Baltimore Banner East Baltimore neighborhood reporter wants to hear from you

Published on: July 21, 2022 6:00 AM EDT|Updated on: July 21, 2022 11:19 AM EDT

I was in the back seat of my family car, taking in the harbor and the industrial feel of the city’s skyline as my dad drove by the Domino sugar factory.

This panel reads: "Right then, Baltimore reminded me of São Paulo, the city I’m from in Brazil. I quickly brushed it off as homesickness and a desperate desire to belong."
There's an illustration of Paulista Avenue, an economic and cultural center of the city, seemingly incomplete. There's a brush crossing through the painting, as if the painter has given up on the project.

Two cities, separated by more than 4,700 miles. How could they be alike?

Almost two years later and a week before I started at The Baltimore Banner, I drove through the city again with my family.

I was surprised when my family — some who still live in São Paulo — agreed with me. Something about this city reminds them of the Brazilian metropolis.

In some ways, we recognized in Baltimore the faults and flaws our city still struggles with; noticeable racial and socioeconomic disparity, a high crime rate and a history of corruption in local governance.

As I wandered through Highlandtown and drove by Orleans Street and into Eastwood, I often got lost. But even as a newcomer, I could always tell when I had crossed into a different neighborhood.

Baltimore is full of invisible divides, giving each area on a map a different community with its unique set of quirks, history, losses and strength.

This richness of identity and belonging might be why the city is so charming — even with all its flaws, Baltimoreans love their city.

I moved to Maryland from Brazil in 2016, the summer before my third year of high school. The number of houses I’ve lived is in the double digits, and the back-and-forth between Brazil and the U.S. gave me a handful of cultural whiplashes.

Moving was difficult. But it also gave me an advantage as a journalist.

Not having that one house in that one neighborhood to call my own meant that I usually had to find something familiar everywhere I lived. It wired my brain to searching for patterns in what brings all these different cities and communities together, like an unnecessarily complicated and specific Venn diagram.

So, let’s talk about Baltimore.

Where is the heart of your block? Is it a shop that sells handmade jewelry from a local artist? A bar with a quirky tradition?

Who is the person everyone knows? A community organizer who is fighting for better housing? A singer with stardom-worthy talent?

What is something that once happened in your neighborhood and no one seems to remember?

What work still needs to be done to improve your neighborhood?

I know why Baltimore reminds me of São Paulo. I can’t wait to learn what is it about Baltimore that makes it, well, Baltimore.

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