Paint Baltimore Kind


Baltimore Rooftop on the Fourth of July. Lookin’ to the future of our city. roof credit: Stacey Williams, Adam Blickenstaff, and Angelo (I don’t know his last name). photo credit: Lauren Svrjcek. feet: Sierra Smith. Legs: Shar Hollingsworth.

Have you been watching Queer Eye on Netflix? A.K.A. Have you had a conversation with me in the past week? The answers are either “yes, yes” or “no, no.” Because I straight up cannot. stop. talking. about. it. 

For the not-yet-enlightened, Queer Eye is a reboot of a 2001 show on Bravo called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. In it, five incredibly attractive, hilarious, and talented men (who happen to be gay) assist a previously hopeless man get his life back on track. The Fab Five cover grooming (beard oil, hair cuts, eyebrow shaping, and beautification routine), food and wine (moving away from the microwave), fashion (throwing away some horrifying things such as Crocs and bowling shirts), culture (helping the man believe in himself and also treat his partner right by caring for himself), and design (renovation of a space that’s important to him to make it reflect his personality and be more functional). 

I think something I love about Queer Eye is that these men (the clients) are a blank canvas. At first glance, a lost cause. They’re underdogs, they’re humble, they’re open books with blank pages, at least in the Fab Fives’ categories. When each episode is over, I’m laughing, I’m crying, I’m laughing again. I believe in growth! I believe in…anything! 

Generally, being a lifelong Baltimorean, I’m already rooting for any underdog. Who should win the World Cup? Hands down: poorest country (or the one Trump hates the most). World Series? For sure: the most crime-ridden city (come on, Orioles!). Superbowl? Duh: whatever team has the most Cinderella stories. Stanley Cup? Absolutely: Detroit. 

I’ve been all over East and West Baltimore lately. And I feel like I’ve been seeing my city in a new light. Instead of just the place I’ve lived for 30 years and where my friends and family are and where I live, work, and play (not always in that order), it’s been looking more and more like a canvas. Here are some reasons:

  1. The Daily’s Baltimore mini-series
  2. The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir by D. Watkins
  3. My kids.

     4. through 937.IMG_1054938. Humanity.

So enough proselytizing about why you should love Queer Eye and why the Yankees are irrelevant. In the words of Jonathan (in charge of grooming), reapplied to Baltimore: “There is a diva in there, but all she needs is a little bit of a bold lip.”

Another list. So here’s how you can help with that bold lip. 

  1. Read the first version of this blog.
  2. See the first list above. #1 and #2. Listen. Read. Trust.
  3. Join. The. Ceasefire. Start by watching Erricka Bridgeford’s Ted Talk if I didn’t already convince you blogs ago (or in person). Listen, I’ve got posters in my trunk–one has your name on it. Follow the movement on social media. And then tell other people. Yes, I know most of you reading this don’t need to be told, “Nobody shoot anybody.” But. Peeps gotta talk about this. That’s how movements thrive. So be a peep. Talk about it.
  4. Donations.
    1. Make Space.
    2. How to Donate Almost Anything in Baltimore.
    3. Donate men’s suits!
    4. Professional clothing drives.
    5. Check out THIS wish list for Baltimore Outreach for women and children. 
  5. Volunteer at Club 1111 to benefit adults with physical disabilities. Bonus points: The League for People with Disabilities is where I early vote and where Nancy and Dick met. There are a slew of ways to help The League.
  6. Here’s a place where you can do all of the following: meal service, educational tutoring, professional services, and one-time events. Also hot damn! Helping Up Mission for the win!
  7. Paul’s Place is a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Southwest Baltimore communities. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families, fostering hope, personal dignity and growth.”
  8. Run with Back on My Feet. This is a nonprofit located in cities across the U.S. Through the empowerment of running, Back on My Feet helps clients re-launch their lives through addiction services and job placement assistance.
  9. Project PLASE (People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment) has a wide range of volunteer opportunities. For example, if you’re hosting an event (a gathering, book club, sex toy party, whatever), why not also turn it into a mini-drive? Project PLASE, House of Ruth, and AWE are always seeking donations of simple items such as diapers, personal hygiene products, feminine items, and much more. How simple would it be for everyone to bring an item? Plus, hello, advocacy and spreading the damn word! 
  10. AWE is also seeking tutors, drivers, and space to host tables at events. 
  11. As usual, selfish plug, help a Baltimore City school! Such as: Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School! But there are schools all over this city that need your love. Such as Reading Partners.
  12. Here’s a way to prioritize your own comfort (in your car), while making a difference. Best car wash in Baltimore is at McVet every Friday and Saturday from 8a-6p. Regular cars are $10. Right near the Farmer’s Market under 83. 
  13. I may add to this list above, in which case, this one would be moved down. Doesn’t matter. Please feel free to send me suggestions. #13 is blank for YOU. The coolest thing about Baltimore is that it straight up is your canvas. Drive around. Look around. Walk around. Choose your own mission here. Paint something. 

We want Baltimore to be the opposite of, in the words of Jonathan, “Struggs to func. That’s struggs to function.” And we’re far from perfect.

So in the words of our criminally convicted former mayor Sheila Dixon, “Various things have to happen in Baltimore that are not just related to police reform. How police deal with the public is one variant, but we also have to deal with how we treat each other. We need to look at taking more responsibility for ourselves.” …and each other. 

10 thoughts on “Paint Baltimore Kind

  1. Just getting to read this now so here’s my lucky 13 for your list. When walking around your neighborhood, or really anywhere in the city, always say “Hi” or “Howdy” or “Yop” or something to cause the other person to have to register your presence. Most everyone responds with at least some kind of grunt but you’ve at least had a brief connection. That’s what we need more of – people connecting. LOL, D


  2. Of course you know my # 13……get yourself a “reacher” (I have a few if you need one!) and a few plastic bags. Walk around your (or any) neighborhood and use your reacher to pick up trash and recyclable items (separate bag). You don’t even have to bend over! You meet people who stop and say thank you. And some people will actually place trash into your bag instead of tossing it onto the street. Thank you! Then you have to carry your bags home and discard properly.
    Like your dad says, I always say hello to people on the street, but it is more difficult in the past few years with the Age of Headphones. They don’t hear me and often they are talking on the phone or rappin’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Also I wanted to thank you for the list. it is overwhelming….how many things I could be doing! I will try to do something on there…………I appreciate your outward-looking mindset.


  4. Great for those who read. I try to practice kindness everyday in the hope of that simple act trickling down to a degree of absorption where it actually changes someone else and, in that, the course of history. Problem is, I can afford to behave this way. Others can’t and therein lies the problem. The disease. Simply stated it is poverty. The poor cannot afford the luxury of acting charitably. They’re too busy just trying to get by.


  5. Awesome article…if everyone gets involved in some capacity (volunteering, giving, being kind & speaking-as Dad said, and praying for our city) think what can happen here! Araminta & Somebody Cares Baltimore are great organizations too! Thx!


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