Baltimore Banner West Baltimore neighborhood reporter wants to hear your stories

Jasmine Vaughn-Hall will tell the untold narratives of the different pockets of Charm City

Published on: May 26, 2022 8:00 AM EDT|Updated on: June 14, 2022 10:55 AM EDT

Baltimore Banner reporter Jasmine Vaughn-Hall stands for a portrait by Penn-North station.
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There’s a reason people like to ask where someone grew up or went to high school. A certain ZIP code or block influences where you play, who you meet and how you view your piece of the world.

This is especially true in Baltimore, where people have steadfast loyalty to the communities that raised them. The city is one of many distinct neighborhoods — more than 250 — and each offers its own diverse experience and fertile grounds for shaping folks.

As a reporter who will cover West Baltimore neighborhoods, from the Glen neighborhood in the north to Cherry Hill in the south, I will tell the untold narratives of different pockets of Charm City through the people who live there. I hope that my stories knock down physical borders to help bridge and connect neighborhoods.

Street signs or iconic neighborhood landmarks can tell you where a community is, but the people tell you what it is. Are the blocks you call home a safe haven or a prime example of a cultural melting pot? What are the good things happening in your neighborhood and who are the people behind them? Where are the hidden gems and hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants that provide more than just a meal?

Now I want to hear from you, dear readers, about the ins and outs of the blocks you know best. I have a handy-dandy form for you to use.

I learned about Baltimore’s unique neighborhoods visiting the city as a child. I was born in Charm City but spent most of my life split between parents on opposite coasts. In summers, you’d find me at either of my grandmothers’ houses. One of them was a very short walk from Hollins Market in Franklin Square and the other in Pigtown — a hop, jump and sometimes unsupervised skip to the Inner Harbor. In Franklin Square, I learned that no task is too big when it comes to helping a neighbor or the elderly. Gathering on stoops during humid summer nights in Pigtown, I listened to people catch up, vent or give advice. Those steps were not just entryways to homes, but to entertaining conversations and family dramas.

Baltimore has always been a place worth returning to, and now that I am back and building my life here, I realize how much is still left to explore. There are so many neighborhoods that I have yet to visit.

That’s where you all come in. My curiosity can only take me so far. I’ll need your suggestions and story ideas to help immerse myself in your communities. Take me to the neighbor who has lived on your street for decades and is always dishing out insights and advice. Introduce me to the quirky histories or traditions that are best kept secrets. Recommend that food joint that deserves all my coins and would make Food Network producers swoon.

No two neighborhoods are the same, but I don’t have to tell you that.

Change is also a constant factor within communities. Like the long overdue renovation of the Druid Hill Park Pool. Or Poppleton’s chance to be considered for historic district status, which could further protect a family’s home from demolition for a development. Change is gauged by the people it affects and those narratives are at the core of my beat.

I’ve already started doing some of this work. I plan to write about two neighborhood activists and what they’re doing to change their community. I’m even hoping to highlight a neighborhood bar with a feel-good tradition that attracts regulars and newbies alike. There’s so much more to uncover, and I am all ears for who, what, and where I should be looking.

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While I’ll focus on West Baltimore, we didn’t forget about you, East Baltimore. Expect another call out tailored for you all in the near future.

Ready to give me a shout?

I look forward to reading or hearing everyone’s feedback about their neighborhoods and communities: jasmine.vaughn@thebaltimorebanner.com or 443-608-8983.