To know Baltimore is to love it, but to love it, you really do have to know it. And Baltimore is not the kind of place that’s jumping up and down saying, “Know me! Love me!” Baltimore’s most lovable aspects are hidden behind veils magnifying its flaws, keeping its virtues a mystery to outsiders.
I know this because I managed to commute from Pennsylvania to teach at MICA and the University of Baltimore for seven years without really getting any sense of the city, or feeling any desire to live here. When my Pennsylvania life disintegrated, I only slowly and gingerly began to consider moving into town — mainly because with my job and my small child, it was the only option that made any practical sense.
Within weeks of moving, I was completely won over by my new home in Baltimore City, which was everything the Pennsylvania suburbs weren’t — diverse, quirky, progressive. Back when I moved to Evergreen, I delighted in all the Obama signs and anti-war signs and Save the Bay bumper stickers. Now I am surrounded by Black Lives Matter and Kindness is Everything. There is solid support for abortion rights and the deep relief of living in one of the bluest states there is.
Thirteen years into my Baltimore phase, I still can’t get over how this city has welcomed me. The ever-widening ripples of choosing to live here have included great friends and neighbors, a column in this publication, a radio show at the NPR station, and a solid understanding of what makes a good crab cake. I love our excellent non-chain movie theaters, our quirky outsider art museum, our fantastic selection of indie bookstores, and the gorgeous waterfront dog walking opportunities around Lake Roland, the Inner Harbor, Lake Montebello, and Stony Run. I’m even going to give Baltimore credit for my love of Dewey Beach, Delaware, which I never would have known about if I hadn’t come here first.
Thank you, Baltimore, for taking me in.
I asked other staff of the Fishbowl to share their Baltimore gratitude.
Marcus Dieterle, Managing Editor
Bump into an old friend at a Baltimore grocery store or theater, and it’s not fate that gets the credit for your chance encounter; no, it’s Smalltimore. There’s a certain familiarity one feels in Charm City, whether you’ve been here all your life or just arrived last week. It’s the small town feel, yes, but it’s also that this city has a big heart.
Travel anywhere in the city and you’ll find residents building a better Baltimore, a healthier Baltimore, a kinder Baltimore. Pursuit of that vision has come with hard work to overcome decades of disinvestment, hypersegregation, and persistent pushback. But Baltimoreans have a deep, prevailing desire to heal the city, not just for some far-off future, but for today.
My gratitude goes to the urban farmers growing something new, to the artists creating something beautiful and thought-provoking, to the community groups making a difference in their neighborhoods block by block, and to you for giving enormous love to Smalltimore.
David Nitkin, Executive Editor:
On my Twitter profile, I’ve described myself as someone who likes to “laugh and provoke.”
Those are also the qualities I love about Baltimore, and I’m thankful for them.
Baltimore does not take itself too seriously. From the William Donald Schaefer-era motto “The Greatest City in America” to the embrace of “hon” culture to the quirky restaurants on nearly every commercial strip, Baltimore is always in on the joke about what makes Baltimore special.
We are purposefully not Washington D.C. or Philadelphia or, heaven forbid, New York. We are who we are, and we chuckle at our foibles.
And, yes, we provoke. The city provokes justified anger with its wave after wave of ineffective or even criminal political leadership, its violent crime; its trash and its substance abuse challenges.
Almost always though, that provocation leads to introspection, and to well-intentioned efforts to come together, forge partnerships and develop solutions. The solutions are not instantaneous; they may not receive the resources they need. But we are trying, godammit.
So, Baltimore, thank you for the laughter. Thank you for the provocation. And thank you for the effort. Those are admirable qualities. And if you like, you can even put them in your Twitter profile. If that’s still around the next time you log on.
Suzy Dunn, Founding Editor & Publisher:
I am thankful for incredible, imperfect Baltimore for its authenticity, architecture, waterfront, historical places, food scene, heart, and faithful fans. Something about Baltimore captures the loyalty of those who grow up here. And there’s a hopefulness that never dissipates, even in the worst of times. I love that Baltimoreans won’t give up on the city, and I’m thankful for that.
Add your thanks to Baltimore in the comments, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Baltimore Fishbowl.