At Blue Water Baltimore we know that nobody understands the solutions to the complex challenges facing urban neighborhoods better than its residents. Photovoice is a unique educational workshop series that seeks to empower local communities to see and shape the world around them through the creative process. This post is the first in a series that will highlight the work of our resident researchers in Oliver. You can read more about the Photovoice Oliver Project here: https://bluewaterbaltimore.org/blog/the-photovoice-project-oliver/. The next series of workshops will be held in Mondawmin this April; Mondawmin residents my contact Blue Water Baltimore’s Outreach & Education Coordinator, Michel Anderson, for more information.
The following photographs and narratives are the work of Oliver resident, Celena Owens.
Together We Stand
About a week after I took this photo, I went on a house tour in Butcher’s Hill, where the owner, who happened to be an artist, had a photo of these same set of houses framed on his wall! I thought, “This can’t be the same set of houses.” I looked closer and saw the same black height clearance sign. It was confirmed. “A MICA student,” explained the homeowner, “took this photo in 2009.” In his photo, the houses were also boarded up. Obviously, I was not the only one who found beauty in these neglected darlings.
State Supply Was Here
“State Supply was here, but now they’re gone, they left their name to carry on.” Typically when a business closes, not many remnants are left behind long after they are gone. However, State Supply Co. left its mark right on the side of the building. Because this is the side view of the “Together We Stand” photo, we know that they had to have left at least 7 years ago, and the building has been vacant for at least, almost a decade.
Lost City, Lost Souls
Faded writing on a park bench in the middle of busy Harford Avenue shouting meekly and insecurely – “The Greatest City in America,” perhaps trying to convince people in the community that it’s true. The message overshadowed by a gaudy sign “Try God” trying to capture souls deemed lost. Meanwhile a group of houses a few blocks away are reminiscent of a lost city in this “Greatest City in America.”
Celena Owens has lived in Oliver for 10 years. She studied engineering at North Carolina A&T State University and works in Information Technology. Currently, she is working on a couple of entrepreneurial projects. She is very creative and would like to inspire others, particularly youth, to seek out the creative genius within.
The views expressed in this post are those of the featured Photovoice participant and not necessarily that of Blue Water Baltimore.