I am an adopted Marylander living in a mostly white community on Maryland's Eastern Shore, far from the madness of current events in Baltimore City. Still, I can't help wonder what comes next ("Obama calls for national 'soul searching' over Freddie Gray's death," April 28).

My initial inclination was that police should "take no prisoners" in dealing with the rioters. I grew up in Philadelphia in the Frank Rizzo era, and was in college during the 1968 riots in North Philly. But surely by now we should have advanced beyond the mindset of busting heads and asking questions later.

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Maryland is a wonderful place for some of us, and it should be for all of us. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Maryland is a particularly advantaged state with a huge number of well-paying jobs associated with the presence of the federal government here.

Years ago, I worked for Martin Marietta Corporation in Bethesda at a time when space was the last great frontier to be conquered. We shared office space with other corporate giants like Black and Decker, Marriott and others. The future was an implicit promise of more and greater.

So why not now? We don't need Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson to tell us what to do in Baltimore. We need something akin to the space program to build Baltimore into an example for the nation.

My vision would be to create a coalition of community leaders, business leaders and elected officials to define the 10 biggest problems facing the city and put together a plan to solve them within the next five to 10 years. Then we must act on it.

With the best minds in the state working together let's move beyond the "adopt-a-highway" model of civic participation and rebuild Baltimore in a way that is respectful of all its citizens.

I challenge Marylanders to take up the challenge of making Baltimore a shining city on a hill and an example of what can happen when the best minds think creatively about problems.

The next days and weeks will be difficult to get through, and the lawbreakers must accept responsibility for their actions. But when the dust settles the status quo cannot be regarded as acceptable.

We need to commit to making every neighborhood in Baltimore not just acceptable or adequate, but desirable and excellent for all citizens. The challenge is not just rebuilding the city but building it anew.

Tom Mendenhall, St. Michaels

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