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Moving toward a more 'humane' Baltimore?

People and neighborhood groups are pushing cities like Baltimore to become greener, healthier and safer, says historian Rutherford Platt.
People and neighborhood groups are pushing cities like Baltimore to become greener, healthier and safer, says historian Rutherford Platt.

Cities are dynamic places, and the skylines aren't all that's changing.

Historian Rutherford Platt says there's a struggle under way for control of America's urban areas, including Baltimore. Citizens, neighborhood groups and others are seeking to wrest power from business and cultural elites, he says, to make cities and suburbs greener, healthier, safer, more efficient and more equitable.

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Platt, a University of Massachusetts professor, has written a book outlining this struggle: "Reclaiming American Cities: The Struggle for People, Place and Nature Since 1900." Along the same thesis, he's organized a series of conferences - including one several years ago in Baltimore - called "The Humane Metropolis."

"Cities must not simply amuse the privileged," according to Platt, "but also nurture and uplift the lives of the entire urban populace."

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He'll be back in Baltimore Saturday, Nov. 8, to deliver a lecture that traces the push for "humane urbanism" from the time of Frederick Law Olmsted, America's first landscape architect. Olmsted's offspring played a hand in the creation of Baltimore's urban park system.

Platt's lecture is at 1 p.m. at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. Part of a series on environmental history, his talk is co-sponsored by the Maryland Historical Society, Friends of Maryland's Olmsted Parks & Landscapes and the Baltimore Historical Society.

Admission is free, so what's not to like? Take a break from raking leaves, set the TiVo to catch that football game and stop by to feed your mind.

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