As we all arrived in Baltimore and were given a list of places to go and visit we worked as a team to get to know the city we all have chosen to call home for the next year. The list included having us all together head to each place and take a photo, most of which turned out to be selfies, and we met a lot of people and it helped us all feel a bit more comfortable navigating the city and even just our neighborhood!
Our first stop was to Red Emma’s which is a co-op coffee shop and bookstore! We learned that everyone who works there is a part owner, and that they offer free classes in the back space, and people can offer free classes there. They serve vegan food and a whole section of the store is lined with bookshelves with books for sale! It definitely had a little something for each of us!
Another thing on our list was to take a picture with some in an Orioles or Ravens clothing, and so at Red Emma’s we asked a man sitting at the table across from a couple of us if he would let us take a picture with him and his name was Keith! He was really nice and we were very thankful!
We ended up staying for an author/speaker, Howard Ryan, and he spoke of corporate America’s interests in the education system and why it is a problem.
Our next find was with Rev. Joe Wood after meeting about conflict styles, we went to the local coffee shop around the corner, “On the Hill”, which was originally for us to get a receipt from a locally owned business (and the all important coffee and treats) and we ended up being able to get a picture with Mount Royal elementary/middle school which is right across the street and is also in our neighborhood!
The on our first Friday together we used the afternoon to seek out quite a few locations on our list! We started out heading to the local Enoch Pratt branch library to get our library cards! On the way we found the Walter’s Art Museum and on our way we snagged a picture with a friendly security officer! She also told us directions to get to City Hall!
After we left the library, we headed over to Lexington Market and on the way we found a shop that sold wigs which was also on our list, it was at a corner of a pretty busy intersection and we all felt like total tourists and outsiders, but we learned that the self-consciousness was not obvious to others, but was a challenge we could face for ourselves. We made it to Lexington Market and it was so busy and there was every kind of vendor that you could imagine, and it was so busy.
After Lexington Market we headed south to City Hall and found a Lutheran Church (Zion Church) which was having a “Brats and Bier” event, because of the Germanic roots. They even still have a service in German! We went in to take a picture of a Christian space that wasn’t our next door neighbor Memorial Episcopal Church, or the Cathedral. We asked the man at the the grill about getting into the church for a scavenger hunt and he pointed us to Pastor Anke, and she was the sweetest! We told her about our scavenger hunt and she took us on a tour of the Sanctuary, and there were liturgical quotes on the walls in German script. She told us about how the church struggled with losing parish members during WWII as well as struggling with immigration issues with the new Presidential administration. She was the kindest and sweetest and so willing to share the story of her church and parish! She introduced us to the parish historian and guided us towards options for a Civil War artifact which included some cannons in Fells Point. We didn’t make it there, but it’s a possibility for the future. We then made our way to Little Italy and found a great deal at Viccaro’s and found our way home on the Charm City Circulator.
On our way home that day, we stopped at the “male/female” statue at Penn Station. It is a cross figure of a male and a female silhouette that has a heartbeat that shows up at an interval that we couldn’t quite define!
After our second week of orientation, we found our way (a bit more comfortably) around town, during this afternoon we made it to a the Civil War artifact, being the platform where a Confederate statue was removed before we even made it into Baltimore. Some of us wished we could have been a part of history in that sense, of ridding this country of the power dynamic inherent in our white privilege. But alas, we are here to serve our community to create the world God wants for us. The monument has a lot of red spray paint all over it, which we assumed was related to the blood spilled and the sacrifice of others for what we as Americans praise as freedom and Patriotism. We all universally feel that working for the service towards developing a more peaceful and accepting society is something we have been universally called to do.
After the artifact, we passed by the Brown building at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) on the way to find one of the locations for Project PLASE (People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment) as well as stopping by the Charles Theatre, and then looping back to Project PLASE (Hannah’s work site) as well as moving North on Charles Street to find Graffiti Alley and a Halal Deli/Market.
Our final bits of the Scavenger Hunt were completed with our half day on Sept. 1st! We split up into some pairs and tackled the last few selections.
A couple of us (Suz and Will) drove out to Great Kids Farm (Suz’s work site) in Catonsville. This is a program partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools to educate children about sustainable and healthy eating. The goat featured here is called Toast!
Another pair (Noah and Hannah) headed out to take the Citylink to find the other site for Project PLASE (Noah’s work site). After some troubles with bus tickets, they had a fun adventure learning how to get bus passes as well as getting the right ones for the right routes! They made it there and made it home safely and had a nice little adventure through the journey!
Our final pair (Rebecca and Kait) headed out to find the location for LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Rebecca’s work site) which is accessible via the Charm City Circulator! The bus lets off about a block away so it’s definitely an easy trip! We decided to explore the neighborhood around it a bit and found a great used bookstore where they had a promotion going on, where if you join their email list you can get a free cookbook and so we each got a vegetarian cook book for free!
Our last few items on the scavenger hunt list we needed were a picture of food grown in the city and a picture in the Cathedral (Kait’s work site). Our landlord Monty, dropped off some fresh basil that his neighbor grew. We forgot to take a picture of the actual basil but we turned it into pesto, which we made without a blender, and it tastes amazing! Our picture in the Cathedral is in teh Peace Chapel after our commissioning, with our fearless leader, Jan Hamill, as we are all so excited to begin our service year!
We are all so excited to start at our worksites and we are all gearing up for a year of intentional community and service that allows us to deepen our faith, our understanding of ourselves and how we can help and engage the world around us.