Join Charles Village resident Odette Ramos and Harwood resident Rob Mara at the 5th Annual Neighborhood Institute: Love Where You Live for their interactive workshop on engaging and steering City government to help resolve neighborhood issues. RSVP online today!
Tell us a bit about your backgrounds.
Rob: When I moved to Baltimore in 2006 from New York City, I quickly realized the lack of engagement between my neighborhood and city agencies. As a native of that city and my experience working with the homeless in Hell’s Kitchen, I learned the importance of communication between the community and agencies for the city to benefit those in need as well as raising expectations for the community as a whole.
As a result, I began to engage agencies to understand better how to meet both their and our needs. In doing so, we in Harwood have had an ongoing dialogue with the PD and Housing on issues pertaining not just to us, but the city as a whole. As a result, we have largely removed open air drug dealing from our corners and parks as well making landlords and tenants responsible for their dwellings.
Odette: I have been very involved and active in Baltimore throughout my 20 years here. Some specific examples include: I was a founder of the Village Learning Place, and we needed city help to lease the current building. I have worked with city government on nuisance housing issues, sanitation, receivership and other areas. Most recently, in running for City Council in the 12th district, I realized the services that the city is not good at providing, and the reasons for this. I look forward to sharing those.
As you know, GHCC’s Neighborhood Institute is about helping residents learn ways to build and strengthen their own neighborhoods. How will your workshop help them to accomplish that?
Odette: Being active in your community means you naturally have to engage city government to help resolve issues in the community. Or, in some cases, try to engage city government and then take matters into your own hands or those of the community. There are times where communities need the city (police, sanitation, etc) because they are the only entity doing the specific thing we need them to do. We have to engage them effectively.
Why did you choose to participate as a workshop leader in this year’s Neighborhood Institute?
Rob: I chose to be a part of the institute meeting because there is a need to let people know that whatever the issues there are in Baltimore, they can be solved if we work together. What we have done in Harwood, we have done with people from varied backgrounds and one ideal: stick together with the best ideas for the benefit of all.
Odette: I was asked to participate and thought I could be helpful.
What are you hoping that your workshop participants will take away with them?
Rob: Working together is what I expect folks to take from our session.
Odette: Innovative discussion and ideas for engaging city government to improve their neighborhoods.