I waited, bag of ice in hand, ready to enter a church with a name I couldn’t even pronounce; ready to attend a screening of the movie Gaining Ground. As a community volunteer, at the time, I had been witness to the deliberate building of relationships and understandings in McElderry Park, of Baltimore’s East Side. United Workers approached our community with a film and a request to share some food and iced drinks. I was curious about how Baltimore connected and developed. How could I turn down this opportunity?
The film screening was great. United Workers was talking about change. There was an inequity, and it needed to be addressed, we all agreed over adequately cooled drinks.
A simple commitment to bring ice turned into a commitment to engage with Baltimore’s necessary changes. I told all my friends that United Workers was following through with the changes that needed to happen and that I wanted to see what changes may come.
United Workers has educated me about how development works, and I have been proud to participate in an open dialogue with the communities of this city, finding common needs and connecting to advocate for change and growth.
A few weeks ago, I sat and watched Gaining Ground, again, after celebrating victories with United Workers and sharing in a widely successful collaboration on Fair Development. The documentary was fresh. It mirrored the efforts I had seen United Workers make. As repayment for a bag of ice, United Workers has shown me what advocacy and communal education can mean. United Workers has shown me that my agency matters.