Monday, July 29, 2013

Almost Full Circle

My very first post was from weave found at 38th street and Greenmount avenue. That area is a crossroads between the gated neighborhood of Guilford and the less gated area of The Waverlies. Guilford has a security team in clean white 'securitas' cars (part of the independent Securitas company), and labyrinthine streets. Waverly does not have a security team, but also boasts a good number of confusing one way streets.
Looking back at that post from two years ago, it's weak. That area deserves greater attention. Here is my opportunity to make up for it in a small way. Recently a friend in Baltimore sent me a picture from not too far away from that original spot: Cold Spring lane and York road.
Here it is:
This may be the biggest piece any one has sent me a picture of so far. I once saw a full wig, but that may have just been a rat. The confusion is common in Baltimore. Not to get graphic, but when the weather gets warm and drowned rats start decorating gutters and street corners it can be visually confusing.
To set the stage of this area, here you can find a barber shop called 'Nappee by Nature', a hectic transfer site for MTA buses, and a supremely bustling intersection. Other notable locations: York road Animal Hospital, Lianah Dominican Hair Salon, and a fried chicken/ lake trout spot called Chicken Run. A weird assortment for all your hair and chicken needs.
I used to bike through that intersection to get to Roland Park from Waverly. There were always residents out in lawn chairs talking and gossiping and children playing on porches. Another common sight is men with suspiciously slouched, stumbling, feet-dragging swaggers. Are you following me here?
When this was my daily route, these men gave me nicknames like 'Snow Flake' and 'Snow White'- just to include me. One of these men, in addition to being a vocal advocate of 'Nappee by Nature', had a penchant for carrying and brandishing machetes. It may have just been one machete. Owning one machete is rare, multiple blades would be outrageous.
Another anecdote that I can't keep in: on the 8 bus a few days, while I listened to two men bicker about the appropriate way to treat women (a good sign for the future of young adults), I watched a couple of people sell Coronas out of a battered box to drivers stopped at that light for 3 bucks a piece. You never see the same thing twice at that intersection.
If you haven't seen the aforementioned corner, it's positioned between the neighborhoods of Waverly, Govans, Guilford, and Pen Lucy. Can we please give a shout out to Pen Lucy? That neighborhood is dwarfed by some giants. An even smaller neighborhood? Richnor Springs
See? Small
According to, Richnor Springs is "one of those great little secrets of Baltimore City life". The page describes it as a tight community with quiet, tree-lined streets. Most residents have lived there their entire lives. They know the area and they've watched it grow and change, wax and wane. There is a change based on the average home sales from 2008 to 2010. In 2008, the average price was $128, 402 and 7 homes were sold; in 2009 the average price was $39,750 and 2 houses were sold; in 2010 the average price was $38,786 and 7 were sold.
If you do a search for news at that specified intersection, as of July 29th, the most recent article is about an attempted carjacking from last month(1). The second hit is from 2010. On the page for Richnor Springs from the Live Baltimore website, you can follow a link to see the crime map provided by the Baltimore police force. After entering the address for Nappee by Nature, this is the map provided:
As the dates on the map show, this is just for the past two weeks.
This website has a good breakdown of the demographics. It states at the bottom of the page that all information is "reliable but not guaranteed", and has been updated in the current year. Good disclaimer. I was directed there by the website, which is a real estate company that is different from other companies because, according to their about section, they're "really on your side". Their breakdown of demographics reflects a community primarily of homeowners who are, again primarily, between the ages of 5-14, 25-29, and 50-54. A majority of the residents have attained a high school diploma or some college, and a white collar job. The crime FAQs indicates 7 times the risk for robbery and 6 times the risk for murder. It doesn't say, but I'm assuming that is a national average. The chart above from the crime map is showing stolen cars as the greatest risk for the past two weeks.

What these stats don't show is the eagerness of the community association to involve residents, plan events, and address community concerns. Richnor Springs is a good example of a small neighborhood getting swallowed up by larger city concerns and the sometimes harsh stigma surrounding the residents.

Thanks to Mo for the picture
Thanks to Baltimore


No Sleep till Brooklyn, Baltimore

This weave isn't tumbling anywhere. It's firmly secured in packaging with tags and prices and accompanying accessories. These wigs and extensions have been carefully displayed and one day be purchased and worn with care.

Weave can get pricey. Most means of beautification are costly, time consuming, and require reoccurring attention. Such 'hobbies' are associated with women, and thus they aren't as important to discuss; they are "inferior"1. Before this becomes a discussion of gendered expectations of success with physical appearance, let me say the financial burden places on women- identified people is much higher than for men. It isn't fair. This may have been the greatest thrift store I've been to in Maryland, but the extensive hair selection made it the greatest I've been to in the few states in the United States (shout out to Savers). Hell yeah- people who need wigs or weave get a chance to save some money. Times are tough and fashion sense isn't getting any cheaper.
Fun facts about Brooklyn:
Brooklyn isn't just a place in New York.
Finally, there is the aforementioned neighborhood Brooklyn in Baltimore, and there is Brooklyn Park in Anne Arundel county. Way to rack up the Brooklyns Maryland. Let's jump into the stats: Brooklyn/ Curtis Bay, when compared to Baltimore City, has higher percentages of white and Hispanic residents, "some other races", and "two or more races"2. Some other races...two or more day this will be expanded without it being considered superfluous fact.
Income, proficiency levels, and school absenteeism for elementary through high school is comparable. An interesting statistical difference as listed in the 2011 Neighborhood Health Profile of Brooklyn/ Curtis Bay/ Hawkins Pt. is that of adult educational attainment. Brooklyn residents beat out the average percentage of Baltimore City residents with a high school diploma by 20% (75% versus 52%), but Baltimore City residents win with college diplomas by 20% (5% versus 25%). This has to be because of the presence of so many universities and colleges in Baltimore city, as well as the number of transplants who graduate from these universities and colleges and stay in Baltimore.
Anyone following current events in Baltimore these days knows that the number of shootings and police activity has been off the charts recently. Unfortunately the rates of fatal and non-fatal shootings in Brooklyn are higher than the average of Bmore City (as are rates of domestic violence). This is not to say that the number of shootings in Brooklyn has increased in tandem recently. My stats are from 2011 averages.
This information is from (I'm sorry, college professors): because of "general neglect from the city of Baltimore" and its proximity to Cherry Hill, Brooklyn struggles with crime and drug activity. There is a question about the source for the quote about Baltimore neglect; I can't say if it's true or not. I only personally know the 20-somethings go to Brooklyn for the thrift stores and they say "it isn't safe, but where in Baltimore is?". Like Station North, there are plans for gentrification in Brooklyn but this hasn't been moving forward with the same speed. That's not uncommon- communities on the outskirts of a city are never tended to as quickly (see: parishes outside of New Orleans). There is some truth to the wikipedia facts based on this website: It gives a good breakdown- very thorough.
But in the end, only the people who live there can say anything with certainty and truth. I am not tech saavy enough to reformat to get the video to fit. You should follow the link here and above to see it. Neighborhoods don't need false advertising from weave-stalkers. Let them speak for themselves.
To tie it back to the beginning: in the video a man says "There aren't too many outlets for little girls". As cities take stock of what places to "gentrify" (because it is a harsh and much-debated inevitability), leaders need to remember the needs of the children and young adults come first. Methods of physical adornment and ornamentation are important in their own right, but it can't be the only outlet for young women. 

Do you want your travels loosely documented, or your neighborhood featured? Email me at
Include the neighborhood or the cross streets, if possible!



Thank you to the Beastie Boys for quotable song titles
Thank you to Baltimore. Every day

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lots of missing: this time, this year

It's been over a year since the last post! Let's jump right in.
Hampshire College.
Located in Amherst, MA, this private liberal arts school boasts a student body of about 1,500. The college was founded around the late 60s/early 70s time, and is earnest in its approach to providing an education that seems even more pseudo-hippie than Bard. I could point fun and say "no grades? what are you even doing there you liberal yuppies?" But I went to a small, private, 'liberal' school too. Who am I to judge? And for real- this school is in the Five College consortium, giving their students access to Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Who here is going to say that isn't a pretty good deal? Sit down Claremont Consortium.
And onwards to the point:
location: Hampshire college, 2013

Back in April, Hampshire is hosting a conference run by Civil Liberties and Public Policy. Oh, you want to know about them? The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP) functions to to help smash the state and end patriarchy! Well, actually they educate and train leaders and activists on issues of reproductive rights and health, and social economic justice. Developing in the wake of Reagan-era enti-abortion pressure and right-wing attacks, CLPP emerged to engage students in activism and social justice.
Does anyone care about Hampshire stats or just another picture of weave? Whatever, you're getting a little bit of everything today. It's been a while!
Based on numbers provided by Hampshire's admissions website, the teacher to student ratio is 12:1. Neat, good size. That's small, so lots of attention. Ok, what's next? Some of the same idea- average class size is 18. Next? Students of color: 18%; International students: 6%. That's it. Those are all of statistics. It can't always be a priority to break down racial or ethnic diversity- or am I saying that because I am perceived as a mainstream looking young person (read: looking pretty white). The percentage of white students isn't listed because it's assumed that the school is going to be primarily white and, in my experience, probably female-bodied or woman-identifying. For more perspective, Amherst Massachusetts is also primarily white, female, and middle class as well.
But even I can't stay angry about everything all the time. This conference looked like an incredible event that deserves a shout out and praise. Diversity is always a photo opportunity (remember I went to a small liberal arts school, so I know this to be fact), but it doesn't feel contrived coming from the 2013 CLPP conference. I can't say more because I wasn't there, but I feel empowered just looking at the website and watching video clips.
More power to an institution like Hampshire if they provide a space that is safe, inclusive, empowering, and productive for this conference to take place. And love to the CLPP for bringing "over a thousand activists, students, academics, and professionals from 132 campuses and 260 organizations" together for the weekend.
And for serious readers of this kind of activism, it gets better. According to more info stuffed in the conference's website, the following things were provided: childcare, scent-free environments for those with chemical sensitivities, non-discriminatory bathrooms, wheel chair accessibility, ASL translators, and all-inclusive meal options. To help with funding, they provided help for fundraising campaigns and opportunities to apply for transportation and housing stipends. Aid with funding is monumental  in order to prevent the exclusion of activists on the basis of economic status. Dialogue is strengthened.
I hope too much synthetic hair wasn't lost at this conference.

Thank you to Genna for the picture
Thank you to Defiance, Ohio for 'This Time, This Year'
Thank you to Hampshire College
Thank you to the CLPP

Other Sources: