This week’s theme, Engaged Citizens, is a key component to developing strong communities. The video, Why Citizens Matter, hits the point home when the speaker defines citizenship as, “Co-operating to change our communities”. He goes on to describe the basic levels of knowledge that every citizens needs to know about their community in order to be able to engage. Understanding the structure of the local government, their role, their decision makers, and how to influence them. These skillsets are passed down in high economic levels of society, we need to do a better job of conveying these skillsets to all of our community members.
Established, trusted community centers like the McKim Center that Dwight Warren leads in Jonestown are integral pieces of the community. We need our community centers to not only provide a stable, positive force in the lives of our children, but also teach them how to engage as citizens. The skills that we need to co-operate to create change in our communities requires active engagement for all of our citizens, not just those lucky enough to be taught how to engage their local governments and leaders.
One great example of engaged citizens is the work being done by the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities is the latest major development to commence construction in Jonestown. The $30,000,000 project will consist of 60,000 square feet of space. The new facility will be able to serve 55 families daily, and 2,200 families throughout the year. Ontop of providing a much needed expanded service to Baltimore City, it appears that the Ronald McDonald House Charities is diving in to be a committed part of the neighborhood. They have collaborated with the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks department to renovate and improve the playground and outdoor space adjacent to the new Ronald McDonald House and the McKim Community Center. This institution should provide stability for the East side of Jonestown and bring a new rotation of people into the neighborhood that do not currently experience all that Jonestown has to offer.