'What We Love' campaign asks Baltimore residents to promote their neighborhoods

What do you love about your neighborhood? A nonprofit group that promotes Baltimore living is asking city residents to sum it up in a few words and snap a photo.

Live Baltimore's "What We Love" effort is a "bit more guerrilla" than previous ad campaigns, said executive director Steve Gondol. It's essentially crowdsourcing -- and reminiscent of "We Are The 99 Percent" photos, except here the people are smiling and clutching notepads with happy anecdotes.

"I (heart) my 3 surrounding parks, tree-lined streets, traditional homes & great neighbors!" writes JoAnn from Mayfield.

"I (heart) that all my neighbors got together to search for my lost cat! (We found her!)" writes Phylicia from Reservoir Hill.

"I (heart) that I live in a country cottage ... in the woods ... in the city!" writes Julie from Cheswolde.

Live Baltimore just started collecting photos -- some are from staffers -- but hopes for many more. The group has placed photo booths in seven city bus shelters (click for locations) with visions of people snapping a picture and sending it in. Residents can also tweet photos with a #BmoreWhatWeLove hashtag.

Here's the photo album on Facebook.

Gondol called city residents both "our biggest selling point" and key salespeople. Newcomers have moved in based on recommendations from residents enthusiastic about their neighborhoods, and the early photos suggest the enthusiasm is frequently about neighbors.

Live Baltimore was founded 15 years ago to help turn around population loss, in part by counteracting negative views of the city. So you can see why a campaign to get people talking about what they love might come to mind, particularly as the city contends with bad word of mouth as a result of youthful mobs downtown. Actual people saying why they live where they do might have an effect that a catchy slogan can't.

Live Baltimore grabbed headlines with earlier ads in D.C. metro stations that pointed out, with a bit of snark, that buying in Baltimore was way cheaper than buying around Washington.

Gondol said Live Baltimore's last ad campaign, "Someday Baltimore," drew on stories staffers had heard from residents. This time, he wanted to let people tell their stories directly.

"This is something we think is integral [to] the city's growing the population by 10,000 households," he said. "When you're looking to salespeople who can get the job done, we think these are the people who can do it -- the residents."

What do you think of your neighborhood, wherever it may be? Do you talk it up or give it a thumbs down? (If you don't like it, what keeps you there?)

Got a housing tip to share? (Or just want to tell me something?) Email me at jhopkins@baltsun.com.

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