DH: So I’m probably irresponsible in that respect [not attending community association meetings]. The only thing I can think is that I make my effort in being on the street and talking with people and just trying to be part of a place. I kind of assuage whatever misgivings I have about not being really active like that. I’m still a member of the community. And that’s what I do. I pick up trash when I see it out here. I talk to people. I’m on the street. I’m out on the street walking and talking and I guess that’s the best—you know, maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what my effort is.
AF: How much change have you seen as a result of some of this gentrification in the surrounding neighborhood?
DH: Well, you know that mural project that just happened, for example? [Open Walls Baltimore]. That altered things around here, because what it did was it highlighted the neighborhood. And I know that there were certain misgivings about that on the part of those that actually organized that. They were a little reluctant, because they knew that what they were doing was opening the door for real estate investors and that sort of thing.
I can’t speak for people in the community, but what it appeared to do…
I went to the party when they opened that [mural project], when they had the big party down the block down here. And everybody in the neighborhood was out. All the art kids were out. People in the community were out. Everybody was partying and dancing and being part of it. And I think the focus—I mean, I can’t speak for people—but it appeared that the focus on the community boosted people’s esteem that they were part of something that was happening. So whether you liked the murals, for better or worse, whether you think they really do anything, the energy did something.
And I think that translated to people in the community as well—other people in the community besides artists is what I mean to say—other people that live here. So, yeah. I saw people out. I mean I was dancing with people walking by their houses and talking with people that I’d never met before. And I think all those things contribute to a sort of integration of all the different elements that make up this neighborhood.