2017 Week Five: Criminal Justice & Government Agencies

picture of Clarissa Chen CIIPCLARISSA CHEN | MADE IN BALTIMORE, OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY

Things are busier than ever with Made in Baltimore. We’re gearing up for our launch party on the 20th next week, and each day seems like a list of tasks, half related to governmental purchasing procedure and the other half scattered pieces — phone calls, emails, designs, forms.

This all sounds pretty mundane, and note that this is the case. But having this beat to run by is one that I prefer. I feel like I understand what’s going on. In a way, I feel more involved than I ever have been before, and I imagine all the connections across the city that are made with each point of contact, where the 300+ people coming to this party are all coming from.

All at the same time, I’m noticing the slow and consuming stress that is building for Andy as the date of this launch party approaches. I thought about how being your own boss must be a liberating feeling, but also consider what his operation as a one-man show must be like in every other season except for the summer, as another Hopkins student has been working part-time with him along with myself. In thinking of goals, success, whatever deliverables this summer might result it, I just hope I can make his life a little easier by taking some weight off his shoulders, and sustain that feeling even after CIIP ends.

picture of Kelsey Ko CIIPKELSEY KO | CITY HALL, COUNCILMAN ZEKE COHEN

I would say that an important aspect of my Hopkins identity is that I’m a part of our student newspaper, The JHU News-Letter. I’ve spent countless hours and sleepless nights at the Gatehouse, our tiny office on the corner of North Charles and Art Museum Drive. We lay out pages, edit, and report on everything from Remington’s gentrification to Roland Park’s history of racial exclusion.

I wanted to do CIIP this summer because I hoped to make a difference in Baltimore, the city I love to write about. And I really do believe I’m making that difference. What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much about media and journalism, and how it plays into Baltimore’s social justice and political scene.

On Sunday, I helped out our team in a community cleanup that District 1 had organized along with District 13. As over 300 people picked up litter and trash in their neighborhoods, I helped paint the mural in front of the Patterson Park Library. Looking up, I saw Zeke and my site supervisor Mike on their phones, trying to rally the press to cover the event.

I got up briefly to livestream the event and chat with Zeke.

“Why does the media cover violence and crime in our city, but they don’t show up to events like this where Baltimore residents are working together towards bettering the community?” Zeke asked me.

Eventually, reporters did show up to cover the event. Zeke reiterated to them again that yes, there is still work to be done in Baltimore, but there are also a lot of people who come together and strive every day to make this city a little bit better.

Zeke’s question was rhetorical, but coupled with Mark Steiner’s mid-point presentation, I’ve started to think about what my role as a student reporter is. It seems to me that everywhere I look, so much of the media and journalism today is sensational and corporatized. Clickbait is the status quo because more views means more money. What I’ve always liked about The News-Letter is that we don’t get paid to do our job. We write because we think it’s important to codify and relay what has happened at Hopkins and in Baltimore.

I hope that in the future, the media continues to shine the spotlight on the real work that people are doing in Baltimore City. I know it’s important to hit upon the hard-hitting issues — the opioid crisis, crime, all of that. The public must know about it. But I’m realizing that news coverage on the amazing things that Baltimoreans do for the city is also invaluable.

The nonprofits that touch the lives of workers, students, and families in small ways every day. The teachers who work tirelessly within an education system that does not have enough. The Baltimore City councilmembers who organize a community cleanup that unites seemingly disparate communities. These are Baltimore’s unsung heroes. In these times of darkness and uncertainty, I hope we remember to remember them.

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