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Rodricks right about smaller households and population decline

In a recent column (“A deeper look at Baltimore’s population loss: smaller households,” June 11”), Dan Rodricks shared what he called a “shocking Baltimore moment” after driving by another high-density apartment complex on his drive into downtown, leading him to expound on Baltimore’s future success hinging not on the continuation of one-bedroom units along the harbor, but on building a foundation to support families in the city.

As executive director for the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, I completely agree with Mr. Rodricks’ assertion. Two years ago this week, my wife, two young sons, and I had our own shocking moment after an encounter with a group of families who had gathered at Afters Cafe on South Charles Street following the final performance of a local public elementary school play. We were completely shocked by the level of engagement and enthusiasm the students and parents had for their school. We had been doing our own soul searching in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and we were so moved by the overwhelming level of pride for this small inner-city public school that we contacted a realtor a few days later, and within two months closed on our 13-foot-wide brick row home, giving up our big back yard for life in the big city.

Since then, we’ve been blown away by the level of commitment and passion families have exhibited across town. If Mr. Rodricks had steered a couple of blocks off O’Donnell in Canton, he would have discovered quiet streets with children coloring their stoops with chalk. Visit our own neighborhood in Federal Hill on a weekday morning and he would see the daily parade of children riding their bikes and scooters down William Street on their way to school. Head west to Carroll Park, and he’d see parents with their children building bee hotels in the pollinator garden, helping to make Baltimore flourish with life. And swing by 36th Street in early June to John Waters’ neighborhood, and he'd see droves of children waving their hands in the air like Marin Alsop as they take part in the annual Bubble Parade.

Despite all the challenges Mr. Rodricks shares for Baltimore, I can say first hand that this city is full of proud families like our own, committed to building a stronger future for our children and our city. At DBFA, we believe in the power families have toward transforming Baltimore.There is no more passionate advocate than a parent. We’ve witnessed it first hand over the past 12 years — at Kirwan rallies in Annapolis, at our bi-monthly New Babies on the Block program, through our PTO networking events, or at our Tough Talk series for families.

Together, we fight each day for our children’s future, for safer streets, for better schools and for inclusion, not exclusion. And as developers work each day to build Baltimore’s future skyline, parents all over the city work just as hard, if not harder, toward raising Baltimore’s future, one child at a time.

Anthony Stephens, Federal Hill

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