November 2010

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F A R M C I T Y R I S I N G ∙ L AT I N D A N C E E X P L O S I O N ∙ S E E K I N G A G R I T O P I A november 2010 issue no. 77


Andy Warhol. Self-Portrait. 1986. Mugrabi Collection. Š2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum. Generously sponsored by: The Rouse Company Foundation The Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Exhibition Endowment Fund Jeffrey and Harriet Legum Media sponsor City Paper

TICKETS ARTBMA.ORG/WARHOL Warhol_8x10_fullpage_Urbanite_Nov_final.indd 1

9/30/10 11:51 AM

WHAT do you call the youngest person ever to argue before the Supreme Court… a person who has a best-selling book written about them… an endowed professor at Harvard… a cutting-edge biomedical researcher… a leader of a Fortune 500 corporation… a director of a national arts festival… and an Emmy and a Pulitzer-Prize winner? At McDaniel College, we call them ALUMNI. Learn more and find out how we change lives. Go to

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Better ideas about medical care, better ideas about the patient experience, better ideas, period.

Introducing the new Patient Care Tower at Franklin Square. A lot of ideas went into our new Patient Care Tower at Franklin Square. Ideas from medical experts about delivering the absolute finest medical care. And ideas from the community about creating the absolute finest patient experience. After all, it’s not just about delivering superior health care, it’s about delivering superior patient care and service. That’s why we filled our new tower with hundreds of patient-centered touches. All rooms are private with plenty of space for family and friends, and designed for team-oriented care with the latest patient safety technology.

Plus, a new Emergency Department with a separate, special place for our pediatric patients. All inside an amazing facility with a soaring three-story atrium and lots of sunlight for a truly comfortable healing environment. The new Patient Care Tower at Franklin Square is a facility as advanced as See for yourself at the high-quality care found inside. Committed to better ideas.

Opening November 2010

We have all private rooms close to nurses stations with bedside technology, flat screen TVs and enough space for the family.

Our breathtaking lobby has banks of expansive windows and enough warm, cheery sunlight to help brighten everybody’s outlook.

Franklin Square is a proud member of MedStar Health.

The Emergency Department with nearly 100 rooms is designed for comfort, with walls, not curtains separating patients.

Kids have their own space in our Pediatric Inpatient & Emergency Department, and there’s plenty of room for family.

november 2010 issue no. 77

features 32


keynote: family of one

sociology professor kris marsh on the invisible black middle class inter view by greg hanscom


finding a home

in a city with 4,500 foster children, an effort to break the cycle by karen houppert


tending the family tree

i wanted to do right by my grandparents, who gave us opportunities they could not have imagined—but family and tradition tugged back. by shawn spence


the ties that bind

the varied faces of the modern family, through the lens of a baltimore photographer photography by jennifer bishop | text by greg hanscom


departments 9 13

what you’re saying


what you’re writing



editor’s note

family past, present, and future street art: for and against sibling rivalry: fact and fiction, competing for mom, and brotherly love


this month: talking about race, punkin chunkin, and a symphony of lights


the goods: cold-weather gear. plus: a handmade coffee cozy, a new corner store, and a charles village consignment shop


baltimore observed farm city

new city rules clear the way for an urban agriculture renaissance. by heather dewar

this month online at


baltimore’s health care facilities are in the midst of a building boom—and these places are built for healing.

resources: local latin dance outlets and meet-ups fresh content daily on food & drink, home & design, arts & culture, style & shopping, and green & sustainable

scope healthy by design

by amanda kolson hurley


space agents of change

a charles village couple puts their stamp on an old house—and the neighborhood itself. by marianne amoss

on the air:


farmers lure city folk with promises of pastoral bliss.

radio: urbanite on the marc steiner show, weaa 88.9 fm nov. 4: the adopt-a-lot program nov. 9: kris marsh on the black middle class nov. 22: comedienne shawn spence

by tracey middlekauff

reviewed: bluegrass tavern and soup’r natural

73 75 77

wine & sprits: how sweet it is


art/culture it takes two

the feed: this month in eating

in the quiet corners of baltimore, a more intimate latin dance

nov 5: malcolm gladwell (interviewed in the october issue) on the signal, wypr 88.1 fm on the cover: illustration by warren linn

eat/drink romancing the farm

by s i m o n p o l l o ck

plus: caleb stine’s new album, accidental death of an anarchist, and this month’s cultural highlights


eye to eye

urbanite’s creative director, alex castro, on photographer lynn silverman w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


issue 77: november 2010 publisher Tracy Ward creative director Alex Castro general manager Jean Meconi editor-in-chief Greg Hanscom managing editor Marianne K. Amoss assistant editor Carrie Lyle editor-at-large David Dudley online editors green/sustainable: Heather Dewar home/design: Brennen Jensen food/drink: Tracey Middlekauff arts/culture: Cara Ober literary editor Susan McCallum-Smith proofreader Robin T. Reid contributing writers Michael Anft, Scott Carlson, Charles Cohen, Michael Corbin, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Mat Edelson, Lionel Foster, Michelle Gienow, Clinton Macsherry, Richard O’Mara, Andrew Reiner, Martha Thomas, Michael Yockel, Mary K. Zajac editorial interns Juliette Eisner, Jennifer Walker art director Kim Michalov production manager Belle Gossett design manager Lisa Van Horn designer Kristian Bjørnard staff photographer J.M. Giordano production interns Ed Gallagher, Rachel Verhaaren senior account executives Catherine Bowen Susan Econ Susan R. Levy advertising sales/events coordinator Erin Albright advertising sales intern Shanisa Gardner bookkeeping/marketing assistant Iris Goldstein administrative assistant Shantez Evans founder Laurel Harris Durenberger Advertising/Editorial/Business Offi ces 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211 Phone: 410-243-2050; Fax: 410-243-2115 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. 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.



urbanite november 10

photo by Kenny Yee

photo by Antar Hanif

photo by Tracey Middlekauff

contributor s Gil Jawetz first fell in love with photography in a dank high school darkroom in New York. Since then he’s worked in fi lm, 3D video, graphic design, and multimedia. He was profi led in Urbanite in 2008 for his oil paintings of pets (“Must Love Dogs”), and his food photography can be seen regularly in Urbanite’s weekly Food/Drink e-zine and on the blog Tasty Trix, both penned by his wife, Tracey Middlekauff. His photos accompany “Romancing the Farm” (p. 69) in this issue. Shawn Spence, wife and mom of five, is a frequent commentator on the NPR talk show Tell Me More and a former parenting expert for Parent. com and bluesuit For this issue, she wrote about blazing her own path in raising her children (p. 42). Spence is currently a success coach and stand-up comedienne; she is married to previous Urbanite contributor Dr. Lester Spence. Follow her on Twitter (@sscomic) or Facebook (shawnmspence). After spending years asking other people for money as a nonprofit fundraiser, Jennifer Walker decided to dole some out herself: She enrolled in the master of arts in nonfiction writing program at Johns Hopkins University. When she’s not interning in Urbanite’s editorial department, she works as a consultant with a New York City nonprofit and a freelance writer with the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. In her free time, she provides culinary inspiration on her food blog, www.mymorningchocolate. com, and runs all over Baltimore with the nonprofit Back On My Feet. For this issue, she wrote about locally made coffee cozies (p. 21) and area hospital expansions (p. 56).

editor’s note

The American family has been through the wringer over the past few

decades. Back in the day, I’m told, kids would start lining up at the wedding chapel right out of high school, college, or the military, and, shortly thereafter, commence with the baby-making. With mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay, the man of the household was pretty well locked into working 9 to 5 for the foreseeable future, with weekends off to frolic with the wife and kids. Cue the Norman Rockwell paintings of mom, dad, son, daughter, and happy dog in the jalopy, headed for the beach. OK, it was never quite that idyllic, was it? Family has always been a messy affair. Despite that perky corncob pipe, dad was going bananas at that desk job; mom was squelching her own career ambitions, not to mention her crush on the family’s auto mechanic; little Johnny was secretly gay. Still, the American family had a steady rhythm, a paint-by-numbers formula that could be followed by anyone seeking the central path. But then something happened. A lot of things did, actually. For one thing, people stopped marrying so young. Women, with more career opportunities, didn’t feel the need to rush in; young people, jaded by a great overabundance of household-exploding divorces, opted to delay marriage or skip it altogether. Today, the typical man waits until he’s 28 to marry; the typical woman waits until she’s 26. This generation’s reticence to commit to a partner and a career led the New York Times magazine to run a cover story this summer titled “What Is It About 20Somethings?” The more generous onlookers have suggested that these years should be considered a new developmental stage, like adolescence, when people need time to soul-search and chart a path through life. Others see only moral depravity. The recession has thrown another spin into the mix. Thanks at least in part to changing economic fortunes, nationwide, one in ten children lives in a household with a grandparent, and many of them are being raised by that grandparent, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s a significant reversal in a society that for decades had put a premium on independence and nuclear-family households. In the inner city the forces of poverty have been at play for years, of course. The drug trade and its attendant addiction, killing, and incarceration has arguably laid waste to an entire generation of parents. So what does it mean to talk about family today? This is the question we set out to answer in this special issue of Urbanite, funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an institution that has poured substantial resources into solving the puzzles of inner city families in recent years. Our coverage begins with an interview with Kris Marsh, assistant sociology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, who talks about the impacts of changing family structure on the black middle class (p. 32). Next is “Finding a Home” (p. 36), a story from former Urbanite editor Karen Houppert about a groundbreaking new approach to caring for teenage mothers in the city’s foster care system. (The program is run by Casey.) In “Tending the Family Tree” (p. 42), local businesswoman, mother, and comedienne Shawn Spence tells of her struggle to balance motherhood with career. And in “The Ties That Bind” (p. 46), local photographer Jennifer Bishop offers a glimpse of the diversity of families that live in and around Baltimore. None of the families profi led in this issue would have found a place in Norman Rockwell’s world, but all have found strength and comfort in their ties to one another. And when we talk about family, that, I suppose, is ultimately what we mean. As always, we welcome your feedback and your own stories. To dive into the conversation, visit our newly redesigned website at

—Greg Hanscom

Who loves you? Coming Next Month: A conversation about “urban tribes” with author Ethan Watters w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


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Warm Welcome Glorious Music Tiffany Windows Historic mt. Vernon S u n d ay S ch ool Book Group interesting speakers Christmas Tower Recitals Wine & cHeese Opera Vivente Pancakes classes D u c h es s o f W i n d so r Iron Crow Theatre soaring spaces Community Grants Insightful, Thought-Provoking Preaching moVie group B ea u t i f u l Wed d i n g s Good Coffee Celebrate Scottish music and culture with the Kiltie Bank of York, St. Andrew’s Sunday, Nov. 28, 10:30 AM. All are welcome!

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urbanite november 10

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Gautier Capuçon, cello, and Gabriela Montero, piano November 14, 2010

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urbanite november 10

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what you’re saying


from the web

. 76 ue no 10 iss er 20 octob

birthday present Re: “The Oracle,” September: I just recently relocated to Baltimore and celebrated my birthday last week with an afternoon exploring downtown Baltimore. I stopped dead in my tracks when I came across the street art that appears on your cover and spent easily an hour taking pictures, wondering whose work this was. My heart and mind raced; I was at once disturbed and delighted. I could not believe my good luck for living in a city with such brilliance gracing the walls of otherwise destitute buildings. You can imagine my utter delight at finding a full article on this stellar artist in the pages of Urbanite. Gaia’s profoundly moving message speaks to our condition as a species and is a clarion call for us to reacquaint ourselves as responsible caretakers of the planet and to fi x what we have so carelessly destroyed, broken, and wasted. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

ct ion: Special Se er Ed re of High tu Fu e Th


s Baltimore’ impse of A stolen gl et artists, and re st e bl us invisi to tell ’re trying what they




city of the future Malcolm Gladwell’s observations and research (“Thinking Small,” October) causes many of us to reflect on the way in which we view community, ourselves, and success. An urban environment requires a commitment to small business as well as the support of the municipality. There is also a need for the creation of responsible citizens who share a common goal of building community through schools and citizenry. The younger generation can be offered an opportunity and the support to be creative and responsible. An inspired generation can develop a system of innovation in unrivaled goods and services creating the city of tomorrow. —Jennifer C. Warren, New York City




—Leasa Fortune, Baltimore

art or eyesore? As a long time city homeowner, I am trying to understand/appreciate your September article “The Oracle.” You have tried to assert a distinction between “street art and its cousin graffiti,” and I would like to believe that distinction makes a difference in aesthetic values. Long experience in the neighborhood, as well as a strong appreciation of the arts, still has inexorably led me to conclude that graffiti is not art, and certainly the narcissistic practice of “tagging” is not art. The vandalistic aspects of “street art” are still perplexing. I’m still trying to understand how a “work los[ing] its soul once the artist steps over the threshold of a gallery” justifies the slide into public vandalism. The argument hinging on “out-of-the-way spaces” seems more than a little sophistic. —David Phoebus, Butchers Hill

We want to hear what you’re saying. E-mail us at or send your letter to Mail, Urbanite, 2002 Clipper Park Road, Fourth Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

farewell, friend Re: “Memorial Flame” (Web-exclusive content): A respectful and touching article in tribute to John Gutierrez. —Philip Koch, Mount Washington local designs Re: “A Baltimore Fashion Debut” (Webexclusive content): [The new Form line] is an exquisite group of classic clothing with a slight edge—elegant, wearable, and memorable. This is a welcome addition to fashion scene in Baltimore. —Alexandra Deutsch, Bolton Hill street style Re: “Neon Neon” (on Urbanite’s fashion blog, Pop Flash!): Fabulous! I hope this is a regular feature. It shows the style that Baltimoreans have, creativity and originality—love it! —Danielle Shapiro, Otterbein

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Downtown Partnership of Baltimore


FEATURING MALCOLM GLADWELL Wednesday, November 17, 2010 Meyerhoff Symphony Hall 1212 Cathedral Street Registration & Networking — 5:00 PM – 7:00PM Program — 7:00 PM – 8:30PM JOIN US for one of the region’s biggest and most prestigious networking events, to celebrate the 2010 Downtown Baltimore Award Winners, and to hear from New Yorker columnist and best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell. His influential books The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference; Outliers: The Story of Success; and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking are must-reads and he will bring his gift for interpreting business and social trends to a Downtown audience for the first time.

“ The key to good decision making is not knowledge, it is understanding.”

Members $130 each. Non-members $175 each. Group discounts available.

—Malcolm Gladwell

To purchase tickets, call 410.244.1030 or visit LEADERSHIP SPONSORS






what you’re writing

Rivalry when my sister was 7, she locked herself in her bedroom and emerged later to announce that she had memorized, in order, the presidents of the United States, the First Ladies, and their pets. My mother and father beamed with pride. They were significantly less impressed when forced to dig slips of paper out of the heating vents: my attempts to converse with extraterrestrials through mailing elaborate letters torn from pages of my notebook through the HVAC system. Julia’s room was adorned with posters of the presidents; autobiographies, picture books, and historical fiction were stacked at the foot of her bed. Family trips were planned to visit Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Hyde Park. I endured these trips through the satisfaction of eyeing the fanny-packand-matching-T-shirt-clad families that accompanied us on the tours. I would drift away onto the grounds, silently describing my actions in the third person as though I were the heroine of my story—words I would later write down during the car ride home. Julia continued to wow teachers, family, and friends with her historical obsessions; after the presidents came Colonial

illustration by Natalie J. Clevinger


Williamsburg, the Titanic, and Chinese dynasties, and in her early teenage years, the Beatles. She pored over books, visited museums, and watched documentaries. While she craved information, facts, pictures, and video clips, all documented from events of the past, I immersed myself in worlds of my imagination where I did not have to learn history, but rather could create it on a fresh piece of paper. In my stories, I was in control of the elected leaders, civil wars, terrible shipwrecks, and extraterrestrial communications (normally not through the heating vents). I did not memorize facts; I wrote them down. In high school I would spend long hours attempting to memorize historical data, jealous that information did not collect in an orderly way in my head the way it did in hers. How could she breeze through a three-hundredpage textbook while I struggled to keep my eyes open after three sentences? One day, Julia came into my room and handed me a sheet of paper. “Write about a memorable family experience,” the assignment read. “I can’t think of anything exciting,” she complained. “We have no crazy, or funny, or weird family stories.” I almost laughed. “I can think of a million,” I said. For the next hour we sat together, and I turned our history into prose— not just dates, places, people and facts, but descriptions, dialogues and emotions. In this way my sister and I complete each other. She learns from what is created, and I create from what I’ve learned. —Charlotte Gauthier is enjoying her senior year of high school. In addition to writing, she collects thimbles and plays classical guitar. my older brother and I were born exactly four years and two days apart. My birthday falls two calendar days before his, and my mother baked one birthday cake for us to share. I preened over my big round cake, and my brother was stuck with half of a 2-day-old birthday cake. One up for me. Our father died unexpectedly when I was 10. The priests and nuns from our Catholic school were concerned about a fatherless 14-

year-old boy and counseled my mother to pay special attention to my brother. She went to work full time to support us, leaving him in charge. He tortured me in a hundred different ways, from holding my Barbie hostage to convincing me that a ghost lived in my closet. My mother came home too tired to listen to our bickering. Big brother pulls ahead. He grew out of the sister-torturing stage into the full rebellion of adolescence: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I followed a few years later. But where my brother’s blatant rebellion garnered much attention, I snuck around doing whatever I pleased. Bonus points for me, I thought. My brother married at 20, joined the Air Force, moved to Colorado, and was promptly busted for selling pot to a narc. When my mother found out about the bust, she called me at a party I was attending to tell me she had to pick me up immediately because something terrible had happened. I came out to the car reeking of weed and almost too high to comprehend what she was telling me. Once I understood, the irony of the situation was not lost on me. I was 16 and stoned out of my mind, and my mother was crying because my brother had been arrested for selling pot two thousand miles away. She did not notice my smoky clothes and hair or my bloodshot eyes. It was at this point that I realized everything I did was invisible to my mother’s eyes. Game over. —Catherine Maire is a graduate student in the University of Baltimore’s creative writing program. She spends her spare time encour aging her grown children to get over their embarrassment and read her blog, Adult On set Adolescence. Her favorite excuse is, “But it was the ’70s.” the shutter snapped, capturing the precise

moment I’d dumped 3-year-old Johnnie out of the rocking chair on Christmas morning so I could sit in it. In the photo, guilt, and maybe a little defiance, are clear on my face. Typical kid stuff—except sibling rivalry doesn’t begin to describe our relationship. My parents tried to enroll me in first grade when I was only 4. Johnnie was born severely developmentally disabled. I’ve joked that if we took the average of our IQs, we’d both be normal. Another scene from childhood: We were on vacation, and I was in the deep end of the motel pool. Suddenly my mom screamed, realizing that Johnnie was trying desperately to swim out to me. She made me come back to the shallow end. Other times I was asked to “tone it down” or “hold back a little” because it hurt Johnnie’s feelings when he couldn’t keep up

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urbanite november 10

with me. The message I internalized was that I made other people feel bad just by being me. It took years of therapy to overcome that—OK, that’s a joke. I never overcame it. Every part of my life has been informed by having Johnnie as a brother: where I live, where I went to college, decisions about marriage and kids. I even chose a technical career, anticipating the day when I would be caring for John full time. Working from home seemed the best way to manage that. Eventually that is exactly what happened and what I did. With free time on my hands I began volunteering. I became a foster parent and ultimately adopted a beautiful daughter. People were surprised that I “took all that on” when I already had Johnnie to care for, but it was precisely because of Johnnie that my life went in the directions it did. A scene from today: “John, guess what! We are going to the ocean next week—doesn’t that sound great?” His response? “Did you forget to get salt at the store?” John’s agenda is John’s agenda, and he will not be moved. He can try my patience and push my buttons like no one else. It infuriates me that he is oblivious to how he drives me crazy. It breaks my heart that he can’t really understand how much I love him, and how much I owe him for becoming who I am. ■ —Sue Walsh is busy in the country with family, pets, and her day job. Writing takes a backseat to all the things competing for her attention, and she struggles to figure out what will make her feel like a “real” writer who can give her craft higher priority.

“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@urbanite 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.

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urbanite november 10


Talking About Race: Truth & Reconciliation

Nov. 4, 7 p.m.

In November 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party killed five anti-Klan demonstrators and wounded ten others in Greensboro, North Carolina. As part of Open Society InstituteBaltimore’s “Talking About Race” series, three residents of Greensboro—including Rev. Nelson Johnson, who was injured in the incident—will discuss the lessons learned from the incident and how they might be applied to Baltimore.

Enoch Pratt Free Library 400 Cathedral St. Free 410-234-1091

World Championship Punkin Chunkin

Nov. 5–7

It all began back in 1989: “It was the end of October, the beginning of November. / The air was cold and clear and I said, Boys listen here, / I think I can make a punkin fly …” Again this year in Newark, Delaware, folks compete to see who can launch a pumpkin the farthest from a catapult, trebuchet, or other contraption. Registration for this year’s contest is closed, but you can still go and watch the fun; on-site camping is available, plus live music and food and drink vendors.

www.punkinchunkin. com

Post-Election Discussion at UMBC

Nov. 16, 1 p.m.

Ballots will be cast across the country on November 2. But what does it all mean? As part of its Social Sciences Forum, the University of Maryland Baltimore County hosts a panel of local political junkies that will analyze the results of the mid-term elections.

UMBC 1000 Hilltop Circle Free 410-455-2916

Symphony of Lights

Nov. 20–Jan. 2

The seventeenth annual Symphony of Lights is a festive display of more than seventy twinkling figures, including snowmen, toymaking elves, and Santa Claus with his reindeer. Walk or drive through the displays (see website for admission fees) or go for one of the special events, like the Dazzle Dash kick-off weekend or New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Proceeds benefit Howard County General Hospital.

Symphony Woods, Columbia 5950 Symphony Woods Rd. 410-740-7840 symphonyofl ights

Chrysanthemum Show

Through Nov. 21

This year, the chrysanthemum show at the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park goes medieval with a theme of “Mums, Mischief, and Merriment.” Forty-odd varieties of colorful mums will be displayed through mid-month.

3100 Swan Dr. in Druid Hill Park 410-396-0008

Odyssey’s Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure

Through Jan. 31

Aaaarrgh, matey! The Maryland Science Center’s new exhibit, Odyssey’s Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure, features a bevy of handson activities and games that teach pirate facts and legends. Visitors can check out real artifacts discovered by deep-ocean shipwreck exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration—from coins and bottles to pieces of ships and personal items.

Maryland Science Center 601 Light St. 410-685-2370 Shipwreck.html

Photo credits from top to bottom: courtesy of Open Society Institute-Baltimore; courtesy of World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association; © Pgangler |; courtesy of Howard Hospital Foundation; © Cmoulton |; courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration

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urbanite november 10

Cozy Creatures

photo by Rachel Verhaaren

“People really get a kick out of choosing what face they will put on their coffee cup,” says Danamarie Hosler, creator of the Knitimal coffee cozy. Made from felt leftovers from Hosler’s Minimal dolls—her twist on the stuffed animal—each cozy is a one-of-a-kind creature with eyes and a nose. Hosler first dreamed up the whimsical creatures that inspire her Minimals and cozies when she was studying children’s illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art; now, in addition to her existing lines, she also does commissions. The cozies are both adorable and environmentally friendly: They fit a standard paper coffee cup, eliminating the need for throwaway paper sleeves. Available for $15 from the Woman’s Industrial Exchange (333 N. Charles St.; 410-685-4388; www.womansindustrialexchange. org) and Hosler’s Etsy page ( —Jennifer Walker

Safety First

photo by Tasty Trix

Think that the decreased hours of daylight gets you off the workout hook? No way. The Brooks Nightlife Hat, at City Sports in Harbor East (809 Aliceanna St.; 410-837-4420;, can keep runners and walkers dry and safe in the dark. The wide strip of reflective material glows when light hits it; there’s also a flashing LED light on the back of the hat for extra visibility. No more excuses—at least until the snowstorms start. —Marianne Amoss

courtesy of

Bake Time

Looking to use up the last of the autumn farmers market bounty? Throw it all in a pan—a classic fl uted tart pan from WilliamsSonoma, that is. The nonstick pan has a removable bottom, which makes it easier to get the tart out of the pan. Urbanite online food/ drink editor Tracey Middlekauff uses the 9 ½-inch pan for both savory and sweet tarts, from broccoli and cheese to fig (pictured); a variety of other sizes are available in the Cross Keys store (70 Village Square; 410-435-6020; For recipes and more of Middlekauff’s food and drink coverage, sign up for the weekly Food/Drink e-zine at


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The Avenue. Extended. A neighborhood favorite for almost 40 years, the Rotunda continues in its tradition of convenience and service. Where else can you grab a quick bite, then dash around (on one single level!) satisfying all your weekly errands? Before you’re done, indulge in some YOU time: a few cute fashion accessories, the latest NYT best seller, a cool cut and blow-out for that movie date later. And you only had to look for parking ONCE!














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Bundle Up

One of the best things about fall: Scarves! Ten Thousand Villages in Fells Point (1621 Thames St.; 410-342-5568; www. carries a variety of handmade scarves in a host of vibrant shades, from sea-foam green to soft brown to bright blue. The Jacquard Blocks Scarf echoes the colors of the turning leaves in its burgundy and gold hues and is made of silky viscose, a rayon-like fabric. Ten Thousand Villages deals only in fair-trade items made by people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America; an artisan in India made this particular scarf.

—M.A. photo by J.M. Giordano

Second Time’s the Charm

Lower Charles Village has a new consignment shop—Too Good to Be Thru (2123 N. Charles St.; 410-400-3223; opened up in September, selling brand-name and designer women’s clothing, shoes, purses, and more. The owner, Pam Corkran, grew up in the area, moving to the 2100 block of North Calvert Street in 1968. A longtime foster mom and veteran of the nonprofit world and court system—she has a master’s degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s in legal justice—Corkran is hoping her selection of clothes will appeal to everyone who passes through the neighborhood, from college students to professionals; prices range from $4 to upwards of $200. “You can buy good things for less money and still be in style,” she says.

photo by Rachel Verhaaren


photo by Rachel Verhaaren

Eat Local

Dana Valery’s approach to food is written all over the charcuterie station in her new Mount Vernon store, Milk & Honey Market (816 Cathedral St.; 410-685-6455; www. Because she believes in supporting local growers and chefs, the pates are made in Maryland. But she also wants to serve high-quality products—thus the prosciutto di parma, a ham made only in Italy. When open, in late October or early this month, the specialty store—a joint project of Valery, her husband, and two friends who own a sister store in Philadelphia—will be stocked with basics like produce, milk, and pantry items, as well as a selection of cheeses that Top Chef alum and Vino Rosina chef Jesse Sandlin is helping choose. Also planned is a cafe that serves coffee, sandwiches, and smoothies. “I really like the idea of being a corner store,” Valery says.

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Harvest time: Seventy-year-old Lewis Sharpe manages the Duncan Street Miracle Garden.

Farm City

New city rules clear the way for an urban agricultural renaissance. by heather dewar

photograph by j.m. giordano


t is late September in the Duncan Street Miracle Garden, down an alley a quarter-block off North Avenue in East Baltimore, and summer’s racing pulse is slowing down. The peaches, plums, figs, strawberries, and blackberries have all been picked. Tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, sweet peppers, and watermelons are bearing their last stragglers. Only a few ears of seed corn remain on dried-out cornstalks that tower over the garden’s six-foot fence. A few huge pumpkins still cling to the vine, waiting to become jumbo jack-o-lanterns for neighborhood kids. The men, women, and children who tend the eighteen plots in this hidden garden have planted their fall crops early—long rows of chard, kale, and collards; carrots, beets, and turnips; potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and late melons; parsley, sage, and other herbs. Meanwhile, apples and grapes ripen on trees and vines planted years ago.

—Heather Dewar produces Urbanite’s weekly Green/Sustainable e-zine. To subscribe, go to, or sign up for all of our e-zines by texting “Urbanite” to 77007. On the Air: A discussion of the adopt-alot program on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on November 4

UrBanite OnLine

baltimore observed A sampler of the fresh, Web-exclusive content posted every day at Feast Your Eyes F R OM A R T S / C ULT UR E Creative Alliance’s Art to Dine For series combines great food, new friends, and art.

photo by Gil Jawetz

provide fresh healthy food in “food deserts.” By replacing concrete or trash-strewn lots with green space, the crops help reduce air and water pollution and mitigate the city’s urban heat island effect. Community gardens can also build a sense of community and improve inner city neighborhoods’ quality of life. “Urban agriculture can transform health in cities, and that’s what we’re interested in,” says Holly Freishtat, Baltimore’s food policy director. “We’re interested in the intersection of health, the environment, and the economy.” The Duncan Street garden has not transformed the surrounding neighborhood, which remains plagued by poverty, crime, and drugs. But it has created an island of peace. The garden was conceived at the Pharaoh’s Assentive Community Association, a social club on the corner of North and Collington avenues where neighborhood men held fish fries, played cards, and hoisted drinks. After the city tore down the houses on the 1800 block of Duncan Street in the mid-1980s, the vacant lots became fi lthy, crime-infested junkyards. Five men, most of them Southerners who migrated to Baltimore for jobs at the Sparrows Point steel mill, decided to transform the block-long dump into a garden. “It took about six months to clear the lot,” says George Howard, now 66. The garden’s founders picked Sharpe to manage the place. He scrounged up donations for a fence and gate, built raised beds held in place by brightly painted planks, and installed picnic tables and porta-potties. Not content to feed residents’ hunger for food alone, Sharpe decided to satisfy their appetite for beauty too. He planted rose bushes and shade trees, softened the harsh lines of the fence with morning glories, and spaced sunflowers every few feet around the perimeter to attract birds. So far, Baltimore Green Space has preserved two community gathering spots under the dollar lot program—the Duncan Street Miracle Garden and a horseshoe pit that Pigtown residents have used for years. “This was a total dumping ground,” Avins marvels, referring to the Duncan Street garden. “And now people will garden there at all hours. They feel safe there. It’s like the people’s caring, the people’s presence, stays even when they’re not there.” ■

Whiskey A Go-Go F R OM F OOD / DR INK Here’s what you need to know to enjoy liquor with depth and complexity this fall. Mad Men Style F R OM HOME / DE SIGN Don Draper would approve of this Catonsville store’s mid-century modern look. The Beautiful People from st Y L E / SHOPPING Urbanite street style photographer J.M. Giordano catches mods, artists, and gallery types dressed for the cool weather.

photo by Alan Gilbert

Chefs would pay dearly for the heirloom produce behind the padlocked iron gate. But the Miracle Garden’s cornucopia is not for sale. “We bag it up and give it to the churches and the soup kitchens,” says Lewis Sharpe, the 70-year-old garden manager. When hungry neighbors come to the gate, he offers up some of the bounty. “I say, ‘God blessed me; let me bless somebody else.’” A community garden has stood on the 1800 block of Duncan Street, occupying fortyfour lots where row houses once stood, for the last twenty-two years. For twenty-one of them the gardeners were essentially squatters on city-owned land, using the land with the city’s blessing but vulnerable to eviction. But under a new city initiative informally known as “the dollar lot program,” the garden has permanent standing at last. Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a policy last December allowing community groups that have been using a plot of cityowned land for five years or more to lay claim to it. Under the policy, administered by the Planning Department and the Department of Housing and Community Development, the city does not sell the land directly to the community group; it sells the land for $1 per lot to a land trust, which in turn draws up an agreement allowing the group to use it for free. The Duncan Street garden is now owned by Baltimore Green Space, a nonprofit land trust started by community garden advocate Miriam Avins during the eighteen months she spent as a fellow with Open Society Institute-Baltimore. “The goal is to transform vacant lands into assets and to make preservation affordable for the community,” Avins says. The dollar lot program is the first of a series of planned changes to city laws and policies designed to help Baltimoreans turn abandoned city lots into community gardens and even full-fledged farms. The current zoning code, written in 1971, allows people to grow produce for their own use and to share it with their neighbors. But it prohibits farming, which unlike community gardening is a moneymaking enterprise, in all but a few districts. And farm stands are illegal for both types of growers. A proposed rewrite of the city zoning code, slated to come before the city council next year, would allow farming without a special permit in some business districts, according to the planning department’s Laurie Feinberg, project manager for the zoning code rewrite. The city is also working on a plan to rent some vacant cityowned lots to farmers who agree to sell some of their produce in the neighborhood where it is grown. When vacant urban land becomes cropland, the city benefits in several ways. The farms and gardens can create jobs and

Nature Speaks F R OM GR E E N / SUS TA IN A BL E Nature and history have stories to tell in 150-year-old Druid Hill Park.

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Family of One Sociology professor Kris Marsh on living alone and the invisible black middle class interview by greg hanscom photo by marshall clarke



or the last three decades, Census numbers have shown that middle class African American households are on the decline. News stories have told the stories of black kids “falling down the economic ladder”—victims of having few economic and social connections outside of their own segregated communities or being lured by the glamorized “thug life.” While there is truth to these tales, it took a single, 30-something post-doctoral scholar, and a handful of colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and the University of Southern California, to recognize that reports of the death of the black middle class are greatly exaggerated. In 2007, Kris Marsh, who is now an assistant sociology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, was the lead author of a paper called “The Emerging Black Middle Class.” Her contention: The black middle class isn’t disappearing; it just looks different than it used to. It looks, in fact, a lot like her. Marsh talked to Urbanite about what she’s found and why it has profound implications for both the African American community and the way we as a society think about family.


What has your research unearthed?

A lot of scholars are suggesting that the black middle class is declining. Part of the reason is because we know that people aren’t marrying as much as they used to. For all racial and ethnic groups, marriage rates have declined, but that decline is more pronounced among black households. Some scholars suggest that once you marry, it catapults you into middle class. It’s dual incomes versus a single earner. So there’s this assumption that with the decline in marriage, there will be a decline in middle class.

I’m suggesting that maybe the black middle class isn’t decreasing—it’s just shifting. There’s a compositional shift away from married couples to young black professionals who aren’t married and don’t have any children. I’ve looked at Census data from 1970 until 2000. It is true that black middle class families have declined from one decade to the next. But the single and living alone households—we’re calling them SALAs—who are in the middle class have in fact increased from one decade to the next. When you look at data from 2000, we find that the single and living alone households make up the second largest share of households who comprise the black middle class.


What has the reaction been to your fi ndings?

Overall the reaction has been extremely positive. But when I talk about my research, the first thing that typically I get from people is, “Oh, this must be black women that are single and living alone.” And I’m saying, no, black women do dominate the category, but there are both men and women in the category. Some people suggest that my research is anti-marriage. By no means am I anti-marriage. I’m just simply suggesting that if you’re thinking about marriage as an avenue

or a catalyst into the middle class, there’s other ways of getting there, and here’s a group that is clearly doing it in a different way. These people are innovative; they’ve got this Plan B that they’re executing, and they are becoming members of the black middle class.


Why are these people opting against marriage and a traditional family?

I don’t spend a lot of time trying to understand why people aren’t marrying as much as they used to. But the research gives us a lot of different theories. Some theories have to do with a sex ratio imbalance. There are clearly more marriageable women than there are men. Some theories propose that it’s labor force participation and economic independence—as more women are making incomes that are almost on par with men, there’s less of a likelihood that they are choosing to marry. There’s a lot of theories out there. I don’t want to speculate on which theory holds more weight than the other. I spend more time on consequences.


The fact that there are more marriageable women than men—is this more pronounced in the African American community?


That sex ratio imbalance more so relates to blacks. Incarceration could be a part of that. Sexual orientation could also be a part of that.


So what are the implications of this shift toward remaining single and living alone?

When I talk about middle class, I’m talking about those who are college educated; they have incomes and occupations that are above the average for all black households; and they are also homeowners. It becomes a really interesting question: If the second-largest share of black middle class households are single and living alone, who exactly are they going to transfer their wealth to? We think about how middle class [status] is transferred from one generation to the next. But if in these households, there are no children, who are they going to transfer their wealth to? It’s a concern because the middle class is not replicating itself.


Do you have a sense for where that wealth may go?

If we look at the black family, there’s this notion about extended kin networks. The extended kinship network is across the board for all racial and ethnic groups, but for blacks in particular there is a sense of social obligation to a larger black family as well as a larger black community, partly because you do have a lot of blacks that are

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keynote poor. When some blacks “make it,” there is a social and personal obligation to give back to a greater black community. If you can’t transfer your wealth to your child, you’ll transfer it to the larger black community, to the larger family. You’ll transfer it to a niece or a nephew or a godson or a goddaughter, or maybe even to a sibling. It’s a different way of thinking about it. You have to get creative about it. It becomes very innovative. You have to say, OK, because I don’t have a child of my own, maybe I’m going to give [my wealth] to this child who comes from a generation of poverty and maybe help them and catapult them into the middle class.


What other implications does this trend have for the black middle class?

Another area of research that I’m passionate about is the whole notion of racial residential segregation. I’ve done some work with a colleague from Penn State, John Iceland. We have an article that just came out earlier this year, looking at residential segregation patterns among the SALA category. We’re finding that besides finding avenues into the middle class, these SALA households are decreasing levels of segregation among racial and ethnic groups. They’re more likely to integrate with other racial and ethnic groups based on their household types. Again it makes them a really interesting group, because we know from the segregation literature that white married households and black married households are highly segregated from each other.


What ties these people into their communities and provides the support structure that a family would otherwise provide?


These SALA households have really strong friend networks. If you can’t go traveling with your husband for the summer, or your partner, you can still go traveling with your girlfriend. You have the friendships that sustain you while you’re living alone. Even from an economic or resourceful perspective, there’s also a group of professionals who will choose to pool their resources and buy a house. There’s no kind of romantic relationship between the two of them. They’re just two professionals, and they’re saying, let’s start accumulating some wealth and buy some property. That’s something we’re going to start seeing more and more.


I’ve been reading lately about 20- and 30-somethings moving back in with their parents, which is partly a result of the economic downturn but is also a generational thing. Young people are taking longer to commit to a partner and a career.


I can hear those parents saying, “Maybe if you didn’t spend so much time with your friends, maybe you could find yourself a partner. You should spend less time with all those friends you have and find

yourself a mate, so that you don’t have to come back home and stay in your childhood room for a couple of months while you get yourself together.”


You say these things as one who perhaps has heard similar stories from her parents.

I, too, am single and living alone. Yes. And I just bought a house in August of 2009. So what happened?

Once I got busy with school, school kind of took priority. And because of that I looked up and said, “Wow, I’m 37 now. I’m out of school. I’m an assistant professor.” I looked up and said, “Oh my gosh, I’m a SALA.” I am going to Spain [this] month with a friend of mine. We’ve been friends for twenty years. She’s not married, doesn’t have any children. I’m not married, don’t have any children. We’ve always wanted to go to Spain. They just won the World Cup. So we’re going.


What do your parents think of all this? My parents beg for grandchildren. Do you think you’ll stay a SALA?

I’m not sure. I’m definitely open to changing my category. [laughs] I’m definitely open to checking a different box.

But this SALA category is not a temporary category. This is actually a category that people are residing in. They are not marrying later in life. So when you think about [Census] categories, you have single, married, divorced, widowed, separated—there is this new category that we need to start thinking about. Our data suggests that it is a category that definitely is permanent, not transitional. On a personal note, If you’re talking about these SALA households, in the Census data they typically don’t show up as a family. They show up as a household. Why can’t we be a family of one? This suggests that if you’re living alone, you’re not a family. I’m saying, you’re a family— you’re just a family of one. This is a destination for some folks. Either by force or by choice, this is permanent. ■ On the Air: An interview with Kris Marsh on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA FM 88.9, on November 9

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In a city with 4,500 foster children, an effort to break the cycle

finding a

HOME Tellita Crawford was 17 years old and eight months pregnant when she walked into Baltimore’s Casey Family Services a year ago needing help— in a big way. Tellita hadn’t lived with her parents since she was a year and a half old. “My mom and dad was having, like, drug problems or whatever, so social services came and picked up me and my brother,” Tellita says. After that, she says, she “lived with an aunt for a few years, my grandma for a few years, a bunch of foster homes for a few years.” When her last foster mom found out that Tellita was pregnant, she wanted the girl out. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Tellita says, recalling her desperation last year. She already felt like nobody wanted her; who was going to want her plus a baby? That’s when Tellita’s social worker referred her to Casey, which began a new program in the city three years ago to help pregnant and parenting teens in foster care. The program, which currently serves twenty-three Baltimore City kids, pairs these girls with a special foster family—one that is willing to take in both a teenager

Khamel and his mother’s foster mom, Lillian Warren

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Khamel and his mother, Tellita Crawford

and her baby. It also trains and supports the foster parent, provides weekly home visits to counsel the teen and foster parents, gets the girl into parenting classes, and helps set up day care for the baby so the mother can finish high school or get her GED and a job. From the beginning, Tellita says, this foster care setup felt different. First, when she showed up for an interview at Casey Family Services, she was surprised to be questioned about what kind of family she was looking for. (Casey Family Services is an agency of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which provided funding for this issue.) Tellita was used to people telling her where she was going; no one had ever asked her where she wanted to live. Tellita looked through a book of potential foster families and put Lillian Warren, 31, her partner, Demar Branham, 31, and Branham’s daughter, Ziaya, at the top of her list. Most of the foster parents tend to be single women between 35 and 55. “But I liked that this was a family with a mom and a dad and a little girl,” Tellita says. “And they weren’t old.” A week later, Lillian and Demar went to the Casey offices to meet Tellita. With the help of a social worker, they got to know each other a little. And while none of them remembers the exact trajectory of that initial conversation, Tellita recalls the detail that cinched the deal for her: “They asked me what color I wanted to paint my bedroom, and that felt like something, well, like, something maybe a family would do?” The observation slides into a question; family is a word she is still learning to define. In this sense, Tellita is typical of many of the city’s 4,490 foster children—and of the 800,000 foster children across the country— who are likely to spend much of their lives bouncing from home


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to home in search of a permanent family. But in Tellita’s case, there has been a new commitment to breaking the cycle of home rotations—and to preventing her baby from landing in foster care. It has been exactly one year since Tellita moved in with Lillian and Demar—a lifetime in her eyes, figuratively speaking, and quite literally a lifetime for her now 11-month-old baby. “It feels like a family might,” Tellita says, hopefully. The Casey program, which currently serves twenty-three of Baltimore’s pregnant or parenting teens in foster care, is a smallscale attempt to address what experts across the nation are now recognizing as a seriously flawed foster care system. For more than a decade, data have been piling up proving just how bad foster care is for kids—and how shuffling through multiple placements exacerbates the problem. According to University of Chicago researcher Mark Courtney, teens aging out of foster care face rough odds: Nationally, they are less likely to graduate from high school, go to college, or have a job and are more likely to commit crimes or wind up pregnant—nearly half of the young women have been pregnant by age 19, twice as many as their peers. (And this is not an applesand-oranges comparison of foster kids to middle class kids; he compared the children with other disadvantaged youth.) One of the largest studies, funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted by MIT professor Joseph Doyle in 2007, compared the fate of 15,000 Illinois foster kids with an even closer group: kids whose parents had been investigated for abuse or neglect but were left with their birth families. Surprisingly, he found that kids left with their own families did better by almost every marker: They were less likely to drop out of school, get pregnant, commit crimes, or land on welfare.

Demar Branham and his daughter, Ziaya

On the heels of these studies, child welfare advocates are working to reform the foster care system so it works better. But Richard Wexler, director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, describes these efforts by invoking John Yossarian, the protagonist in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, who struggles valiantly to staunch the blood flowing from his fellow soldier’s leg while oblivious to the gaping chest wound that is killing him. Wexler says folks are focused on the wrong thing—trying to fix foster care—instead of working to keep kids out of the system in the first place. Wexler points out that the problems are poverty-related. But the solutions rarely address this. Three different studies since 1996 have shown that 30 percent of America’s foster children could be safely kept in their homes if their birth parents had safe, affordable housing. Further, a 1987 Child Welfare League of America study of “lack of supervision” cases in New York City found that in 52 percent of the cases, parents simply lacked adequate day care or babysitting services. Misaligned financial incentives only contribute to the problem, Wexler says, insisting that the federal government is throwing money at foster care when it should be funding the programs that help troubled families solve problems such as unemployment, addiction, homelessness, poverty, and lack of good, affordable day care. “The federal government pays vastly more to put kids in foster care than to try to keep them out,” Wexler says. He points out that Pennsylvania counties, for example, get about 85 cents back from the state and federal government for every dollar they spend on foster care. They get only a fraction of that amount to help pay for prevention or family preservation services. Baltimore, for its part, has an especially troubled history with

foster care. In 1984, child advocates filed a class action lawsuit against Maryland’s Department of Human Services on behalf of foster children in the city’s care. The plaintiffs described systemic abuses and cited a random study of 149 cases that showed 25 percent of children in the city’s care were likely to have been mistreated while in foster care. Plaintiffs also documented problems ranging from inadequate foster-care payments and health care for kids in the system to infrequent caseworker visits and lack of training for foster parents. In 1988, the class claims were settled, and the court issued a consent decree, meaning the city was required to rectify the situation, but plaintiffs have continued to have trouble bringing the city into line. There has been progress in recent years, however. Under the leadership of director Molly McGrath, Baltimore’s Department of Social Services (DSS) agreed to comply with a court decision last year that mandates a series of improvements that will radically reform the system. McGrath, who took the reins of the department in 2007 and has forthrightly acknowledged a troubled foster care system, has set about addressing a slew of issues, from getting basic computers for social workers to lowering the caseload. “We decided we would do two things differently from the leadership before,” McGrath says. “First, we understand that foster care is not the solution to every problem a kid is having.” McGrath says she is committed to keeping kids safe, but she is not as quick as her predecessors to put kids into foster care or group homes. “And second, if kids are going to be in foster care, I want them to be there as briefly as possible.” The goals are reunification, adoption or, at the very least, long-term guardianship, McGrath says. In the three years she’s w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


Lillian and Khamel

held the job, the department’s entire caseload has been reduced by 28 percent, from 6,300 kids in the system in 2007 to 4,490 today. Adoptions have increased by 59 percent. McGrath has also been steadily moving kids out of group homes and into family settings, reducing the number of children in group homes by 71 percent since 2007. While she worried about how the economy would impact the numbers of kids in foster care—any time the economy plummets, she says, foster care numbers tend to increase—Baltimore has thus far been successful in keeping its numbers flat. Still, there are more children in foster care here per capita compared with similar urban areas. “This keeps me up at night,” McGrath says. She worries constantly about how Baltimoreans could “engage with the families near us so that we can know when they are in trouble and provide help sooner.” McGrath notes that the city’s foster care population has changed a lot in the last fifteen years, with older kids now dominating the system. Fifty-seven percent of the children in DSS custody today are older than 12 and 25 percent are older than 17—and some of them have been in foster care their whole lives. “Adolescents have to learn stuff that you and I learned at home with our parents—how to grocery shop, pay the BGE bill, clean the kitchen, scrub a counter. It takes conscious work to get them financially literate, teach them about signing a lease, taking care of a house, staying on track with a job or education. “We all want to do the right thing for families; we just don’t know which door to knock on first,” McGrath says, explaining the challenges of foster care and foster-care prevention. Being attentive to the distress signals that families send out can lead to early intervention—and stave off the need for foster care altogether, McGrath insists. “If a 16-year-old doesn’t go to school regularly,


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they’re making a choice,” she says. “But if a first-grader doesn’t go to school, she is telling us that there is a problem at home. It doesn’t always automatically mean that the problem is abuse or neglect.” Sometimes a sibling’s day care fell through; sometimes a car broke down; sometimes mom is lonely or depressed. “The question is, how do we get to those families and provide support and get them connected to communities and services so they don’t start sliding down that slippery slope?” But McGrath’s vision requires a seismic change in the way social service agencies deal with children, and is dependent on collaboration and cooperation among disparate city agencies. Baltimore is famously bad at this. “Baltimore is coming along, but we still have a long way to go in terms of working well with all the local agencies,” says Shantel Randolph, director of youth advocacy for the nonprofit Maryland Foster Youth Resource Center. Randolph, who works mostly with teens and young adults, is optimistic about a new initiative that actually maps out benchmarks for the various child welfare agencies when it comes to providing concrete life skills for youth, like making sure they have a learner’s driving permit by the time they are 16 or have opened a bank account by 18. Being accountable in this way should help make sure youth are ready for independent living when they age out at 21, she says. Baltimore also needs better follow-up, she insists. “We need a better tracking system for youth who leave care to make sure that they have enough resources to be self-sufficient, that they have savings, that they have a job with health benefits.” As for teens like Tellita, McGrath knows the odds. “It hard to be a teen in America. It’s harder to be a teen mom. And it’s a bear to be a teen mom in foster care,” she says. Teens in this country

Demar, Khamel, and Ziaya

that succeed do so because they have support. “That’s what I love about [the Casey] program. It allows the teen mom to be in foster care where, best-case scenario, the foster mom says, ‘Let me show you how to burp a baby, shop for onesies, talk to you about that rash to see whether we just need to buy some diaper cream or call the doctor,’” she says. “That’s how most people who are successfully raising babies do it. They have people in their lives who have done it before and can give them pointers.” On a warm September evening, Tellita sits in the living room of her foster family’s home in Baltimore’s Chinquapin ParkBelvedere neighborhood, happily surrounded by her baby, Khamel; her foster parents, Lillian and Demar; and Demar’s 11-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Ziaya. It has been more than a year since Tellita moved in, and while this blended family has had its ups and downs, it’s clear Tellita feels she is a part of it. The beginning was a bit rocky; Tellita held back. “When I first came here, I just stayed in my room,” Tellita says. “I felt like, this is just another home. I was only staying here ’til I could get into independent living. I didn’t expect to have an ongoing relationship with them.” But Lillian and Demar would have none of it. They regularly coaxed her from her upstairs bedroom to gather for dinner with the family around the table and to join them on multiple runs to Walmart and Target to decorate her room or for baby supplies in preparation for Khamel’s arrival. As foster parents, they were young and brand-new to the job, but they had some of their own experiences to draw on. Lillian and Demar both had rough childhoods. Demar says he lost brothers to the streets and describes the father who raised him

as a “rolling stone” who regularly moved his children around the city in search of safe neighborhoods—ultimately losing this battle when Demar’s brother was shot one night in 1999 on his way to a 7-Eleven (a murder that remains unsolved today). Lillian and her sister and brothers were taken from her mother’s custody when Lillian was a teen, due to a medical condition of her mom’s that made it impossible for her to care for them. Lillian was raised in part by an aunt with whom she remains very close today. Both Lillian and Demar persevered through adolescence, graduating from City College and then Coppin State. Today, Demar works at Bethlehem Steel, and Lillian is a health inspector for the city. They have both attended more than thirty-nine hours of foster-parent training so far and devotedly parent Tellita, prodding her through chores, college applications, and homework. “The hardest part for me was the beginning and getting over the fear of who she was going to be,” Demar recalls. “When we first met, she seemed cool and quiet, but I saw her tattoos and her hair—” “Real trendy!” Ziaya interrupts, trying to describe Tellita’s style when she first arrived. “—and I wondered, how is she going to influence my 10-year-old daughter? And she was pregnant! How would my daughter react? Would she try to mimic her and grow up too fast?” Demar says it hasn’t turned out that way at all. “She has a great personality, and she’s been a good influence for Ziaya.” Ziaya had her own set of worries. “I didn’t really know her at all,” Ziaya says, explaining that it felt odd to have a complete stranger in the house all of a sudden. Ziaya, a sophisticated tween—decked continued on page 87 w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


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I’m not sure what triggers the rush of emotions that cause me to pause, to reflect on my childhood, to contemplate my life choices. I know today’s introspection was sparked by the sendoff at the side door of my home. “Mommy, why are you crying?” asked my round-faced kindergartner, excited about his first day in “big kid school.” “I’m not crying, honey. Just something in my contacts.” “OK, well, don’t worry. I’m gonna be a good boy. No bad words like ‘poot’ and ‘butt.’ I promise!” “Have a good day, sweetie. Listen to your teacher and walk with your big brother and big sister, not in front of them.” He was halfway down the driveway before I finished the sentence. The last of my five children is now in kindergarten—“traditional school,” I call it as a former homeschooler—and I sit to reflect on my childhood, my education, my family. It was Detroit in the 1970s, and I was among the second generation of my family that was born in the North. My maternal grandparents picked cotton in Mississippi. They moved to Detroit in 1941 for survival and for economic opportunities as a part of history’s Great Migration. My grandfather worked for Ford, while my grandmother tended the house and the children. My grandparents had a deep commitment to family—and by “family,” they meant not only blood relatives, but also the people they loved and the people who loved them. My grandfather served as the deacon of a neighborhood Baptist church. Most of the people in our neighborhood attended the church, so we spent time together at church activities. My siblings and I addressed the church members as aunts, uncles, and cousins, and they often came over to my grandparents’ house, where my parents, my siblings, and I also lived, for family functions. Our house was divided into four twobedroom flats. At least thirty members of our extended “family” lived in one of those flats during my childhood; it often served as a landing place for people coming up from the South. When I asked my grandfather why our house had so many different people living it, he responded, “Because our family needs a place to stay until

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they get on their feet. It’s sometimes hard to get settled ’cause the North is different than back home. You ’posed to take care of family. That’s how God want it.” Family was considered the source of our physical strength. God was our source of spiritual strength. Education was the source of our natural strength. My grandparents weren’t formally educated, so they were adamant about my mother and her brothers getting a good education. My grandmother was friends with all of her children’s teachers; she visited the school almost daily, taking the teachers food, and called them at home when she couldn’t help the kids with their homework. She even bought copies of textbooks for home use. The military was a viable alternative for my male relatives because “a man need to see the world and learn to discipline himself,” as my grandfather would say. But otherwise, higher education was non-negotiable. Still, while my mother attended college briefly, she became frustrated with her chosen major and dropped out. She went to work at a bank. I was her firstborn, the oldest of the grandchildren, which meant the pressure for me to succeed academically was even more intense than it had been for my mother. I started reading when I was 2 years old, so my entire family considered me to be the “golden ticket,” the one in the family who would blaze trails for the Price/Tolbert clan. I didn’t like being the “smart one” in the family, as I was always expected to help cousins with schoolwork, older family members with letters and resumes, and my siblings with whatever they needed. But I understood and accepted the role with no complaints and went on to earn a bachelor’s in English and education at the University of Michigan. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I was given opportunities that my grandparents couldn’t imagine. But being a woman and then a mother created a series of challenges that my family had not yet experienced. Immediately after college, I married a man from the area. My decision to marry—and to have my first child shortly thereafter—infuriated my mother. She expected me to pursue a career as an educator and then a lawyer. She lived w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


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vicariously through me and wanted more for me than just “married with children.” In the early years, my husband and I lived about an hour away from my parents, and if we had asked, my mother would have left her job to care for her granddaughter so that I could work. But I didn’t think that was fair or necessary. I would do it myself, even if that meant postponing my career. Still, after three years of doubt, insecurity, and fear, I enrolled in graduate school, took out student loans, got a “big time” job, and commuted more than an hour to downtown Detroit so that I could make my parents proud. But I never had time for my husband or daughter. It didn’t last. Then, when my husband finished school, we packed up our growing family (three children by then) and followed his work to St. Louis, Missouri, 500 miles away from Detroit and everything and everyone we knew. I was the first in my family to live outside of Michigan since my grandparents moved there approximately sixty years earlier. And once there, I didn’t work outside the home, but instead dedicated myself to taking care of the family. My mother, who spent one week a month at our house, continued to challenge my choices. She challenged my decision not to have a TV, my household ban on swearing to or around the kids, my almost vegetarian diet, and my natural hair. But above all, she challenged my decision to stay at home with my children. “After all of the education that you got, you want to sit around and raise kids … like white women?” she’d exclaim. “I don’t see how you can be book smart and not have any common sense.” It was a painful time for me. My husband loved his job, but I didn’t like St. Louis at all. I tried several churches, but none of them seemed to fit. I tried story times at the local bookstores and local libraries, but these events were often far from where we lived, which made it difficult to navigate play dates or girlfriend outings. I just sulked and prayed. I prayed mostly for relationships—better relationships between my husband and his colleagues, meaningful female friendships for me, and friends for the kids. And slowly, without really realizing it, I began to build myself a “family.” It started one afternoon when I pulled up at a gas station. A professionally dressed man walked around my car and peered into the back window where my two sons, six months and almost 2 years old at the time, sat in their car seats. “Where in Michigan are you from?” he asked. He had seen my Michigan license plate and University of Michigan window sticker. It turned out he and his wife were from Flint, Michigan, and had two boys who were the same age as ours. “I’m looking for a girlfriend for my wife, so that living here isn’t so hard for her.” He gave me his wife’s phone number and left me with the plea: “Please call her. Please.” It took me a week to get up the nerve, but I did call. Carolyn was her name. We talked on the phone for two hours, kicking off a friendship

that blossomed into shared holiday meals, girlfriend outings, a book club, birthday parties, and much more. Six years ago, when we moved to Baltimore (again for my husband’s work), I had those same concerns about living in a city where we didn’t have “family.” But this time, the pieces began falling together almost immediately. Our moving company was more than a week late with our household goods, so my husband’s employer brought over a twin mattress, a TV, and a TV table. A twin mattress wasn’t a lot for a family of six at that time, but it was Godsent for me, pregnant with baby number five. Once we were settled, I attended a Mocha Moms event at a church in Randallstown. The women there gave me referrals for everything from a place to get my hair done (essential information for women of color in a new town) to a place to get a good corned beef sandwich (our neighborhood in Detroit was dominated by

In the end, my parents and grandparents gave me what so many people don’t have: choices, opportunities. orthodox Jews, and even though I’d stopped eating beef regularly, during every pregnancy I had to get at least one good sandwich). Instantly, this network grew to include homeschooling buddies, sitters for my children, and girlfriends who accompanied me to plays, concerts, and restaurants. The network has done a lot of work for me, but never as much as it did when my husband was in an accident one night while driving home from work. My neighbor gave us a spare car so that we could continue to run errands. The parents of our kids’ friends picked them up for extracurricular activities. Members of our homeschool group brought food to the house and offered to babysit while I rested. People loaned us money until our insurance company reimbursed us for the damages. I had created a village in which my family could be safe to grow, thrive, learn, and make

mistakes. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed. The voices of my mother and other women who considered motherhood an institution that robs women of their individual identity and thoughts continued to ring in my ears. Last winter, I went to visit my oldest living relative, Uncle Pete, in Los Angeles. Pete is a vibrant 84-year-old with comedic wit and an amazing memory. We sat at his table over Corn Flakes with soy milk and bananas. With sadness and frustration in my voice, I told him about everything I hadn’t done: The law degree that I hadn’t gotten, the book that I hadn’t finished, and the children who don’t have all of the material things that I want them to have because I decided to stay at home. Pete just laughed. “At the end of this life, none of that matters,” he said. “Your children are safe. You love ’em and you found people everywhere you’ve lived who love ’em like you do. We [our family] always leaned on each other, even crippled some of the young ones with love. But you—you found it other places, and your kids are all right. “Your grandmother would be proud of you,” Pete said. “You’ve done more than she could have imagined.” It’s taken me a while to really hear what my Uncle Pete said that morning, but maybe, just maybe, he’s right. Some of my ideas and decisions might seem “old school,” but given the chance, I would make the choices I made all over again. My hands-on, on-purpose community building wasn’t easy. It didn’t come with written rules. But no matter where we lived, no matter the feedback I got from well-meaning observers, I set high standards for my children, for their friends, and my friends’ children. Deep down, I believe that family is the vehicle through which children are taught discipline, citizenship, and humanity. In the end, my parents and grandparents gave me what so many people don’t have: choices, opportunities. I didn’t make the choices my grandparents or my mother would have made, but my family, my choices reflect what they taught me. One of my sisters recently confided in me, “Mama is never going to admit that she may have been wrong, but she always brags about your kids: ‘I don’t know how she did it. I couldn’t have done it with all those kids, but I guess she knows something I don’t know.’” Mom, you taught me what I know: Children and family may drive you crazy, but you teach ’em right and train ’em right, and they will represent you well for generations to come. ■ —Shawn Spence is a success coach and stand-up comedienne. On the Air: Shawn Spence on The Marc Steiner Show, WEAA 88.9 FM, on November 22

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Siblings: Serenity Henderson was 27 years old when her mother died of renal cancer in 2006. Her half brother, Reliance, was 7. Reliance’s father had disappeared when he was just 2, so when their mom died, they had only each other. “The first three years were really tough,” says Henderson, who has since become Reliance’s legal guardian. “All of a sudden I had a child to care of.” The support of Henderson’s boyfriend, Kyle Thomas (pictured on right), has made a difference, she says. “For a long time, it felt like we were in a situation that most of the world couldn’t relate to. With Kyle, it’s a little less us against the world and a little more us in the world.”

Proud parents: Yvonne Hu-Cotto was twenty weeks pregnant when doctors informed her that her baby had Down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that affects physical growth and mental abilities. Some parents in this situation opt for an abortion. Instead, Hu-Cotto says she and her husband, Orlando Cotto, thought “that this was not a decision for us.” Today, their son, 2-year-old Luis, takes swimming lessons at the Y, does baby yoga, and learns from his playmates at day care. And his parents have high aspirations: “I expect to send him to college,” Hu-Cotto says. “And when he’s ready for college, I think the world will be ready.”

The Ties that Bind P hoto g raph y


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Charles Smith remembers clearly the emotion that washed over him the first time he saw his infant son in the hospital nursery: It was pure fear. But this wasn’t the sinking stomach of a new father wondering how on earth he was going to care for such a fragile and utterly dependent creature. That would come later, after Smith was sure the child was, in fact, his. Smith and his partner, FT Burden, were adopting the strapping 10-pound, 7-ounce boy. But the birth parents had about a month to reconsider and possibly keep the baby. “I looked at him, and, oh my god, he was so beautiful,” Smith says. “I thought, how are they ever going to part with him?” Serenity Henderson makes a statement that has passed the lips of many a mother and father: “No one really told me how to be a parent.” But Henderson isn’t a mom—not in the traditional sense. At 27, she became the guardian of her half-brother, twenty years her junior, when their mother died of cancer.


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“I don’t think we ever said, ‘We’re going to be a family,’” says Melanie Miller of her band of girlfriends. “That’s just always been the way it is.” Miller says she realized that her situation was unusual when she attended a coworker’s wedding and didn’t notice any high school or college friends. In her world, close friends and blood relatives are all but indiscernible. Forget the nuclear family: mom, dad, two kids, and a dog. Modern families come in all shapes and sizes—and so do our definitions of the term. To get a look inside this world, we sent award-winning photographer Jennifer Bishop to capture images of five Baltimore families. Her portraits on these pages show that we adapt to the realities that are handed to us, expanding our notion of family to embrace people we need and who need us. And through all manner of adversity, we survive—and even thrive.

The varied faces of the modern family, through the lens of a Baltimore photographer

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Two daddies: Five-year-old Alexander Smith-

Burden has a few extra branches on his family tree. There’s Poppa (Charles Smith, left), Daddy (FT Burden, right), his birth parents, and, by extension, four sets of grandparents. “They act just like regular family members,” Smith says of Alexander’s birth family. “There are the birthday calls, the calls to say, ‘Hey, just thinking of you,’ the meet-ups. Last year, we went trick-or-treating with them. It was a hoot.” Smith admits it’s unusual—but it works. “I’ve seen a lot of families that have collapsed,” he says, “but it doesn’t mean you have to live your life like that.”


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Girlfriends: Dawn Childs remembers well the time that her close-knit group of friends helped her through a life-threatening medical emergency, rallying at her house and checking in throughout her recovery. “Everybody came together,” she says. So it has been with this group of women, all single, all in their 40s, who trace their friendships back to junior high school on Philadelphia’s Main Line. “We go through ups and downs in relationships and careers and all that, but everybody has always been there for each other,” Childs says. “We’re all sisters.” Pictured, from left, are Melanie Miller, Dawn Childs, Melanie Underwood, Wendy Young, and Lisa Lassiter.

Single mom: Rosalia Scalia (center) once ran herself so ragged shuttling her three kids to sporting events that she fell asleep in her car and woke up lost. “My family was never mom, dad, and kids,” says the longtime writer, who became a single mother shortly after her youngest child, Erin Levon, was born. Now 27, Erin (second from right) has recently moved back into Scalia’s Little Italy home with her 10year-old son, Angelo Jenkins. Scalia’s parents, Joseph and Philomena Scalia, live around the corner. “Every Sunday we go to their house for dinner,” she says. “It’s four generations around one table.” (Also pictured are Scalia’s daughter Antoinette Levon, far right, and her son, Richard Levon, in photo, who is stationed on a Navy submarine.) ■

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healthy BY Design by amanda kolson hurley photography by kevin weber

SCOPE u r b a n i t e ’ s h e a lt h s e c t i o n

Baltimore’s health care facilities are in the midst of a building boom— and these places are built for healing.


Mikele Bell at the new Health Care for the Homeless headquarters.

or most people, a visit to the doctor’s office is an unhappy task, but not for Mikele Bell, and not today. Bell, 51, is a longtime client of Health Care for the Homeless (HCH), the 25-year-old city nonprofit that provides medical care and support services to people without homes. On a recent Friday morning at HCH’s expansive new center on Fallsway, just east of Downtown, Bell is walking slowly and with the aid of a walker, but he’s smiling: He’s got the keys to a new apartment, thanks to HCH’s Housing First program. Bell praises HCH for its array of services and its whole-person approach to patient care. Staff members “want to know what your situation is,” he says. “This is a lifestarting place. They’re not like a regular clinic—they’re more than just health care, way more. It’s like you’ve got a family.” Bell started visiting HCH in the 1980s, back when it operated out of a former bank on Liberty Street. He became a regular at its next clinic—the one it recently vacated—at the corner of Park Avenue and Fayette Street. “The other building, it was wall-to-wall,” he remembers. Clients had to stand in the waiting room because there weren’t enough seats. The new facility has the advantage of being close to the soup kitchen Our Daily Bread and the site of the future Code Blue twentyfour-hour shelter. But the main advantage is all the extra space: At nearly 60,000 square feet, the clinic is almost three times the size of its predecessor. “Employees have more room. Clients have more room,” Bell says. “I mean, it’s just a lovely building.” Open since February, HCH’s $14.5million clinic ushers in a crop of new (or renewed) health facilities in Baltimore. Among them: a $29.5 million renovation and expansion of the Herman & Walter Samuelson

Higher levels of daylight in health care facilities have been shown not only to improve patients’ moods, but also to reduce their perception of pain.

photo by Keith Weller

studies have shown that hospital staff prefer single-patient rooms because they can interact better with patients and their families and are less likely to get sick themselves. Such setups also alleviate stress on staff, which could translate into both healthier employees and lower staff turnover. “All the new construction going on [at Baltimore hospitals] is moving towards all-privateroom facilities, in terms of inpatient units,”

says Lee Coplan, senior principal at architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht, which did the design work for the new construction at Sinai. Another discovery: Higher levels of daylight in health care facilities have been shown not only to improve patients’ moods, but also to reduce their perception of pain. Noise can be a significant stressor for patients and staff, so paying attention to ceilings (and acoustics) is important for architects. Finding one’s way should be as intuitive and straightforward as possible; patients can become disoriented or agitated trying to negotiate a maze of hallways. Sustainable design is in the ascendant, too. Mercy’s new tower has a green roof, as does the atrium at Sinai that was completed last year (one is planned for the new children’s hospital there as well). And many of its priorities dovetail with those of evidencebased design. (See “Health Care, Heal Thyself,” Urbanite Oct. ’08.) Even views of nature and garden spaces can have a positive psychological impact. It doesn’t hurt that green building also helps the bottom line. “Hospitals are always thinking about their use of energy, because they’re such huge facilities,” Coplan notes. “The reduction of [their] use of energy can have a dramatic impact on cost.”

Anne Arundel Medical Center

Franklin Square Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Anne Arundel Health System has undertaken a $424 million, 285,535-square-foot expansion project at Anne Arundel Medical Center. New facilities include an acute care tower with fifty additional beds and eight operating room suites, a health sciences pavilion, and a pediatrics emergency department, which will open in the spring. The adult emergency department and wound center have also been expanded, and the neonatal intensive care unit has been outfitted with twenty private rooms and an additional six-bed communal nursery.

Located in Baltimore County, Franklin Square Hospital’s $175 million Patient Care Tower will open this month. The 356,000-square-foot building will have 291 private patient rooms, an expanded emergency department and critical care unit, a pediatric emergency department and inpatient suite, and four new medical and surgical units.

Johns Hopkins Hospital’s $1 billion, 1.6-million-square-foot facility on the East Baltimore campus is the biggest project of its kind in the city. When completed in 2012, the hospital will have two connected twelve-story towers: one for cardiovascular and critical care and one for children. All 560 patient rooms—355 for adults, 205 for children—will be private. Trauma and burn services for pediatric patients and operating rooms for neurosurgery/general surgery, pediatric, cardiac, and obstetrics will be on-site.

Evidence-based design: Architects kept green features in mind when building and renovating this space. The second patient tower, for example, has a green roof to catch and filter a portion of rain water. The new facilities also have environmentally friendly lighting and plumbing.

Sidebar by Jennifer Walker


more health systems around the country become familiar with it and discover that healthier design doesn’t raise construction costs as much as they feared. One of the most obvious results of evidence-based design is the trend toward single-bed hospital rooms. Preliminary

photo by John Coyle

photo by Justus Burkhardt

Children’s Hospital at Sinai; a $400 million, twenty-story patient tower at Mercy Medical Center; a $160 million addition to the University of Maryland’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center; and, eclipsing the others in scale, a nearly $1 billion, 1.6-million-squarefoot replacement campus for Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. Largely planned before the Great Recession took hold, these projects seek to update aging facilities in order to accommodate either more patients or more sophisticated (often larger) medical equipment—or both. They also reflect new standards of care that have arisen thanks to “evidence-based design,” a body of research that ties patient outcomes and the effectiveness of clinical staff to environmental factors such as the layout of a hospital room. The differences can be subtle, but particularly when it comes to facilities such as the new HCH clinic, which serve populations that traditionally have made do with the very worst the American health care system has to offer, they can make a huge difference. Evidence-based design considers the scientific research on hospital patients’ stress, medical errors, pain management, and more, to determine which design decisions have the most positive impact. The practice has been growing for the past several years, as

urbanite november 10

Evidence-based design: Architects and hospital staff used design to create a healthier and happier environment for patients. Each room is painted in soothing colors, and some overlook the 30-foot-tall bamboo garden in the atrium. The pediatric area is decorated with murals and stars in vibrant colors. In 2008, Franklin Square started the “Be Square, Be Green” program, which encourages such environmentally friendly practices as separating infectious and noninfectious waste streams and recycling on-site.

Evidence-based design: Although the entire building lets in natural light, the neonatal room has been designed to do the opposite, to mimic the womb environment. Patient rooms can accommodate family members overnight; some have views of the city and gardens. Patients can control the brightness of lights, which helps reduce stress. Hopkins is reducing the noise on patient floors; it has already eliminated paging systems.

second floor, where the adult services are centered. In the old facility, these services were separate, layered one on top of the other. “You had this kind of vertical layout that didn’t promote interdisciplinary care very much,” Lindamood says. “What was very important [to ask] about this building was, ‘How do you get all your clinical services for adults on one floor and still allow room for

talking [to each other],” Lindamood says. That hallway also represents a careful balancing act between openness on one hand and privacy and security on the other: Sidelights and transom windows introduce daylight; they also let clients see out, and, in the event of a problem, security guards can see in. However, a frit pattern in the glass of the sidelights helps obscure clients in the offices from the eyes of passersby in the corridor. In addition to other sustainable features—energy-efficient heating, cooling, and lighting, and materials with recycled content and low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds)—the HCH clinic has a partial green roof. The roof helps slow stormwater runoff and reduce the urban heat island effect and could help earn the structure a LEED gold green-building certification. Community health centers like HCH received a $2 billion injection of stimulus funding in 2009 and will get another $11 billion over the next five years thanks to the Affordable Care Act of 2010. These centers, which must have an open-door policy and sliding fee scales based on the patients’ income levels, are set to become an increasingly prominent feature of the American


A clinic that had an institutional feel would not just be unpleasant—it might also deter some clients.

photo by Dwayne Scott

expansion?’ It was a challenge to get everything to fit.” A hallway with offices for social workers and addiction and mental health counselors represents the kind of integration that HCH was striving for. “With 25 percent of our clients dually diagnosed with addiction and mental illness, it’s very important to have [those staff positioned] so they’re actually

photo by Patrick Ross

courtesy of Maryland General Hospital

The new Health Care for the Homeless clinic, which sits on a former parking lot purchased from the city for $1, shows how dramatic a difference the new approach to design can make. From the colorful firstfloor waiting area to the airy, double-height atrium at the heart of the building, light and space abound. The clinic was designed by Baltimore’s Kann Partners. The firm’s goal, says Cass Gottlieb, the principal in charge of the project, was “to create a state-of-theart clinic facility that would also be warm, welcoming, and nurturing.” A clinic that had an institutional feel would not just be unpleasant—it might also deter some of HCH’s clients, he notes. For any group of patients, the additional space would be welcome, but for HCH’s clients—many of whom are coping with mental illness or addiction—a less cramped environment has crucial benefits. “In the old building, we used to have minor behavioral problems on the first floor,” says Kevin Lindamood, the organization’s vice president for external affairs. “In this building, six months so far, [there’s not been] a single behavioral incident. Which I think says something about giving people respect, light, space.” One of the key functional differences from the previous facility is a clinical services hub in the bottom of the atrium on the

Maryland General Hospital

Mercy Hospital

Northwest Hospital

Maryland General Hospital’s new 77,000-square-foot building opened earlier this year as part of its $57 million Core Facilities Replacement Project. The new space has eight operating rooms, an eighteen-bed intensive care unit, a pharmacy and laboratory, dedicated suites for cystoscopy and endoscopy, post-anesthesia and pre-surgery services, and space for future expansion.

After receiving the largest philanthropic gift in its history, Mercy Hospital began construction on the Mary Catherine Bunting Center in 2007. Slated to open in December, this $400-plus million, 686,000-square-foot building will have 259 private inpatient rooms and fifteen operating rooms on twenty floors.

Since 2006, Northwest Hospital’s $50-million-plus expansion project has added 62,000 square feet to its Baltimore County facility. The result is several new buildings, including the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center and the holistic Women’s Wellness Center. The Vertical Tower was also expanded and now houses the sixteen-bed intensive care unit, a sleep disorders center, a hospice unit, and an outpatient rehabilitation area. As the final expansion project, the SurgiCenter, which serves same-day surgery patients, opened in April 2010. Northwest will also continue to renovate its patient rooms with new flooring, furniture, and flat-panel TVs.

Evidence-based design: Maryland General boasts several new features that have been shown to reduce patients’ stress. For example, patients can wait with their families in private rooms prior to surgery. The ICU rooms are also larger, and the beds are equipped with alarms to prevent falls and equipment to translate common medical terms into multiple languages.

Evidence-based design: Patients and staff can meditate or relax in the center’s three rooftop gardens, which also decrease the hospital’s energy use. Inside the building, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, florescent lighting, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, and sensor faucets were installed. The center is also built of concrete, brick, glass, and metal from regional sources.

Evidence-based design: Northwest Hospital kept the decorative aspects of its space in mind. The walls and floors were painted in warm, inviting colors, and artwork hangs on the walls. Patients in exam rooms can also dim the lighting if they wish, which has been shown to reduce stress.

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pharmacy and lab are on the first floor, and the developer—Highlandtown LLC—intends to lease out the remaining space there to complementary health-related businesses. Patients step off the elevator and into a spacious, cheerful waiting area with butteryellow walls, lit by a run of floor-to-ceiling windows. Along another side of the room, cubicles with wood walls offer privacy for patients and staff and also help to warm up the interior. Acrylic room-divider screens are embedded with natural grasses “to bring that feeling of being near the water into the space,” Sovich says. The same screens are used between cubicles in a staff area. “Patients say that they love the spaciousness, the cleanliness, and the natural light,” says Jay Wolvovsky, president and CEO of BMS. While the new $11 million facility is a vast improvement on the center’s previous home on Eastern Avenue, Wolvovsky is candid about the learning curve that staff and patients faced when they moved in and the transitional problems that no design, however thoughtful, could fully anticipate. For example: Because many of the center’s patients don’t speak English (about 30 percent are Hispanic), printed materials and signage were not always helpful in directing them up to the second floor—instead, a volunteer had to be stationed in the lobby to greet patients coming in.

photo by Kevin Weber

courtesy of Saint Agnes Hospital

health care landscape. HCH, for its part, is seeing an upswing in new patients: Already, “we’re seeing above a 5 percent increase over last year in the number of people seen,” Lindamood says. “We expect that after two years, we’ll be at about a 20 percent increase.” The center has also ramped up some new services. With four exam rooms and a triage room, the brightly muralled pediatric area marks a change in direction for HCH, which formerly did outreach to children in shelters but focused on caring for adults. A new threechair dental operatory within the center is staffed by faculty and students from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. And outside, there’s space for expansion, room to grow when the clinic needs it. Across town, many of the same innovations are at work in the Highlandtown Healthy Living Center on Fleet Street, another community health center, opened in March, that offers family practice, pediatrics, internal medicine, OB/GYN, geriatrics, mental health, and pharmacy services to disadvantaged residents of east Baltimore; roughly a quarter of the center’s patients are uninsured, and over half have Medicaid. Occupying 32,500 square feet (the whole second floor) of a new 65,000-square-foot building, the center is the largest of six run by the nonprofit Baltimore Medical System (BMS), with the capacity to serve 22,000 patients. A

Saint Agnes Hospital

Sinai Hospital

A new patient tower is the center of Saint Agnes Hospital’s 550,000-square-foot expansion. With 120 private rooms, the tower will be completed in May 2011. In the next two years, Saint Agnes will also increase the treatment space in its cancer center by 40 percent and renovate its existing patient tower to create 120 more private rooms.

Since July 2009, Sinai Hospital’s new $55 million, 108,000square-foot South Tower has housed cardiology intervention, neuroscience, intensive care services, and surgery services. The six-story building also has 101 private patient rooms across four inpatient units, a light-filled atrium that connects the new tower to the existing hospital, and additional space for future expansion.

Evidence-based design: Based on input from a team of physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff, the private patient rooms, which reduce infection and increase patient safety, will each have a window to let in natural light. There is also a separate area in each room for family members so they can comfortably stay with patients. Outside, nurses will have several decentralized nursing stations instead of one central station; this will reduce noise in the patient area and allow staff to respond to patients more quickly.

Evidence-based design: Instead of working from one central nursing station, nurses can gather at decentralized alcoves, which allow them to respond more quickly to patients. In line with Sinai’s family-centered care initiative, each private patient room also has extra space for family members staying overnight. Green features abound, including a green roof above the atrium, low-VOC paints and finishes, and enhanced mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to save energy.

BMS is hoping to receive LEED Platinum—the highest LEED certification possible—for the center’s interior. Architect Randy Sovich of RM Sovich Architecture used daylighting, a highly efficient HVAC system, lights connected to motion detectors, and waterefficient fixtures to reduce the center’s energy use by about 54 percent and its water use by an estimated 43 percent, compared with a standard building. Rather than a green roof, the building has a white roof, another way to reduce energy costs—and carbon emissions. It also has a sidewalk rain garden, which, in tandem with a stormwater management system, handles runoff. BMS didn’t want a green health center as a trophy. On the contrary, says Wolvovsky, the staff had learned through experience with medically underserved people that environment and lifestyle “make a big difference in health status.” The structure is designed to encourage staff to model a healthy lifestyle. A large, airy community meeting room, leading onto a garden terrace, doubles as a lunch area for the center’s seventy-five staff members. A bike storage room and shower are in the building’s basement for those who commute by bike or exercise on their breaks. “As a community health center, we realized we needed to … create a building that would epitomize a healthy lifestyle,” Wolvovsky explains. “It shows our patients and staff that recycling trash, biking to work, and having a garden … are things that we think are important enough for health to incorporate into the building.” The results seem to be showing up already. The center is taking part in a study by a doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who surveyed staff in the old building and will reinterview them in the new space. “We know anecdotally that some staff are no longer using their [asthma] inhalers in the new building,” Wolvovsky notes. Above all, however, what both the Highlandtown clinic and Health Care for the Homeless offer is respect for all patients, regardless of their economic or social station. “What we wanted was an environment that wouldn’t feel like it was for people who were disadvantaged. It wouldn’t feel lesser because you didn’t have insurance,” Sovich says. And that can only be good for the people who come here seeking help. ■


—Amanda Kolson Hurley is the executive editor of Architect magazine in Washington, D.C.

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space Preservation-minded: Only the third owners of their 110-year-old house in Charles Village, Linda and Steven Rivelis wanted to maintain the integrity and charm of the space while adding their own touches.

ag e nt s o f chan g e

A Charles Village couple puts their stamp on an old house—and the neighborhood itself. by marianne amoss

photography by j.m. giordano


teven and Linda Rivelis know what they want. And they know how to get it. In the early ’90s, they wanted to paint the living room of their 110-year-old Charles Village rowhouse silver, but they couldn’t find the right shade of wall paint. So they bought silvery engine block paint and covered the walls and ceiling in it. Then the couple wanted to stain the Georgia red pine floors a cherry red color but could only find small tubes of their desired hue. So they found a manufacturer that would send them the requisite 10 gallons of the highly flammable stuff, which they carefully applied—after unplugging everything in the house, even the phone. During their three-year-long renovation of the former dining room, which they transformed into a commercial-grade kitchen with a diner feel, they installed a long bar and wanted to top it with 1950s Formica with a boomerang design. When they found that it wasn’t produced anymore, the couple spent two months searching, fi nally tracking down the CEO of Formica, who w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


Home cook: One of Steven’s dreams is to be in the restaurant business like his grandfather. Until that happens, he can whip up meals in the commercial-grade kitchen and serve them on the Formica bar.

managed to root out two scrap pieces from a Cincinnati warehouse. “It was kismet,” Linda says. The Rivelises, married for twenty-three years, are all about social change. They run two companies: Campaign Consultation Inc., which works with individuals and organizations on community development, public policy, and more; and Eye Byte Solutions, which focuses on social media, graphic design, and “space to place” design. Their client list includes nonprofits, corporations, and even the White House—Eye Byte designed the website for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” childhood fitness campaign. They met when they were both working at Planned Parenthood—Linda in fundraising, Steven in public policy and advocacy. Together, they launched Campaign Consultation in 1988.

The couple also takes an active role in their neighborhood. They helped launch the now-defunct Painted Ladies Contest, which encouraged homeowners to paint the facades and porches of their rowhouses in vivid colors, as well as the campaign to launch the Charles Village Community Benefits District, a special tax district that provides supplementary services (such as sanitation and safety) to residents. There, they own not just one house, but three contiguous rowhouses. The far left house is headquarters for their two companies. The far right house is divided into rental units, one per floor. And the middle house is their home—giving them an enviably short commute to work. Linda says the nearly 3,000-squarefoot structure was “very scary” when they

purchased it at an estate sale in 1990. The Rivelises are only its third owners—first was two or three Kirk sisters, of Kirk-Stieff Silver fame, and second was a shut-in. She’d lived in only the first two rooms of the first floor, and the rest of the house—especially the kitchen—was sorely neglected; layers of fabric had been nailed over the windows and multiple locks installed on the doors. Now, all of its three floors—four if you count the basement, with a cozy bar and pool table; five if you count the deck on the very top of the house, which affords a stunning panoramic view of downtown and where Linda does tai chi in the mornings— are polished and well-loved, filled with colorful and quirky pieces of art and bric-a-brac that hold lots of value for the couple. There’s the Western-themed room on the second

space space Collectors: The Rivelises have packed the house with pieces of art and kitsch they’ve collected together, such as the bumper car in the living room that they discovered in a shop in Havre de Grace. Its seat now holds a stack of coffee-table books. The second-floor Western room displays artifacts that remind Linda of her home state of Texas.

floor, with animal skulls, leather chairs, and a Taos ladder, that reminds Linda of her Texas roots. (Steven hails from New York City and still retains a bit of an accent.) There’s the painting of the house done by local artist Crystal Moll, hanging in the first floor hallway. There are the metal grates on the front doors, whimsically arranged nuts, bolts, and tools, done especially for them by local welder Lawrence Weisgal. While many of the details are all their own, in their renovations the couple tried to stay true to the bones of the house, resisting opening up the house in a more modern way. There are lots of interesting little nooks and spaces, making the house a great place to entertain, which the Rivelises do often. “It’s wonderful for parties,” Linda says. ■ —Marianne Amoss is Urbanite’s managing editor. For more home/design stories, subscribe to the weekly Home/Design e-zine at www., or sign up for all of our e-zines by texting “Urbanite” to 77007. w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0


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This month in eating


the Farm

Farmers lure city folk with promises of pastoral bliss. by tracey middlekauff

photography by gil jawetz


Model couple: Steve Goertemiller and his wife, Anita, hosted a Tomato Festival on their farm this August.

t is a perfect late August afternoon—clear blue skies, warm and sultry temperatures, relatively low humidity—and the Big White Barn Tomato Festival at Carrollton Manor Farm in Frederick is in full swing. Against the bucolic backdrop of rolling hills, green pastures, and grazing thoroughbred horses, laughing children pet baby goats, eat snowcones, and take hayrides. Meanwhile, adults sample the farm’s heirloom tomatoes, cool off with gourmet tomato popsicles, sip wine, and wait in the very long line in order to taste celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio’s special creation for the festival: gazpacho and fennel “Dippin’ Dots” ice cream with shrimp ceviche, a coriander seed cracker, and grown-up cotton candy with sea salt and dehydrated tomato. This is not your grandmother’s farm festival. These well-heeled adults have each plunked down $50 to attend the festival, hosted by the farm’s fashionable owners. Farmer Steve Goertemiller is tan and blond, sporting preppy pink and green shorts with a crisp white oxford; his wife, Anita, is model-thin and wears a stylish silk halter

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Adult treat: Chef Bryan Voltaggio and his grown-up version of cotton candy, with sea salt and tomato

blouse with white shorts and espadrilles. In the movie of their life, they would get to play themselves. The only thing that gives away the hard work that went into this idyllic day are Steve’s hands: They are tough and calloused, with a permanent crust of soil surrounding each fingernail. Charismatic and lively, Steve and Anita are very much in demand among their many visitors and guests. Anita surmises that so many people have turned out for the tomato festival because “[these days] farms are few and far between. We’re losing farmland, and people want their kids to experience it.” Adds Steve, “People are tired of this plastic society, where nothing is real anymore.” Indeed, non-rural Americans are in the midst of an ever-more-torrid love affair with all things rustic. Farmers markets, CSAs, and farm-to-table restaurants were just the beginning. Now, it’s not enough to merely eat food from the farm; instead, people want to dine on the farm, with the latest culinary rock star, the farmer. The farm dinner in its current trendy incarnation tends to be a romanticized experience of farm life: Think long banquet tables with flowing white linen tablecloths and fresh-cut flowers set in the midst of fields of wheat, with guests dining on gourmet multiple-course meals prepared by A-list chefs. It can be an expensive fantasy: A (likely sold-out) evening with the roving

The farm dinner trend will eventually cool off. But farmers who depend on tourists to help keep their farms afloat needn’t panic. As Steve Goertemiller points out, “People will always love sweet corn. If it’s good, it never goes out of style.” ■ —Tracey Middlekauff produces Urbanite’s Food/Drink e-zine. To subscribe, go to www., or sign up for all of our e-zines by texting “Urbanite” to 77007.

Bacon Fontina Cream Sauce for Macaroni and Cheese


band of culinarians Outstanding in the Field will set you back at least $180 per person. Chef, artist, and former model Jim Denevan, who founded the group in 1999, says the chef and the farmer working together is “such an obvious relationship. I think people are really turned on by that.” (According to Steve Goertemiller, without the chefs the Tomato Festival would have just been a “farm party.”) Along with the star power of the chef/ farmer duo, people are drawn to stories about a more innocent time in the nation’s rural past. “Before the 1950s, there would be a harvest, and the community would come together as a reward and share in it for free,” Denevan says. “Now people feel separated from that.” And they’ll pay to be reconnected to that lost sense of belonging. “People love that [harvest] story,” says Psyche Williams-Forson, associate professor of American studies and co-director of graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. The trouble is, it’s not based in fact. We cherish the idea of citizens of small farming towns sitting down together to share the fruits of the harvest, but in reality, Williams-Forson says, “many people couldn’t even get close to the harvest.” She calls these present-day farm experiences “performances,” not true representations of the harsh realities of farm life, and they don’t expose people to farms that are barely surviving—those that can’t afford the time or resources to gussy up their property and make it visually appealing and tourist-friendly. “Culinary tourism is about going places and indulging in the foods of a culture without immersing yourself in that culture,” she says. Williams-Forson adds that there’s nothing wrong with paying for a farm dinner or wanting to spend some time in a rural environment. “[You can] have that fantasy—if you can afford it,” she says. “But know that what you’re getting is a culinary invention. Let’s not act like it’s more than it is.” While issues of authenticity are a subject for philosophical debate, Farm Dinners on the Shore—a series of meals at several Eastern Shore farms—offers a decidedly more affordable experience than the one put on by Outstanding in the Field. According to Marilyn Klompus, owner of Homegrown and Green Promotions, that’s because “we want to make this accessible to the broadest segment of society that we possibly can.” To that end, Farm Dinners have ranged from Friday night tapas parties for $30 per person to $100-a-plate sit-down dinners. (Two more dinners are planned for early November; visit www.homegrownandgreen. com for more information.)

If you can’t make it to a farm dinner this year, console yourself with this rich bacon Fontina cream sauce for macaroni and cheese, adapted from a recipe by Robbie Jester, executive chef of Dinners on the Shore and Harbor House in Chestertown. 4 to 8 ounces of equal parts Fontina and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses 1 to 2 cups heavy cream (depending on how much cheese you use) 3 tbs olive oil 1½ lbs bacon, cut into ¼-inch chunks 2 tbs chopped garlic ½ cup minced shallots ½ cup white wine salt, pepper, and white truffle oil to taste In a small saucepan, heat the cream on medium heat and slowly add the cheese until incorporated, stirring frequently. Set aside. Meanwhile, place a medium saucepan on high heat with 3 tbs olive oil. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned thoroughly. Remove half of the bacon fat and then add the shallots and garlic. Cook the shallots and garlic until clear, then add the white wine and scrape the pan so that the fond is in the sauce. Slowly add the cream sauce until you reach the desired consistency, and season with salt, pepper, and white truffle oil to taste. Add to macaroni (or your favorite pasta noodles).

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Southern with a twist: Poached Maine lobster tail with fresh lima beans at Bluegrass Tavern


arm-to-table dining—featuring the freshest of organic, locally produced foods—is too often limited to urban “white tablecloth” restaurants, while small momand-pop places out in farm country tend to rely on anonymous food service ingredients. But Soup’R Natural, up north in Hereford (a convenient stop during Gunpowder Falls State Park or NCR bike trail jaunts), does it right: The owners grow their own herbs and vegetables and source other ingredients from nearby farms, selling the tasty, scratch-made results in their affordable, rustic cafe. Nell Heneghan had been selling homemade soups and salads from her Monkton home for years when Hereford’s venerable Wagon Wheel restaurant went on the auction block in 2009. She and husband Dan, who are Mennonite, bought it and replaced the cramped building with an open and airy timber-frame, Amish-built structure. They opened for business in February, offering a roster of seasonal, homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. Soups are made daily according to what’s ripe in the restaurant’s garden as well as the whim of the chef; cool weather brings concoctions like butternut squash soup. Impeccable ingredients establish this simple soup’s credentials, but clever twists—a sectioned orange slice floated atop the rich and savory puree, a West Indies accent in the spice—elevate

oth the plant and the musical genre known as bluegrass, while seemingly thoroughly American, have non-native roots. In the same spirit, the South Baltimore restaurant Bluegrass has left itself wide latitude to call upon a range of styles and ingredients while remaining loyal to the region that inspired its name. Bluegrass is a convivial place, and its servers are quick to share their enthusiasm, raving about the libations and the menu, which changes weekly. The small back dining room, with its rough wood tables and back wall of ledger stone (and an unfortunately non-working fireplace), feels like a country tavern, while the busy front bar is more modern-chic, with a knee-level cushion of cowhide and flatscreen TVs suspended from above. There’s also an upstairs bistrolike dining area with its own bar. Chef Patrick Morrow’s offerings include a reliable infusion of Southern dishes: cornmeal-crusted catfish and fried potatoes with Creole remoulade for dipping; a plate of shrimp and grits, the ground corn sharpened with a garlicky etouffé sauce and a dab of jalapeno jelly. And like the eponymous music, Bluegrass freely mixes traditions from other cultures: a corned beef sandwich with red

it to sheer genius. (For those unable to choose, the Soup’R Sampler supplies tasting portions of all three soups du jour.) Even the plainest side dish, the house salad, gets star treatment: home-grown lettuces, carrots, and cucumbers are drizzled with a buttermilk dressing that dazzles with highlights of citrus, then topped with buttery, rough-cut croutons. Composed salads are equally well executed and invariably interesting: the Portachoke Salad is a dun-colored but delicious mélange of artichoke hearts, portobello mushrooms, and green beans in a smooth, tarragon-scented vinaigrette. While Nell cooks, affable Dan works the front of the house. He speaks proudly of the restaurant’s connection to local, seasonal foods, right down to the “Mr. Dan’s Eating My Words Burger”—so named because he had proclaimed that this health-oriented eatery would serve neither burgers nor fries. Customer demand, however, led him to add to the menu this bodacious burger, made with beef from Bel Air’s Hickory Chance Farm and served on a tender homemade kaiser roll. Still no fries, but who cares when there are sides like okra-rific gumbo rice or tangy sweet pepper slaw? (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tues–Sat. 17114 York Rd.; 443-491-3464;

sauerkraut, bison tartare with a soy-poached egg and pickled enoki mushrooms. There’s also an emphasis on local goods: heirloom eggplant with the broiled swordfish, meat and cheese from area farms. The menu is ebullient and colorful, offering a mix of sensations: sweet and earthy, bitter and soft. An elk loin, perfectly cooked to a ruby red inside, rests in a fragrant parsnip puree alongside a jewel-like swirl of pomegranate glaze and crunchy bites of fried gnocchi laced with a hint of gorgonzola. Simple sautéed spinach, served in a bowl shaped like a Viking ship, is bright green and spiked with garlic, white wine, and shallots. The wine list is thoughtful and varied and the draught beers inspired, but the bourbons listed on the back of the menu are a big draw. Start the meal with a Kentucky Cup, bourbon sweetened with Pimm’s and dressed in muddled mint. And wrap up dinner with a shot of Kentucky Rock Hill Farms paired with, say, a sweet dessert, like the silky peanut butter pie layered with a crunchy cookie crust and dark chocolate top. (Dinner Tues– Sun. 1500 S. Hanover St.; 410-244-5101; www.



—Martha Thomas

Soup’R Natural

photo by Tyler Fitzgerald

photo by Tyler Fitzgerald

Bluegrass Tavern

eat / drink

Eat in season: Soup’R Natural’s fall squash soup paired with a salad and a turkey burger topped with apple and goat cheese

—Michelle Gienow w w w. u r b a n i t e b a l t i m o re . c o m n o v e m b e r 1 0




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Holiday desserts call for a different kind of wine.

© Sandra Cunningham |

By Clinton Macsherry


ong before the invention of childhood obesity, my grandmother often took me clothes shopping in the “husky” section of the boys’ department at Hutzler’s on Howard Street. At some point puberty intervened. Since that first growth spurt, my lack of a sweet tooth has kept my pant seams from screaming, or so I tell myself. November ushers in serious dessert season, however, and manners will soon compel me to accept a slice (“just a skinny piece”) of my sister’s pumpkin pie, conjured from scratch and topped with hand-whipped cream. Her pecan pie will similarly weigh upon me, while Christmas indelicacies lurk around the corner. Somehow, my second growth spurt—stealthy and horizontal this time—has gotten well under way. Sugar fixes are sneaky things. A lot of consumers have soured on sweet wine. But catch the staff at a wine shop in an unguarded moment, and they’ll say that many of us don’t know how to ask for what we really want. Perhaps because of past dalliances with such mass-market products as Liebfraumilch (like Blue Nun), Portuguese rosé (Mateus or Lancers), and White Zinfandel (Sutter Home et al), we’ve come to equate sweet with unsophisticated, so now often demand that our wine be “dry.” And yet our collective taste veers toward wines— Shiraz and Chardonnay come to mind— whose fruit, oak, and alcohol create sweet flavor profiles, even without high levels of residual grape sugars. In the process of kidding ourselves, we overlook the fact that great wine involves balancing acts. The nervous tension between sweetness, acidity, and slate-y minerality makes German Riesling, for example, one of the world’s most complex but underappreciated tipples. We also unjustly confine wine’s rightful place at the table to the early and middle

courses. A proper dinner—“soup to nuts” and all that—progresses to a cheese plate, followed by a dessert. That’s where sweet wines shine. The science of wine’s sweetness can get a little (ahem) dry, factoring in calculations of potential alcohol, “Brix” measurements of grape solutes, grams of residual sugar per liter, etcetera. But producers of highquality wines intended for dessert time rely on a few basic, and in some cases ancient, methods for concentrating grapes’ natural sugars. (Wines with added sugar constitute a separate category, as does port, “fortified” with the addition of brandy. See Urbanite, Dec. ’09.) One of the oldest traditions in the gastronomic world, according to The Oxford Companion to Wine, entails partially drying the grapes before pressing, typically by spreading them out on straw mats in the sun or by hanging them from rafters in an attic. These techniques remain common, especially in Italy. Simply harvesting grapes later than usual maximizes ripening time and often promotes dehydration. In Canada, northern Germany, and elsewhere, “ice wine” producers take tardiness to an extreme, picking grapes after one or more hard freezes and pressing sugar-laden juice from the skins and frozen water crystals. A riskier method of late-harvest winemaking involves Botrytis cinerea, a vineyard fungus known as “noble rot” in its beneficial manifestation. Under favorably humid autumnal conditions, noble rot penetrates ripe grape skins and spreads from cluster to cluster. While dehydrating the grapes (and turning them ugly as sin), it hyper-concentrates their sugars. If there’s excessive humidity, Botrytis can become “gray rot” that renders grapes moldy and unusable—sometimes within the same bunch as nobly rotted ones. Botrytized wines acquire a honeyed, cinnamon-y character distinct from other sweeties. The grape-by-grape handling they often demand comes at a justified cost. The most famous examples of botrytized wines hail from Hungary, Germany, and Bordeaux’s Sauternes district, but valueseekers should hunt down wines made from botrytized Chenin Blanc grapes grown in France’s Loire Valley. The Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume 2002 ($28 for 375 ml, a standard half-bottle; 12.5 percent alcohol) shows lustrous gold, with peach, orange peel, and a whiff of matchstick on the nose. Rich without becoming unctuous, it unfolds layers of apricot, quince, and honey over a stony, hazelnut finish. Forget dessert: How about a pour? ■

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

w i n e &  s p i r i t s

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How Sweet It Is


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st. LeO’s spaGHetti & raviOLi dinner

nOv. 7

The food at St. Leo’s biannual Spaghetti and Ravioli Dinner is the real deal. Volunteers from the Little Italy parish make the pasta by hand for the spaghetti and ricotta-fi lled ravioli. Bread, salad, and traditional Italian desserts like cannoli make it a full meal. Noon–6 p.m. $10 adults; $5 children. For 50 cents more, busy folks can get theirs to go, from the parish hall at 227 S. Exeter Street.

St. Leo’s Roman Catholic Church 910 Stiles St. 410-675-7275

capitOL FOOd FiGHt

nOv. 11

A benefit for D.C. Central Kitchen (see Dec. ’07 Urbanite), Capitol Food Fight is a star-studded gathering of chefs: Jose Andres and Anthony Bourdain host the event, while Michael Mina and Tom Colicchio (of Top Chef) judge the onstage chef competition. Attendees can nosh on signature dishes from fi fty area restaurants, watch the action onstage, and bid on a trip to the Cayman Islands and other auction items.

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, D.C. www.capitalfoodfi

BrinG tHe FarM tO YOUr tHanksGivinG taBLe

nOv. 15

Learn how to translate the farm-to-table philosophy to this season’s ultimate meal. Chef Galen Sampson of Hampden’s Dogwood Restaurant will demonstrate the creation of a full meal that includes greens straight from the garden, Pennsylvania mushrooms, and an “autumn’s bounty” stuffi ng of root vegetables, apricots, and cornbread. Tastings are included. 7 p.m. $15; proceeds benefit one of the Park School’s gardens.

The Park School 2425 Old Court Rd. 410-339-7070

rmers’ Ma a F r al

BeaUJOLais nOUveaU wine dinner

nOv. 18

Celebrate the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau with a four-course chef ’s tasting menu of dishes that highlight the just-released wine at Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant. Can-can dancers and singers will entertain diners; proceeds go to the Ellicott City Rotary Club. 6:30 p.m. $100 per person.

Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant 8293 Main St., Ellicott City 410-465-4004

t ke

Join us for a Thanksgiving Tasting of holiday favorites from our natural free range turkey to our pumpkin pie, we promise to put you in the mood. Thursday, November 4th. Check individual stores for times.

This Month in Eating


an old fashioned neighborhood grocery store, organic farmers market, gourmet specialty shop, European bakery, & supermarket all rolled in one.

© Mtnangel |


tHe Feed

e u l a V of

dOwn Under tHe Harvest MOOn

nOv. 19

Timonium-based catering company Chef ’s Expressions looks to the land down under for its November wine dinner, pairing Australian wines with five to six courses of seasonal dishes prepared by Executive Chef John Walsh. 6:30 p.m. $99.95 plus tax and service.

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

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



visual art






the scene

art / culture

What Makes Us Smile? at AVAM

Caleb Stine’s new album

Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Blue Man Group

This month’s cultural highlights


In the quiet corners of Baltimore, a more intimate Latin dance by simon pollock

photography by j.m. giordano


n a brisk autumn night, the faint sound of orchestral strings wafted lazily over the cobblestones of Fells Point. Out at the end of the pier at the south end of Broadway, a small group of people glided across a makeshift dance floor. In close embrace, partners shuffled and dodged to the scratch of digital recordings made from old records. Tango in Baltimore. Latin dance has gained a notable foothold in the city’s nightlife in recent years, with half a dozen venues hosting salsa and merengue nights—and at least



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venues, Simpson and Longerbeam are illustrators more than instructors. They use their own bodies to visually sketch the dance. Their students come from all walks of life, although many, Simpson says, are pursuing higher degrees or already professionals. And what brings them here? “It’s always been a dream of mine to dance,” said Chris Hadley, a 41-year-old carpenter, at a lesson in August. His dance partner and close friend Emily Telfair, a 33-year-old naturopathic doctor, said she had pursued various dance styles since the age of 3. She said she loved the deep connection between tango partners. “Quite a few people who dance are looking for something new in their life,” says Mike Fok, an instructor at SalsaNow and the co-organizer of the city’s salsa meet-up, which boasts 1,400 members. “People are coming out of a relationship or have always wanted to dance, and they’ve never had any training and realize it’s something they want to do. It’s a great way for singles to interact.” But the tango crowd is a select one. In mid-August, Julia Schiptsova, the other organizer of the salsa meet-up, helped host the third annual Tango Element festival at the Tremont Plaza Hotel downtown. Festival attendance doubled after its first year in 2008 to 500 attendees, making tango’s big crowd in Baltimore (and its premier event on the east coast, according to Schiptsova) less than half of the local salsa meet-up’s membership. In part, that’s because tango naturally attracts a crowd that puts a premium on individuality, Longerbeam says. “If people smell a scent of organization, they may be a bit skeptical.” “It’s lots more difficult to learn [tango] than salsa, so that limits its appeal,” says Jay Rabe, who runs, a resource for dancers in Oregon’s largest city. There’s a place to tango every night in Portland, but only one; the crowd isn’t big enough to support more than that, he says. “The typical phenomenon is that from the time a person gets exposed to tango, they either get hooked or they don’t.” In other words, tango isn’t for everyone. “There is an incredible need to marry the mind and the body in this dance. Connecting that with yourself and then putting it together with a partner, that is the tango high,” Simpson says. “It’s not for the weak of spirit.” ■ —Simon Pollock is a senior political science major at Goucher College. Before his junior semester abroad in Costa Rica, salsa was just a great companion to nachos and merengue was just a listing on the diner menu under “pies.” Web Extra: For more about Latin dance in Baltimore, go to the Arts/Culture events listing at


detail of pen and paper illustration by Reverend Aitor

as many groups offering opportunities to learn. But while the basic merengue steps can be taught in a few minutes, building a quick, festive atmosphere, tango is more complex and varied. If merengue and salsa are a big booming Michael Bay popcorn fl ick, Argentine tango can be that, too—or an understated yet powerful Gus Van Sant affair. Argentine tango is not the bracing dance of cinema lore. There are no roses clenched in teeth. No couple dominates the floor in fine suit and fancy dress. Instead, it is an often quiet and intimate art. The dancers’ embrace is often noticeably closer than in ballroom tango. The leader holds one arm behind the follower’s shoulder, extending the other gently but intentionally outward, grasping the follower’s opposite hand. Dancers’ upper bodies stay free of their elegantly twirling hips. Each step is taken close, dancers moving in an intimate and rhythmic lockstep. Unlike salsa or merengue, in Argentine tango there is no set pattern of steps, so dancers must quickly adjust to each other’s movements and to the music, which often features loud crescendos and vibrating baritones that then fade to near silence, only to start back up again with a rising, steady tempo. Compared to ballroom tango, “the improvisational quality of Argentine tango is the big difference,” says Christina Simpson, who teaches tango with her longtime dance partner—and the DJ on the Fells Point pier— Mark Longerbeam. “It’s a dance of infinite possibilities.” “Tango was born a social dance,” says Longerbeam, an unassuming man who carries himself with a thoughtful composure. “And any type of street dance will have an improvisational quality to it.” Argentine tango traces its roots to the barrios, or neighborhoods, outside of Buenos Aires. It is danced exclusively to music made between 1930 and 1955, and both the dance and the music behind it are laced with nostalgia. “Tangos [the songs] often sing of the man who comes back to his barrio with the hope that it might have escaped change,” says Julie Taylor, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Rice University who now lives in Buenos Aires. She calls the male dancer, who traditionally leads, “somber” and “vulnerable.” He is a man searching for a connection with a partner who shares his sadness. At the heart of the dance is the close embrace, which creates an intimate physical bond between dancers. Simpson describes the connection as “a heightened nonverbal sensitivity to energetic change” that allows the dancers to move together even as they improvise. Teaching this fluid art form is tricky. In their classes, taught under the title El Otro Beso and held at the Windup Space and other

visUaL art

Comedic Genius

What Makes Us Smile? at the American Visionary Art Museum, through Sept. 4, 2011


he sixteenth mega-exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum is, as always, more than just an art show. Among the heartfelt pieces of artwork in What Makes Us Smile? are reflections on laughter, its roots and its role in human—and animal—history. (Apparently even rats laugh—probably at us—and chimpanzees retain a gene that enables them to tickle themselves.) With every exhibit, the museum, which turns 15 this month, aims to “destroy the notion that we’re over here and everything else is over there,” says founder and director Rebecca Hoffberger. AVAM’s consistent focus on “outsider” artists, or those whose work doesn’t fit into traditional notions of “art,” elevates the work of folks whose perspectives and skills might otherwise be passed over. The artwork in What Makes Us Smile? —costumes, sculptures, cartoons, even a whoopee-cushion bench—is informed by the fascinating lives and personalities of ninety artists. There’s Baltimore native Gloria Garrett; allergic to the smell of most paints, she chose makeup as the medium for her joyful drawings. And there’s the mysterious mustachioed character who goes by the name Reverend Aitor, responsible for the “Unflattering Portraits” of Hoffberger and co-curators Gary Panter and Matt Groening (of The Simpsons fame). “Everybody’s ugly,” he says in his bio, “and I see no reason for wanting to play down or even omit their least favorite features … Hopefully, if they can laugh about their so-called flaws, they can also accept them.” —Marianne Amoss For more information, call 410-244-1900 or go to

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Caleb Stine’s new album, I Wasn’t Built for a Life Like This


truly great song should be able to stand on its own around a campfire,” says Caleb Stine, Baltimore’s preeminent singersongwriter of original folk anthems. Stine has drawn comparisons to musicians from Townes Van Zandt to the group Uncle Tupelo to Woody Guthrie. But his unique brand of country-meets-city storytelling branches out into a new genre—call it contemporary Americana or urban roots. “I love playing with groups of different ages and experience levels,” Stine says. “I love music best when there is no tension between the artist and the non-artist, the expert and the novice. I see music, on the whole, moving back to something more human, more locally and simply produced.” Stine’s back-to-the-basics approach to music extends to his newest album, his fifth. A collection of spare and soulful tunes, I Wasn’t Built for a Life Like This was recorded acoustically, without backup or accompaniment. Stine’s soft growl digs into complex psychological issues, balancing high and low

vernacular into a product that is both smooth and awkwardly earnest. The album includes ten new tracks that encompass a number of Baltimore-specific themes, as well as personal observations on love and loss. As with his former albums, Stine’s lyrics are poetic, clever, and often melancholy, but thankfully, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Like many of his country music heroes, Stine injects a healthy dose of wry humor, often aimed at himself, to keep his tunes moving forward—not that this latest album was fun or easy to make. “I’m not sure where these songs came from,” he says. “Writing them was an intense, energetic experience, but it was painful, too—like an exorcism at times.” Stine has always written his songs solo, using a typewriter to draft his lyrics. He cites the tactile, percussive feel of the typewriter—as well as its slow inefficiency—as an important part of his songwriting process. “If you want to be an American songwriter these days, Baltimore is one of the best

photo by David Hawe © BMP


t He at er

Anarchy in Blue

Accidental Death of an Anarchist at the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County, Nov. 10–13 Blue Man Group at the Hippodrome, Nov. 2–7


photo © Michael Patrick O’Leary


ario Fo’s 1970 play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, is based on an actual event: In Milan, a year before the play premiered, a man accused of committing a terrorist act plummeted from a window while in custody, leaving open the question of whether he had killed himself over guilt or was murdered by the police. In Fo’s version, the main character, known only as the Maniac, exploits the situation and turns reality on its ear, impersonating a judge looking into the case and outsmarting the police by encouraging them to re-enact the death. In the process, he reveals the foolishness of the authorities. And while Carl Freundel, a CCBC theater professor who’s directing the student production at the Catonsville campus, believes that the work—by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright—belongs in the theatrical canon, he says he chose it with current events and an election month in mind. “It’s a play about someone who is identified as the Other—an outsider—who is stuck in a situation where there is bureaucratic corruption,” he says. The story is a farce, with roots in commedia dell’arte and broad, buffoonish characters. Freundel says his challenge as director is not to push the humor too far, so the audience will experience the tragic results of the conspiracy. “You can watch the play and laugh,” he says, “but when you walk away, you say, ‘Ow.’”

places to be,” Stine says. “It’s a high-stakes city. There are so many stories here ... You can feel the ghosts and the tension between old America and new.” —Cara Ober I Wasn’t Built for a Life Like This is available at the Sound Garden and Record and Tape Traders, as well as on www.

Less tragic is the visit by a group of one-time anarchists, Blue Man Group, to the Hippodrome. This shiny cobalt trio, born in a lower Manhattan theater more than two decades ago, earned its reputation by turning percussion into visual art with the help of spattered paint and Jell-O. In the midst of these theatrics, the Group used placards and video to point out some of the glaring ironies of modern life, turning a satirical eye on breakfast cereal, politics, and sitcoms. The trio has since performed in television ads for Intel, in Las Vegas, and aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines, with a show that has grown to “mega rock star” proportions. But the Hippodrome production promises to be a return to the theatrical, with some “original Blue Man” moments, which one hopes will include the shrewd takedown of pop culture that made the New York appearances so much fun. —Martha Thomas For tickets to Accidental Death of an Anarchist, call 443-840-2787 or go to For tickets to Blue Man Group, call 410-837-7400 or go to

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Become a member and see it free! ·

Baltimore, MD · 600 N. Charles St. · open Wed.–Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m.



HAT I SEE? boo

I SPY books & creator of the C AN YOU SEE W Co-creator of the

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2010–Jan uary 2, 2011 September 19,

The exhibition at the Walters Art Museum is made possible through the generosity of The Wieler Family Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum, the CANUSA Corporation Charitable Fund, The David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation, The Nancy Patz Reading Fund, The Van Dyke Family Foundation, The Linehan Family Foundation/The Ivy Bookstore, Meredith and Adam Borden/The London Foundation, Lynn and Philip Rauch, Mr. and Mrs. Austin George, The Susan Katzenberg Fund and Kate and David Powell. Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic is organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut.








The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra opens its season on Nov. 7 at Goucher College’s Kraushaar Auditorium with a performance of Mozart’s innovative Violin Concerto No. 5, performed by guest violinist Madeline Adkins, as well as pieces by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. WBJC radio host Jonathan Palevsky leads a pre-concert discussion. (410-685-4050; On Nov. 5, legendary sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar stops at the Meyerhoff on his 90th birthday tour to perform some of the classical Indian music that made him famous. (1212 Cathedral St.; 410-783-8000; On Nov. 6, famed pianist Leon Fleisher conducts (and plays with) vocalists and an ensemble of musicians in a performance of two compositions by Brahms and one by Gyorgy Ligeti. It’s part of the Sylvia Adalman Artist Recital Series at the Peabody Institute. (1 E. Mt. Vernon Place; 410-2344800; The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra takes an inspired approach in its latest Off the Cuff event. Analyze This: Mahler and Freud reenacts the meeting between the composer and the psychologist, which affected Mahler’s life and creative output. The orchestra will perform some of the composer’s pieces as well. Nov. 5 and 6. (410-783-8000; FOLK MUSIC

courtesy of Bill riffi th

Dubbed “Peter, Paul and Mary meets the Grateful Dead,” folk group Eddie from Ohio perform at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 13. The next night, the group’s guitarist, Robbie Schaffer, gives a special children’s program called “Songs

for Kids Like Us.” (3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.; 410-356-7469; Singer/songwriter Amy Ray—half of the folk duo the Indigo Girls—performs solo at Sonar on Nov. 20. (407 E. Saratoga St.; 410-783-7888; THEATE R

Based on interviews with soldiers and veterans, ReEntry is a new play that looks at the transition between war and home and the impact serving in the military has on soldiers’ families. Nov. 10–Dec. 9 at Center Stage. (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-3320033; The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival presents Richard III, Shakespeare’s tragic play about the short and bloody reign of the 15th-century king of England, at St. Mary’s Outreach Fellowship Hall. Nov. 26–Dec. 19. (3900 Roland Ave.; 410-366-8596; www. PE R FOR M A NCE

Take the kids to see the classic storybook tale Sleeping Beauty, performed by the master puppeteers of the National Marionette Company at Howard Community College’s Smith Theatre on Nov. 21. (10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy.; 410-997-2324; www. The theme of the Nov. 15 Stoop Storytelling event is “War Stories: Stories of skirmishes, battles, victories, and defeats.” Held at Center Stage, the night features seven folks sharing their personal tales. (700 N. Calvert St.; 410-332-0033; DA NCE

Grace & Flow is an evening of dance,

featuring the second act of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet Swan Lake restaged by Towson University visiting artist Runqiao Du. Nov. 12–14. (410-704-2787; www.towson. edu/artscalendar/dance.asp) V ISUA L A RT

Until Nov. 5, Area 405 hosts 41 Miles North, an exhibition featuring work from the Washington Sculptors Group, a D.C.based nonprofit that counts four hundred artists among its members. The exhibit is held in conjunction with the 2010 Conference of Tristate Sculptors, held this year at Towson University. For a private showing, contact Breon Gilleran at 410-458-0948. (405 E. Oliver St.; The Jewish Museum of Maryland heralds the outreach made by the late Pope John Paul II to the members of the Jewish faith with A Blessing to One Another, an exhibition of artifacts, photographs, video, and documents. Through Dec. 26; for special events, go to (15 Lloyd St.; 410-732-6400)

art/culture (4545 N. Charles St.; 410-516-0341; www. School 33 Art Center hosts two concurrent exhibitions this month: One is Andrew Shenker: Recent Works and Collaborations, featuring the “frenetic but cerebral” work of the local artist, and the other is Graphite on Paper, a group show that celebrates the humble pencil and paper. Nov. 12–Dec. 31, with an opening reception Nov. 12. (1427 Light St.; 410-396-4641; Up concurrently at C. Grimaldis Gallery are Alfredo Jaar: The Sound of Silence, pigment prints of photos taken in the South African jail that held Nelson Mandela, and Dovrat Amsily-Barak: Deja-Vu, staged photographs in which the artist’s family members model an imagined previous life in Europe. Nov. 17–Dec. 11. (523 N. Charles St.; 410-539-1080; www. LITE R ATURE

Twenty top jewelers showcase their creations at the Walters Art Museum’s Can You See What I See: 2010 Jewelry Fair. Special events include a gallery talk with artisans and curators and, in the spirit of the current exhibition on children’s author Walter Wick, a “Finders Keepers” jewelry treasure hunt. Nov. 5–7. (600 N. Charles St.; 410-547-9000;

The Baltimore Writers’ Conference takes place Nov. 19 and 20 at Towson University, with panels, critiques, and seminars on the craft. Local writers making appearances include Geoffrey Becker, Laura Wexler, and Michael Downs; acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (see Urbanite, July ’09) gives a reading on Friday night. (www.towson. edu/writersconference/)

Evergreen Museum & Library exhibits more than twenty-five photogravures (intaglio prints) by Edward S. Curtis, famous for his compelling and controversial photographs of early-20th-century Native Americans. Nov. 17–Mar. 27 with an opening reception and remarks from the curator on Nov. 17.

Nov. 11–13, the southest Baltimore neighborhood of Pigtown hosts Artdromeda, a three-day arts and music festival with live performances and new work from both established and emerging regional artists. (


Theatre Project hosts the world premiere of Zippy the Pinhead: The Musical, a new adaptation of Bill Griffith’s beloved zany comic strip, whose characters made numerous visits to Baltimore. The work is directed by local composer Lorraine Whittlesey, who wrote the songs; she and Griffith will both attend the opening night performance. Nov 12–21. (45 W. Preston St.; 410-752-8558; Compiled by Marianne Amoss

Finding a Home continued from page 41 out today in a floral sundress, bangles, silver sandals—breathlessly recounts her concern: “I knew the baby was coming and I knew the new baby would be the priority to everyone so I knew I wouldn’t get that much attention and so I laid low but that was hard because I was an only child and usually I’m the important one.” Lillian laughs. “You’re still important!” But priorities did indeed shift, as everyone in the family moved over to make room for one more. And then one more after that. “We took a hundred hospital runs in the middle of the night,” says Tellita, explaining she had several false alarms, thinking she was going into labor. “I would have been mad at being woke up over and over,” she says, marveling at Lillian’s calm. “But she was cool.” After three days of contractions and numerous trips to the hospital, Tellita refused to leave until she had that baby. She gave birth about twelve hours later on September 23. “I was there,” says Lillian, still awed and amazed by the fact that the midwife casually ordered her to hold Tellita’s leg as Khamel’s head first crowned. “She was there,” Tellita affirms. “She was, like, right there. She was very there.” The Casey parent-child foster care program is not even three years old, and Tellita and her family are arguably exceptional clients, hand-picked to serve as the program’s exemplary family. (And indeed, they joke about being “the Casey poster family” and one day seeing an Urbanite photo of them plastered on Baltimore bus ads for foster parents.) Still, Casey Family Services Director Doreen Chapman insists the model works across the client base. Although Casey is currently only certified to place twenty-seven teen moms with families, she says she would like to expand the program to serve more kids. The cornerstone of the program’s success, Chapman says, is the “permanency teaming process.” Here, a meeting is scheduled within a month of the teen’s foster family placement to get everybody in the teen’s life together to figure out how to support the young mom and her baby—so that her baby never ends up in foster care itself. (Legally speaking, Tellita is in foster care, but her baby, Khamel, is not.) “We’ve had both birth parents at the table, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents, cousins, anyone who has already been in the teen’s life as a natural support network. We ask, ‘What can each of us do to give her the tools she needs to prepare for adulthood?’” There may be a relative

who says, ‘I can’t be a full-time help, but she needs a ride to work every Thursday, and I can do that.’ She may have another relative who says, ‘I can spend some time with her teaching her how to balance her checkbook and pay bills and file taxes.’” This is a model that is increasingly being adopted in various cities and states across the country, says David Crampton, a professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Sciences, who has studied family group decision making and team decision making among foster youth extensively. While he is not familiar with the Baltimore program, he has studied similar programs nationwide and says there are few drawbacks to the model. The most obvious drawback—this can be expensive and resource intensive—can’t be easily quantified. While detailed cost-benefit analyses have been few, he argues that the dollar amount invested in this initial prep time for a social worker to orchestrate a large family meeting may well pay off. (For example, if the aunt in the above scenario were not available to provide a lift to work on Thursdays and the young person lost her job and landed on public assistance, the long-term public costs are potentially greater.) Meanwhile, Crampton says that young people who find the support they need in their extended family and community stand a better chance of succeeding once they’re on their own. “The point is youth empowerment and engagement,” he says, explaining that teen moms can often feel isolated or ashamed. “Then, they walk into this room with ten to fifteen people—aunts, uncles, cousins, some of whom they may not have spoken to in years—who they realize are there to help them. That’s a pretty powerful feeling. Emotionally, it can be nurturing and healing. Concretely, it can provide meaningful practical support.” In Tellita’s case, the team made it possible for her to get her GED and enroll in Baltimore City Community College, where she now attends classes. It helped her hold down a part-time job at Burger King and then McCormick & Co. spice company, where she currently works. It has enabled her to set her aspirations a bit higher and, at Lillian and Demar’s urging, she has a short-term goal of taking her SATs in January and a long-term goal of going to a four-year college to get a degree and become a pharmacist. The “team” forms a vital support network for Tellita and other teens in the Casey program, but clearly the foster family is key. In Tellita’s case, it’s not a conventional family. There are three different generations,

four different last names, and foster parents and birth parents and step-parents living together. But that’s only if you get technical about it. For all intents and purposes, they fit the definition of family to a T. This is evident less in words, than in the world 11-month-old Khamel peers out at. On this particular warm September evening, Khamel toddles around the living room’s oval coffee table with complete assurance that every one of the four family members present is there to love and care for him. He begins to climb the carpeted stairs and, without a word from anyone, Ziaya snatches him up and adeptly puts him on her hip while she places the baby gate across the bottom step. She sets him back down. He wobbles on unsteady feet across the floor, bending to retrieve a plastic green squeaky toy, and falls; before he can utter a cry and without interrupting her sentence, Tellita has righted him and set him on his way again. He carries the toy to present to Lillian, who smiles at him, lifts him onto her lap, squeaks the toy, and coos. He stays there as long as his attention span lasts—approximately four and a half seconds—and then wiggles down. He finds his bottle on the coffee table and toddles over to Demar, reaching his hands out to be picked up. Demar, a burly bear of a man, lifts the baby easily onto his knee—and Khamel leans his head back into the crook of Demar’s arm, curling into his chest to contentedly suck his bottle. Lisa Sutton, the family’s social worker from Casey, has stopped by, and she glances at Demar and the baby. “Oh, yeah,” she says. “Lillian and Demar had it all worked out from the beginning. Demar told me Lillian was going to handle the hands-on stuff and he was going be more in the background with advice. ‘I’m not going to be hands-on with the baby and stuff,’ he said.” Lisa looks at Demar now, Khamel curled in his arms with the perfect ease of someone who has been there a million times before, and laughs. “Oh yeah, they had it all worked out!” ■ —Karen Houppert is a former Urbanite editor. Her work has appeared the Washington Post magazine, the New York Times, Ms., and Parenting, among others. She lives with her husband and 13-year-old son in Charles Village.

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eye to e y e

This photograph, Lifeline (05.15.4), is a record of the connection to the energy source necessary to its production. The electricity that powered the lighting of the work came through the cable that is the subject of the photograph. It is a lovely conceit. But more, it is a work that rests on the simple tension between a strongly stated rectilinear component and a sinuous, almost organic form. The table and the wire are in a visual dialogue that is presented to us without context. There is no defined space and no information other than the two subjects, one that seems immobile and one that meanders into the distance. The photographer of this image, Lynn Silverman, is a Baltimore artist whose work has consistently been thematic; each series deals with a particular focus. Lifeline (05.14.4) is part of such an ongoing study. —Alex Castro


urbanite november 10

Lynn Silverman Lifeline (05.14.4) 2005 18½ x 23 inches Black and white gelatin silver print

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This offer is made by BGE Home Products & Services, Inc. doing business as Constellation Electric, which is not the same company as BGE, a regulated utility. Visit for full terms and conditions. BGE HOME is not the same company as BGE, a regulated utility. MD License #IR-228




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