July 27 2015
It’s been over a year since the last update; partially because the expected date of the book going to soft-cover was delayed until a couple months ago. Now the book is nearing affordability…at least when purchased from the very capitalist publisher, Lexington Books (imprint of Rowan and Littlefield Publishers).
Today, wanted to update you all with good news! The 2013 fundraising resulted in approximately another 90 books being purchased. Since this year, have been slowly offering the book to residents displaced by the current Johns Hopkins/EBDI/Baltimore City/Casey Foundation project as well as residents affected by previous displacements for Johns Hopkins expansion. In a current listening project (to learn how residents are being impacted by the current expansion/gentrification in Middle East Baltimore) we have identified residents who were displaced by previous Hopkins projects and offered them a free book. After all, this story is their history as well. We are still contacting those 30 residents identified in 2013 at the Middle East Family reunion-impacted from previous displacements- to return a book, and of course those residents affected by the current project remain our primary group to receive a book. For those who understand the importance of returning this book/documentation back to those directly and indirectly impacted, please be in touch to help in buying back the book-the co-creation of a part of Baltimore’s history- to return to residents.
In total, almost 250 books have been bought back from the publisher for redistribution back to current and former Middle East Baltimore residents (153 from the first campaign, 89 from this current campaign)!!
September 15, 2013
Dear friends of justice,
Hope the spring and summer months have treated you with calm and ease…and a bit of justice in between!
I am writing to update you on the distribution of the book ‘Race, class, power, and organizing in East Baltimore: Rebuilding abandoned communities in America’ back into the hands of residents affected by displacement policies for the expansion and initiatives of powerful interests such as the city and state government, Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, and foundations such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
We raised funds, thanks to your generous support, to buy 124 books for distribution back to residents, and 4 for distribution to local libraries. Since the campaign ended in October 2012 and printing of the book in January 2013 additional donations for another 25 books resulted in a total of 153 books for free distribution to residents of East Baltimore or indirectly through access from a local library. Campaign to raise funds
Over the past 8 months residents have been receiving free copies of the book as I knocked on doors and offered a smile and a book. Most residents were surprised and happy, some in tears, that a history of their struggle and successes had been recorded. Some wanted to make sure their grandchildren could read something about their past, when they grew older-about a neighborhood that was no longer theirs. Every single resident talked about missing the familiar faces in their old neighborhood even while some were happy in their new neighborhoods. What was most striking and sad in my heart, was the consistent stories of ‘feeling scattered like the sheep without the fold’, ‘not knowing where this neighbor or that neighbor was’, or ‘wonder how so and so are doing’. Consistent also was the concern for the elderly who had been displaced and learning about them only after reading about their death in the paper. One resident said he checked the paper regularly to find out who had died so he could go to the funeral: ‘I look forward to the funerals because I know I’ll see someone from the old neighborhood’. Some residents reported going back to the Middle East Market on Saturdays in hopes of running into their old community, and some report they do not recognize the old neighborhood anymore.
At the recent Middle East Baltimore reunion, held yearly since the displacement of more than 800 households began in 2002, almostl 90 books were distributed. At the reunion held at the corner of Chase and Rutland on a warm afternoon in August, the majority of residents shared how proud they were to have their community struggle documented for history. The stories were similar as those whose homes I visited over the past 8 months. Forty-six percent of residents responded that they would want to return to the ‘new’ neighborhood while 10% responded maybe. The majority wondered to what they would be returning as there was no evidence of what would be there and they had not been informed of the changing plans of EBDI and Hopkins. Since EBDI stopped having public meetings in 2011, some residents reported there was no way to stay informed as to the process of rebuilding. They were and continue to be strangers to the rebuilding of their community: uninformed, uninvited, non-participating.
Many residents would take the book and then point to the empty land or the boarded up house where they use to call home. While I promised to take photos of them on their land which was taken from them, in the process of distributing books and chatting with folks, I failed in following up with most of these photo opportunities. There is always next year!
I met many residents who were renters and now struggling to meet rent payment after the supplemental benefit from the relocation assistance had expired. Yes, we predicted this would happen but EBDI and the Annie E. Casey Foundation -the powers that ruled the relocation process- ignored our insistence on the need for rigorous follow up with these families. This ‘community rebuilding’ project did not increase income for residents so how could it be expected that an increased rent would be afforded after the supplemental benefits expired? Unfortunately, in the haste to clear the land of people and buildings and turn it over to developers for a Biotech Park and graduate student housing, the humanity and rights of the people were ignored, violated…yet again.
A recurring disappointing occurrence of the day of the reunion was the request from residents, who were not displaced by the current Hopkins/EBDI project, for a book. It was disappointing because I did not have a book for them. In the process I learned about their feelings of being an East Baltimore resident, or descendant, who was forced out during some other period for some small or large expansion. These folks felt they deserved a book as well because they were affected by this history of powerful outsiders deciding where they should live, for how long, and when to move. Unfortunately, because the funds were raised for residents displaced for the current project I stuck to that commitment. However, I took MORE THAN THIRTY names and promised that in time, they would receive a book of their history. This does not include the other almost 600 households who were affected by this current Johns Hopkins expansion/EBDI development project.
This continues to re-affirm to me the importance of this history of East Baltimore. It is a difficult history for many and one which would benefit us all from understanding. Because when we have the understanding of the effects of forced displacement, the short and long-term trauma it brings-the root shock (M.Fullilove)-, only then can we begin to advocate and act to assure it ends. It is often easy to look outside of the US at how dictators and corrupt governments force residents to move. But we need not look too far folks. Right here in East Baltimore our corrupt government of neoliberal politicians and private interests continue to force people off their land for private benefit to the powerful-growing the gap in income, education, and health inequality, It must end!
There were more than 800 households displaced by this current Johns Hopkins expansion (2001-current). I met residents at the reunion who were children and grandchildren of the more than 1000 families displaced in the 1950’s for Johns Hopkins expansion. My goal has now expanded: to distribute books to all residents of East Baltimore affected by this history of displacement. It is their history and per some of their report, the most honest report of the oppressive imbalance of power that historically and currently rule their neighborhood.
I am asking you to continue this journey with me. This note is being sent to all those who contributed previously as well as those who participated in the Equitable and Sustainable Development Symposium in March of this year. Please forward widely to others who would like to join us on this journey of returning the history of East Baltimore back into the hands of their rightful owners. TO return books to residents affected by this current project 600 more books must be purchased. Another 200 books will be purchased to return to residents whose ancestors-or who directly- were affected by past rebuilding projects in East Baltimore.
We will continue to relive the past and current ways of rebuilding our abandoned communities, until we understand and change the causes! Let’s change the future together.
The link below is to a 1.24 minute slideshow of photos taken during distribution of books to homes and at the reunion.
TO DONATE TO THIS FUND:
By selecting an amount and double-clicking on the ‘Paynow’ button below you will be directed to the Paypal window where you will select ‘Personal’ at the top, ‘Buy’, and ‘Make a payment’; then pay to Social Health Concepts Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note this is not a tax deductible contribution. Each month the total donated will be assessed and a record of amount contributed will be posted at this page. Books will be purchased at cost (plus shipping, tax, paypal fees = $44.00 – 45.00 USD) to the author when sufficient funds are donated to purchase 20 at a time. The total costs using Paypal directly is less than using Indiegogo or other webbased fundraising platforms (which we used in the previous fundraising campaign). The book, hard cover, currently sells for $80.00.
September 15 – October 19, 2013 Fundraising update:
$715.00. These dollars will buy 15 books. Thank you!
Update: These books have been distributed.
October 20, 2013 – December 9, 2013 Fundraising update:
$620.00. These dollars will buy 14 books. Thank you!
December 10, 2013 – January 23, 2014 Fundraising update:
$600.00 These dollars will buy 13 books.
Thank you and Happiness and Health in the New Year!!
January 24, 2014 – March 15, 2014 Fundraising update:
Thank you for all your support.
The price of the book was increased by the publisher, without my knowledge, to $95 (from $80) several months ago.
Just learned from the publisher that the book will be published
in soft-cover this summer and sell for $44.95. The cost
to me as the author will be 50% of that which will allow me
to buy back a larger quantity of books for distribution to
Given this new lower price, a new campaign to attempt to raise funds
to distribute books to all remaining residents will be initiated
in the summer. So save your pennies to help make this happen!