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Before the first day of class has even started - the groundwork for a successful year is getting us all on the same page - learning how to get around Baltimore, and how to use the basic theories of graphic design and to get over being intimidated by the Adobe programs that will be your livelihood for the next 9 months.
Ryan Clifford (Top Helmet) introduced MASD to the East Baltimore vicinity this year with a bike tour. Taking the new Baltimorioles from Middle East, to Patterson Park and Fell’s Point.
This year we decided to take a different approach and introduce students to the neighborhood with a quasi structured bike tour that mixed in site visits to local organizations with recommendations for tacos and coffee in lieu of Glenn Ross’ famous Toxic Tour and Antero Pietila’s Not in My Neighborhood bus lecture about the history of housing discrimination in Baltimore. The two tours were structured for an audience with a more sophisticated familiarity of the city than the fresh-off-the-boat MASD’ers who arrived last year. The bike format allows students to cover several miles easily, while maintaining an awareness of distance, a sense autonomy and ability to retrace steps that as a passive participant on a bus tour are impossible to develop.
Looking at my Foursquare history - I realized it took me 2 months to figure out that the waterfront was within walking distance. The Toxic Tour, as first introduction, compounded with the initial campus security discussions, geographic isolation and media portrayals subconsciously reinforced the perception that Baltimore = corruption, racism and environmental disaster. In another context it would have been informative and mind opening, but without the ability to construct a counter narrative, had the opposite effect and made students hesitant to explore on their own and otherwise immerse themselves in the community.
The bike tour aspires to make new residents feel comfortable exploring a wider radius, and become self reliant while getting acquainted to the subtleties of the neighborhood.
However, I highly recommend anyone who has been in Baltimore for more than a couple of hours taking the Toxic Tour - Sign up for the JHU Source newsletter and you’ll be notified of the next scheduled departure.