This is my old block. My old stomping grounds out of grad school. It’s different today. This whole city is different….and sometimes the same. When I lived in Baltimore about 10% of the population were addicts. Seriously! Close to 50,000 addicts. And the drug of choice was heroin. On any random corner you would see the zombies with that lean and blank expression on their face. They were high as hell and couldn’t full control their bodies, but always managed not to fall. I remember going to sleep to gunshots almost every night. Edgar Allen Poe Homes (the projects) weren’t too far away and it was a battle ground of the drug trade. I never paid attention to how many people were shot or killed. Death and violence was just background noise in a city that was struggling to deal with a host of issues…. the decline of its manufacturing base…a struggling port…continued racial and economic segregation and so on and so on. There is a deep rooted history hear that made and makes this city what it is today. There is a smart growth conference tomorrow that I wish I could attend, but I’ll be heading out west. I hope that in this city…hell…in every city…we start talking about the structures of planning and zoning and discrimination that made certain neighborhoods ghettos…. that physically isolated and marginalized immigrants and people of color….and I hope that planners and smart growth proponents start to realize that we are starting to repeat the past the past.
update: check out this great article about the conference in Grist.