Here's a sample of the 10 change-makers we've featured who have made the Baltimore area better with their courage, innovative thinking and leadership, discussing what they'd like to see change.

Baltimore is frustrating.

It's a city that so many of us love, and that so often lets us down. We feel like disappointed parents, dismayed by the squandered potential of our child.


Things get better. Things get worse.

But we stay, and we try to make things better. We care. No one could say we don't.

Look at the students who march to City Hall and board buses to Washington to protest gun violence. Look at the organizers and communities committed to going 72 hours without killing. Look at the people who provide health care and warm beds to people experiencing homelessness. Look at the creatives who use their talents to draw a spotlight to Baltimore. Look at the volunteers and philanthropists who use their time and money to lift it up.

That is to say nothing of the restaurateurs who take a chance in an overlooked neighborhood, or the cooks who transport Baltimoreans back to their childhoods with a simple dish. Or the journalists who hold our public officials and institutions accountable. Or the artists who challenge our preconceived notions of race, gender and class. Or the friends and family members who learn how to administer Narcan. Or the people who pick up our trash, the fighters on the front lines of our never-ending war with rats.

Here are 10 change-makers who have made the Baltimore area better with their courage, innovative thinking and leadership.

These are the Baltimoreans who do the often thankless and unrecognized work of making Baltimore brighter, healthier, better. They challenge us to demand more from our city and to reject the status quo. They're unsatisfied with excuses.

Anyone who loves Baltimore can rattle off its charms. Is there an appetite that a chicken box or an ice-cold oyster won't satisfy? What music signals "weekend" more than the Friday Swift Mix on 92Q? Have you seen a movie in a more enchanting space than the Parkway?

Those are the tangible joys. But Baltimore is nothing without its people, who possess a quality harder to pin down than the polite restraint of Midwesterners or the brusque candor of New Yorkers. Baltimoreans are engaged and warm and a little bit stubborn. They're hungry, they're fighters, they're realists and dreamers. They care about the world and they're unconcerned with trends. They give themselves over to a city that often gives them little in return.

We asked 25 people from the Baltimore area about ways to improve the community. Here’s what they said.

I write this straddling the line of insider and outsider. I moved here a little more than three years ago and was instantly enamored. I consider myself a Baltimorean insofar as it's the place that feels like home; it's a city I defend at any slight and champion to anyone who will listen.

But I recognize my precarious status. I love this city, but it is not mine. It belongs to the rappers who tell its stories; to the people who raise its children; to the lifers who possess the grit required to stay, whether they want to or not.

Baltimore is not for everyone. It's for us.

People say there's no focus on the positive in Baltimore. Whether or not that's true, activists and teachers and mentors do the work anyway.

There's no need to "change the narrative." The stories and the people have been here all along.

These public servants, poets, researchers, athletes and advocates are the best of Baltimore. They reject complicity and inspire us to be better.

It's easy to feel disenchanted with Baltimore. It's much easier to remember why we love it.