Diksha Iyer: A Day in Baltimore
By: Diksha Iyer
An opportunity for CSC-affiliated Hopkins students to share the places they frequent in Baltimore.
I’m a HUGE fan of locally-owned record stores because they often host intimate discussions with great artists and other music aficionados. After a look on the Visit Baltimore page for record stores, I found Sound Garden! I took the JHMI to Penn Station and then transferred to the Lime to get the Fell’s Point. It had the largest collection of records and CDs (even funny candles and stickers) I had ever seen! Sound Garden has an amazing collection of music produced, written, and sung by Baltimoreans who directly contribute to writing Baltimore’s stories and uniting Baltimore communities. Music is a big part of how I enjoy life, express love, and learn about other cultures and peoples. Sound Garden gave me the opportunity to not only chase bands from my childhood but also challenge myself to jump in headfirst and listen to/learn something new.
Dreamer’s and Make Believers
Baltimore has a vibrant historic queer community, and one of the best places to engage with their stories is through a queer-owned bookstore! I started following D&MB on Instagram after meeting the staff at Baltimore Pride. They posted that they were hosting an event to “swap” your old books and clothes! It was the first queer-affirming clothing swap I’d ever heard of, and it helped me understand how clothes can shape how we see and feel about ourselves. I also added to my book list – queer graphic novels/comics was not a literary genre I had been exposed to before. I expanded my literary comfort zone and met queer Baltimoreans outside of Hopkins, who taught me about the various ways that Baltimore’s queer communities organize and support one another.
Halloween Parade in Patterson Park
I had no idea that the Great Halloween Lantern Parade was happening – we ran into the festivities as we passed Patterson Park on our way to D&MB (this mural was along the route of the parade)! We made lanterns, voted in a costume contest for kids, listened to local marching bands, and ate some delicious food from Baltimore-based vendors. I took the Navy from Fell’s Point to get to Patterson Park and walked a couple more blocks to get to D&MB. The parade was a beautiful example of how active the Baltimore community is – even if you were only planning on visiting some local businesses, you can still find a locally hosted event! Also, this was a beautiful example of how a community maintains their historic traditions. Respecting these traditions is a beautiful way to immerse yourself within the communities that are hosting you during your time here. Everyone we met was invested in making sure we felt included, which was very uplifting!
One of the main takeaways I found was how easy it is to immerse ourselves in Baltimore if we take the time to intentionally find spaces we want to engage with. In just three hours, I was able to visit several local businesses, go on a Halloween parade, listen to new artists, eat some new food, and expand my fashion and literary horizons. I made new friends who have taught me more about Baltimore community organizing than I would have learned in an academic setting, and have empowered me to make space for myself and enter new communities outside of Hopkins. To go to the first event will be difficult because it’s all new to you. Then, it just becomes easier and more fulfilling each time. I think it’s extremely important that my Hopkins peers learn to pursue their passions/hobbies within Baltimore. There are so many community spaces where you will be welcomed and you will learn something new about yourself too!