solidarity

Results from BASE’s Building a More Inclusive and Equitable Baltimore Candidate Survey

In a mayoral election cycle where the Uprising has pushed racial and economic exclusion and inequity in Baltimore’s communities to the forefront of the debate, BASE decided to experiment with a candidate survey designed to explore and document how our potential future Mayor might deploy strategies explicitly designed to create a more inclusive and equitable local economy.

In our assessment, we focused on eight areas where we felt there are readily available solidarity economy strategies, with proven track records in other jurisdictions—affordable housing, responsible subsidy policies, race and gender equity in business support, job creation & green infrastructure, worker ownership, youth empowerment, local finance, and addressing the digital divide.  Within these categories, we chose strategies which reflect demands made by Baltimore City community builders and organizers. These strategies focus on constructive solutions that build new economic institutions and relations grounded in community and solidarity (rather than incremental reforms that might address excessive economic exploitation but not substantially address inequity).

The results are fascinating. A major takeaway is that the kind of solidarity economy strategies we are proposing are thoroughly mainstream, backed by a broad segment of candidates from all parties in the Baltimore mayoral race. While more political will may be required to push for effective, at-scale implementation, because the results show there is little objection across the field, it seems to BASE that these kinds of strategies—focused on equitable local multipliers, broad participation and ownership, and direct community benefit—should not prove to be difficult to incorporate into the economic policy of Baltimore City.  

There are many avenues of follow up to this survey around education, engagement, and exploration. One key recommendation from BASE is that local philanthropy interested in building a more inclusive and equitable economy should take note of the broad opening for new, innovative policies here, and help provide resources for Baltimore’s new leadership to evaluate and assess the national best practices and models in each of these sectors.

The candidate responses are below.  A few candidates did not respond to our volunteer survey team, and one candidate (Sheila Dixon) provided narrative answers to a few questions but not answers to the yes/no questions.  

Affordable Housing


CandidateParty1. Will you promote permanently affordable housing with tools like community land trusts to stabilize neighborhoods faced with new development projects?2. Will you connect mechanisms for the disposal of city-owned vacant properties to community ownership and stewardship tools like community land trusts that ensure permanent affordability?3. Will your administration insist that developers that benefit from public subsidies provide inclusive affordable housing that meets the needs of all Baltimore residents?
CandidateParty1. Will you promote permanently affordable housing with tools like community land trusts to stabilize neighborhoods faced with new development projects?2. Will you connect mechanisms for the disposal of city-owned vacant properties to community ownership and stewardship tools like community land trusts that ensure permanent affordability?3. Will your administration insist that developers that benefit from public subsidies provide inclusive affordable housing that meets the needs of all Baltimore residents?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYesYesYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYesYesYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYesYesYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYesYesYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYesYesYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYesYesYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYesYesYes
David WarnockDemocraticYesYesYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYesYesYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYesYesYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanYesYesYes

Question 4:

What standards will you use to judge the success of these programs and public subsidies?

Sheila Dixon

We need to balance public and private investment. Public Private Partnerships have been an important 
tool to retain and attract jobs and grow the tax base, but in a city with many needs to address, we must
be able to make the case that downtown and neighborhood development are mutually supporting. 

• Routinely Reevaluate the Need for Tax Breaks. Incentive programs as a whole should be 
periodically reevaluated to determine the need for more or less incentives based on improving or 
declining conditions. 

• Perform Cost-Benefit Analysis. Perform impact studies to assess the full impact of a project to the 
city, both financial and otherwise, in order to determine the needs and the related costs that it 
generates to the city by adding police, fire and other services.

• Share in the Upside of a Project with Profit Sharing. All public private partnership projects 
should include a provision for profit sharing, which would allow the city to get a return on its 
investment. Proceeds from profit sharing will be used to invest in city Main Streets. 

• Expand TIFs to Include Investments in Community Amenities. Expand the use of Tax 
Increment Financing (TIFs) to build parks, playgrounds and schools, and to clean up contaminated 
sites in neighborhoods.

• Uphold our Legal Affordable Housing Requirement. As Mayor, I worked with the City Council 
in 2007 to adopt the first of its kind legislation requiring developers receiving city incentives to set 
aside up to 20 percent of their residential units as affordable. The law aimed to end the practice of 
allowing city financial incentives to perpetuate economically segregated housing. The city should 
enforce the law or amend it to ensure that its original intent is met. 

• Work With the Legislature to Fix the “Wealth Formula” Penalty. The city should not be 
penalized financially by the State for investing in public-private partnerships that artificially expand 
the city’s assessable base.

Elizabeth Embry

One example is the five part plan I announced for revising the use of TIFs and PILOTs:
 a. Using them for the public benefit. Strengthen local hiring requirements for TIFs 
    and PILOTs and expand their use in neighborhoods outside of the downtown area.
 b. Greater transparency. More public disclosure, including dissemination online 
    and elsewhere the terms of the deals before a vote, as well as annual reports 
    on the status of the deals.
 c. Stronger accountability. Improved accountability, including through an independent
    advisory body, expanded monitoring of TIF and PILOT performance, and the 
    enforcement of greater compliance with reporting requirements.
 d. A Fair share of benefits. The strengthening of the use of profit sharing and 
    similar agreements to ensure the city benefits when a project succeeds.
 e. No harm to schools. Work with the State to ensure the city is not unfairly 
    punished in state funding formulas for its use of these development tools, and 
    in the interim, hold the school budget harmless for the impact of the formula.

 Patrick Gutierrez

I would use metrics such as number of privately owned vacant properties addressed to
satisfaction (yearly goal TBD), Number of city-owned vacant properties issued to the 
community (yearly goal TBD), number of vacant properties rebuilt and designated for 
affordable housing (yearly goal TBD), and the number of awarded properties still in 
good standing after 2 years. I would also use resident satisfaction scores to determine
how people view the progress. I’m also open to others metrics.

DeRay Mckesson

Success should be judged by the degree of increase in the city's share of providing 
affordable housing relative to the rest of the region, as well as by adherence to the city's 
Inclusionary Housing Law. Moreover, I would create an independent council to advocate for 
policy changes on vacant buildings and affordable housing as well as to provide oversight 
on Vacants to Value and other subsidized housing programs.

Nick Mosby

The percentage of affordable housing per city-benefited development, and the percentage 
of affordable housing per neighborhood are the only true metrics for determining how impactful
Baltimore’s programs have been at requiring residential growth that is truly inclusive.  The 
growth or stasis in assessable tax value of a city-benefited development and the neighborhood 
it resides in are good indicators of whether the areas in question are still strong residential zones.

Catherine Pugh

Our housing policy has to put human needs at the center of public policy. As
Mayor we will embrace the challenge to create affordable housing by redirecting 
resources and streamlining processes. I will create two agencies by separating the 
Housing Authority of Baltimore from Housing and Community Development.  We believe 
that the separation of these two agencies will result in a more focused approach by 
HABC on helping our most vulnerable populations being treated just and fair in their 
pursuit of housing. To ensure communities have access to affordable housing,  I will 
maintain a vacant property registry which will be updated regularly to insure all 
properties vacant for more than 90 days are registered. A task force will be created to 
develop guidelines and penalties for failure to comply. Properties in the registry will be 
required to pay a fee, or if the task force determines, may be taxed at a higher rate to 
ensure maintenance of property code standards. This holds property owners 
responsible.

Carl Stokes

The success of our families will be the number one standard. An increase in employment, grades for
children, all should show positive changes when a family is living in affordable, clean homes.
The first is to connect areas with services to affordable housing. Why build affordable housing where
there is no transit, employment, childcare?

Cindy Walsh

My initial goal in developing each community is building a platform for the lowest-income citizens so
that means those citizens will be hired and working at the start and will benefit from the recycled
demolition debris in rehabbing houses for their ownership.  Building this construction economy moves that
platform for those with the most housing/employment instability in place to advance into self
sufficiency.  A developer partnering in these housing projects will see this as a goal and design
operations and schedules around these goals.  As well, a developer would not see himself/herself as
competing against the creation of small businesses spurred by rebuilding our communities but rewarded for
success in doing just that.  My focus will initially be tied to rebuilding Baltimore City Public Works so
citizens will be employed by the city using city vehicles and tools with the expectation some will be
spurred to private small businesses with public subsidy helping to do that.  Outsourcing of public works
will be minimal as we rebuild a core of this agency in each community and will provide steady employment
for those most at risk.

David Warnock

I’ll develop a public set of performance measures for each city agency that the taxpayers of Baltimore
can use to hold that agency accountable, and evaluate the performance and success of every department
based on those measures. That will include evaluating whether public subsidies are having the
economic impact necessary. With strong leadership in the mayor’s office, who takes responsibility for
outcomes and follow-up, we can make sure these programs are having the intended effect.

Joshua Harris

a) Who will benefitted (public or private); b) what were the benefits/costs; c) how
many direct jobs were created; d) what return did the City receive; and e) were
monitoring, follow through and enforcement active?

Brian Charles Vaeth

remarks of people that benefit most or those most interested from these programs and subsidies,
adjusting to community and not government needs

Alan Walden

depends on how programs are developed and assessed, make sure those who benefit from public subsidies follow through, 
hold them responsible for their actions, fair investment 

Making responsible public subsidies


CandidateParty5. Will you require all businesses that receive large public subsidies or nonprofits with large exemptions from local property taxes to contract, hire, and purchase locally?6. Will you ensure those contracting, hiring, and purchasing decisions have enforceable targets and meaningful, transparent benchmarks?
CandidateParty5. Will you require all businesses that receive large public subsidies or nonprofits with large exemptions from local property taxes to contract, hire, and purchase locally?6. Will you ensure those contracting, hiring, and purchasing decisions have enforceable targets and meaningful, transparent benchmarks?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYesYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYesYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYesYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYesYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYesYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYesYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYesYes
David WarnockDemocraticYesYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYesYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYesYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanYesYes

Question 7:

What other strategies for community benefit will you pursue to ensure that subsidized development translates to broad prosperity?

Sheila Dixon

In April, Baltimoreans will go to the polls one year after the nation’s attention turned to Baltimore. We 
cannot allow the passage of time to diminish our resolve to confront the underlying issues laid bare by 
the events following Freddie Gray’s death. Guided by the following core principles, we must act with a 
greater sense of urgency and purpose.

Core Principles

• Promoting Shared Prosperity. Looking through the lens of shared prosperity means finding ways 
that growing industries and investment in public-private partnership can benefit low-income 
residents. Real estate projects receiving public subsidies should deliver economic and social benefits 
to the neighborhoods in which they are located.

• Ensuring Inclusiveness and Social Equity. Many of Baltimore’s challenges have origins in the 
economic inequity of our city -- a city that is predominately African American, but has failed to 
create sustained avenues for economic inclusion and community wealth building for people of color. 
For Baltimore this means understanding and confronting the root causes of racial, economic and 
other disparities – the policies, practices and actions – not just the adverse consequences. This 
understanding is essential to developing and implementing new policies that redress rather than 
reproduce inequities.

Elizabeth Embry

See above (4). Other details will be released shortly in the housing and neighborhoods platform.

 Patrick Gutierrez

I would tie specific development of underserved areas into any TIFs being considered.  For
example, the Port Covington project that is asking for $535 million, I would insist that a portion 
of that go to developing underserved communities.

DeRay Mckesson

I will move immediately to replace Housing Authority and Department of Housing and Community Development 
leadership and address management issues like maintenance and repair backlogs and the long waitlists for 
subsidized housing vouchers. Moreover, I will work aggressively to eliminate housing discrimination and 
segregation and resource the Community Relations Commission to enforce the City's Fair Housing Ordinance.

Nick Mosby

The City’s enterprise zones need to be refocused on disinvested neighborhoods, and tied to industries
that create a set number of jobs within the community, with special priority given to local ownership. 

Catherine Pugh

Channeling neighborhood appropriate commercial development and mixed-used
development corridors will enable us to strike the balance between preserving the 
Baltimore we love while enabling us to continue to attract new residents and businesses 
without sacrificing what is best for Baltimore City residents.  The Vacants to Value 
program has some merit; however, we need to scale the program to more rapidly remove 
blight and rebuild our communities.  I am in favor of bringing back William Donald 
Schaefer’s Dollar House program. We can rebuild an entire city block at once. We could 
have a lottery and everyone starts to fix up their own property. We can bring in small 
businesses to service the new residents and long standing one. 

Further, the Governor’s program Project CORE is a step in the right direction toward 
achieving our goal for reducing vacant and blighted properties and creating mixed 
income communities.  As Mayor, I will build on the program and work to create quality 
development initiatives in neighborhoods across Baltimore City.

Carl Stokes

We will set benchmarks and goals for neighborhood stabilization - housing, safety, employment.
Youth programs, not just building a rec center, but the programming is key and takes money as much as 
a building does.

Cindy Walsh

The US was taken these few decades from what was several decades of legislation based on value-added 
policies taking public/social interest first before considering corporate profit margins.  Installed 
was a value-added legislation looking primarily for corporate profit and this created the huge inequities 
and ‘winners and losers’ business environment we have today.  My Baltimore Board of Estimates will return 
to that public interest/social benefit contract award standard seeing the value of a healthy, stable, small 
business economy as benefit over targeted awards allowing a few businesses to take all market-share.  When 
you set that standard and when you are truly intending to enforce Federal equal protection laws there will 
be broad prosperity both in personal wealth and employment stability.

David Warnock

Using our city’s tax dollars to help our communities grow and thrive is critical to turning Baltimore
around. For example, when projects receive tax increment financing from the City, developers should also
take responsibility for capital improvements and programming at our city’s recreation centers, community 
schools, and other neighborhood projects. As I’ve said on the campaign trail, “if you get a TIF, you get 
a rec center” – that’s something that I believe fundamentally. In my administration, you simply won’t be 
able to reap the benefits of Inner Harbor development without sewing seeds in our most isolated 
neighborhoods. We’ve got to end the tale of two cities and bring Baltimore together.

Joshua Harris

We will work diligently to increase the number of Baltimore City residents and minorities will
receive a greater share of prime contracts.

Brian Charles Vaeth

replace infrastructure in city and replaces streets with attractive businesses, put a lot of people to
work, offer them incentives to live and work in the city, promote local businesses

Alan Walden

relies on several factors- 1. transportation/access for local community residents to whatever businesses 
are created 2. education- to create more local entrepreneurs - teach young people how to work, skills 
needed to get things done, local business is key to building economy in any neighborhood, will encourage 
local business operations- double, triple, or add more vocational schools to teach young how to work. Strong 
supporter of rail service (East-West system), and for green space.

Supporting Women- and Minority-Owned Local Businesses


CandidateParty8. Will you instruct agencies like the Baltimore Development Corporation to ensure that locally-owned small and medium sized businesses, especially those owned by women and minorities, receive the support they need to build a resilient local economy?9. Will your administration work to ensure that such businesses are prioritized for municipal procurement?
CandidateParty8. Will you instruct agencies like the Baltimore Development Corporation to ensure that locally-owned small and medium sized businesses, especially those owned by women and minorities, receive the support they need to build a resilient local economy?9. Will your administration work to ensure that such businesses are prioritized for municipal procurement?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYesYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYesYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYesYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYesYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYesYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYesYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYesYes
David WarnockDemocraticYesYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYesYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYesYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanNoNo

Question 10:

What other steps will you take to build a thriving, resilient economy grounded in local and inclusive ownership?

Sheila Dixon

• Promoting Individual and Community Wealth. The principles of this plan are based squarely in
the economic theory of community wealth building. There is no escaping the reality of Baltimore’s 
history and decades of policy that systematically excluded whole communities and generations of 
people of color from the opportunity to build financial stability and wealth for their families. We 
must now find ways to narrow those disparities and break the cycle of poverty that 
disproportionately affects individuals and families of color in our City.

A longtime partner with city government, Strong City Baltimore is launching a community wealth-
building initiative to nurture a stronger, more vibrant, sustainable economy based on inclusiveness, 
equity and local ownership, with a focus on cooperatives and other business structures that promote 
local ownership. Strong City will study employee-owned collaboratives in Cleveland that have 
produced goods or services for nearby anchor institutions. We will support employee owned 
companies with reduced land cost, seed money, and workforce training programs.

• Remove Barriers to Small Business Development. Our city is strongest when we are inclusive in 
the way we run business. That is why across the city, institutions and businesses are following 
Baltimore City government in increasing the amount of business they give to minority, women and 
locally owned enterprises, which are more likely to employ people in low-income communities. 
From government contracts to tax credits and seed capital, we will support entrepreneurship in 
underserved communities. The City can lead by example as a large institution with purchasing 
power by removing barriers to small business participation and increasing access to opportunities.

o Merge the Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office and Mayor’s Office of 
Minority and Women Business Development to Connect Procurement and Support 
Services. Use shared data and systems to not only identify minority business opportunities, but 
also provide the network, services and support minority businesses need in order to seize those 
opportunities.

o Expand Access to City Contracts with Alternative Security Instruments. Identify and 
employ alternative forms of security beyond the exclusive use of surety bonds to enable smaller 
businesses to compete for city contracts.

o Create an Independent Review Board of Bid Protests. Explore setting up a separate 
independent body to review bid protests and other claims related to minority and women owned 
businesses, allowing for more openness and transparency.

o Require Firms with City Contracts of More than $5 million to Report on M/WBE 
Participation. Require firms with city contracts in excess of $5 million annually to report on 
their use of certified women and minority owned businesses in their public contracts other than 
those with Baltimore.

o Introduce Greater Due Process in Bid Protest and Claims Administration. The City 
maintains a bid protest procedure that falls short of promoting a full, fair and open consideration 
of bid protests. The City should consider the benefits of resolving a bid protest before going to 
the Board of Estimates. 

o Bring Housing Authority of Baltimore Procurement Under the Board of Estimates. 
M/WBE participation in Housing Authority procurement should be brought under the review 
authority of the Board of Estimates, similar to the deference shown by the City to the State when 
City contracts are funded in whole or in part with State funds.
We need to invest in workforce development now. We will triple our city’s investment in workforce 
training in order to serve residents with and without high school degrees. Through a competitive grant 
program for workforce providers, we will award employers that have a proven track record of 
connecting underemployed adults, youth and ex-offenders with the skills they need to get good paying 
jobs. Grant programs like these help these providers create new jobs and support a more skilled 
workforce. In addition, we will increase support to non-government service providers offering 
education, life skills, literacy, training, industry-recognized credentials, and family support networks. 
Industry led partnerships for workforce training have proven the most successful across the country and 
we will seek more opportunities to partner closely with several business sectors to identify job 
opportunities that offer clear career paths and create the training partnerships that will help meet 
employer and employee needs.

We will reach out to more young people, adults and returning citizens by investing in programs that 
address career readiness, and we will connect program participants to career pathways in healthcare, 
green technologies and biotechnology. We will also charge our agencies with leading the collaborative 
effort to combine our resources and services, but also solicit partners from the private sector in order
to achieve greater outcomes. Financial literacy should be a priority and should teach participants things 
such as how to open a savings account, balance a checkbook, and enroll in direct deposit. 

As public and private unions have come under attack across the nation, unions in Baltimore must know 
that they have a partner in City Hall. By working with union leaders to promote membership in our city’s 
largest institutions, we will provide another channel for working people to fight for incomes that can 
sustain a family. We will work with unions to make a better city by:

• Combatting Employer Intimidation. Protecting workers’ rights to stand up for themselves by 
combatting employer intimidation when forming a union.

• Enforcing and Improving Protections for LGBTQ Workers. Ensuring that hard won rights and 
continued advocacy are championed by the City. 

• Combatting Wage Theft. Working with state and local partners to combat wage theft and ensuring 
workers are paid for the work they do.

• Enforcing Ban-the-Box Law. Enforcing our ban-the-box law and promoting programs that help 
formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter society and the workplace.

• Partnering with Unions and Other Trade Organizations to Expand Training for Target 
Industry Careers. Partnering with unions to expand workforce development in the target industries 
we know are growing and can offer the most opportunities for City residents including: health, 
tourism and technology.

Elizabeth Embry

For the city to grow, we need to support passionate entrepreneurs in every 
neighborhood. As Mayor, Elizabeth will partner with organizations such as 
Invested Impact, Living Classrooms and Impact Hub Baltimore that seek to 
support entrepreneurs dedicated to driving change in their communities; help 
those building new companies connect with the resources mentioned above; 
expand existing loan and microloan programs to ensure that small businesses 
have access to capital across the city; and embrace the next generation of 
investment funds that are interested in supporting start-ups in disinvested communities.

Baltimore enacted a local hiring provision in 2013 that requires the 
recipients of certain government contracts to fill at least 51 percent of new 
jobs for the contract with Baltimore residents. This is an important first step to 
ensure that Baltimore contracts benefit Baltimore workers. As Mayor, Elizabeth 
will draw on the lessons of other cities to strengthen our approach to local 
hiring, including by: revising the law so that it looks to all workers rather than 
new workers, and hours worked rather than the number of positions; creating 
new preferences for companies that provide a certain percentage of positions 
to disadvantaged workers (such as ex-offenders or those located in the most 
distressed neighborhoods), or companies with headquarters and a certain 
percentage of operational staff in the city, to encourage companies to take root 
in Baltimore; and encouraging private companies to develop voluntarily their 
own economic inclusion or local hiring plans.

 Patrick Gutierrez

I would create a department within the BDC that deals specifically with the development of
small businesses.  It would include training, support, and low-cost financing.  They would be 
expected to meet certain targets and benchmarks in terms of number of businesses opened, 
etc.

DeRay Mckesson

I will institutionalize racial and gender equity by requiring diversity impact analyses be conducted for 
all new city ordinances to ensure that city officials - and the public -are made conscious of the ways in 
which proposed policies would affect vulnerable communities and those that are traditionally 
underrepresented in the policy process.

Nick Mosby

My 15 Point Plan also calls for an aggressive workforce development agenda that removes barriers to 
employment for Baltimore residents with services like no-cost expungements, while investing in increasing 
their access to new jobs by providing GED training, facilitating apprenticeships, and covering the cost 
of vocational training in high-demand industries like healthcare and logistics.

Catherine Pugh

As a small business owner of a store in Pigtown, I know the demands of keeping a store 
running. For retail stores, foot traffic is critical. As Mayor, we need to work with our local 
businesses. By working with businesses, large and small, we should have a database 
listing the needs of owners and combine that with those people who have completed job 
training. We spend time training people for jobs and then don’t have jobs for them. If we 
combine the needs of businesses with the needs of the newly trained we become a 
resource for both employers and employees.

Carl Stokes

Nine out of 10 jobs in Baltimore are with small businesses. So how do we grow our small business
base? We invest in Main Streets. Not $25,000 the city and BDC invests now, but $250,000 in city and 
matching funds. As a city we must also lower or eliminate fees for doing business.

Cindy Walsh

When you are dedicated to rebuilding all surrounding communities and public agencies out into each 
community it is not only about housing and business/employment----it is about building culture and arts.  
Baltimore has the best in the world music and arts colleges with grads wanting to be those small business 
owners whether as teachers in our public schools, as crafts-persons tied to a co-op manufacturing factory 
or an emerging technology business, as public artists, musicians wanting space for street performance.  
Building a fresh food economy in all communities will be spurred from that GRAND PUBLIC GREEN SPACE with 
public greenhouse, barn with animal husbandry, and fish-farming.  From there you will have small 
businesses to make food products, to distribute the fresh food, to own a fresh food store, and build a 
local farmers’ market.  It is amazing how quickly all this falls into place once development funding 
comes to each community.

David Warnock

As mayor, one of the most important ways I can support the local economy is through the contracting 
process for large city projects. Baltimore’s city spending is one of the greatest economic development 
tools we have – and we should use it to support small, local and minority, including women-owned 
businesses. When local business owners are a part of the process we all win.

Baltimore City spends hundreds of millions on public works projects per year; with the investment 
required in transportation, sewer and storm water management, billions more will be spent over the next 
mayor’s term. City contracts should be evaluated in a way that weighs overall benefits to our city, 
including local procurement, worker pay, the number of Baltimore residents employed on our city’s job 
sites, and other community benefits. We need to deploy our city’s resources in a way that creates 
opportunity for our city’s families, and that means using every tool in the city’s toolbox to promote and 
support our local businesses.

Joshua Harris

It is my vision to take the vacant properties, owned by the city, and create a robust apprenticeship 
program and home ownership opportunities.

Brian Charles Vaeth

replace infrastructure in city and replaces streets with attractive businesses, put a lot of people to
work, offer them incentives to live and work in the city, promote local businesses

Alan Walden

relies on several factors- 1. transporattion/access for local community residents to whatever businesses 
are created 2. education- to create more local entrpeneurs - teach young people how to work, skills 
needed to get things done, local business is key to building economy in any neighborhood, will encourage 
local business operations- double, triple, or add more vocational schools to teach young how to work. 
Strong supporter of rail service (East-West system), and for green space.

Rebuilding Baltimore’s Infrastructure & Creating Good Jobs


CandidateParty11. Will you aggressively explore solutions that help upgrade Baltimore’s infrastructure to
meet pressing environmental challenges?
12. Will you promote the development of community-owned solar, especially in low-income communities?13. Will you make sure that efforts to meet Baltimore’s stormwater remediation
obligations create good jobs for local residents?
14. Will you ensure that mass transit and bicycle transit solutions focus on connecting all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, while making sure these solutions are responsive to communities’ specific transit needs?
CandidateParty11. Will you aggressively explore solutions that help upgrade Baltimore’s infrastructure to
meet pressing environmental challenges?
12. Will you promote the development of community-owned solar, especially in low-income communities?13. Will you make sure that efforts to meet Baltimore’s stormwater remediation
obligations create good jobs for local residents?
14. Will you ensure that mass transit and bicycle transit solutions focus on connecting all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, while making sure these solutions are responsive to communities’ specific transit needs?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYesYesYesYes
David WarnockDemocraticYesYesYesYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYesYesYesYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYesYesYesYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanYesYesYesYes

Question 15

What other steps will you take to promote solutions to environmental challenges that also build community wealth?

Elizabeth Embry:

As we demolish vacant properties and redevelop communities where blight exists, we have to commit to the 
creation of permanent green space. Parks, community gardens, and playgrounds enhance quality of life and 
increase property values. Too often communities invest time and resources into vacant lots, only to have 
them sold down the line by the City for redevelopment. By transferring eligible properties to a community 
land bank so that communities are not subject to losing a garden or park that they have worked to create, 
the City will encourage neighborhoods to invest in their vacant lots.

 Patrick Gutierrez

I will work directly with the experts in the field to come up with and implement solutions that
will have a lasting impact on our city.  I will also increase transparency and improve 
communication so that people know what is going on.

DeRay Mckesson

I will update Baltimore's sustainability plan to guide the next decade of investment and action, 
including developing green infrastructure through tax credits for solar, green roofs and stormwater 
capture, and further invest revenue from the stormwater fee and a cap and trade program in stormwater 
management. I would also prioritize the repair of aging water and sewer lines in areas hit hardest by 
sewage overflows.

Nick Mosby

My 15 Point Plan lays out an extensive agenda for transit oriented development, complete streets designs, 
and priority transportation corridors to name just a few public transit based solutions to environmental 
challenges that help build stronger communities. On the housing and economic development front, I have 
advocated for a return to focusing on developing neighborhood main streets, which includes a small 
business loan fund that focuses on developing local entrepreneurs to bring goods and services to more 
walkable and bikable neighborhoods. I have also advocated for using stormwater remediation fees as an 
opportunity to train residents in green jobs, and to build green roofs and community gardens that provide 
produce and opportunities for new farmer’s markets in our neighborhoods. 

Catherine Pugh

There are many environmentally challenges we face in Baltimore including air pollution, illegal dumping,
mercury poisoning, lack of quality water due to storm sewer overflows and food deserts but the largest 
environmental challenges we face is high level of lead paint poisoning in our homes. There is no safe 
level of lead exposure. The adverse impact to our children includes developmental delay, learning 
difficulties, hearing loss, sluggishness and fatigue. The neurological damage done from poisonous lead 
paint is irreversible and permanent. Effective community wealth building can occur if we adapt the best 
practices from our neighbors in other cities across the country. Restoring the personal health of our 
residents is tied to the wealth of our community.

Carl Stokes

The first step as mayor is to acknowledge the worth of environmental solutions on neighborhoods, people
-- their livelihood and worth, and partnerships that can be created. We must also look to 
entrepreneurship as part of any plan to build community wealth and workforce development in environmental 
areas, like the recent solar installation training program at Civic Works. Research the possibility of 
expanding the responsibilities of the Office of Sustainability to include entrepreneurship and training. 

Cindy Walsh

There will be lots of toxic chemical mitigation in rebuilding all communities from asbestos and lead to 
testing soil for chemical content. Since we have so much of this with which to deal we need an economy 
built connected to demolition, hauling, and create suitable hazardous waste dumping sites.  That in 
itself creates lots of jobs and businesses.  Re-purposing some of our old industrial buildings for our 
small manufacturing plants and as lofts for our artist, music, youth communities is a must as livable 
space but these will need plenty of toxic chemical mitigation.

David Warnock

We need to build our communities with smart growth in mind. Fundamentally, an investment in our 
infrastructure is an investment in jobs and opportunity for Baltimore residents. 

First, infrastructure investment creates jobs in the immediate term. Baltimore will need to invest 
hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade not just environmental infrastructure but its entire 
infrastructure over the next decade. Sewers, water, roads and bridges – we have to use the investment of 
these public dollars as an economic stimulus that brings more family-sustaining jobs to Baltimore.

Second, an investment in our city’s infrastructure is an investment in our economy, in business growth, 
and in future job growth. To grow local small and minority-owned businesses and rebuild our neighborhood 
business districts with not just businesses but community centers, we need improved roads, working sewer 
and storm water systems, and safe bridges. Creating jobs and opportunity for Baltimore residents means 
using redevelopment dollars to build infrastructure that creates sustainable communities for all 
Baltimore residents.

Joshua Harris

It is my vision to make Baltimore a hub for the production of renewable energy products and
energy efficiency practices.

Brian Charles Vaeth

encourage importance of solar energy projects, residential programs, build manufacturing base,
technology used by city residents, hire people from within the city

Alan Walden

new light rail and train construction, cleaning up physical environment, cosmetic changes that are 
required to make city more inviting to visitors (eg amtrak location), lessen reliance on fossil fuels, 
have to deal with major litter problems especially around tourist attractions (eg Jones Falls, Inner Harbor) 
and encourage people to stop dumping in streets, and pick up litter 

Growing Worker Ownership


CandidateParty16. Will you follow the lead of cities like New York and Madison by supporting policies that encourage the development of worker cooperatives as a strategy to create opportunities and wealth in low-income communities?
CandidateParty16. Will you follow the lead of cities like New York and Madison by supporting policies that encourage the development of worker cooperatives as a strategy to create opportunities and wealth in low-income communities?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYes
David WarnockDemocraticYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanNo

Supporting Youth-Led Employment


CandidateParty17. Will you ensure that the young people of Baltimore City have the resources and support they need to create year-round peer-to-peer opportunities for youth jobs and neighborhood empowerment?
CandidateParty17. Will you ensure that the young people of Baltimore City have the resources and support they need to create year-round peer-to-peer opportunities for youth jobs and neighborhood empowerment?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYes
David WarnockDemocraticYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanNo

Using City Deposits to Advance Racial Equity


CandidateParty18. Will you leverage city deposits to create greater racial equity by advocating the passage of a Responsible Banking Ordinance that leverages municipal deposits to reverse patterns of discrimination and disinvestment?Will you follow the lead of cities like Santa Fe in exploring the direct public use of municipal deposits to fund public infrastructure, lessening the city’s dependence on the large Wall Street banks whose racially discriminatory mortgage practices have been disastrous for Baltimore City?
CandidateParty18. Will you leverage city deposits to create greater racial equity by advocating the passage of a Responsible Banking Ordinance that leverages municipal deposits to reverse patterns of discrimination and disinvestment?Will you follow the lead of cities like Santa Fe in exploring the direct public use of municipal deposits to fund public infrastructure, lessening the city’s dependence on the large Wall Street banks whose racially discriminatory mortgage practices have been disastrous for Baltimore City?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticWill look into thisWill look into this
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYesYes
Deray McKessonDemocraticYesYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYesYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYesYes
Carl StokesDemocraticNo answer providedYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYesYes
David WarnockDemocraticYesYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYesYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYesYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanYesYes

Extending Broadband to All Communities


CandidateParty20. In the face of continuing intransigence and neglect of Baltimore City’s digital infrastructure from current private sector telecom providers like Verizon, will you follow the lead of cities like Chattanooga in developing a municipal broadband system providing world-class internet access to Baltimore City’s families and businesses?
CandidateParty20. In the face of continuing intransigence and neglect of Baltimore City’s digital infrastructure from current private sector telecom providers like Verizon, will you follow the lead of cities like Chattanooga in developing a municipal broadband system providing world-class internet access to Baltimore City’s families and businesses?
Elizabeth EmbryDemocraticYes (Commitment to serious feasibility study and decision in one year)
Deray McKessonDemocraticYes
Patrick GutierrezDemocraticYes
Nick MosbyDemocraticYes
Catherine PughDemocraticYes
Carl StokesDemocraticYes
Cindy WalshDemocraticYes
David WarnockDemocraticYes
Joshua HarrisGreenYes
Brian Charles VaethRepublicanYes
Alan WaldenRepublicanNo

 

Special thanks to our awesome volunteer survey team—Lisa Firnberg, Andrew Mayton, Katie Moy-Santos, Hye Mi Ahn, and Samuel Kessler!

2016 Mayoral & City Council Candidate Survey: Building a More Inclusive Baltimore

Curious which of the people running for office in Baltimore City support solidarity economy strategies to build a more inclusive and equitable economy?  We were, too—so we’ve designed a questionnaire to assess which candidates would work to build a local economy grounded in solidarity if elected.

If you’d like to see robust commitments around the strategies we’ve highlighted below, please contact candidates you are considering supporting and make sure they fill out the survey!

[embeddoc url=”http://basebaltimore.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/BASE-Baltimore-2016-Election-Survey.pdf” height=”700px” download=”all”]

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The first Worker Cooperative Jumpstart!

 

On Saturday, January 30, 2016, more than 110 community members convened in Baltimore for a full day of workshops and trainings related to the establishment of worker-owned cooperatives. The organizers, a new network of technical assistance providers called the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy (BRED), were very pleased with the turnout and engagement. “There has been a lot of discussion about new economies and alternatives for Baltimore, particularly in the aftermath of the April 2015 Baltimore Uprising, but we felt that it was important to start taking steps to actually move the conversation forward in a concrete way that enters around racial and social equity,” said members of BRED.

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The Worker Cooperative Jumpstart was held in the new Impact Hub Baltimore space at the renovated Centre Theater on North Avenue. Registrants were asked to donate a sliding scale registration fee between $1 – $25, but no one was turned away for lack of resources. “We know there are many people thinking about cooperative economics in the city and wanted to make this event accessible. We look forward to taking this information and the tools that we shared today into community centers and third spaces across the state over time.”

 

 

Participants came from many parts of the city, state, and beyond; and from a range of experience with cooperatives. Some were in the idea and start-up phases of launching cooperatively-owned businesses, others came from social enterprises and nonprofits exploring the model to see how the principles could be applied to their context. Immigrant rights organization CASA came with interpretation equipment and members exploring the prospect of starting a childcare cooperative in Langley Park, MD. Many of the employees of Baltimore’s favorite ice cream brand, Taharka Bros, actively participated as they shared their exploration of converting the beloved social enterprise into a worker-owned cooperative. There were representatives from numerous local nonprofit organizations thinking about how to integrate cooperative principles in their structure, perhaps as worker self-directed nonprofits, as well as community advocates exploring ways to build economic power in disinvested neighborhoods through worker cooperative development.

 

 

Attendees were introduced to the basics of worker-owned enterprises through an opening presentation called “Worker Coops 101.” They learned that cooperatives offer a vital tool for economic self-determination for workers and communities who have been excluded or exploited by the mainstream economy on the basis of race, gender, immigration status, or some other basis. The packed room learned that there have been worker-owned cooperatives in the United States for a long time, and that there is presently significant momentum to build robust ecosystems to grow more worker-owned enterprises in cities around the nation. “From NYC to Madison, WI, to Richmond, VA, cities are investing in worker-owned cooperative development. It’s time for Baltimore to get with the program!”, said one of the presenters.

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In addition to the introduction to worker cooperatives, attendees chose between workshops dedicated to a number of critical priorities. One session focused on “democratic financing” with representatives of The Working World, which is supporting the development of a revolving loan fund to support the development and growth of democratic economic institutions in Maryland.

 

Solidarity economies law firm Gilmore Khandhar, LLC presented on cooperative law basics. Representatives from the Democracy at Work Network discussed “Steps to Starting a Worker Cooperative” and introduced tools to help along the way. In another session, members of local worker-owned cooperatives shared insights on “Cooperative Structure and Democratic Decision-Making.” Participants heard examples of real issues that come up in worker-owned enterprises, as well as the genuine promise of working without a boss from presenters and audience members. There was great energy in the room, with many people staying until the final debrief session between 4 – 5 PM.

 

 

In the closing session, participants were asked to discuss what they appreciated and learned from, as well as what they would recommend to improve on this experience and future BRED plans. Participants recommended ongoing series for young people and established business owners, as well as learning tracks for established cooperatives and democratic workplaces. One attendee called for more discussion of policy and systemic interventions that could help to build out the ecosystem. Others underscored the need to bring these resources directly into communities of color and poor communities and to reach into rural and suburban communities across the state.

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BRED is a loosely-affiliated roundtable created by members of a number of established and developing spaces in Baltimore. The members convened the roundtable to discuss cooperative and solidarity economics that already exist in Maryland and identify technical assistance and other resources needed to grow a dynamic ecosystem for economic democracy. BRED includes representatives from a number of different worker-owned enterprises (Red Emma’s Coffeehouse and Bookstore, Baltimore Bicycle Works, and Charmington’s). It also includes participation from: the collectively run 2640 Space; worker cooperative peer-advisor group the Democracy at Work Network; non-extractive lender The Working World; solidarity and cooperative economies law firm Gilmore Khandhar, LLC; and Baltimore Activating Solidarity Economies (BASE).

The turnout and interest underscore that there is great interest and great need for ongoing work to develop an ecosystem to support inclusive worker ownership in Baltimore and Maryland. BRED organizers are working on next steps to connect participants and others interested in building this ecosystem. For more information or to get updates, please email BREDRoundtable[at]gmail.com.

The day on social media…

 


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Mapping the democratic economy

 

Recently, BASE sat down with a newly-convening group of worker cooperatives advocates, developers, and worker-owners to map out the space of the democratic economy, focusing on Baltimore and the larger Maryland context.  Together, we arrived at some important clarity about how the idea of “cooperative” or “worker cooperative” can often be a little limiting as a frame, and we suggested that it might make sense to broaden this definition to include a range of community-based economic institutions with a commitment to democratic control. This notion of “democratically controlled economic institutions” doesn’t cover everything—there are non-democratic locally-owned businesses that are pillars of civic life in their communities, and plenty of non-economic but totally democratic institutions that are vital for culture and politics (like Bmore Bloc, for instance).  We’re specifically interested in figuring out how to talk about building an ecosystem of support for institutions which have an economic impact—ownership of real assets and/or the creation of jobs—but which do so following models which are participatory, inclusive, and in some way formally democratic.  This is a broad enough working definition to cover:

  • cooperatives (to the extent that they are democratic in more than name only!)
  • worker cooperatives
  • horizontally managed ESOPs
  • worker self-directed non-profits (like the Baltimore Algebra Project)
  • social enterprises built around or with a pathway to employee ownership of capital (this particular form is especially useful for various kinds of incubation and workforce development initiatives)
  • community land trusts and community solar gardens

 

With this definition in mind, we set about doing a preliminary map of the ecosystem’s landscape, looking both at geography and the particular functional niche each entity plays—are they a democratically controlled economic institution?  Are they an advocate or champion? Do they provide technical assistance to other parts of the ecosystem?  What we came up with is probably far from exhaustive (let us know if we left you out!), but was incredibly helpful to the group:

Click the image for a full size version:

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One thing that jumped out immediately to us as a result was the imbalance in the Baltimore ecosystem in particular—lots of energy with tons of real projects and projects in formation, and a good number of advocates, champions, and connectors—but far less entities providing the key technical and financial assistance to make this ecosystem thrive and grow.  If you’re looking for a key place to invest time or money in scaling the number and scope of democratically controlled economic institutions in Baltimore, this would be it—and BASE can help connect you to some of the emerging possibilities here.

Also, if you are interested in this kind of mapping process, and would be interested in having BASE help facilitate a similar process as consultants, please don’t hesitate to be in touch at info@basebaltimore.org.

 

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Join BASE’s Dorcas Gilmore at UB on 9/19 for the People and Planet First Agenda

Dorcas Gilmore, BASE co-founder, will be speaking on “How the New Economy is Taking Shape in Baltimore and Beyond” this Saturday, 9/19 at the University of Baltimore. The panel—which also features Jamal Jones of the Baltimore Algebra Project, Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, Michael Scott of Equity Matters, and Larry Stafford of Progressive Maryland—is part of the Institute for Policy Studies day-long People and Planet First summit, which will be bringing together folks from across the state to discuss the links between economic democracy, racial justice, ecological sustainability, energy justice, food sovereignty, and community organizing.

For more information or to register for the free event, see: http://www.ips-dc.org/events/people-and-planet-first-agenda/

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Farming and self-determination: Building food networks in communities of color

A report on our first BASE event, a reception and reading with Natasha Bowens on The Color of Food.

Baltimore Activating Solidarity Economies (BASE) hosted our first public event on Thursday August 20, 2015 at Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Baltimore City. The event included a reception and public reading with Natasha Bowens, storyteller, beginning farmer, and author of The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience, and Farming.

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For the reception with Ms. Bowens, BASE invited many of the farmers, community entrepreneurs, advocates, and organizers deeply involved in food equity and food sovereignty work in Baltimore and neighboring areas. There were more than 35 attendees: including farm and clergy partners in the Black Church Food Security Network (formed in the aftermath of the Baltimore Uprising in April 2015), participants in the Baltimore City Food Policy Advisory Council, and members of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore.

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Instead of setting a formal program for the reception, BASE co-founders Dorcas Gilmore, John Duda, and Parag Khandhar mingled the attendees and tried to learn about or make new connections across this inspirational and growing network.

 

BASE had purchased produce from Black Dirt Farms and Real Food Farms, which Red Emma’s worker-owners fashioned into delectable appetizers and snacks. BASE was happy to thank these individuals and organizations for their work to establish and grow an equitable healthy food network for Black and other communities of color and low-income communities in Baltimore.

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After the reception, Natasha Bowens presented some of the stories of visionary farmers of color across the United States to an audience of more than 110 in the main Red Emma’s space. Her principal thesis for the project was that even as there was a growing interest in small farms and organic producers, the public face of this movement was almost uniformly White. She went out to find farmers of color, and documented pictures and stories from 75 amazing people. Ms. Bowens sought out elder and young farmers, who were Black, Latin@, Native, and Asian American. She found newer farmers and folks who have been farming for decades.

 

The stories weave together a narrative of resilience, of ancestral food ways, of the intentionality for Black farmers who must confront what it means to return to what many associated with chattel slavery and stolen labor on plantation farms. She writes of the principled fight to hold onto land and water rights for Native farmers and the tireless efforts of immigrants and refugees to plant the seeds of a new life in the United States. 20770321255_151455947f_k The event gave Ms. Bowens the opportunity to share just a few of these powerful stories through the voices of strong women and men who connected ancestral knowledge with agency and economic self-determination. She also brought a few members of the Baltimore community to the microphone, including Denzel Mitchell of Five Seeds Farm and Apiary, Aleya Fraser and Blain Snipstal of Black Dirt Farms, and Reverend Dr. Heber Brown of the Black Church Food Security Network, to tell their stories and connect the themes of the evening with the conversations that have multiplied after the Uprising. 20582348830_402e7adb30_k The standing room only crowd filled with any number of folks who could have presented, leading to a rich conversation and exchange. There was interest in creating a community-driven, Black-led Baltimore food hub that connected farmers, organizations and community enterprise, and communities themselves to provide good, affordable, and traditional foods to the people. Young farmers paid tribute to elders and mentors who supported their work and emphasized the importance of teaching more young people and continuing to document and share stories as Ms. Bowens had done in The Color of Food.

For BASE, the event captured the inspiring spirit of communities, organizations, and individuals across the city that are coming together to think about their own solutions to systemic disinvestment from Black communities. Their work is highlighting the gaps in access and ownership between the poor and wealthy in the city and proposing food sovereignty alternatives. Food sovereignty emphasizes that food systems should be local, autonomous, and independent of a global market system that is destroying the environment even as it disrupts and devalues traditional knowledge and food pathways. For a brief explanation and history of the global food sovereignty movement, see Raj Patel’s post “Food Sovereignty: A Breviary.” For more about BASE and our work to support community-driven solutions and equity-based alternatives to an economy built on a foundation of structural racism, please sign up for our mailing list , follow us on twitter, or like us on Facebook.

The Color of Food

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Energy, Democracy, Community

 How can we build a transition to renewable energy that doesn’t leave the already marginalized behind?

BASE founding board member John Duda examines how the current dynamics of the solar transition can lock out low-income communities and communities of color, and what kinds of community-based institutions we need to be building to democratize the solar economy, with a focus on developments on the ground in Baltimore.

Read the article at Medium

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An Advocate for Racial Justice and Economic Equity

BASE co-founder Dorcas Gilmore work was recently profiled after receiving the Rollins College 2015 Alumni Achievement Award:

From former legal counsel for the NAACP to advocating for protestors after the death of Freddie Gray, Dorcas Gilmore ’00 is impacting the community, justice system, and the classroom. [….]

“When uprisings happen,” Gilmore says, “people are using whatever they have at their disposal to say they’ve had enough. If people have what they need—food, decent shelter, education, justice and access to what we aspire to as Americans in terms of economic security—that’s the ultimate prevention. That’s what people have been fighting for for hundreds of years, black people in particular.”

Read the whole profile here.

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Neighborhood Revitalization & Gentrification In Baltimore: Creating The City We Want

BASE’s John Duda joins a panel on the Marc Steiner Show to talk about community based economic development alternatives to gentrification and displacement: