Future City | WYPR

Future City

fourth Wednesdays, monthly, 1 p.m. & 9 p.m.

Future City host, Wes Moore

It's easy to talk about what’s wrong in Baltimore. The challenge is to talk about what’s next. Wes Moore takes on the challenge, with WYPR's Future City.

In each episode, Wes looks at bright ideas that are working in other cities. And he asks the question: Can those ideas work for Baltimore?

Who's Wes?

Wes Moore is a decorated Army combat veteran, youth advocate and CEO of BridgeEdU, a national initiative focusing on addressing the college completion and career placement crisis by reinventing the Freshman Year of college. He is also the author of two instant New York Times best-selling books, The Other Wes Moore and The Work

Future City is made possible with grant funding from McCormick & Company.

Proud Sponsor of Future City

Ways to Connect

Patrick Semansky/AP

The annual number of homicides in Baltimore surpassed 300 for each year from 2015 to 2020. Young people have been at the forefront of the city’s violence. On this month’s episode of Future City, a rebroadcast from 2019, we discuss violence in Baltimore, how it affects young people in particular, and efforts to end cycles of retaliatory homicide through violence interruption. We also listen back to an interview with anti-violence activist Dante Barksdale, who was murdered earlier this year in Baltimore.

Provided by Collins family

Earlier this month a mostly white mob raided the Capitol, vandalizing the building, threatening to kill members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence, and attacking police officers, killing one.

The deadly attack was driven not just by Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen election but by years' worth of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and white supremacist organizing online.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Dante Barksdale, a leader of the violence-prevention program Safe Streets, was shot to death on Sunday in East Baltimore. Barksdale, who was also known as "Tater," dedicated the last decade of his life to mediating conflicts, doing critical neighborhood outreach, and reducing homicides in Baltimore.

Close up of students' hands on tablets
Alliance for Excellent Education via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

COVID-19 has changed the way we gather, moving much of our social, work, and communal lives online. People are using the internet for things like doctors’ appointments and religious services, and countless institutions have had to quickly adapt to deal with the new reality.

But getting online isn’t always so easy, especially in a city like Baltimore, where many residents lack access to high-speed internet and the devices or digital literacy skills necessary to use it.

"Free To Vote": Lessons From Election 2020

Nov 18, 2020
Phil Roeder via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It’s been two weeks since Election Day, when a record breaking number of people voted in the midst of a pandemic. On today’s Future City we assess the national and local races and ask what lessons they can teach us about elections and ballot access moving forward.

We discuss how election officials pivoted to create safer voting opportunities, the fight to make voting more accessible for currently and formerly incarcerated people, and the impact of both polling and grassroots organizing on electoral politics. 

"The Bottom Is Falling Out": Affordable Housing And COVID-19

Oct 28, 2020
Eli Pousson / Baltimore Heritage via Flickr (Public Domain)

The affordable housing crisis has wreaked havoc on Baltimoreans for decades, and the economic fallout from the coronavirus has only exacerbated the problem. On this month's episode of Future City we're exploring how COVID-19 is affecting housing in Baltimore and beyond. We discuss the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx Baltimoreans, including the ways that some immigrants have been left out from receiving stimulus benefits. We also hear about the challenges to building affordable housing nationally and discuss the steps housing advocates want the local, state and federal governments to take to protect renters, including ending evictions and canceling rent payments.

Pacific Legal Foundation via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The new school year has started and students, parents, teachers, school staff and administrators across the country are dealing with the uncertainty of education during a global health pandemic. On this month's Future City, we discuss how COVID-19 is shaping education, how schools in Baltimore and around the country are rolling out virtual instruction and how digital and racial inequities are exacerbating educational inequity. 

Mike Mozart via Flickr


Food insecurity is rampant in Baltimore, with nearly a quarter of the city's residents struggling to acquire healthy, affordable food. On this month's episode of Future City, we discuss why food insecurity persists in one of the wealthiest states in the country, and how local urban farmers, religious leaders, and advocates are fighting for food justice in the city. 

Bruce Emmerling via Flickr (Public Domain)

The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by Minneapolis and Louisville police sparked protests around the globe. A Black-led, multiracial, multicity movement has arisen demanding changes to policing in the U.S. and demanding a recognition that Black lives matter.

Silvision via Flickr

Around the country, states have eased social distancing restrictions, ended stay-at-home orders and opened up more parts of their economies.


Although Maryland remains under a state of emergency, Gov. Larry Hogan allowed retailers, hair salons, manufacturers and places of worship to reopen at 50% of their maximum occupancy last Friday, pointing to the state's decline in hospitalizations as a key statistic in his choice to reopen.


Just days later, Maryland announced 1,784 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of new daily cases since the outbreak began.

Mike Mozart via Flickr

Food insecurity is rampant in Baltimore, with nearly a quarter of the city's residents struggling to acquire healthy, affordable food. On this month's episode of Future City, we discuss why food insecurity persists in one of the wealthiest states in the country, and how local urban farmers, religious leaders, and advocates are fighting for food justice in the city. 


People are living with trauma every single day in Baltimore. They may be survivors of physical or sexual violence, people close to them may have been victims of homicide, they may have been in accidents, had major medical emergencies or shocking and sudden life changes, or experienced any number of traumatic events.

The Future Of Education In Baltimore

Jan 15, 2020
Eli Pousson / Baltimore Heritage via Flickr

Schools in Baltimore City have struggled over the years, and face a potential $60 million budget shortfall in 2021. Meanwhile lawmakers are debating whether or not to fully fund the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.  


On this episode of Future City, the monthly conversation on innovative responses to the city’s most pressing problems, we ask what it’s going to take to make Baltimore City schools the best that they can be. We explore how improvements to school buildings, wrap-around services and curriculum changes can be paid for and what Baltimore can learn from other jurisdictions. 

Like_the_Grand_Canyon via Flickr

In the spring of 2019, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned amid the fallout from the “Healthy Holly” scandal, where she struck more than $800,000 in deals to sell copies of her self-published children books. Although she’d lost the support of the City Council, they had no power to remove her unless she was convicted of a crime. 

That incident led many to question the way the Baltimore City government is structured. Mayors of Baltimore have a lot of power relative to mayors in many other cities because of our so-called strong mayor system. And some on the City Council are trying to change that through charter amendments that would make major changes to how the city government is run.

- Sima Lee / Black Lens Photos © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Erricka Bridgeford is a co-creator of Baltimore Ceasefire 365, an organization that seeks to end homicides in the city. The group organizes quarterly ceasefire weekends, asking Baltimoreans to handle conflict nonviolently while celebrating life and sharing resources. They also practice healing rituals at the sites of homicides and offer support to the surviving friends and families of homicide victims.


Bridgeford spoke to Future City producer Mark Gunnery for a special podcast extra to accompany this month’s episode "Baltimore’s Different”: Gangs, Youth, And Stopping Violence.

Mark Gunnery

For the fifth year in a row, the annual number of homicides in Baltimore has surpassed 300. Young people have been at the forefront of the city’s violence. On this month’s episode of Future City, we discuss violence in Baltimore, how it affects young people in particular, gangs in the city and efforts to end cycles of retaliatory violence.

Eli Pousson for Baltimore Heritage.

Baltimore is at the center of the lead crisis in the U.S., and generations of Baltimoreans have been poisoned by the heavy metal. How did lead exposure become such a drastic problem here in Baltimore? And how can the city deal with lead poisoning in a lasting and comprehensive way?


In 2015, there were over seven-hundred Confederate monuments displayed in cities, parks, and towns throughout the United States. Since that time more than 25 American cities have removed one or more Confederate monuments from public view, sparking a heated national debate - Is this revisionist history or an attempt at rectifying a historical wrong? The country is extremely divided. Baltimore's four explicitly Confederate statues were removed during the night in August of 2017. In this episode, Wes asks experts to contextualize these monuments and their purpose, while asking how we will address memorials and historical memory in our future cities. 

Google Images

Trends are suggesting that fewer and fewer people will be opting for a four-year college degree in the future. The average student who takes out student loans ends up with nearly 30,000 dollars to pay back, and many graduates just aren’t seeing a return on their investment: About 44% of graduates end up at a job that doesn’t require a college degree.

So what is the future of higher education? Some say it’s vocational and trade schools – programs that offer more technical training in specialized fields – many which traditionally haven’t required a bachelor’s degree.

But is our education system set up for students in vocational schools to succeed? What about students who don’t go to college? What sort of economic outlooks will they be looking at?

The Future of the Internet and Social Media

Jul 17, 2019
Benjamin H/flickr creative commons

Over 3.4 billion people use social media, but with privacy concerns and accusations of false information – what’s the future of internet use? New social media sites are emerging pitching authenticity and transparency, but are consumers willing to make the switch to new platforms? Wes discusses media, marketing strategies, and the future of the internet on this episode. 

The Future of Foster Care

Jun 19, 2019
Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun

Here in Maryland, there are nearly 4,000 children in foster care. With so many children in need, how do we ensure a future where children, parents, and foster parents are all provided with the best possible care? Wes discusses interracial adoption, foster parents, biological parents, and the emotional realities of this complex system. 

The Future of Incarceration

May 15, 2019
Thomas Hawk / Flickr

With the highest imprisonment rate in the world, the United States is long overdue to address the issue of mass incarceration. With 2.2 million people behind bars in this country, what have been the effects? Has our prison system worked? We’re looking to examples in Europe to learn more. Many European models focus on rehabilitation rather than retribution. While some here in the U.S. remain skeptical about the European method of incarceration, many are beginning to implement changes and programs that take best practices from European countries and apply them here in the U.S.

The Future of Workplaces

Apr 17, 2019
DesignMilk / Flickr

When many of us think of the modern workplace, we start thinking about the images we’ve seen of Facebook and Google headquarters: open floorplans, fooseball tables, designer beanbag chairs. Maybe we don’t picture an office at all. Instead, we picture someone telecommuting from home in their pajamas. But do either of these images reflect the reality of the modern workplace? And what trends are emerging that are changing our conceptions about the needs of workers in the 21st century? On this edition of Future City, Wes explores the future of workplaces. 

The Future of Ownership

Mar 20, 2019

We live in a society deeply invested in ownership. It’s been the classic way to gain, sustain, and grow family wealth. It’s been the mark of adulthood and stability. Ownership – of a car, of a house, of a phone, clothes - has been a ‘given’ for most of recent history. But will this remain the case? With the rise of the so-called sharing economy and the popularity of Marie Kondo-style minimalism, ownership doesn’t always hold the same appeal.

The Future of Addiction Policies and Treatments

Feb 20, 2019

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total "economic burden" of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

And frankly, the problem is only getting worse. Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.

This is a national health care emergency – and a national tragedy.

So what’s being done about it? Today on the show we’ll be exploring the personal impacts of opioid and drug addiction… The tolls on families… And what states and cities are doing to address this is issue as the healthcare crisis that it is.

The Future of Community Colleges

Jan 16, 2019

Accordinding to The College Board, 71 percent of graduates from four-year colleges carried debt, with students at public schools owing an average of $25,550 and those with degrees from private colleges owing an average of $32,300.

So what’s the solution? Consider the relatively low cost of a community college education - Average annual tuition and fees for students attending public, two-year colleges in their communities were just $3,260 in 2013-2014.

With so many people priced out of higher education – what’s the future of colleges – and where do community colleges fit into this changing landscape?

The Future of Retail

Dec 19, 2018

It’s the holidays – and maybe you still have some last-minute shopping to do. But how are you doing that shopping? Is it the same way you were doing your holiday shopping five years ago – fifteen years ago? Are you driving to a mall – are you hitting up your local shops – or are you ordering packages on Amazon?

Wes takes a look at retail and the future of commerce here in the United States – especially considering the seemingly limitless growth of online-commerce based businesses like Amazon. He then focuses in on Baltimore, and how our retail industry is changing and growing. What’s working, what isn’t?

The Future of Arts Activism

Nov 21, 2018
Rowland Scherman - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Music has long been used as protest. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, John Lennon, and CCR, and so many others, used their music as a way to protest the Vietnam War. They wrote songs that addressed systemic injustices and sought to unite people through the power of their music.

Today, many musicians are doing the same.

Music as activism is constantly growing and evolving, and art continues to be a vital medium for expression and dialogue.

Today on the show we’re looking at the Arts… Arts as Activism. We’ll be talking with musicians and visual artists about how their art is intertwined with their activism. 

The Future of Security

Oct 17, 2018

On this episode, Wes explores the future of security. In World War II we had air raid drills; in the 1960s,  we had duck and cover drills; today, we have active shooter drills. Guests discuss everything from emergency procedures to internet safety in our home. Wes also explores questions surrounding the tension between privacy and security. 

The Future of Police Recruitment

Sep 19, 2018

Police departments in our country are struggling. In 2015, Gallup reported that public confidence in police was at a historic 22-year low. This was the same year Baltimore was rocked by Freddie Grey’s case and subsequent city-wide riots. While support has grown since then, the disconnect between the public and the police is palpable. 

What are the messages out there for future cops? Is this a profession that people aspire to? And what are police departments doing to mend relations with the public – possibly enticing new recruits in the process?