The president of the Mondawmin Neighborhood Improvement Association called me up about PhotoVoice. She said Blue Water Baltimore had this project going and they were asking residents to go around the community and take photographs of things, both positive and negative, from the resident’s perspective. And I said, “Well, that’s something I really want to do!” I wanted to make certain that I took the opportunity to put the time in, and thanks to Michel who worked with us and gave us directions, we were able to really look at it from the standpoint of a resident. It’s different when someone else just comes and takes pictures because what might be important to me, being a longtime resident, may not be important to someone else.
There were things I remember looking at for the last forty, even fifty years. Some things still look the same, while others have seen improvements. This gave me an opportunity to go into my own community and revisit. Some things I can see I was proud of to see the changes, and some things I could see that’s deteriorating the whole community, and so this gave me a chance to put that into a photograph and put words behind it, so I was really glad to be a part of that.
I noticed some of the trees that were being planted too, on Holmes Avenue and Woodbrook. I heard a few people say they didn’t want the trees because they didn’t want to deal with having to maintain them. They weren’t used to seeing them for such a while that they said, “No, no. I don’t want it,” but I do believe too that people did really appreciate them as they’ve started to bloom more, and you come down the street, and you see the abundance of trees and that some of us know in some cases they have replaced or will replace trees that have been gone for years. And we want our children especially to understand that they are part of that community so they can be encouraged to take care of the trees and all of their environment.
Antoinette “Toni” Duren is a community advocate for Greater Mondawmin.
Photo Credit: Michel Anderson.
Deep Blue is an innovative partnership between Blue Water Baltimore, the Neighborhood Design Center, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Department of Planning, and five neighborhoods throughout Baltimore City.