As a resident of Westminster for the 19 years of my life, I have always considered myself a half-expert on Baltimore. I would occasionally make the forty-five minute drive to the city—usually to tourist areas, guarded by my super-protective parents who gasped at the word “city”—but I never felt as though I knew Baltimore as well as I should. After coming back from my first wonderful year at American University in DC, I was determined to get to know the city that was even closer to home. I was, therefore, thrilled to have the opportunity to canvass for Retrofit Baltimore.
My experience thus far has surprised me and rewarded me, but most of all, it has enriched my knowledge of Baltimore and my identity as a Marylander. I always had heard of Baltimore of a city to avoid; my peers and colleagues referred to it as a project, a developing city. My dad may or may not refer to the drivers here as “Baltimorons.” But the kindness and concern for environmental issues which I encounter so often with residents completely contradicted the cold response that I was expecting. The soul and pride of Baltimore is apparent in all residents I have met here, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore the beautiful neighborhoods which I never knew existed.
This inspiring experience that I have had so far in Baltimore has raised the bar for what I expect out of my work. I am no longer merely trying to spread awareness about an issue in which I believe, but I am urging Baltimore residents to take a stand on something that so many of them believe in, too. I want Baltimore, this city that we all love through the bad and good, to be the catalyst for environmental change. Only we can improve the reputation of Baltimore. We have the power to make the city even better, and we can gain the respect the city deserves by implementing positive change. Citizens can help themselves and their community by retrofitting; we cannot be afraid to take such a beneficial leap. With the environmental engagement of residents, Baltimore could be known as a place where people care about their city to the point that they take active measures to protect it. It is clear to me that people in Baltimore care about the environment. If I can urge them to take action on that concern, my appreciation for this place will only continue to escalate.