In the Marine Corps, I served in Iraq, Southeast Asia, Africa. But I’d been living in Baltimore for a year and I had zero awareness of neighborhoods outside of Canton or Fell’s Point. They tried describing to me where Oliver was and nothing was sticking. That first volunteer event opened my eyes. It opened me up to a lot about the struggles that Baltimore faces. There’s a lot of work to be done.
At first, it was just picking up trash. Eventually, we got tired of that and decided to turn a vacant lot into a playground. As we grew, our operation grew, out from Oliver to East Baltimore as a whole. Our relationships with community leaders always started with “how can we help?” And we kept hearing the same things … “we don’t want this lot to be vacant anymore. We have a vision.” They wanted parks, gardens, plagrounds, a farm. We built it with them — across three neighborhoods now, and more than ten acres.
All of these things that we’ve built, all the projects, the progress — we own none of it. We understand that we’re guests in these communities. Each one represents a vision, and each one tells its own story. I think people see places in Baltimore in the state they’re in and assume that nobody cares in those neighborhoods. I know that’s wrong. There’s plenty of people who care. I benefit from that understanding that a lot of people don’t have, and I’m grateful for every opportunity to change those perceptions.
Dave Landymore is the outgoing executive director of The 6th Branch, which draws on the leadership and skills of military veterans to execute powerful community service initiatives. He was nominated by Katie Lautar of Baltimore Green Space. Do you know someone whose made an extraordinary contribution to creating a stronger, fairer Baltimore? Tell us why we should profile them — email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about how you can get involved in community service in Baltimore.
Every Story Counts
You don’t have to be a climate scientist or city planner to create sustainability + resilience. Everyone has a story to tell about making Baltimore a stronger, fairer and safer place for all of us, from mentoring a young person to transforming a vacant lot.
Be a part of our #EveryStoryCounts Campaign by sharing yours on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #EveryStoryCounts, or by sharing your words and pictures through our website.
All you need to do is …
1) Take a picture of yourself or the project.
2) Post to Instagram or Twitter with a few words describing the story, like “we planted this garden to turn a vacant lot from grey to green,” or “when it gets dark we make sure our older residents get help to get home safe.” (Or you can use the online story form: http://tiny.cc/everystoryform).
3) Add the hashtag #EveryStoryCounts (this lets us find and collect your stories on the internet).
That’s all there is to it. Join the many people who’ve shared their stories already at tiny.cc/everystory so that the whole city can see how we’re making a difference together, and so we can help you find the resources to do even more.