Building Collective Leadership in Baltimore

On one hand, Baltimore faces a legacy of disinvested neighborhoods and generations of exploitative and extractive models of community development. On the other, committed residents across the city are dedicating their own time, money, and skills to creating new systems from the ground up.


In Baltimore, Communities for Change (C4C) explored: How might we connect leaders of community-led, community-owned neighborhood development to the resources and skills they need to realize their visions of strong and stable neighborhoods?

Each week, C4C mobilized 25 people working on a wide range of solutions—community-driven housing, a neighborhood farmers market, an LGBTQ home sharing platform, zero energy construction methods, a community planning academy. Participants brought their own expertise and skills to the table to consider the challenges of the existing system and to pathways to a more holistic and healthy future.


Each session of C4C Baltimore was focused on a different dimension of a complex system of housing and neighborhood development. Through guest speakers, active listening, guided journaling, learning journeys, and modeling practices, participants explored ways that our individual and collective actions can unravel what’s stuck.



The prototype they chose to explore was how to connect together many sustainable ideas that are already out there to create a “Resilient Neighborhood Block”

“All these things are already happening and we need to connect them. And for our prototype, we already have a developer with us who is willing and ready to help us and we are going to launch this initiative within a week starting with a dinner at my house.”


“The neighborhoods that were not doing so well were the ones where people had to travel more than 45min to get to their workplace. This helped us with understanding the bigger picture and gave a systemic perspective on the issue,… To tackle the challenge we needed to take a closer look at transportation and employment too.”