seven locations, including downtown and Belvedere Square (women only)

Charm City Fitness 3039 Eastern Ave. 410-327-8783

Utkatasana Yoga 5853 York Rd.

Maryland Athletic Club (“The MAC”) Three locations, including Harbor East

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Federal Hill Fitness/Mount Vernon Fitness 410-752-3004 (Federal Hill) 410-878-2990 (Mount Vernon) Canton Club Health and Fitness 2780-D Lighthouse Point East 410-276-5544 Meadow Mill Athletic Club 3600 Clipper Mill Rd. 410-235-7000

Avalon Yoga Studio 15 Mellor Ave., Catonsville 410-869-9771 Baltimore Yoga Village Locations in Hampden (410-662-8626) and Mount Washington (410-377-4800) Charm City Yoga Four locations, including Midtown Evolvewell 4800 Roland Ave., Suite 301 410-235-1120 Bikram Yoga 911 W. 36th St., #2 410-243-2040

Vibram FiveFingers: Recent research suggests that those high-tech running shoes we’ve been doling out big bucks for might actually do more harm than good. Go au naturel with these funny-looking “barefoot” running socks with toes. $75 to $90 at CitySports,


Lifeline Power Yoga 31 Allegheny Ave. 410-627-5291

Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center (also offers yoga) 4801 and 4803 Yellowwood Ave. 410-367-7300 Matt Hayat at Baltimore Yoga Village (see contact info above) Moving in Stillness Various class locations Univ. of Maryland Integrative Medicine Kernan Hospital Cottage, 2200 Kernan Dr. 410-448-6361 

  Go to for a list of teachers. Nancy Romita Private and group classes at Towson University   Contact the Feldenkrais Guild of North America for a list of teachers 1-800 -775-2118 or Paris Kern, private practitioner

The Pilates Center at Goucher College 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd. 410-337-6469 Ojas Wellness Center (also offers yoga) Locations in Mount Washington, Hunt Valley, and Owings Mills Mind Body Physical Therapy & Wellness Center 1400 Coppermine Terrace 443-279-1777 Studio One Pilates 8415 Bellona Ln., Suite 110 410-321-4912


The Intelligence Officer Aneesh Chopra, the first United States Chief Technology Officer, talks about making technology work for us, not the other way around. Interview by marc steiner  |  photograph by marshall clarke


neesh Chopra is many things: President Barack Obama’s go-to guy on high-tech, a one-time technology and innovation advisor to Virginia’s former governor Tim Kaine, and a 1994 graduate of Johns Hopkins University. Just don’t call him a “czar.” “I don’t use that term,” he says. Chopra, like his colleagues in the president’s inner circle, seems to spend a certain amount of his time assuring the public that the administration is not instigating a Communist-style takeover of, well, everything. When he’s not managing the message, Chopra focuses his considerable brain power on issues of information technology, cyber security, partnerships between the government and private tech companies, and expanding the nation’s broadband network. He does this work under the newly minted title (the one that tempts journalists to use the dreaded “C” word) of U.S. Chief Technology Officer. It is in this role that he meets each morning in the West Wing with two dozen other top presidential advisers—specialists on the environment, health care, the economy, and other knotty issues. “My job is to make sure that the president gets the best advice he can, to think through the issues and the options before him whenever any of those issues come to the table,” Chopra says. One of these advisors—former green jobs not-a-czar Van Jones—was ushered out of the White House when some insufficiently patriotic statements from a past life landed on conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s desk. And technology seems to incite particularly acute paranoia. There is good reason, perhaps: Reports of cyber attacks and stolen government and personal secrets don’t inspire feelings of warmth and security. But it is ironic that the very thing that keeps the U.S. at the pinnacle of world power seems terribly frightening to many Americans. Call it another sign that we’re losing our edge on our competition overseas—a trend that Chopra and others are hoping to reverse.


Talk a bit about what this new chief technology officer position really means for the White House and for America.


What President Obama has done is acknowledge that you cannot have a conversation about the broader issues without understanding the role that technology and innovation might have within them. Whether it be changing our health care system, modernizing our education system, thinking about ways to improve our approach to energy independence—these issues all presume a certain amount of opportunity for technology innovation to deliver game-changing benefits. I’ll be very specific. Health care [information technology] is one that we believe to be foundational to the overall discussion of health reform. The stimulus package called on [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] to make available some $20 billion in incentive payments to physicians who are willing to adopt certain technologies that are capable of delivering health care reform outcomes. The foundation of that investment is whether there are technology standards that would allow physicians to communicate with one another, with their patients, with hospitals, and with the broader health care system.


This talk about digitizing health records and putting them into a nationwide system has set off a lot of alarms about patient privacy.


It starts with a very basic premise: We want physicians and patients to have access to the right information about the right interventions to the various conditions they have at the right time so that they can get high quality health care. If health information moves from paper to digital, it can be prone to a cyber attack. The good news is that there are existing technical standards for security and privacy that one can adopt without having to reinvent the

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Whether your children want to learn more about the fine & performing arts, hone their athletic skills or bolster their writing skills, our campus provides the resources for success.

Courage, confidence, character, adventure, fun-filled journeys--make it part of her summer! Register her for Girl Scouts’ summer resident or day camps (for 2nd-12th graders). Camp Dates: June 21 - August 8.

Camp dates vary for each camp Towson University 8000 York Road Towson, MD 21252 410-704-KIDS •

4806 Seton Drive, Baltimore, MD 21215 410-358-9711

St. Timothy's Summer Riding Camp offers a full day with the horses. Includes riding lessons, demonstrations, field trips, on-site swimming, crafts, and much more. Spend some time with us in the countryside.

June 21 – July 30, 2010 Enrichment and skill building programs for boys and girls grades 3-12. Courses include art, music, outdoor adventure, SAT prep, driver’s education, U.S. history, science, math, foreign language, plus sports camps.

Camp Dates: June 14 - June 25 • June 28 - July 9 July 12 - July23 • July 26 - Aug 6

Contact Maryann Wegloski, 410-323-3800 ext. 642.

8400 Greenspring Avenue, Stevenson MD 21153 410.486.5483 •

5407 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

SUMMER CAMP! 2010 CCTA’s musical theater program affords every child the opportunity to grow both personally and artistically. Each session culminates in the performance of the selected musical! Session I: June 21 July 2 at Norbel School in Elkridge, MD (Ages 6-12) Session II: July 5 - July 16 at Norbel School in Elkridge, MD (Ages 6-12) Session III: July 19 – August 6 at Reservoir High School in Fulton, MD (Ages 12-18)

A chance for kids 11 - 15 to experience a full shakespearian production. Guided by professional actors, students learn production, acting, and Elizabethan customs. Resulting in a full production on our summer stage! July 5 - 17, 2010

6655 Dobbin Rd., #4, Columbia, MD 21045 410-381-0700

3900 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21211 410-366-8594 ext. 4

An unforgettable summer for kids 3 1/2 to 17. Programs for preschoolers, American Doll Camp, Park/API Sports Camp, science camps, and more. Open House is Sunday, January 31 from 12-2pm. June 14 – August 20

Programs for children ages 2 to 12 include recreational sports, nature, music, arts, science, Toddler Preschool & Summer Montessori. Session 1: June 14-25; Session 2: June 28-July 9; Session 3: July 12-23.

2425 Old Court Road, Baltimore, MD 21208 410-339-4120

Corner of Falls & Greenspring Valley Roads Lutherville, MD 21093 410-321-8555

wheel, to make sure that a patient’s sensitive medical information can be protected as we progress from a paper environment to a digital environment. And as long as you do so in a thoughtful way, we’re going to get the right mix of data liquidity, patient privacy, and achieving the health care goals we need.


You talk about developing a nationwide system that contains hundreds of millions of Americans’ medical information within it. Who controls that?


Let’s be very clear. What you’re describing is a noun—“There is a thing, and in that thing is all of my personal medical information.” I disagree with the premise. There is no probability that a national single “noun” database will be created, funded by God knows who, that will store all of this. What we really focus on is the verb. That is, I have certain conditions, and I’d like to share those conditions with a doctor, with my insurance company, with whomever. So the premise behind the national health information network is that we already have, all across this country, thousands of hospitals, and hundreds of thousands of physicians, each of whom have authority over a database. And the question is, How do we set standards so that, when information moves from my physician’s office to hospital A or to physician’s office B, the act of moving that information is governed by a set of security- and privacy-protecting standards? The goal is just to focus on those narrow circumstances when information should move from point A to point B.


You really are keyed in on this conversation about technology and the debate between nouns and verbs. This is huge for you, isn’t it?


It is. So many of us get excited on a personal level because of the new cell phone or the new computer that’s got a particular design. We’re obsessed in the media around the cool nouns. And from a policy standpoint, a great deal of what we’re trying to achieve is a set of verbs that can be better empowered through the use of technology. You want to educate a child? Well, we do so today with a classroom that looks the same as it might have looked a hundred years ago: a teacher in front of a group of students, going through materials. Well, in a modernized environment, what does a purely digital experience look like from a learning standpoint? We should have a discussion about that—the verb: How do I educate a child? And what are the capabilities that our technology sector can produce that can help? Could you imagine a [computer] platform that understands how a child learns and, as it understands the child’s learning ability, actually changes the software and how it teaches a concept so it better matches the way a child learns? This kind of cognitive learning is not such a futuristic concept. There’s actually capability today to help do some of this work. My job is to find a thoughtful way to introduce that into our policy framework. In the near future, we’ll be publishing the application guidelines for the i3 Fund—the Investing in Innovation Fund. This $65 million will be sort of seed capital [for] really creative ideas that don’t often get the chance to see the light of day. For the first time,

we’re going to have this incredible asset, born out of You want to educate the stimulus package, that will help us to change the a child? Well, we way we think of education do so today with in the 21st century and to at least prototype and a classroom that scale some of these early ideas. What’s the measure looks the same as it of success? None could might have looked be more important than the president’s goal that a hundred years the United States return, ago. In a modernized by the year 2020, to being the nation with the highenvironment, what est proportion of college graduates of any country does a purely digital on earth. [The U.S. curexperience look rently trails only Norway in having the largest perlike from a learning centage—30 percent—of standpoint? residents age 25 to 64 with four-year college degrees. —ed.] What we have to do is find a way, using technology and innovation, to reduce the number of dropouts, to increase the number of those who pursue GEDs, and ultimately a community college and then four-year schooling.


We all know that we’re sorely behind Europeans, Indians, and Chinese in the areas of math, technology, and science education. There are no other countries in the world that have the research institutions that the United States has, but there’s no farm team from our schools, pushing its way up into our research institutions. That has to be turned around.


What we need to do is improve the quality, the standards, the rigor of our nation’s schools, and to do so through incentives. [Through the Department of Education’s Race to the Top Program] we’re going to put $4 billion into the states who agree to basically elevate their performance, their quality of education, so they can achieve the broad objectives the president calls for—namely the higher education [attainment] rate, but also paying some specific attention to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I gotta tell you—every CEO I interface with, whether they be in the technology industry or outside of it, all point to this as the number one priority. Get the workforce in the 21st century right, and we will retain our leadership position in the world in terms of innovation. ■

On the air: Listen to a podcast of the full interview with Aneesh Chopra at or tune in to The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on January 7.

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W R I T T E N B Y M A R I A N N E K . A M O S S , S C O T T C A R L S O N , D A V I D D U D L E Y , B R E N T E N G L A R , A N D G R E G H A N S C O M






lobal warming? We can fi x that. So say economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner in their new book, Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. “Once you eliminate the moralism and the angst,” they write, “the task of reversing global warming boils down to a straightforward engineering problem.” In a chapter called “What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?” they provide some easy remedies to our rolling, slow-motion climate catastrophe, most of which are designed to mimic volcanoes, which shade—and cool—the planet with their airborne effluent. The authors’ favorite geo-engineering technique: pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere via an 18-mile-high hose. Never mind that building an 18-mile-high “garden hose to the sky” isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Most serious climate scientists agree that the only plausible way to get ourselves out of this mess is to curb our greenhouse gas emissions. Trouble is, that is going to require those of us who live highest on the hog to change the way we do things. And we all know that is really the hardest thing of all. But where there is difficulty, there is also opportunity. In this year’s Breakthroughs issue, we steer clear of great-hoses-to-the-sky-style solutions and instead set our sights on modest innovations with substantial potential payoff right here in Baltimore. Sure, there are some gadgets here—super-green houses and flying ferryboats—but most of these ideas are relatively low tech. We explore ways to better dispose of food scraps and to stretch dwindling philanthropic dollars. We look at efforts to get ordinary citizens involved in cleaning up the city and improving the health of residents. It’s our nod to elegant simplicity, the importance of human relationships, and the transformative power of collective action. These ideas don’t get you off the hook, good citizen, but they may just make your job a little more interesting.

The greaTesT Thing since …



the new green house The Big Idea: Since the 1990s, a cadre of German architects has

been quietly refining a next-generation green building standard far more rigorous than the popular LEED ratings. Behold the Passivhaus—an uber-insulated box so airtight that it doesn’t need a furnace. Instead, there’s an energy-recovery ventilation system that constantly draws in and warms outside air. Outfitted with impregnable triple-glazed windows filled with argon gas and a thick envelope of insulation that even extends underneath the building’s basement slab, Passive Houses are up to 90 percent more energy efficient than traditional homes. And no more chilly drafts or cold feet on winter mornings: “You can walk around in socks all day,” says Jonas Risén, an architect at the Baltimore-based architecture firm Ziger/Snead who was trained in Passive House design principles by architect Katrin Klingenberg, head of the U.S. affiliate of Germany’s Passivhaus Institut. That spaceship-like climatological uniformity—walls, floors, windows, and air are all about the same temperature—might take some getting used to, but it’s hard to argue with the remarkable efficiency. Adherents often note that you can heat the place with the energy it takes to run a hair dryer. And, unlike homes that use “active” green technologies such as photovoltaic panels that demand constant maintenance, a Passive House just sits there, saving money. “You’re paying for the cheapest thing—insulation,” Risén says.

crowdsourcing for a cause The Big Idea: So you’re waiting for the bus and you have a couple of

When could it happen?

Building costs are higher than for a normal house, especially for early adopters. (In Germany, which boasts an extensive supplier network for Passive House components such as windows and heat exchangers, costs are only a fraction higher.) And you can’t just pick up the parts and Passive-ize an existing house piecemeal. “The systems all have to work together,” Risén notes.

photo by Jim Tetro, U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

It’s already happening—in Europe, where perhaps twenty thousand buildings conform to the Passive House standard, mostly in Germany and Scandinavia. There are currently only a handful of Passive Houses in the U.S., but several are in the pipeline, and by spring there should be about eighty consultants certified in the technique. Go to www.passive for a full list, or see Risén’s new website, www.getactivego, for local info.

Second opinion:

minutes to kill. Oh please, you’re thinking, give me something to do other than updating my status on Facebook for the fifth time today. Micro-volunteering to the rescue! The Extraordinaries, a San Francisco-based social enterprise company, has developed an app for the iPhone that allows you to accomplish a host of teeny, feelgood tasks on the fly. Add to a map of play spaces for kids. Record a thirty-second audio clip telling the government what immigration means to you. Make a statement opposing violence against women. The app’s creators call the idea “micro-volunteering.” NPR dubbed it “turning ADD into AID.” A second company, City Sourced, in Los Angeles, has taken this crowdsourcing-for-a-cause model and created a next-generation 311 system: To report a sewage leak or a pile of illegally dumped garbage, just snap a photo of the offending scene, type a short caption, and zap it instantly into the system, which pins the image to your exact coordinates on an online city map. The result is a map of urban blight—handy for residents and city government alike. The best aspect? Doing your part takes no more than sixty seconds. “Our goal is to take the friction out of civic engagement,” says Jason Kiesel, the founder and chief architect of City Sourced. With the rise of smartphones, all we need is a groundswell of civic mindedness. Not a problem, says Kiesel: “Civic is the new green.” When could it happen?

Tighten up: This hyper-insulated “passive house,” designed by the University of Illinois 2008 Solar Decathlon team, can be heated with the energy it takes to run a hair dryer.

The city of San José has already adopted City Sourced as its official nuisance reporting system, and Kiesel says deals are in the works with other cities. (The company would not reveal the price tag.) But the company has created public online maps for Baltimore and other cities, set to launch at before this issue hits the streets. So grab your iPhone and dive in! City Hall will tune in soon enough.

Second Opinion:

Not everyone can afford an iPhone. Still, Kiesel insists that within two years, a camera and geographic positioning system will be standard equipment for most mobile phones.

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produce for the people The Big Idea: Cities are full of trees and shrubs that look pretty but mostly just sit there. In the

midst of a nationwide economic crisis, when inner-city folks aren’t getting enough affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, we ought to swap out some of those ornamentals for edibles—and allow citizens to help themselves. Or so says Darrin Nordahl in his new book, Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture, which reads like an anarchist’s guide to community gardening. Imagine Patterson Park or the boulevard on Broadway planted with apples, peaches, and figs, free for the taking. Nordahl says he got the idea while working as an urban planner in Berkeley, California; he would pass fruit trees, often picked clean, on the walk from his home to the transit station. He found that interest in an edible landscape wasn’t just a Left Coast thing when he moved to Davenport, Iowa, to be the city designer. “People here had just as strong a desire for fresh food,” he says, especially as more folks learn about industrial food production and oil shortages. He is now helping to set up a park with fruit trees for the public. “The timing is spot-on.” A group of activist artists called Fallen Fruit has made maps of available fruit in Los Angeles and is pushing the city to establish public orchards. When could it happen?

Here in Baltimore, city officials planted a food-garden in front of City Hall this year; although the produce was meant for the needy, many people simply helped themselves. “I never saw a ripe tomato down there,” says Bill Vondrasek, the acting chief of parks.

Second opinion:

Who maintains the plants, and what if they attract vermin and drop fruit everywhere? Nordahl says the city and residents have to work out the thorny details, but he points out that even purely decorative plants drop leaves and branches and tear up sidewalks with their roots. “It is a myth that ornamentals are not messy or do not require maintenance,” he says.

the environment

The big idea: The rush on yellow bins has passed. The city’s

recycling program is humming along like a German sports car. But most of our nutrient-rich food scraps are still being hauled off to the incinerator: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average household tosses 470 pounds of food into the garbage each year. In an effort to spin this waste stream into gold, some municipalities are turning to composting on a mountainous scale. Cities like Seattle and Toronto collect food scraps curbside. San Francisco residents must separate food scraps from other waste at their homes, apartment buildings, and businesses or face $100 to $500 fines. It’s part of San Francisco’s initiative to stanch the flow of waste to incinerators and landfills by 2020, and it has the added benefit of combating global warming: Incinerators kick out greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, while anaerobic bacteria in landfills produce methane. The bacteria in an oxygen-rich compost heap pump out fewer heat-trapping gases. The main byproducts are water and beautiful, black dirt. “Baltimore spends a lot of money buying compost for landscaping, recreation and parks, and other things,” says Keith Losoya, a principal partner in the local waste management firm Waste Neutral. “Why not take our food waste, compost it, and bring it back?”


urbanite january 10

photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick

A city-sized compost heap

Paydirt: Keith Losoya of Waste Neutral shows off some of the results of his Carroll County composting operation.

When could it happen?

Waste Neutral currently hauls 20 tons of food waste weekly from institutions and businesses such as Johns Hopkins University, Nordstrom, and Woodberry Kitchen. The waste composts in open-air windrows in Carroll County. Losoya, who also chairs the waste committee for the city’s sustainability commission, predicts that within four to five years, there will be a contained (and decidedly less stinky) “in-vessel” composting system in the city—making curbside collection more viable.

Second Opinion:

There is just one bummer: the compost bucket. Anyone who braves the backyard compost gambit knows what a nasty thing the intermediary vessel, lurking in a corner of the kitchen, can become. Fruit flies love it, and rest assured that an uncapped bucket on the curb will attract rats. Losoya insists that a well-managed collection system can keep things sanitary and smelling good—but what happens under the sink is your own problem.

Bay flyer: A local tech firm dreamed up this boat-plane to ferry passengers across the Bay at 70 miles per hour.

courtesy of Mark Rice | Baltimore Maritime Applied Physics Corporation


public policy

Bay Ferry 2.0 The Big Idea: Taking a page from history, alternative-transporta-

tion advocates are agitating to reboot the Chesapeake Bay’s mothballed ferry system, which could siphon traffic from the Bay Bridge and offer swift Inner-Harbor-to-Eastern-Shore service for nautical commuters and car-free daytrippers. “The bay is a huge underutilized transit resource—there’s nobody out there,” says architect Craig Purcell, director of urban design at the Baltimore-based architecture firm Brown Craig Turner and leader of an ad-hoc committee exploring the idea of a high-speed passenger ferry system. Noting that the bay is the only large body of water in the United States with no water-based transit option, Purcell and his confederates took up the challenge of making one of Martin O’Malley’s gubernatorial campaign ideas come true, releasing a report in November 2007 spelling out their plan: a network of fast, shallow-draft passenger ferries skimming along at 40 knots between Western Shore population centers (Aberdeen, Baltimore, Annapolis) and Eastern Shore vacation spots and bedroom communities (Rock Hall, Kent Island, St. Michaels, Cambridge). One space-age proposal, from committee member Mark Rice of Baltimore’s Maritime Applied Physics Corp., calls for a wing-like hydrofoil “boat-plane” capable of nearly 70 miles per hour. You could step out of your rowhouse in Canton, stroll to the ferry terminal, and roar across the bay to Rock Hall—an 18-mile hop—in about thirty minutes. (The equivalent terrestrial trip is 87 miles and about two hours.) Put enough ferries in the water and you could save the billions of dollars it would cost to erect a third Bay Bridge span, ease the carbon footprint of the average shore-to-shore trip, and encourage denser, smart growth-friendly development near the ferry’s ports-of-call. When could it happen?

In theory, a quick, no-frills ferry service could be launched in less than two years. “The boats are everywhere,” says Purcell, who offers Washington State’s Puget Sound ferries as a possible model for a bay system.

Second opinion:

Purcell says slower car ferries wouldn’t be able to compete with the Bay Bridge. Still, the department of transportation was skeptical of the scheme for passenger-only service. After all, how do you get around on the Eastern Shore without a car? A fleet of Zipcars or free electric jitneys would solve the problem, but don’t hold your breath. “This is a modality shift,” he says. “We’re going from one form of transportation to another.”

Face-to-Face Foreclosure Prevention The Big Idea: The scene has been compared to a Moroccan souk

or the floor of the New York Stock Exchange: Every Thursday in Philadelphia County’s first judicial district Court of Common Pleas, a representative of the prothonotary’s office calls for a report on roughly two hundred home foreclosure cases. On one side are lawyers representing mortgage banks; on the other, homeowners and their volunteer legal counsel. Before a bank can put a home up for sheriff’s sale in this district, which encompasses the entire city of Philadelphia, the court requires bank representatives to have a face-to-face talk with the owner of that home. Judge Annette Rizzo, who spearheaded the effort, says it hearkens back to the days when bankers were family friends, willing to work with the recipients of their loans through tough economic times. That human connection seems to be producing results: Rizzo says that since the mortgage crisis hit in 2008, more than five thousand homeowners have passed through the program, and more than two thousand homes have been kept out of foreclosure or removed from the auction block. “We’re saving homes one address at a time,” she says. When Could it happen?

The state of Maryland has set up a website ( and hotline (1-877-462-7555) for homeowners and renters facing foreclosure, and counseling services are available statewide. Still, foreclosures rose through the first half of 2009. Rizzo says she got her program up and running in seven weeks, but only with several years of preparation work and the threat of a lawsuit adding some urgency.

Second Opinion:

Critics of Rizzo’s approach say that requiring mediation between lenders and homeowners creates onerous bureaucratic hoops. It also requires a massive outreach effort: Philadelphia actually sends people to the doors of homeowners who are facing foreclosure, giving them the tools they’ll need to stay in their homes. Even then, says Rizzo, “sometimes a graceful exit is a good resolution.”

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Street by street: Students in Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab, such as Catherine Hawley, scour Philadelphia for untold stories.


neXT-generaTion Journalism The Big idea: With traditional media outfits struggling to reinvent themselves in the digital

age, Temple University’s undergraduate journalism program is preparing its students for the future—and fi lling the growing need for street-wise reporting. In the Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab (MURL), a required class since 2005, seniors are equipped with video and still cameras, tripods, lights, and digital recorders. In teams of two, they take to the streets, digging up stories in parts of Philadelphia that aren’t well covered. “We send students into tough neighborhoods. Looking from the outside, the student says, ‘I’m gonna get killed. I’m gonna get robbed,’” says co-director Christopher Harper, a twenty-year veteran of print and broadcast journalism. “[But] the journalists learn that a neighborhood is made of people. And they find great stories.” The work appears on MURL’s online publication, Philadelphia Neighborhoods (, and in other local and national papers. Harper says journalists need to be tech-savvy and able to adapt to the fast-changing media landscape. “The idea is to provide them with the tools necessary to compete in today’s market.” when could iT happen?

Baltimore colleges and universities offer courses in multimedia and urban reporting, but nothing exactly like MURL exists here. Harper says it took two years and about $40,500 of university funds for equipment to get the program going. Elsewhere, the journalism department at the University of California, Berkeley, is teaming up with public radio and TV station KQED on a similar endeavor called the Bay Area News Project—with a $5 million start-up grant.

second opinion:

In addition to the start-up money, there is also the matter of ongoing funding needs. MURL’s annual expenses range from $100,000 to $140,000. Temple’s journalism program, with 800 students (160 to 170 go through MURL each year) can pull that off. The closest J-school of that scale to Baltimore is the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park, 30 miles away.

photo by Joseph V. Labolito courtesy of Temple University


philanThropy ThaT Keeps on giving The Big idea: Ray Carrier had a vision. All he needed was money. Carrier, a management

consultant looking for a career change, wanted to open a shop called Green Rider to sell zippy, zero-emissions electric scooters. However, no bank would loan him the $60,000 he needed to buy his first shipment of Chinese-made inventory. He did eventually get his loan—from the Abell Foundation, an outfit better known for giving grants to nonprofits than making loans to business start-ups. Abell is one of a growing number of foundations that are stretching their philanthropic footprints by handing out money—and then asking for it back, plus interest, so it can be given or loaned again. The practice, called “program-related investment,” was pioneered by the Ford Foundation in the 1960s but has remained on the fringe until recently. “There’s a lot of interest in this type of investment right now,” says Tracy Kartye, a senior social investment analyst at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “With the recession, foundations are looking for ways to supplement what they’re doing with grant-making.” Casey has plowed almost $54 million of its endowment into these loans, including a seven-year, $500,000 loan to finance affordable housing in the neighborhood of Oliver, adjacent to East Baltimore redevelopment efforts that Casey supports with both loan guarantees and grants. when could iT happen?

Foundations have been able to count programrelated investment toward their required annual “pay-out” since 1969, but today, less than $1 billion is invested this way. Lester Salamon, founding director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, says foundations need to start thinking of themselves as “philanthropic banks.” Grants, he says, are “19th-century technology.”

second opinion:

Return on program-related investments is low because interest rates, by law, must be below market rates. These loans can be risky, too. If Ray Carrier can’t clear enough of his inventory to pay back his loan, Abell Foundation President Robert Embry says, “We own the scooters.”

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Pratt Contemporaries 3rd Anniversary Celebration Saturday, January 30 8:00 pm Central Library 400 Cathedral Street Tickets: $45 RSVP: 410-396-5283 or Dressy attire requested.

the arts


door-to-door doctoring The big idea: In 2007, alarmed at the number of infants landing

in the city’s neonatal intensive care units, the director of an East Baltimore health clinic approached Dr. Chris Gibbons, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. Gibbons, a former surgeon, had created a system of “community health workers”—local residents with basic health care training who visited people in their homes, connecting the ill, elderly, and addicted with medical services. The premature and underweight babies were largely the result of teen pregnancy, Gibbons says. “These mothers are not insured. Hospitals are losing a lot of money because of these births.” He put his community health workers on the case. Two years later, preliminary results show that, compared to published rates for African American newborns, babies that passed through the program were nearly one-third less likely to be born too early or underweight, and 80 percent less likely to end up in the NICU. Gibbons estimates the program has saved hospitals $1.2 million. Sadly, the program was discontinued December 1 due to lack of funding. Still, Gibbons says the model is sound. “The days of doctors doing house calls are over. But in every culture, there are individuals who are natural leaders. The trick is to identify them and use them as physician extenders.”

Pay to Play The Big Idea: As arts organizations watch their funding

sources evaporate, Seattle’s ACT Theatre has tapped into a source of revenue that hasn’t been widespread since the Renaissance: patronage. The idea was reborn in 2005, when Seattle real estate broker Charles Staadecker approached Kurt Beattie, artistic director at ACT, with a proposal to commission a new play as a birthday gift for his wife, Benita. The resulting comedy, Becky’s New Car, by longtime ACT collaborator Steven Dietz, is about a woman who escapes her working-class routine by having an affair with a millionaire who believes she’s a widow. It premiered in 2008 as the inaugural fruit of ACT’s New Works for the American Stage program, which brings together playwrights and private individuals who wish to fund the development of a new theatrical piece. Anita Montgomery, ACT’s literary manager and education director, says the upfront cost to the patron is less than the price of a new car, “which I don’t think is outrageous for a play that could possibly live forever. For me, it’s a question of what your priorities are: Are you someone who’s really interested in the theater and wants to be a part of the process?”

Second opinion:

Gibbons is upfront about the program’s weak spots: “This model did some good work. But we didn’t do anything about poverty. We didn’t do anything about teen pregnancy.” ■

Second Opinion:

Montgomery acknowledges that artists can be skeptical: “You want me to write a play for who?” is a common first response from playwrights offered a New Works commission. To ensure toes are not stepped on, ACT establishes from the start both the playwright’s and the patron’s expectations. “The work ultimately belongs to the artist,” Montgomery emphasizes. “The playwright can’t write to someone’s specs. They need freedom to write the play they need to write.”

photo by Mikal Veale

When could it happen?

According to Montgomery, ACT is in the process of finalizing its sixth New Works project. A typical commission—from the germ of an idea to a completed script (production is not guaranteed) — might run several years. Although Montgomery does not know of other theaters with similar programs, the patronage impulse has found another outlet online, albeit with a more democratic bent: Websites such as Spot.Us allow users to contribute funds to freelance journalists. KickStarter. com also solicits donations on behalf of musicians, filmmakers, and other artists.

When could it happen?

Gibbons says Johns Hopkins Hospital has indicated that it will contribute funding to the effort, and the model could be incorporated into the “birth outcomes” program currently in the works at the city health department.

House call: “Community health workers” such as Shante Gilmore take basic heath care services to the sick, elderly, and addicted.

Web extra: Weird science! Ten research breakthroughs from Baltimore-area universities at

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Man on the verge: In December, Patrick Turner broke ground on the first stage of Westport Waterfront, his $1.4-billion, mixed-use project on an isolated former industrial site along the Middle Branch. “We’re going to bring downtown to Westport,” the developer promises.

A long-neglected neighborhood is about to get a billion-dollar makeover. But what will the Westport of the future owe to the Westport of the past? 



rendering by Turner Development Group

by martha thomas photographs by jennifer bishop


Holding her ground: Longtime resident Deborah Guest remembers when Westport was a solid neighborhood of working families. She’s optimistic that Turner’s project could help provide employment and housing opportunities without displacing existing residents. “People were saying this big developer was coming around and he was gonna take your house away,” she says. “But I didn’t see that. Nobody’s had their house taken away.”

Sitting on her tiny front porch,

as she does most days when the weather is nice, Deborah Guest sees a neighborhood boy she knows. “How ya doin’?” she calls out. “Keep up the good work!” Guest turns and explains: “One of my Sunday school babies. He was caught smoking weed. I said, ‘Have you lost your mind?’ Where does this come from?” Guest has owned her small brick rowhouse on Maisel Street since 1984. But she has lived here in Westport since 1958, where, four years after Brown v. Board of Education, she was enrolled as one of only a handful of African American children at Westport Academy, the elementary school across the street from her current home. In those days, she could walk over to Annapolis Road to have a soda at the pharmacy or mail a letter at the post office. On Saturdays, farmers from the county would set up vegetable stalls on the dirt road, now an exit ramp off Interstate 295. Guest’s father had a job at Boston Metals in nearby Brooklyn; other neighborhood parents worked for one of the two glass factories in the area, at the Baltimore Gas & Electric plant, or at the GM factory at Sparrows Point. “Back then we had enough, so we didn’t know we were poor,” she says. Westport, a working-class neighborhood tucked into the industrial zone south of the city along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, has changed. Manufacturing jobs have disappeared, along with many of the people who held them. More than 20 percent of the 900 or so housing units in Westport are vacant, and only a quarter of the households are owner-occupied. A Department of Planning report in 2000 listed the neighborhood median income at $16,250 a year, with one-third of households earning less than $10,000.


urbanite january 10

Guest says that she sees a lot of young people hanging out in the streets these days: “They get up in the morning, and their day consists of going out to the corner and waiting for something to happen.” When things do happen, they usually aren’t good. In September, one of her four children, 29-year-old Kareem, was shot and killed in an incident Guest describes as misplaced retaliation. The loss of her son served as yet another sign of how bad things have gotten. “How dare they come into this community and kill someone who’s lived here their whole life?” she says. But something else is happening in Westport. Something that might change not only the long-neglected neighborhood, but the city itself: The developer Patrick Turner, who has had his eye on Westport for nearly a decade, is poised to transform Guest’s neighborhood by building a $1.4-billion, 4.8-million-square-foot development called Westport Waterfront. The plan calls for two thousand townhouses, apartments, and condominiums; a high-rise hotel; a smattering of exclusive retail shops; and enough open space and eco-friendly features to quicken the pulse of local environmental groups. Buildings will boast green roofs, the shoreline will be buffered by wetlands for migrating birds, and the streets will be constructed with gravel filtration to minimize river-polluting runoff. Turner says he’ll seek Platinum designation under the LEED for Neighborhood Development program, the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system for neighborhood design. With a light rail station already in place, the development would be a model of smart growth, the anti-sprawl approach to urban planning that calls for transit- and pedestrian-oriented communities. The site sits in a Maryland Enterprise Zone, so tax credits are available for

companies that provide new jobs, and its proximity to I-95 means it was also awarded BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Zone status, which comes with infrastructure improvement dollars. With the nearby Middle Branch Park and the Gwynns Falls Trail, the development would be a key element in city’s Middle Branch Master Plan, the planning department’s ambitious 2007 blueprint to transform the entire Middle Branch region from isolated post-industrial backwater to the city’s southern “green gateway.” In short, the rise of Westport Waterfront would transform the area, tripling the housing stock and dramatically shifting its income and racial mix. For Deborah Guest, at least, that is a change that can’t come soon enough.

Pat Turner , who is 58, does not fit the easy cliché of the

millionaire developer. He has a scruffy beard and a perpetually distracted manner; the sleeve edges of the navy blazer he tosses on for meetings are dusty and frayed. He’s as happy driving his battered Jeep Cherokee as his Porsche. That absentminded air may have helped him weather the public scrutiny he’s been receiving since being drawn into the investigation and trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon. Twice solicited by the then-City Council president to donate gift cards to charity in 2005 and 2006, Turner took the stand as a prosecution witness, testifying that he thought the cards, left in unmarked envelopes in City Hall, were intended for needy children. On December 1, Dixon was convicted of embezzlement for spending about $530 of Turner’s gift cards; many trial watchers agreed that it was Turner’s testimony that proved most convincing for jurors. Turner was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where his father worked in a body shop and junkyard. After being drafted into the Army in 1969 and serving a tour in Vietnam, he returned to find that

some of his family had moved to Baltimore. So he followed them here and “fell in love with the city,” he says. Turner, who never completed college (although he attended Loyola for a year), started his real estate ventures by purchasing and renovating houses in South Baltimore. “I sold my car and all my furniture to buy the first house,” he says. Today, his sharp blue eyes are framed by sun-weathered crow’s feet. Squinting across the site in Westport where the glassworks once stood, he surveys a barren landscape where millions of dollars of remediation and cleanup have recently been completed. “If someone gave me pristine parkland to develop, I wouldn’t touch it,” Turner says. “I’d much rather do urban infill.” Turner has a long history of creative adaptive re-use projects: He’s turned a vaudeville theater into an office building (the McHenry Theatre, 2002), a Catholic school into condominiums (the Holy Cross School, 2005), and, most famously, a grain elevator into luxury apartments (Silo Point in Locust Point, which opened in 2008). As his projects have grown more ambitious, Turner has acquired both skeptics and true believers. “When Pat first took me to Silo Point, I thought he was crazy,” says Joe Haskins, founder and president of Harbor Bank, which helped with early financing of that project. “At some point I crossed the line into the madness. I drank the Kool-Aid.” Still, what Turner sees in Westport is an order of magnitude more audacious than anything he’s attempted before: a radical reboot of a neighborhood that has always been on the margins. In the 1700s, a merchant named John Moale bought several tracts of waterfront land from Charles Carroll to build a foundry and iron mine, thus scuttling the potential for this prime spot on the Middle Branch to become Baltimore’s downtown. “He thought the land would be more valuable for mining,” Turner says. “But we’re going to right that wrong now and bring downtown to Westport.”

Second city: Renderings of Westport Waterfront (below left) show a mixed-use complex of towers on a scale that rivals the Inner Harbor. But, unlike earlier waterfront developments, this project will be built with a host of environmentally sensitive features, including green roofs and runoff-filtering wetlands constructed along the shoreline. Developer Turner says that Westport will seek Platinum designation in the LEED for Neighborhood Development program. rendering by Turner Development Group

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1420 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Across from Penn Station

For a time in the 19th century, the sandy shores of the Middle Branch, easily reached by rail, were a popular destination for Baltimoreans who would come for boating and swimming by day, drinking and dancing by night. But in 1889, the Carr & Lowrey Glass Works factory opened, bringing industry to the area once again. In the early 1900s, Consolidated Gas, Electric Light & Power—BGE’s predecessor— built a coal-fired power station nearby. By 1923, the entire area was zoned for industrial use. Those who lived in Westport’s residential neighborhood were typically white and working-class—people who were employed in nearby industries. Housing was built in the 1940s for the influx of war-related factory workers. Westport Homes was designated for whites only, while war housing in nearby Cherry Hill was built for black workers. Beginning in the 1950s, highways went up, splitting the neighborhood in half and furthering its isolation from the rest of the city. Demographics started to shift. White residents fled en masse in the 1960s; today, about 90 percent of Westport’s population is African American. John Unglesbee, who grew up in Westport, worked for Carr & Lowrey until it shut down in 2003. Like many white residents, he moved out of the neighborhood years before—he now lives in Lansdowne. But he still comes to the old neighborhood to sit at K’s Korner, a bar in the basement of a rowhouse on the corner of Sidney Avenue and Kent Street. The neighborhood has gone downhill, he says. “You used to have a bank, a movie theater, a shoe store, a barbershop. Now you just see a lot of boarded-up houses.” You also see a huge stretch of undeveloped waterfront, an asset that has proven highly desirable to Baltimore builders. The neighborhood fronts a body of water five times the size of the Inner Harbor. In late 2004, Turner invited Haskins to tour Westport. “The glass company was an abandoned facility. There was rubbish everywhere,” the banker recalls. But the two climbed to the top of the factory, where, fortified by the vista of water and the Hanover Street bridge, Turner sketched his ideas for transforming the area into a live-workplay complex to rival the Inner Harbor. His vision appealed to Haskins, who founded Harbor Bank in 1982 with the mission of providing loans to small and minority-owned businesses that didn’t have ready access to traditional financial markets. “When you talk about the last thirty years in Westport, what people conjure is a community on the periphery, with all the negatives: low income, drugs, and crime,” Haskins says. “Here you’ve got a project that has the potential of bringing a new dimension to that part of the city. You have an opportunity to change lifestyles and lives.” Turner Development Group paid about $14 million for the glass factory, the BGE facility, and adjacent properties—a total of about 42 acres, much of it heavily contaminated from industrial use. The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, got involved in 2007; as of the end of 2009, Turner says, property, demolition, environmental remediation, and design costs had reached $50 million—although nothing has been built. City Hall has been more than eager to help Turner’s cause. Last January, the city approved a bond issue of $160 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to pay for infrastructure improvements. The TIF—the largest in the city’s history—is an influx of capital that will be paid back by future property taxes: Turner predicts that the site, which currently brings about $95,000 a year to the city, will generate $45 million a year in property and hotel taxes once the development is built. He also anticipates that more than 15,000 jobs will be created. “We’re taking something that’s paying nothing and turning it into something that will pay a lot,” he says. The shaky state of the bond market meant a delay in the issue of the first set of TIF bonds, currently scheduled to go to market this March. In November, Turner received another major boost: The city directed more than $21 million in federal stimulus funds to enhance the bonds and help make them more salable.

The timing of Turner’s negotiations worked in his favor: In 2008, the city passed the Inclusive Housing Law, calling for developers who receive substantial subsidies or benefit from major zoning changes on the part of the city to designate 20 percent of housing units affordable. But because the legislation came after Turner had begun negotiating with the city, Westport Waterfront doesn’t have to comply. Turner nevertheless agreed to ensure that 200 units—10 percent of the total— will be available for low-income residents. According to Andy Frank, deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development, 130 apartments in the waterfront development would be affordable rental units and $6.35 million of the TIF money would go toward the city’s purchase and renovation of seventy or more houses to be sold within the existing neighborhood. The value of affordable housing on the site, Frank says, is an estimated $21 million. Some residents and affordable housing advocates don’t think that’s enough. Josh Civin is vice president of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, which strongly supported the housing ordinance. He believes that Turner’s project should honor the spirit of

ACLU of Maryland lawyer Barbara Samuels agrees that the Turner Development Group’s concession isn’t enough. A sustainable city, she points out, “isn’t just about a green roof. Sustainability is about whether people from all walks of life can afford to live there and do business.”

the law that he narrowly escaped. “The city’s position is that they’d been in discussions with Turner before the law took effect, so he’s not required to comply. But we argued for the full 20 percent.” ACLU of Maryland attorney Barbara Samuels, the head of the group’s Fair Housing Project, agrees that the Turner Development Group’s concession isn’t enough. A sustainable city, she points out, “isn’t just about a green roof. Sustainability is about whether people from all walks of life can afford to live there and do business.” In 2007, the city spent about $1.5 million to tear down the derelict Westport Homes Extension, a complex of 232 units on the west side of I-295. The demolition was part of a $59 million fund to develop low-income housing. Samuels finds the timing less than fortuitous. “It’s ironic that the city is putting $160 million into TIF funding without fighting for more affordable housing to be put into the project or built elsewhere, and in the meantime it’s tearing down public housing and claiming there’s no money to replace it,” she says. Haskins has a different point of view. Westport, he says, “has enough poor people already.” As chairman of the board of East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI), Haskins says he learned some valuable lessons. A project like Westport is better done “from the top down.”

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lu n C h


Di n n e r.

Join us Thurs. - Sat. after 7:30pm for half priced wine. We will be open daily during restaurant week beginning at 5:00pm. Visit our sister restaurant Corks’ website @ 58 West Biddle Street, Baltimore 21201 410-837-3630 •

Taste the Original… Taste Ban Thai. Currently featuring: $20 3-course meals, ½ off ALL beer and wine during happy hour. Have us cater your next event. Mon-Sat 11am-10pm. 340 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-727-7971 •

Chef David Newman and his culinary staff invite you to be our guests during the 2010 Winter Restaurant Week(s). Our carefully selected special menu is available for viewing on our website. 1106 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-547-6925 •

Dine on

Charles street.

Cazbar is Baltimore’s first and only Turkish Restaurant located in the heart of the Historic Charles Street District. We feature authentic Turkish cuisine in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Open daily for lunch and dinner and featuring belly dancing shows in our new lounge. 316 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-528-1222 •

For Special Days and Everyday…Charm City Cupcakes offers over 65 flavors of endless possibilities. Baked fresh everyday from the finest ingredients, we are sure you will find more than a few favorites. Visit our flagship store Tues - Saturday 10am 6pm. For our new apparel line visit 326 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-244-8790 •

Coming this month At Indigma, we are thrilled to invite you to try some of the mouth watering flavors of the Indian sub-continent. Indigma will unlock the secret passage to the realm of this modern Indian cuisine. Since flavors are the key players, boredom has no place here-Enjoy! Experience Indigma now!

January 22- February 7

802 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-605-1212 •

Charles Street Area Restaurants A neighborhood pub in downtown Baltimore. Good food, attentive service, and relaxed atmosphere. Open 7 days a week with brunch on Sundays 11am-3pm. Best happy hour in Mt. Vernon, Mon-Fri, 4-7pm. 328 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-539-7504 •

AbAcrombie Fine Food AkbAr b&o AmericAn brAsserie bAn ThAi The brewer’s ArT cAzbAr cobber’s Pub & cAFé

Join us: for fresh food and a varied menu•for our cosmopolitan atmosphere•for happy hour and daily specials•for friendly and attentive service•for any occasion, share an experience with us. 1013 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-332-0332 •

donnA’s coFFee bAr & resTAurAnT eden’s Lounge esquire Lounge geishA sushi bAr The heLmAnd indigmA Joss cAFé & sushi bAr

Voted “Baltimore’s Best Indian Restaurant & Best Indian Buffet”- Join us in our elegant & cozy dining room for real authentic Indian food & daily specials. Carry out and delivery available. 918 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-547-0001 •

kumAri resTAurAnT And bAr Lumbini mArie Louise bisTro mAisy’s mick o’sheA’s midTown yAchT cLub miLTon’s griLL minATo


Dine in style at the Historic Belvedere. Visit the Owl Bar featuring a firebrick oven and 100+ year old architecture, or enjoy the best view of Baltimore over a cocktail at the 13th Floor! 1 East Chase Street, Baltimore 21202 • 410-347-0888 •

mounT Vernon sTAbLe And sALoon mughAL gArden my ThAi owL bAr red mAPLe red squAre sAmmy’s TrATToriA sAschA’s 527

A restaurant/bar that satisfies the cravings of quality comfort food and local sports; in a fun, social and laid-back atmosphere. Inside, you’ll find walls covered in hometown sports memorabilia and eight flat panel LCD TV’s.

soFi’s crePes

1317 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21202 410-347-0349 •

Tio PePe

soTTo soPrA ThAi LAnding Tug’s bAr And griLLe TurP’s sPorTs bAr And resTAurAnT Xs

Coffee. Sushi. Cocktails. A restaurant, bar and cafe boasting a sleek industrial design, diverse menu (sushi bar and breakfast all day) and conversational drinks in a hip, relaxed atmosphere.

For a complete list of restaurants all along Charles Street, visit 1307 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21201 410-468-0002 •

Come see us in our new location. The Federal Hill Office 1011 Light Street.

New strategies for extraordinary times.

• Federal Hill 410.727.0606 • Baltimore Metro 410.583.0400 • Bel Air 410.420.6778 Canton 410.732.3030 • Phoenix 410.667.0801• Timonium 410.561.0044 • Westminster 410.876.3500

Come see what everyone’s talking about.

Contemporary American Cuisine in a semi-formal atmosphere. 938 South Conkling Street in Brewers Hill Complimentary Valet Parking


urbanite january 10


eat/dr ink The Children’s Table In a post-nugget world, change has come to the kids’ menu.


ate one Wednesday morning, music educator and performer Zoë Johnstone strums gleefully on her acoustic guitar for a weekly preschool sing-along in the comfy back room of Lauraville’s Red Canoe Bookstore Café. She whips through a flurry of sunny-side-up songs—“Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”—before an audience of a dozen antsy toddlers and their attentive moms (plus one doting dad), then segues seamlessly into a buoyant “I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas.” Most of the kids and their young parents are nibbling on an array of house-made muffins rather than munching on fruit. If they wished, they could avail themselves of items from Red Canoe’s small but select children’s lunch menu: a hummus plate, a cheese plate, and three kid-friendly sandwiches (turkey, peanut butter and jelly, or grilled cheese). “A bit early for lunch,” surmises Nicole Selhorst, who, along with her husband, Peter, owns and operates the children’s bookshop and its adjoining restaurant.

by michael yockel photograph by leo howard lubow

61 reviewed

The Reserve and 13.5% Wine Bar

63 wine & spirits Drinking on the job

65 the feed

This month in eating

If you grow the right grapes, the wine making is easy


Lumbini Restaurant @ 4 East

photo by Barbara Campbell, Studio 11

delightful food sustainably sourced prepared with a French-mediterranean flair

3 stars across the board!-Elizabeth Large, Baltimore Sun

A place of serenity, history, and fine wine, retaining the traditions and values of the old world. 15113 Liberty Road, Mt. Airy, MD 21771 410-775-2513 Tue-Sat, 10am-5pm Sun 1-5pm

dinner: thur-fri-sat 5:30-9:00

4 east madison street 410.605.2020

feast @ 4 East Madison Inn come for dinner ... stay the night!

Nepalese & Indian Cuisine

Lunch Buffet

7 days a week Mon-Sat 11am -2:30pm Sun 12-2:30pm

Serving Dinner Daily 3-10pm Delivery • Carry-out • Catering $10 off a $50 dinner w/ad $5 off a $25 dinner w/ad Call for parking after 6pm. 322 N. Charles Street 410-244-5556 • 410-244-5551 (fax)

We’re seeking candidates for the following ... Urbanite magazine is building a team of eloquent, energetic writer/editors to shape topic-specific e-magazines, specializing in arts and culture, food and drink, home and design, style and shopping, and the environment. Writer/editors will be responsible for regular blog posts, social media, and monthly news stories and reviews, all with an eye to fostering community participation. Urbanite is a customer-focused and forward-thinking company that rewards hard work, innovation, and teamwork. EOE. Send cover letter with salary requirements and resume to: Tracy W. Durkin, Publisher Urbanite 2002 Clipper Park Road, 4th Flr. • Baltimore, MD 21211 (No phone calls, please)


urbanite january 10

purveyors of high-fat, high-sodium fare: fast-food chains such as McDonald’s (yogurt parfait with granola), Wendy’s (mandarin oranges), and Burger King (sliced apples disguised as French fries). The children’s offerings are also starting to look like the adult ones, with local ingredients and bolder ethnic flavors. “The ability to develop menu offerings around a local, organic, or natural culinary focus is a trademark of independent concepts that operate in the higher-end, fine-dining realm,” Technomic’s Darren Tristano said in the report. “Parents who value these attributes in food are beginning to steer their children away from mac-and-cheese and chicken finger entrees in favor of fresh seafood, baked or grilled chicken, organic vegetables, and premium cuts of meat. This trend has notable trickle-down potential for the Top 250 chains.” That “fine-dining realm” mentioned by Technomic includes Clipper Mill’s Woodberry Kitchen, the city’s most fashionable restaurant. There, co-owners Spike and Amy Gjerde, parents of a 10-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl, have given a sophisticated spin to kids’ menu standards by serving a grass-fed hamburger, wood-oven flatbread with tomato and cheese, and fried fresh fish, along with sides of organic rice and local veggies. Arguably, the kids’ food at Red Canoe, Golden West, and Woodberry Kitchen represents only a modest departure from the macand-cheese universe—all three restaurants refuse to spare the rod of French fries and/ or potato chips—and yet each distinguishes itself from the children’s menu fare at most Baltimore restaurants, from the whitetableclothed Gertrude’s at the BMA (chicken fingers!) to the iconic crab house Bo Brooks (chicken tenders!) to the endearingly shaggy new Parkside in Lauraville (chicken nuggets!). “Look, I’m not a purist—the McDonald’s French fry tastes so good,” admits Red Canoe’s Selhorst. “But there are so many opportunities in America [to order unhealthy food] that I don’t have to serve it here. The parents whose kids are hooked on fast food probably don’t come back here for lunch, because their kids don’t want to eat [what we serve]. We’ve seen them. The children are miserable, and they’re hungry, but there’s nothing here that they’re attracted to. Many kids who come here have very adventuresome palates: raw vegetables, apple chutney, tomato bisque, and dried fruit. There’s love in the food here, and that’s true of the kids’ menu, too.” Golden West’s Rudis concurs. “Children’s menus are almost always an afterthought [for restaurateurs]. I guess they consider children like cattle—just give them whatever. Obviously, that’s not how it should be. Healthy eating habits start early.” ■ —Michael Yockel wrote about secrets of the city in the May 2009 Urbanite.

eat / drink Tiny Tasters In the new book The Gastrokid Cookbook: Feeding a Foodie Family in a Fast-Food World (Wiley, 2009), authors-dads Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans declare “there’s no such thing as kids’ food.” The pair list that dictum in their commandmentsesque “10 Gastrokid Rules for Reclaiming the Family Dinner Table,” along with “Don’t cook down to your kids,” “Don’t take it personally that your kids despise your cooking,” and the by-now-hoary “Eat seasonally & locally.” In the book and on their website, Garvey (an editor for Bon Appetit) and Yeomans (a writer in Wales who also runs a social media agency) roll out easy-but-interesting recipes for time-pressed parents. The dishes include gourmand-a-go-go Moroccan chicken with apricots, capers, and olives; pancetta squash and kale risotto; seared salmon with soy-honey-lime sauce; and an indulgent macaroni and cheese with prosciutto and crispy sage. The authors sprinkle the recipes with factoids, tips (they are big fans of smoked paprika), kid-glossary explanations (guanciale=cured pig cheeks), and greener-than-thou advice. Ultimately, Garvey and Yeomans fervently recommend that parents “express your unbridled love for food with your kids. Share tastes at every opportunity and always try new culinary experiences.” Such as these littleneck clams dotted with hunks of those cured pig cheeks.


Red Canoe’s nugget-free kids’ menu reflects a glacial national shift toward healthier dining-out fare for children. Just like Mom and Dad, kids are increasingly being nudged toward food that purposely eschews arteryclogging, preservative-laced staples such as pizza, hot dogs, and the ubiquitous chicken fingers. The enormous increase in childhood obesity documented in numerous recent studies plays a large part in encouraging this nutritional makeover. But serving food that goes down easily with kids and gets a nod of approval from adults concerned with their children’s diets is easier said than done. As parents—Peter has three kids from a previous marriage, and Nicole has two; all five are now grown—the Selhorsts made “conscious decisions to choose family food that was geared toward activity and mental work” when they opened Red Canoe’s café in 2001. “The kids were expected to perform out in the world, just like we were,” Nicole says. “We didn’t want them physically challenged by the things that bad eating brings, like obesity, tiredness, sugar issues. We’re not going to feed our children what we won’t eat ourselves—actually, we won’t feed anybody what we won’t eat ourselves. And I won’t eat anything that I cannot pronounce or identify, whether it’s animal, vegetable, or other.” A similar philosophy governed Golden West Café owner/chef Thomas Rudis’ approach for his Hampden restaurant when he formally added a children’s menu to his existing dishes in 2003. Like the Selhorsts, he drew on his experience as a parent—a girl and a boy, now 10 and 6, respectively—to devise smart, tasty choices. “I put items on that they were eating,” Rudis recalls. “Some things worked, some things didn’t.” Sliders, for instance, flopped; ditto organic yogurt. Peanut butter and apples took off, though, as did a turkey wrap with mixed greens, and French toast with blackberries, blueberries, and peanut butter. “I wanted to stick with whole foods,” Rudis says, foods unsullied by those multi-syllable additives that Nicole Selhorst has difficulty pronouncing. “Parents are much more aware, especially in our demographic [21- to 45year-olds], of what they feed their kids,” he continues. “It’s a win-win, because parents relax in our setting knowing that their kids are eating slices of apple with peanut butter—and liking it. They’re getting their protein, getting their fruit. And happy kids make for happy parents.” The Chicago-based food-service consulting firm Technomic noted the trend this past February in its gargantuan 2009 Kids: Marketing & Menu Report, which tracked the kids’ menus of the 250 largest chain restaurants, plus independents and emerging chains. Gradually, healthier choices have crept onto the menus of the nation’s most egregious


Littleneck Clams With Guanciale Olive oil ½ cup sliced guanciale, prosciutto, or pancetta 2 garlic cloves, chopped 32 littleneck clams (6 to 8 per person) 1 cup white wine ¼ cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish In a big pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add guanciale and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant. Add clams, wine, and parlsey and cover. Steam until clams open, about 10 minutes. (Discard any clams that don’t open.) Sprinkle on the extra parsley and serve with bread, pasta, rice, couscous, or polenta. Serves 4. —Adapted from The Gastrokid Cookbook by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans


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For those who dare to keep learning, the journey continues here.


Odyssey: Non-credit liberal arts courses for adult learners of any age. Master of Liberal Arts: A flexible, part-time degree program with courses in the evenings and on Saturdays. Osher at JHU: Non-credit courses for people who have retired from work, but not from life.

event, Join us for our spring Isle Echoes of the Emerald


B R E A K FA S T featuring

HILL HARPER Saturday, February 6 8:30 am - noon

Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel 700 Aliceanna Street Tickets: $40 per person Advanced registration required. For tickets and information, call the Programs & Publications Office, 410-396-5494. 60

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10, 7:0 0pm Tuesday, March 16, 20 Campus od wo me Shriver Hall, Ho 18 212 MD , ore Baltim blic, Free and open to the pu RSVPs are required RSVP at greatthinkers.

photo by La Kaye Mbah

Beyond bar food: Sesame-seared bluefin tuna at the Reserve in South Baltimore, neighborhood dive no longer

photo by La Kaye Mbah

13.5% Wine Bar

Bottle shock: Hampden gets a funky wine bar.

The Reserve, on the lower stretch of Light Street properly known as South Baltimore, proves again that bars these days are about far more than drinking. The space, which has hosted a procession of dim dives known for bottom-shelf pours and live music, has been radically transformed: Expanded windows add light and air, ten drafts and thirty-four bottled brands ramp up the beer variety, decent wines come by the bottle or glass, and the menu includes bluefin tuna and panroasted quail. The gastronomic offerings may seem wildly ambitious for this corner, but the concept seems to hit the mark with the locals. The chef is Matt Merkel, recruited from the nearby Don’t Know Tavern. He seems to revel in the notion of dressed-up bar food, with appetizers ranging from grilled calamari served on frisée with smoked mozzarella to a mini surf and turf—crab cake and petit filet with béarnaise. There’s a duck confit salad with gorgonzola, toasted pumpkin seeds, and curls of fried potatoes, and a plate of arugula piled with walnuts and cherries, two golf ball-sized goat cheese fritters on the side. The entrée list, divided by sea and land, has seared lobster ravioli, buffalo steak, and Angus filet mignon with wild mushroom ragout. Red grouper is grilled with a cornmeal crust and comes with vegetable “hash”—tiny

Roll the phrase “Hampden wine bar” around in your mind for a moment, and, if you are old enough to remember this workingman’s neighborhood’s pre-gentrified state, you may taste a hint of cognitive dissonance. But those days are long gone: 13.5% Wine Bar has been so ardently embraced that it’s fair to insert the modifier “long-overdue.” Wayne Laing, until recently the owner of the nearby Wine Underground store, opened his hybrid bar/restaurant/wine shop (named for the typical red-wine alcohol level) this summer in the tin-ceiling storefront space recently occupied by the Craig Flinner Gallery at the foot of the Avenue. The big room is now a groovy bottle den, with fieldstone walls, chunkily modern furniture in vintage-’70s burnt orange, and a troupe of young servers who convincingly speak the language of oenophilia. (Here’s a good wine-bar drinking game: Take a sip whenever you hear someone say “fruit-forward.”) If the beverage side of the menu dominates—see the forty-plus by-the-glass options, the non-confiscatory corkage and markup fees, and the big wall of reasonably priced bottles—the food is a bit more than an afterthought. A brief menu of sandwiches and “plates” (all less than $10 and sized somewhere between a tapas portion and a

chunks of potato, corn, edamame, and diced peppers with a garnish of purple amaranth. The pistachio-crusted rack of lamb is a bit overenthusiastic; Dijon paste overwhelms the gamey meat. But the seasonal vegetables—a thick ring of acorn squash wearing a cipollini onion beret, surrounded by roasted Brussels sprouts and baby carrots—are just right for swirling in the red wine demi-glace. So far, dessert offerings are minimal, but portions are substantial. Chocolate mousse, recommended by a zealous bartender, came packed in a tulip mold of white and dark chocolate, surrounded by swirls of raspberry coulis. The Reserve, which inherited a live entertainment license from its predecessor, has music on Wednesday and Thursday evenings (with plans for more), so by the time the kitchen closes at 10 p.m., the place may already be filled with an expectant audience. The owners say the next steps are a menu that rotates weekly and a second floor expansion, designed for even finer dining, planned for early spring. But no worries, the downstairs gastro concept will remain intact. (Dinner daily; lunch Fri–Sun. 1542 Light St.; 410-605-0955; www.thereservebaltimore. com.)


The Reserve

eat / drink

—Martha Thomas

full meal) flex a sunny range of wine-friendly Mediterranean flavors. If you are genuinely hungry, a husky ciabatta panini sided with roasted rosemary potatoes is probably your best bet: There are ten to choose from, including the zesty “Tonno Diavolo” (olive oil-packed Sicilian tuna layered with cherry peppers and greens). But most 13.5%ers are a nibble-minded lot, judging by the steady traffic in antipasti (a modest assortment of salami and mortadella, olives, roasted eggplant, and a slab of feta) and busy roving cheese cart. Macaroni and cheese is upscaled by white truffle oil and unctuous mascarpone, but its best feature is the homey crust of buttery breadcrumbs. With calamari stew running low on a recent night, a curious vegetable Napoleon made with Srirachaspiked potatoes packed into a phyllo pillow stood in to provide ballast for a bottle of Beaujolais; it was small and a little strange, but agreeably dense with flavor, even if the accompanying cucumber sauce brought little to the party. Dessert? Drink it—there are five sweet wines on tap. (Dinner Tues–Sun, lunch Fri–Sun. 1117 W. 36th St.; 410-889-1064; —David Dudley

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WELLNESS CENTER AT THE L EAGUE OFF THE BEATEN PATH... IN LINE WITH YOUR BUDGET Special Holiday Discounts through January 31, 2010! 1111 East Cold Spring Lane • Baltimore, MD 21239 (Between Belvedere Square and Morgan State University) 410.323.0500 ext. 314 •



s h ow

WE. 9AFAM 88

Join the Conversation Monday-Thursday, 5-7 pm 62

urbanite january 10

Join Marc at the ANNAPOLIS SUMMIT, Wednesday, January 13th. On the opening day of the Maryland General Assembly, Marc will host Governor Martin O’Malley and Legislature leaders for a two-hour program at St. John’s College in Annapolis. Coffee and Danish at 7 a.m. The Steiner Show at 7:30 a.m. For more information, go to

High Noon What happened to drinking at work?

photo by Tyler Fitzpatrick

By Clinton Macsherry


ven casual viewers of the TV series Mad Men will experience frissons as the early-1960s ad execs and their families follow habits that nowadays would get them shunned, fired, or subjected to intervention. A blanket full of picnic litter gets shaken into a meadow. Smoking during pregnancy and knockout drugs during childbirth are routine. And workday drinking—in the office and at power lunches—is a compulsory rite of businessman-hood. In a New York Times story last August, cocktail historians, veteran bartenders, and retired Madison Avenue types vouched for the show’s boozy veracity. What changed? After Vietnam and Watergate, gas lines and rampant inflation, Americans embraced the more abstemious ethos of Jimmy Carter. In a 1976 presidential debate against incumbent Gerald Ford, Carter struck an anti-corporate chord and railed against “the $50 martini lunch.” Retired to the lecture circuit, Ford found some humor retrospectively. “The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency,” he quipped. “Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful, and a snootful at the same time?” In the 1980s, the business world refocused on different sorts of daytime liquidity. Tycoon Gordon Gekko, in the 1987 film Wall Street, disdainfully notes that “lunch is for wimps.” The market crash at the end of that decade stuck a fork in midday tippling, and extravagant drinking-and-dealing shifted decisively to the dinner hour. Notwithstanding an infrequent Sunday Bloody Mary or a kickoff beer at a Ravens game, I am metabolically indisposed toward alcohol intake during the day. Coffee remains my psychoactive beverage of choice deep into most afternoons. And

yet, the civilized appeal of a drink over lunch on certain social or avocational (by which I mean column-related) occasions is undeniable. A reminder arrived last fall by way of a weekday invitation to sample a new menu at Locust Point’s Wine Market restaurant, accompanied by selections from Black Ankle, a Maryland winery that has lately generated a lot of buzz (by which I mean publicity). As if my constraints weren’t apparent enough, one lunchmate turned out to be a board member of the organization that provides my day job. Not that it mattered—a few glasses of wine with a big meal at noontime would make it tough for me to stay awake, much less get back to work. I asked for short pours and a bucket in which to spit and dump the wines after sampling. Glowering at me like a fink, or so I thought, a couple other diners grudgingly followed suit. Although it’s common practice at tastings, I admit that pouring out good wine kills joy. You shouldn’t feel compelled to drink when you don’t want to, of course, and good manners dictate graceful ways to decline. But sometimes sociability or celebration makes raising a midday glass proper etiquette. In this context, some low-octane strategies work better than others. A basic Chardonnay-and-seltzer spritzer seems blatantly declawed, but a mimosa achieves the same effect with color and pizzazz. Better yet, seek out wines with low alcoholic content, such as St. Urbans-Hof ’s lineup of lunch-friendly Rieslings. Starting at $12, they range from 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent alcohol, in contrast to the 13 percent and higher found in most wines. Mad Men’s Don Draper would scoff and order his usual Old-Fashioned, a classic cocktail whose name resonates in a storyline haunted by impending social upheaval. In a rocks glass, top a sugar cube with two dashes of bitters; add a splash of water and then muddle. Add ice and two ounces of whiskey (Don favors Canadian Club, or sometimes Old Overholt rye), stir, and garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry. But feel free to wait until Happy Hour. ■

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wine & spirits

eat / drink


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Baltimore Paint Authority

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urbanite january 10

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illustration by Chris Rebbert

tHe feed

eat / drink

This Month in Eating Compiled by Martha Thomas HIGH SCHOOL C ABARET

JAN 7 & 8

Throughout the school year, Germano’s Cabaret hosts performances featuring students from the Baltimore School for the Arts. On January 7, students in the Junior Acting Ensemble will perform original scenes; the following night, the music department will take the stage with scenes from operas. The $10 cover charge goes directly to the school. Dinner from the regular menu—including whole grilled branzino, beet ravioli, and osso buco—is available, and bottles of wine are half price. 7:30 p.m. $10 plus food and drink (no minimum).

Germano’s Trattoria 300 S. High St. 410-752-4515


JAN 8 & 9

Gertrude’s ever-popular mid-winter feast is back, with live polka music, dancing, and a buffet of Germanic/Eastern European eats that’s, of course, heavy on the kraut. There’s roasted-beet borscht and kraut, pork meatballs and kraut, and kraut stroganoff. Even the desserts are thematic: kraut whoopee pies and caramelized kraut ice cream. 6 p.m.–9 p.m. $30 in advance, $35 at the door.

Gertrude’s at the BMA 10 Art Museum Dr. 410-889-3399 rest/gertrudes.html


JAN 12

Sotto Sopra held its fi rst “pay what you want” dinner in November as a recession-friendly gesture, and the event sold out immediately. The family-style meal for twelve will be repeated in January, with four courses of Executive Chef Bill Crouse’s choosing: pasta, meat or fi sh, salad, and dessert, accompanied by pre-selected wines. At the end of it all, diners may pay what they choose. And if they aren’t too stingy, we’re told, the tradition will continue. 7 p.m.

Sotto Sopra 405 N. Charles St. 410-625-0534


JAN 22– FEB 7

Baltimore’s restaurant scene is so spirited that it can no longer be contained in just one week. Restaurants will roll out their special prix fi xe menus—$20.10 for lunch, $35.10 for dinner—in honor of the new decade. Check the website for a list of eateries, directions, and parking tips.

www.baltimorerestaurantweek. com


JAN 27

As if to ameliorate their monthly wine dinners—six- to eightcourse extravaganzas that teeter on gluttony—Jerry Edwards and John Walsh of Chef ’s Expressions will teach a cooking class designed to help with New Year’s resolutions. Edwards, who says he’s recently lost 25 pounds through healthy eating (not dieting), will demonstrate five recipes “fi lled with good proteins, complex carbohydrates, and a great deal of vegetables.” Each course will be shared with the audience, along with a selection of sparkling wines. 6 p.m.–8 p.m. $50.

Gramercy Mansion 1400 Greenspring Valley Rd. Stevenson 410-561-2433

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urbanite january 10


69 ART

Marianne K. Amoss on Beauty and the Brain


Susan McCallum-Smith on Noah’s Compass


Martha Thomas on The Opera Show


This month’s cultural highlights


Why do Americans kill? by michael corbin



illustration by eamonn donnelly

evi Johnson buried his shovel in the head of Jesse Kendall in June 1855. Kendall, the foreman of a road crew on which Johnson was working in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, had slapped Johnson with the flat of his own shovel, upbraiding him for not working. Johnson, aggrieved, returned a fatal blow. This obscure incident by the side of a New England road was part of a murder explosion in the mid-19th century, a “time that homicide rates in the United States

truly diverged from the rates elsewhere in the Western world,” writes Ohio State history professor Randolph Roth in his provocatively argued new book, American Homicide (Harvard University Press, 2009). America continues to be the world’s most homicidal affluent democracy, with Baltimore stubbornly ranked among its deadliest large cities. But as we try to divine meaning from the macabre annual accounting of the city’s murdered, we may be missing

the lessons of history. Or so argues Roth, who contravenes the conventional wisdom about the root causes of violence. “America’s homicide rate has been stuck between 6 and 9 per 100,000 persons per year for a century,” he observes. “In the late 1990s the United States had full employment, a war on drugs, a million people employed in law enforcement, 1.8 million people incarcerated, a ban on assault weapons, gun-registration laws, concealcarry laws, education reform, welfare reform

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Jean Arp, Le dame de Delos (The Woman of Delos), 1959, Adler & Conkright Fine Art, New York

... and the highest rates of church membership and attendance in the Western world. If liberal or conservative hypotheses about homicide were right or if both were right, the annual homicide rate should have been close to 1 per 100,000 persons by the year 2000; but it wasn’t and it has risen since.” Americans kill on the scale they do, according to Roth, not because of poverty, drugs, race, class, guns, or the various policy permutations of law enforcement and punishment. “The predisposition to violence,” he insists, “is not rooted in objective social conditions.” There are always historical counterexamples in which similar conditions did not lead to increases in homicide. During the Great Depression, when poverty and unemployment skyrocketed, homicide dropped in U.S. cities. Before the 1890s, Roth points out, African Americans were far less likely to kill than whites and were especially unlikely to kill one another. What happened? Roth argues that Americans kill because of feelings and beliefs about the integrity of the nation’s social fabric. Plotting the fluctuating metrics of civic health against murder rates throughout our national history, he finds a correlation with changes in how we experience the legitimacy of the social order. He identifies four factors: When we no longer believe that government is stable or unbiased, when we feel authority is illegitimate, when we don’t share racial or religious or political solidarity with each other, and when we don’t have faith in the social hierarchy, we kill, even if those killings might appear random.

Love-hate relationship: The Walters’ new exhibit/science experiment investigates the brain’s response to digitally morphed images of the above sculpture by Jean Arp.


The Total Package

Beauty and the Brain: A Neural Approach to Aesthetics at the Walters Art Museum, Jan 23–April 11

But in urban America today, we focus on a particular kind of homicide, often citing it as the prime example of the failure of the city: young, poor, black men killing each other on a disturbing, bloody scale. Where we see the quintessential measure of contemporary dysfunction, however, Roth sees urban mayhem as mere epiphenomenon in the larger historical story. The killing in Baltimore is nothing new: Major metropolitan areas simply house the largest population of those who find American institutional arrangements fundamentally illegitimate. Roth relies heavily on University of Maryland criminologist Gary LaFree, whose 1998 book, Losing Legitimacy: Street Crime and the Decline of Social Institutions in America, also works to recast the racial character of urban violence. LaFree and Roth argue that in the post-civil-rights era, the sense of the illegitimacy of the social order experienced by those trapped in hyper-segregated urban centers leads directly to murder. “Ironically,” writes Roth, “for African Americans the success of the civil rights movement and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 made the inequality that remained all the more intolerable.” Roth is at pains to point out that social inequality alone doesn’t lead to murder. “As long as citizens accept the justice or inevitability of a hierarchy,” he writes, “and believe they can defend their rights ... or resist oppression in nonviolent ways, homicide rates can remain moderate.” Yet murder in Baltimore and most of urban America is immoderate. Mayors can Who among us, when wandering through a hushed art museum, hasn’t wondered why certain works of art—Jackson Pollack’s drippy paintings, Annie Leibovitz’s portrait photography, Damien Hirst’s dead tiger shark in a glass case—are accepted into the canon, while others aren’t? What makes Marcel Duchamp’s infamous Fountain—a urinal— better than a 6-year-old’s crayon scribbles? A new exhibit at the Walters Art Museum hopes to chip away at that question. The result of a partnership between Walters Director Gary Vikan and the scientists of Johns Hopkins’ Mind/Brain Institute, Beauty and the Brain is a hybrid science experiment/ art exhibit, with museum patrons as the test subjects. They’ll don 3-D glasses to observe digitally morphed images, some the creations of the folks at the Mind/Brain Institute and some manipulated images of works by such artists as Dadaist sculptor Jean Arp. Visitors will then record which images they found most and least appealing. The data will be compiled and posted on an ongoing basis on the Walters website starting in mid-February. The exhibit is inspired by the emergent field of neuroaesthetics, which studies the

art/culture sell their crime control programs, their Comstats, their broken-windows or communitypolicing strategies; partisans can argue endlessly for more guns or fewer guns, for treatment-on-demand or three-strikes-andyou’re-out. If American Homicide is right, these are all beside the point. “It would have been nice to end this book on a hopeful note,” Roth writes. But he doesn’t. He does observe that most other affluent democracies have been able produce very low homicide rates since the end of World War II, and he suggests that the best hope for ending our peculiar American carnage lies with our elected officials. “Political leaders bear the greatest responsibility for nation’s political life and the homicide problem it has caused.” In America, in Baltimore, we need a shared social story, a tale that we believe about the way things work for all of us, a story about how we all hang together. If we don’t have such a story, we will continue to die at each other’s hand like no other place in the world. ■ —Michael Corbin’s feature about teaching in the Maryland prison system, “Learning the Hard Way,” appeared in the September 2009 Urbanite. On the air: A conversation with Randolph Roth on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on January 19.

neural basis for aesthetics—in short, what takes place in the brain as a person experiences a work of art. What the scientists discover at the Walters may eke out some middle ground among three seemingly contradictory notions: that an artist is an intuitive neuroscientist, seeking shapes, colors, and kinds of movement that will stimulate the eye in a pleasant way; that some shapes are generally more appealing than others; and that people have different tastes. “If you triangulate among those three,” Vikan says, “what we discover will be interesting, I think.” And if this experiment goes well, he says, it will be only the beginning of a collaboration with the Mind/Brain Institute—and may end up affecting how the museum plans future exhibitions. “It’s very much in our interest to find out what is this thing that happens when people interact with art.” —Marianne K. Amoss For more information on Beauty and the Brain, call 410-547-9000 or go to

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when you choose 3 or more concerts

Compose your own series and you’re guaranteed the best seats available and access to exclusive subscriber offers and benefits, reserved for our most special guest—you! Act now! Sale ends February 15, 2010.

Garrick Ohlsson plays Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto Fri, Jan 22, 8 pm Sun, Jan 24, 3 pm

Linda Eder’s Judy Garland Songbook

Fri/Sat, Jan 29/30, 8 pm Sun, Jan 31, 3 pm

Cirque de la Symphonie Thur/Fri, Mar 11/12, 8 pm Sun, Mar 14, 3 pm

Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2

Fri, Apr 30, 8 pm Sat, May 1, 7 pm

Underground Railroad:

An Evening with Kathleen Battle

Sat, May 29, 8 pm

Porgy & Bess Concert Suite

Fri/Sat, Feb 5/6, 8 pm

Beethoven & Mozart with a Twist Thur/Fri, Feb 25/26, 8 pm

Marin Alsop & André Watts

Thur/Fri, June 3/4, 8 pm Sun, June 6, 3 pm

For a full listing of concerts, visit or call 410.783.8000. Prices in effect January 4, 2010. | 410.783.8000 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

photo by Diana Walker

Memory book: Anne Tyler’s new novel is about a middleaged man dealing with amnesia.


A Man Unmoored Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler (Knopf, Jan 2010) Not long ago, Anne Tyler moved out of her house in Homeland into an apartment; in her latest novel, Noah’s Compass, the central character, Liam Pennywell, also downsizes from a cranky old house in a leafy burb. “Pure coincidence ...” she asserts in an e-mail. (Tyler has not given an interview in person since 1977.) Yet she admits to suffering “from a kind of geographic dyslexia. I can’t find the most obvious street; I lose my way home […] I think this has caused me to put an exceptional amount of conscious thought into the ‘placing’ of my characters.” And those characters are almost always placed in Baltimore. Sixty years old and newly redundant from teaching in a second-rate private school, a position for which he was grossly overqualified, Liam believes he has tidily “accomplished all the conventional tasks— grown up, found work, gotten married, had children—and now he was winding down,” getting ready to reflect “on what it all meant, in the end.” But before he gets a chance to enjoy the “refrigerator white” décor of his new apartment near the Baltimore Beltway, an intruder attacks him. In hospital a few hours later, he’s horrified to discover he remembers nothing about the incident. A decent but gumption-free male, as familiar a Tyler creation—think of Macon Leary from The Accidental Tourist or Jeremy Pauling from Celestial Navigation—as an Anita Brookner spinster, Liam inspires not desire or wrath but fondness and a tepid exasperation. Following his hospital release, he frets endlessly about the hours stolen by amnesia. A galaxy of ballsy women appear and orbit briefly around him (so that’s where all the gumption went). His ex-wife and his

—Susan McCallum-Smith Web extra: Read the full e-mail correspondence between Urbanite literary editor Susan McCallum-Smith and Anne Tyler at

art/culture courtesy of The Opera Show

three daughters—the progeny of two failed marriages—offer curt consolation while staring aghast at his downsized life. “You seem to be … retreating,” his ex-wife remarks dryly. Like Noah in the ark, who had no need of a compass, he was “just trying to stay afloat … because the whole world was underwater and so it made no difference.” Then Liam stumbles upon Eunice, a young woman who works as a personal assistant and memory-jogger for an aging property developer. He feels drawn to her, hoping that her skills as a “rememberer” will help him repair this hole in his life. Yet while the details of the intruder incident stubbornly elude him, other memories, long suppressed, rise to the surface, and Liam realizes that while he thought he’d spent a lifetime achieving simplicity, he’d actually been majoring in avoidance. “Where’s the rest?” he asks. “Where’s everything else I’ve forgotten: my childhood and my youth, my first marriage and my second marriage and the growing up of my daughters?” With each consecutive novel, Tyler is stripping her work beyond the bone into the marrow. This won’t please those who like their prose garnished, but it will satisfy fans of translucency. Her sentences say what they mean, which leaves the reader hard-pressed to remember a single singing line but with a visceral understanding of her characters. Still, critics have often complained that her canvas is too small, her concerns too—cue the damning faint praise—domestic. “Women writers tend to be regarded with less seriousness than men, and that’s a shame,” she says. “I’ve always felt that I have an individual ‘glass ceiling’; I don’t write about the big issues, and I’m not even capable of it. So for me personally, the prejudice about women writers bears out.” It’s curious and touching that Tyler believes that she doesn’t write about “big” issues—and I’m sure she isn’t being coy—because Noah’s Compass proves she is anything but geographically dyslexic when it comes to illuminating our collective angst. Surely specificity of characterization firmly rooted in place is the only path toward a universal truth? The parable of Liam teaches us to stop fretting over the direction in which we’re headed, tear up the map, and be where we are—and then, and only then, set sail. If that’s not an issue worthy of literary attention, then we really are underwater.

It came from Planet Opera: The Opera Show is a modern mash-up of classical music, futuristic sets, and zany costumes.

t He at er

British Invasion

The Opera Show at the Lyric Opera House, Jan 21 With Baltimore’s grand opera company defunct, local music lovers are being offered an eclectic range of opera-esque entertainments—soprano Renée Fleming performed here solo last month; the Baltimore Opera Company presented its inaugural production, The Barber of Seville, in November to mixed reviews. Now, the weirdest yet: The Opera Show, a British mash-up of elaborate costumes, special effects, and operatic greatest hits. On a one-night stand in Baltimore this month—part of the North American leg of their international tour—The Opera Show‘s singers, dancers, and musicians will give a three-act history of the art form. The journey begins with songs from Mozart’s Magic Flute and Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas performed in director Mitch Sebastian’s vision of a baroque Italian garden. Act Two shifts to a workingclass household in 1940s Spain, where a family listens to Romantic-era arias (the toreador song from Carmen, “La Donna È Mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto) on the gramophone. In the last act, the mood again shifts; as the website puts it, it will be “as if the starship Rock and Roll landed on the planet Opera.” Bizarrely, the act includes the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” as well as such familiar arias as “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, set to digital orchestrations and performed by cast members dressed not unlike the New Wave band Devo (minus the headwear). It’s the kind of populist pastiche that opera purists might dismiss (or flee from in horror). U.K. reviewer Michael Davies complained that the director seemed unconvinced that “the arias are enough in themselves.” He ended by referencing the show’s global tour, wondering: “Goodness knows what the rest of the world will make of it.” Indeed, we shall see. —Martha Thomas For tickets to The Opera Show, call 410-547SEAT or go to

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urbanite january 10

the scene : januar y CLASSICAL MUSIC

Wonder Woman

On Jan 17, prolific and acclaimed twentysomething classical guitarist Ana Vidovic performs at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd. WBJC Program Director Jonathan Palevsky leads a pre-concert discussion. (410-685-4050;

Back to Basics

Celebrated pianist Emanuel Ax diverts from his usual focus on contemporary works to perform a program of Chopin and Schumann as part of the Shriver Hall Concert Series, held at Johns Hopkins University. Jan 31. (3400 N. Charles St.; 410-516-7164; NEW MUSIC

Signs and Sounds

New-music series Mobtown Modern tips its hat to the late Karlheinz Stockhausen, the musical theorist and electronic music composer. At the Jan 20 performance, dubbed Zodiacrobatic, series curators Brian Sacawa and Erik Spangler perform Stockhausen’s 12 Melodies of the Zodiac. At Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St. (http:// ROCK

Metal on Metal

The never-quite-made-it ’80s heavy-metal band Anvil—the subject of 2008’s documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil—tries again for stardom with a winter U.S. tour. They stop at Sonar Jan 14. (407 E. Saratoga St.; 410-783-7888; And if you’re in the mood for more headbanging, Bee Gees metal tribute band Tragedy play Rams Head Live on Jan 22 with Misstallica, an all-girl Metallica tribute band. (20 Market Place; 410-244-1131; www.

Sweet Sounds

Austin-based indie pop/rock four-piece The Sour Notes play Metro Gallery on a tour to hype their new album, It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty. Jan 7. (1700 N. Charles St.; http:// THEATER


Center Stage puts on a new adaptation of Cyrano, the late-19th-century play about a talented poet and musician who fears his large nose may scare away his true love. Jan 13–Feb 7. (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-3320033;


Let It Snow

Local aerialist Mara Neimanis (of Airheart fame) takes to the sky again with an adaptation of The Snow Queen, the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about good versus evil. Promised are floating ice castles, flying forest creatures—and the sly Snow Queen herself, of course, zooming around on her white sleigh. The play will be performed at MICA’s BBOX by both hearing and deaf actors. Jan 7–10 and 14–16. For tickets, call 410-800-8685 or go to www.brownpaper (1601 W. Mt. Royal Ave.; www.

and his years working in the construction industry. Through Jan 16. (1427 Light St.; 410-396-4641; DISCUSSION SERIES

Where We’ve Been

The Contemporary Museum kicks off Critical Perspectives, a series of discussions about the events, people, and movements that have impacted contemporary art over the last fifty years. The series begins Jan 26 and continues for six consecutive Tuesdays until March 9. At the Peabody Court Hotel, 612 Cathedral St. (410-783-5720;


American Opera Theater brings a cabaretstyle version of George Bizet’s mid-19thcentury opera Carmen to the Theatre Project. The audience will sit onstage and enjoy drinks and food as the “sultry and sexually ambiguous” Carmen and the other characters perform. Jan 21–24. (www. MUSICAL THEATER

Hometown Heroes

Tracy Turnblad, Edna, and Corny Collins are back—Hairspray, the Broadway musical based based on the campy 1988 John Waters film, stops at the Lyric Opera House on its U.S. tour. Jan 8–9. For tickets, call 410-547-SEAT. (140 W. Mt. Royal Ave.; PERFORMANCE

Off the Wall

Double Shot


Graduate graphic design students at Maryland Institute College of Art have two new complementary exhibitions up at Maryland Art Place. For Reinvent, three students plastered the interior hallway leading to MAP in cut-vinyl images from the urban and natural worlds. Inside the gallery is Instant Messages, a group show featuring posters, graffiti, interactive exhibits, and more that explore messages and symbols of modern culture. Reinvent will be up through Dec 2010; Instant Messages runs through Jan 9. (8 Market Place, Suite 100; 410-962-8565;

Road Show

At School 33 is Seen From Above, selections from Eric Garner’s urban landscape series, inspired by quilt and textile patterns

The Stuff of Life

With an Artistic Eye is a collection of items from the Maryland Historical Society’s collections that can be considered folk art—pieces from the 18th century to the present day, from cigar store Indians and children’s toys to weathervanes and furniture. Through June 30, 2010. (201 W. Monument St.; 410-685-3750; www. LITERARY

All Day Affair

Creative Alliance’s annual First Day poetry and performance bash is a five-hour extravaganza of local literary and musical talent. It’s free to attend; the hot brunch and drinks cost extra. Jan 1. (3134 Eastern Ave.; 410-276-1651;

On Jan 3, local performance artist Ric Royer is joined by members of the Buffalo, New York-based ensemble BuffFluxus for a night of “Fluxus, Dada, and other nonsenseinfluenced language performances.” At LOF/t (120 W. North Ave.; http://loadoffun. net/LoadofFun/TheLOFt.html)

The traveling exhibit From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden makes a stop at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. The show surveys more than thirty years of the late artist’s work, including the jazz-influenced, socially conscious prints and collages that he’s known for (such as the pictured plate from the series The Train). Jan 16–March 28. (830 E. Pratt St.; 443-263-1800; www.african Compiled by Marianne K. Amoss © Romare Bearden Foundation/licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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Edge City continued from page 53 The EBDI project, on 88 acres to the north of Johns Hopkins Hospital, involves the creation of a $1.8-billion planned community that includes a biotech park and other amenities. The project so far has involved acquiring 1,600 parcels of land and using eminent domain to relocate hundreds of families, a tactic that has caused considerable community backlash. The new housing is planned for three income brackets: market rate, workforce, and affordable. Getting the optimum balance is very delicate, Haskins observes. “If you lead with the market rate [housing], you get tagged as gentrifiers. But if there’s too much low-end, you can’t change the neighborhood dynamic. You have to lead with a stronger mix to offset what’s already there. You’ve got to disproportionately weight it to market rate.” Westport, with its “long history of not being desirable, needs to become an aspirational place to live,” he says. “The rest will fall into place.” Turner insists that Westport Waterfront will be a project with income levels that are “across the board,” even in the waterfront housing: “Every building will have some affordable housing in it. Nobody’s gonna know what the guy next door makes.” If that does indeed happen, CPHA’s Civin notes, it would be a first for Baltimore. “Walk around the harbor,” he says. “It’s hard to think of a recent prime waterfront development that has any affordable housing.”

Selling the neighborhood of Westport on

its own reinvention has so far proved to be an easier task than EBDI’s overseers have faced in East Baltimore. Turner first met with Westport residents in 2004, soon after he acquired the first property in his master plan. “We told people to stay in their homes,” he says. At the time, houses were selling for $8,000 to $12,000. “We said, ‘You’ve put up with this shitty neighborhood for most of your life, and speculators are going to come in and offer what seems like a huge amount for your home. Don’t sell.’” Before she met Turner, Deborah Guest had heard the buzz in the neighborhood. “People were saying this big developer was coming around and he was gonna take your house away,” she recalls. “But I didn’t see that. Nobody’s had their house taken away.” Linda Towe, who doesn’t live in Westport but volunteers for a community organization called Project T.O.O.U.R. (Teaching Our Own Understanding and Responsibility), has had more difficult relationships with the Turner camp. She complains that community demands for a traffic study haven’t been met and recalls fears that Turner planned to acquire homes along Wenburn Street, a major entry point to the waterfront site, by eminent domain. Losing their homes, she says, remains an “underlying concern” of many residents. Beth Strommen, currently the director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, was southern district community planner for the city planning commission at the time. One early planning option, she says, was to widen the residential Wenburn Street into a boulevard. After word got out, flyers were posted in the neighborhood warning of Turner’s alleged predation. The real fear, says Strommen, was of change. “People were wondering, ‘What’s going to happen to me when all this change occurs?’” As EBDI chair, Joe Haskins learned a few things about how a big development project can invite a ferocious backlash from existing residents. “Many low income communitites see ‘urban renewal’ as ‘urban removal.’ You have to work quickly to debunk that.” Toward that end, Turner hired a full-time community liaison, Bonnie Crockett, a former banking attorney who had worked as executive director of the Federal Hill Main Street program. Crockett, now director of

Westport Community Partnerships, has helped Turner disburse more than $250,000 to the neighborhood so far, funding football uniforms and tree plantings (in partnership with the Parks & People Foundation) and a high school scholarship program. He esablished a $50,000 fund to match homeowners’ façade improvements, up to $2,000 per property. So far, twenty residents have signed up. Turner’s involvement with Westport’s residents was key to selling the project to its first partner, Landex Corp., which recently signed a contract to build two hundred apartments—most luxury, with thirty low-income rentals—on about an acre, says Catherine Fennell, whose real estate consulting firm, Heatherbrook Development, is working with Landex. “Usually people wait until they have all their approvals before they start working with the community,” says Fennell, who was development director for the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development from 1994 until 2000. Turner started early. As a result, “the project will go more smoothly than it would if he’d come in and tried to ram it down their throats.” Fennell describes Turner as a “holistic developer”; Bonnie Crockett says he follows a sort of Hippocratic oath: “Do no harm.” Garth Rockcastle, dean of the University of Maryland School of Architecture, thinks that Turner’s concerns for the existing residents are authentic reflections of his own hardcrabble beginnings. “He identifies with his constituencies,” says Rockcastle, who has informally consulted with Turner on design elements. “He’s a self-made person and recognizes the potential in others.” Most developers, he adds, “would only do what they need to do, to get what they want.” In Westport, it’s an approach that has paid off. “There’s no opposition,” Turner says. It’s an exagerration, but not by much. “Even someone renovating a rowhouse has opposition. Everybody loves us. All the environmental groups. The city. The state. The neighborhood. We’re lifting them up.”

Like Pat Turner, Deborah Guest has

her own vision of a neighborhood transformed. It’s more modest than the fanciful second skyline of towers in Turner’s digital renderings. There will be jobs, and her three surviving kids might consider moving back to the neighborhood. The streets of Westport will be safer, so she won’t have to worry about her grandchildren. “I see families coming back together and the open air drug market leaving,” she says. She tells a story about the last time a big developer swept into her life. Back in 1984, she went to housing court because her landlord had refused to fix the furnace, the toilet, or the locks on the doors. One day she got a phone call from a housing advocate who told her that a man named Jim Rouse had set up a program to help people like Guest buy their own homes. “We were both crying,” Guest recalls. Rouse, the celebrated real estate titan who developed Harborplace and founded the planned community of Columbia, established the nonprofit Enterprise Foundation (now Enterprise Community Partners) in 1982 to encourage affordable housing. The foundation handed Guest a $16,000 loan, enough for her to buy the house on Maisel Street—the house she still owns, the house she plans to keep. “People see Pat Turner and think he’s gonna take and take and take,” Guest says. “But when I look at Pat Turner’s face, I see Mr. Jimmy.” ■

—Martha Thomas is a frequent Urbanite contributor.

On the air: More on this story on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on January 28.

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January 2010 Issue  

Ideas That Could Change The City, Westport On The Verge, Reinventing The Kids' Menu, Get Fit! Urbanite Wellness Guide

January 2010 Issue  

Ideas That Could Change The City, Westport On The Verge, Reinventing The Kids' Menu, Get Fit! Urbanite Wellness Guide