Life in the Balance | WYPR

Life in the Balance

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Today we’re focusing in on people who are confronting some of Baltimore's most ingrained issues head on through the power of art.  Baltimore is known for its thriving artistic scene and many artists are serving a dual purpose – as both artists and healers - through aesthetic expression they are quite literally restoring people and communities. 

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On this episode of Life in the Balance, guest host, Jamyla Krempel, explores getting by in Baltimore in 2019. Why are so many working families struggling to pay their bills? We'll meet a housekeeping manager and local activist, Doreen Hicks. She's worked up to four jobs just cover basic necesssities. Are we solving the root causes of poverty or just responding to it's symptoms? We'll discuss the 2018 ALICE report (ALICE stands for "Asset limited, Income Constrained, Employed") with the President of the United Way and learn more about GEDCO, a local non-profit trying to fill in the gaps for families in need. 

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Baltimore's Shock Trauma Center is the busiest in the country – this is where the Air Force sends medical professionals to train before deploying. In other words, the conditions in Baltimore City aren’t so different from a war zone.

What are we doing to address this ongoing crisis? Some say it’s time to start looking at gun violence as a public health issue. That’s the angle we’re taking on this show. And we’re talking with the folks who are at the front lines – working in Shock Trauma – in Annapolis – and at John Hopkins’ renowned School of public health.

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5.6% of people in Baltimore City find themselves unemployed. A few years ago, Diane was one of them. She had a series of personal struggles that left her feeling like finding a job was next-to-impossible. We’ll spend the first part of our show getting to know Diane – and then we’ll zoom out and learn more about the non-profit that helped get her back on her feet. We’ll also ask questions about how and why a person finds themselves unemployed – and just how difficult it can be to find stable employment after a personal setback.

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Baltimore's nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $606 million industry supporting more than 15,000 full-time jobs and generating $54.5 million in local and state revenue.

But just how accessible are these artistic jobs? Who is benefiting from our thriving cultural sector – are the arts equitable? These are some of the questions we’ll be discussing today.

We’ll also be discussing how the arts – especially poetry – can be a tool for activism. We’ll be speaking with a number of local poets and performers who are using their art specifically for the purposes of social engagement and activism.

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On this episode of Life in the Balance, we meet Ausar Daniels, a Baltimore activist who believes that the way we interact with food can change everything. 

With 228,000 households in Maryland considered food insecure, the risk of chronic disease is high. We’ll talk with health policy officials and advisors to better understand the detrimental effects of poor nutrition. 

Civic Works

Today on the show, we meet Shakia Dawkins – a young Mom who was feeling a little lost – until she found Civic Works Green Career Center.

We'll learn how the green economy is offering new opportunities to city residents and how a focus on job training and resiliency can truly change a person’s life.

We’ll also discuss the future of sustainability and conservationism in our state – and how a focus on Green Careers can be a benefit for both our economy and our environment. 

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On today's Life in the Balance, we focus on Black women: their experiences, their concerns, and their contributions to our country and to Baltimore.

Black women have faced racial and gender discrimination, violence, and economic and political disenfranchisement for hundreds of years. 

But, like the generations of women that have come before them, Black women are continuing to rise above the challenges. Here in Baltimore, a majority-minority city – when we talk about issues facing the City and its residents, how often do we hear discussions that center around Black women?

Guest host Jamyla Krempel and four local activists and educators add to the conversation in this episode. 

 

On this episode, we’re going to be taking you inside a boxing gym in East Baltimore. This gym is very unique – it’s one of the only places in the neighborhood that offers any extracurricular activity for local kids. It was founded by a man named Alex Long. Alex had a difficult childhood, being separated from siblings and parents in foster care… and he’s faced even more challenges since then, including the recent murder of his sister. He credits his athletic coaches with helping him remain positive and stable, and he wants to make sure the boys in his neighborhood receive the same care and guidance. Alex is now a community activist and a member of Safe Streets, an anti-violence prevention in Baltimore. He sees the boxing gym as a safe space for kids to get strong both physically and emotionally. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Mike Gerlach wasn’t born legally blind – he’s experienced a slow  deterioration of his vision over decades – but that hasn’t stopped him from leading the life he wants to lead:

We’ll learn how Mike, along with Kate Anderson at Disability Rights Maryland, is putting power in the hands of disabled citizens here in Baltimore to address transportation issues.

We’ll also meet the folks at Open Society Institute Baltimore who are championing the idea that an individual has the power to make a big change here in our community.

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On this episode, we turn our attention to the epidemic of gun violence in Baltimore. Baltimore suffered 342 homicides last year.  And that’s up 17 percent from the year before. If you do the math, this means that about 56 of every 100,000 people in the city are murdered.  While mass shootings often make the headlines, the slow burn murder rate in cities like Baltimore usually aren't fully addressed. On this episode, we meet a shock trauma surgeon, a journalist uncovering the illegal gun trade across state lines, and a young man who miraculously survived being shot twenty-three times.