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The Power Of Listening: A Govans Community Convo


To All Who Are Concerned,  


Associated Black Charities (ABC) acknowledges structural racism's effect on the racial wealth gap, workplace discrimination, health inequity, disparities in housing policies and practices, educational inequality, discriminating and dehumanizing laws and policies, and more. ABC’s mission is to eliminate structural barriers and advance long-term solutions that create new opportunities for African Americans to thrive. Using an equity framework as a convener and thought leader to end race-based barriers that impede African Americans from having an opportunity to succeed is at the heart of all of ABC's initiatives. 


We value our role as connectors in the Greater Baltimore community and feel that we are uniquely positioned to set the table for communication and positive exchange among all of the stakeholders that want Baltimore to be better.  


We understand that empowerment must be included in racial equity work as it helps to uplift and support our communities of color, giving them a voice and a role in shaping the solutions to the challenges they face. We feel that the work is about creating conditions that allow individuals and communities to have control over their own lives and to shape the systems and institutions that impact them. When individuals and communities are empowered, they are better able to identify and address their own needs, and to advocate for their rights and interests.  


On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, ABC joined the Govans community at Zion Baptist Church to ensure the community’s voice is amplified, and that their experiences and perspectives are shared in a way that gives both attention and visibility to their issues and causes. It is our commitment to provide a platform for community voices to be heard and valued. The community is comprehensive of all stakeholders concerned about happenings in Govans. 


In our goal to help create and foster greater collaboration, cooperation, and effective solutions; we partnered with the Pastor Marshall F. Prentice and the Zion Baptist Church family.


We convened residents, community organizations, faith leaders, government representatives, and other stakeholders at the church. Stakeholders were invited to discuss their work and bring forward community resources and the floor was opened for dialogue about what is going well in the community, and issues that need to be addressed with collaborative attention.  


In addition to community residents and the Zion Baptist Church leadership, notable attendees included community and organizational representatives from the City Council President’s Office, Mid-Govans Association, Baltimore Brothers, Govans Elementary School Outreach, FOCUS, Turnaround TUESDAY, We Our Us, York Road Partnership, and BUILD.

 

What ABC Heard: 


Going Well:

  • York Road Partnership has been instrumental in a business improvement district plan for commercial businesses along the York Road corridor from 39th to Walker Avenue

  • Two new 21st century schools have opened- Govans Elementary and Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle School

  • Loyola has community days with students where they assist in cleaning up the community

  • York Road Partnership considered leading organization in community.

Needs To Be Addressed:

  • Lots of drug activity near York Road and Sheridan.

  • Crime & public safety are an issue. Residents are requesting better lighting. They said that people will congregate on public benches.

  • Limited services and community involvement for youth and young adults.

  • Increased mental health support.

  • Decreased police patrol has led to increased loitering.

  • MDOT promised a traffic study but has yet to begin the study.

  • Government officials and representatives should be more involved in the community.

  • How can the city and Main Street initiatives help the small businesses here? The Govans business association had opposition to making it a main street but there is a bill proposed that property owners of the local business will pay a tax to go into the business initiative. There is a new executive director in place as of September of the business association and the hope is once he is settled there will be more of an urgent movement to help the businesses thrive.

  • Residents feel that this neighborhood isn’t a crisis to the city because it’s not considered a “really bad” neighborhood.

  • Residents are concerned about the crematorium being built by Vaughn Greene Funeral Home. Residents are concerned about the environmental harm this will cause. They weren’t informed until it was about to be installed. It is technically an incinerator so this would be against the Maryland Environmental laws. It will be 200 feet away from residential homes. This would impact people’s respiratory systems and an elementary/middle school is also nearby. This would add to the already existing pollution of the high traffic of York Road. Maryland Department of Environment is meeting on 12/13 at Govans Presbyterian church at 7pm to discuss this issue. Residents support the business but not the location of the crematorium and are in the second appeal of this matter. The zoning department has approved it but they need a permit so that is what the meeting is for. Have also raised the equity issue that this presents.

  • Better amenities at Dewees Park. Residents have planted trees in the park and are working with the city (Recreation and Parks office), but this is going unused. Residents requested a playground, a memorial garden honoring Kenneth Harris, and a walking trail to circle the park. Applied for a capital grant and won over $700,000 but needs more partners.

  • Govans Manor and Gallagher Senior centers are active and provide activities for senior citizens and people with disabilities but no day programs for elder activities.

  • Food desert/insecurity because the grocery store on The Alameda isn’t consistent with keeping tenants.

  • There are twenty-seven behavioral mental health facilities on York Road but residents question are they competent and beneficial to the community

Access Photos from this Community Convo: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBbBhF


Associated Black Charities is calling to action all stakeholders with resources to shore up the things that are going well in the Govans community, and to take immediate action toward supporting the resolution of the community issues identified. 


If you are an agency, a business, a community member, or other entity that can assist, please contact Associated Black Charities at info@associatedblackcharities.org to be connected.  

Together, we can change the future.

 

Sincerely,

Chrissy M. Thornton

President & CEO

Associated Black Charities

 

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