The current scandals plaguing City Hall only highlight a more urgent truth: Baltimore has operated for too many years without a clear vision or strategy, one that is independent of changes in our political leadership.
As Baltimoreans, we simply cannot wait around for, or depend upon, any one single politician to cast a strategic vision. It is the job of a broader sector of leadership to create, support, and champion that vision.
The last time we had a vision for our city that transcended a single political leader was the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor. Unlike that vision, the new vision we dream of today must include all of Baltimore. BUILD has begun this work by listening to thousands of people across our city. Based on what we have heard, our new vision must prioritize the youth of our city, the safety of our families, and the employment of our citizens; it must also make access to affordable housing and efficient public transportation possible for all Baltimoreans. In short, our new vision must prioritize our common dignity.
“We express our support for Ex-officio Mayor Young as he takes on the awesome responsibility of leading our city. His responsibility is not only to stabilize Baltimore but also to begin to act with urgency on the issues our city faces NOW,” says Bishop Douglas Miles, BUILD Clergy Co-Chair. Our youth continue to be murdered on our streets. The opioid epidemic only grows worse. Potential new businesses and corporations seek greener pasture elsewhere. What little trust that remains in our city’s leadership and governance structure is fast waning. These issues simply cannot wait another year until our next election to be addressed.
For over 40 years, while mayors have come and gone, BUILD has trained and developed local leaders in neighborhoods to address Baltimore’s most pressing issues. The living wage campaign, Child First Authority, and College Bound began as BUILD initiatives; more recently, the revitalization of Johnston Square and the multi-million dollar investment in affordable housing in the Oliver neighborhood are the result of BUILD leadership partnering with other civic-minded organizations and citizens.
BUILD is poised and ready to lead once again. We are calling on Baltimore’s corporate and civic leadership to join us in crafting a strategic vision that does not fall victim to changes in political leadership; a common vision that is inclusive of uptown and downtown, Forest Park and Roland Park, Highlandtown and Sandtown.
In our religious traditions, this is something we would call a “Kairos moment”: the convergence of people, events, and circumstances. “We have sufficient power and resources in our city to make our collective vision a reality,” observes BUILD leader Rev. Cristina Paglinauan. “Our problem as a city has never been a lack of power or resources, but rather that these have not been harnessed or attached to a common vision or a common strategy.”
We are reaching out to civic and corporate leaders immediately, to meet with us in the next 60 days. We also invite citizens of our city who are committed to a better, safer, stronger Baltimore to join us in this conversation by calling or emailing us with your thoughts of how best to move Baltimore forward.
Let us begin harnessing our collective power and resources to build one Baltimore for all. The time to act is now.
Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) is a broad-based community power organization, rooted in Baltimore’s neighborhoods and congregations. BUILD is non-partisan, interfaith, multiracial, and dedicated to making Baltimore a better place for all to live and thrive. For over 40 years, BUILD has worked to make safe communities, improve housing, increase job opportunities, and rebuild schools. BUILD is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the oldest and largest network of community organizations in the United States. For more information, visit buildiaf.org.
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