Maryland Premiere of The New Metropolis
Over 150 people from regional congregations in Baltimore region first suburbs gathered to watch the Maryland Premiere of The New Metropolis at the Ascension Church in Towson, Maryland. The purpose of the event organized by BRIDGE was to bring attention to the pressing issues facing the Baltimore region’s first suburbs. The Maryland premiere sparked dialogue about "fix-it-first" policies and regional tax reform in a panel discussion hosted by Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV following the screening. The panel - made up of local community leaders and a national expert on problems faced by older suburban communities - addressed the repercussions of sprawl in the Baltimore region, the challenges of integrating racial and cultural groups in changing neighborhoods, and the need to make politicians accountable for policy changes that affect funding for older communities, including the need to address regional tax policies. Local activist Larry Smith and Rev. Msgr. Thomas Phillips of St. Gabriel Catholic Church led discussions connecting the films to similar issues in the Baltimore region, while Carl Anthony, founder of Breakthrough Communities, in California, tied them to the need for federal policy changes for communities across the country.
Excerpt from What’s New: Maryland Premiere – The New Metropolis on the BRIDGE website:
Panel Discussion Jayne Miller, Investigative Reporter with WBAL TV, moderated a panel discussion. She opened the discussion by talking about her experience of First Suburbs, specifically about a recent visit to Wise Ave in Dundalk and the symptoms she saw during her visit. Larry Smith, a Lochearn Community Activist and member of Wayland Baptist Church, a BRIDGE congregation, talked about the Liberty Road corridor, his experience of the buildup of the area 37 years ago, the flight of businesses away from Liberty Road when Owings Mills New Town was developed. He commented that Owings Mills itself is beginning to experience many of the same issues as the population moves to Carroll County. He talked about his work to revitalize Liberty Road bringing a Community College campus and some key anchor stores back to the area. He thought that the most important factor in the success of the revitalization will be attracting young people to the area.
Rev. Msgr. Thomas Phillips, St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Woodlawn spoke to the affect that the First Suburb demographics have on a congregation. His church is a consolidation of three former parishes as the numbers of worshipers in the congregation declined. He spoke about effort taken to include the immigrant population in his community. He noted that fear keeps people apart as people are more comfortable with “their own kind”. He felt that the key to building a community was integration and assimilation without taking away cultural identity.
Carl Anthony, with Breakthrough Communities, Inc., a regional equity organization in California, spoke about the convergence of people coming together to address these issues. The Baltimore region is no different than New Jersey or Ohio and that WE can organize our churches and communities using proven tools to bring about the needed change. WE have the opportunity to INVENT what we are for, what we value. He thought that this was a remarkable moment in time, because a lot of ideas are under examination – global warming, the obesity in our communities, how we “live” in our communities. We can REBUILD the way we live together IF we act NOW.
Jayne Miller summed up her observations by reminding us that we were sitting in Towson, not only the seat of Baltimore County Government, but also in one of the most politically significant area of the state, where the Governor’s race would likely be decided. She spoke passionately about her belief that if we take action, elect politicians who understand these issues and then hold them accountable for addressing them, we can make a difference.
Next Steps - During the movie, someone commented on the fact that it was Federal government subsidies and the policies in place at the time that built the First Suburbs and that investment in building new roads further and further away that is happening today is also driven by policies that reward new building over repairing existing infrastructure. She was appalled that “sprawl” was not truly a market driven phenomenon, but actually an economic response to an outdated policy. When she left Ascension that night she was ready to join in the fight. If you had the opportunity to attend and you feel the same way – WE NEED YOU. If you couldn’t be there, but this report resonates with you and speaks to your experience – WE NEED YOU.
Video Excerpts from Baltimore
What is a First Suburb?
Quotes from the program:
Quotes from the program:
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