As part of its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, Strong City Baltimore has published a book showing how, by working hand in hand with neighborhood residents, we have helped bring about community-driven change.

Building Blocks: Stories of Neighborhood Transformation

Strong City’s mission is to build and strengthen neighborhoods and people. Doing community organizing in Baltimore for 50 years has demonstrated that building the capacity of neighborhood and grassroots leaders is the path to lasting change. Building Blocks uses the unique, compelling stories of Barclay, Harwood, Remington, and the York Road Corridor to give people the tools to improve their own communities.

Virtual Book Launch

A live-streamed conversation with Baltimoreans (including some featured in the book) about the successes, pitfalls, and lessons learned from Strong City’s five decades of neighborhood organizing.

Hosted by Mike Cross-Barnet, Neighborhoods Manager

Technical support by Eva Wingren, Development Associate

Recorded on June 10, 2020

Speakers include:

  • Connie Ross, Baltimore Midway Old Goucher (BMOG) Coalition
  • Karen D. Stokes, former Strong City CEO
  • Tamara Payne, Harwood community artist, former Harwood Community Association
  • President Hannah Gardi, former 29th Street Community Center Director
  • Paul Brophy, Principal at Brophy & Reilly
  • Phong Le Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA)
  • Karen DeCamp, former York Road Partnership President, former Strong City Director of Community Programs
  • Sandi McFadden, Govans Community School Coordinator


This book is a must-read for anybody who is willing to engage in the long haul of community restoration.  It provides a blueprint for the steps needed to turn around disinvested communities. Baltimore still has far too many neighborhoods that are at risk or forgotten, and too few successes such as those presented here.

— Klaus Philipsen, author of Baltimore: Reinventing an Industrial Legacy City

It has never been more important for Baltimore to have  successful community engagement.  People who want to build community organizations that are democratic, accountable, and powerful need to learn what worked and why it worked. This book not only celebrates decades of success, but also – by delving into organizers’ methods, looking at both progress and setbacks – lays out the lessons learned.

— Joseph B. McNeely, former Executive Director, Central Baltimore Partnership

Special Thanks To

Community Readers

Paul Brophy, Joann Levy, Kate Lynch, Joseph B. McNeely, Bill Miller, Erin O’Keefe, Connie Ross, Lottie Sneed, Catherine Stokes, Michael Braverman, Stacy Freed, Jason Hessler, and Jim Majors

Strong City Publishing Team

Writer and Lead Editor: Mike Cross-Barnet

Editors: Karen D. Stokes and Karen DeCamp

Writer and Editor: Josh Clement

Writer and Researcher: Christy Zuccarini

Photography: Mike Cross-Barnet, Samantha Solomon, and the Strong City Baltimore archives

Seed Funding Provided By

Published By

Questions or Ideas?