Growing up outside of DC consisted of two main types of behavior:
1) Wanting to go to DC
2) Deciding DC was a dump once I scammed a way there
Because before the double-aughts, kiddies, DC was known as Dodge City. A dangerous place everyone knew better than to visit, outside of the museums, of course.
Now? Is beautiful. Sooooo pretty. I never get tired of walking from Dupont Circle to Capitol Hill, or U Street, or Gallery Place. Why? Because now, I can. But when I was in school/college/yuppie hell? You walked in DC At Your Peril.
Gorgeous places like Kalorama Park, fun places like U Street and Penn Quarter just weren’t the same back them. Kalorama Park was an open air drug market. U Street was a place you didn’t hit ‘less you lived there. And Penn Quarter? A co-worker bought a place around that area in the early 90s…and everyone thought she was crazy. Now? Uh, not so much. ‘Tis gorgeous over there.
Why do I bring this up? Because there are scads of areas in Baltimore that, with a touch of elbow grease, could be just as pretty, if not more so. Especially around historic districts like my beloved Pigtown.
A place I’d love to see grow and thrive is Carroll Park. It’s an absolutely huge plot of land thisclose to the city center, and within walking distance of my front door. (Y’know, give or take 5 blocks.) Sadly, the City’s Web site doesn’t do it much justice. Okay, it completely and totally sucks. (To be fair, all of the parks get the short stick; what, the city couldn’t pop in a picture of each park on each page?) Luckily there’s a group called Carroll’s Hundred that shows beautiful pictures of the park. Mmm, so nice!
They also want to help bring it to glorious life, which is a cause I fully support. In a perfect world, there would be a farmer’s market there sometime during the week (a market that would accept WIC/food stamp vouchers, ’cause let’s face it, Pigtown is a definite food desert). There would be people from the BioPark and local businesses that would use the park as a lunchtime/after-work haven. People would walk their dogs without worrying about broken class (or being mugged).
Heck, there’s even a really cool historic house on the property. And a 9-hole golf course nearby. It’s a part of the Gwynns Falls Trail system too.
Why doesn’t it get the respect a large, well-planned park should get in a big city? I have no idea. But today when I read about the $35,000 National Park Service Preserve America Grant that Carroll Park just scored (yes, you knew there was a reason I was tapping this out), I felt a surge of hope. You’ve gotta give folks a reason to take back their neighborhoods. Most city admins — whatever big city, not just here — don’t seem to think about that. But it’s important, and a gorgeous, SAFE park that had things people could do (along with the publicity that gets that info out to the masses) is just the sort of thing Pigtown needs.
Plus, there was info on how to volunteer to help with historical research. Uh, hello; that’s the sort of thing I’ve always wanted to help with. Too cool!
I think I’ve found my volunteer work obsession. Mmm, history.