Tag Archives: Baltimore

About an hour or so before sunset, I went out and took a walk. I tried to concentrate on photographing things where I thought it was the quality of the light that made the essential difference.

Snowdrops growing along a fence.The other day, I went to a symposium about a controversial development project that has dragged on for years in a neighborhood of east Baltimore known as Middle East. The city of Baltimore has lost a great deal of its population over the last few decades and many neighborhoods are pockmarked by abandoned houses. There are so many of them that even the best efforts give little indication of making much of a dent in the problem. However inhospitable they may appear to outsiders, however, there are people who consider these neighborhoods home and the people who live in them want the same rights to their life and property as those who live in prettier locales.

The people living in the Middle East neighborhood were displaces a number of years ago. A plan was conceived by the wealthy and powerful people in the town to create biotech park. Using the promise of good jobs as a rationale, the power of the state was used to seize land and displace the residents. The houses were razed. Many blocks, a total of eighty-eight acres, were flattened making for a surreal sight, a hole in the middle of the city. A couple of buildings were built. When they could not be leased as rapidly as planned, the developers abandoned the promised biotech park and started talking about shopping malls, hotels, anything that would make them a dime.

Protests by activists, displaced residents and politicians representing those communities have continued. The lives of the former residents of Middle East have already been disrupted but there are people who want to make sure that the wealthy don’t benefit without some benefit also accruing to the ordinary citizens of Baltimore. The symposium was conducted to talk about the development in the former Middle East neighborhood as well as development in general.

The during the introduction, the speaker made what seemed in that context to be a rhetorical statement. He referred to “what developers are willing and able to do.” I would like to take this short phrase and pull it out and look at it.

Too often, I believe we, people who criticize the behavior of corporations, concentrate on the first part without thinking enough about the second part. A while ago, when I was still living in New York, I went to go see a documentary called The Corporation. In the first “chapter” of the film, which can be seen at the previous link, a business professor, Joe Bardaracco, describes a corporation as

a group of individuals working together to serve a variety of objectives the principle one of which is earning large growing sustained legal returns for the people who own the business.

The basic conceit of the film is that, if a corporation is a legal person, then that “person” suffers from a personality disorder. Using a diagnostic checklist from the World Health Organization’s Manual Of Mental Disorders DSM IV, the film “diagnoses” the corporation as being a psychopath, meaning that it is without morality and empathy for others. Unfortunately, the film is too heavy-handed to have convinced anyone who did not already agree with its premise.

However, a book entitled The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, which I highly recommend, which was written by two individuals with an almost opposite political viewpoint, also leads to a similar idea of a corporation as a legal person whose main purpose is to make money for its stockholders. They detail the history and, whether you agree with their moderately conservative politics or not, they give the reader a good understanding of the pros and cons, the utility and the dangers, of the modern corporation. In an interesting side note, at the time Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations the corporate form of ownership appeared to be in decline.

This brings me back to the question of development in Baltimore and the phrase “what developers are willing and able to do.” To often we view the behavior of developers in terms of the morality that governs the behavior of human beings, but they are not human beings; they are frequently corporations. When we look to them to aid a community we are looking to them to do something they are simply not able to do.

Yesterday, I went looking for things that I might normally think of photographing that would also might yield more interesting photos at different scales and angles. Taking my camera with me, I went for a walk around my sister’s suburban Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood. Maryland is a small state located in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. It is not a “Northern” state, but it was never part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. It sits on the border of the North and the South both literally and culturally.

The first photo is of a little stone path leading up to a rundown greenhouse.

A stone path.

Next, I zoomed in and got a little closer.

Several flat stones.

Finally, I put on some extension tubes and took some macro photos.DSC_0222

Ecologically, Baltimore is within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States.

Yesterday, after taking these photographs, we headed over to the garden store to get seeds for this year’s garden.

To see more interpretations of the same theme go to the Weekly Photo Challenge.

A tall narrow nineteenth century townhouse sandwiched between two large twentieth century structures, an office building and a parking garage.After the theme, home, was posted on Friday, it seemed to me that I could go in a variety of ways about it. I do have my own photos of birds’ nests. I also had photos of a variety of other animals, including a chipmunk at the entrance to his burrow, and an old oak tree that was home to a wide variety of animals and later fell on the neighbor’s home. I decided not to put up a picture of my own home because I live in an apartment building which, although I love it, is a severe modernist building that doesn’t say “home” to most people. I’ve posted photos of it on the internet before because I think it’s a great building and inevitably I have people tell me how horrible it is.

So what would say “home” to people. Then I remembered a building about a mile or so away from where I live. It is a tall narrow nineteenth century town house. Much of the city of Baltimore is made up of townhouses from all eras of the city. Usually, they are built in groups and they share wall with their neighbors. The one that I thought of, however, was stuck between two hulking modern buildings. I wonder how this happened. Did the individual who lived there refuse to sell their home? So on Saturday, I went out to take a bunch of pictures of it.

For images of other people’s interpretation of the theme, go to the comments section of the Weekly Photo Challenge.