Despite Baltimore’s list of socioeconomic issues and challenges, April Yvonne Garrett, founder and president of the national nonprofit organization Civic Frame, believes the city retains a silver lining.

“Every city has something absolutely exquisite about it and I think that there are so many things exquisite about Baltimore,” Garret said during a recent interview with the AFRO. “But we as a people have to have a collective will to highlight those things, stand for those things and push them forward.”

That’s why she’s spearheading Civic Frame’s “Amplify Baltimore,” a quarterly series of community discussions that will explore some of the city’s most challenging issues.

Kicking off Jan. 8, “Amplify Baltimore” will combine some of the city’s major leaders with residents of the community to discuss issues such as public health, urban farming, neighborhood housing, financial literacy and more.

Garrett, a Baltimore native, created the event after realizing that the city was in need of a public forum for citizens to interact to discuss and solve major issues. Moreover, she explained that she wanted to end complaints about what the city is lacking.

“The big thing for me is to get folks in Baltimore to stop having conversations about what we aren’t, what we’re not doing and what’s bad about the city,” Garrett said. “There’s a lot that’s great about Baltimore and I think sometimes we get stuck in culture of complaint and I just got tired of it.”

Garrett’s passion on the subject is fueled by her love for her hometown. After graduating from Baltimore City College, she attended and graduated from Columbia, Kenyon and Harvard universities. But ultimately, she moved back to Charm City and jumpstarted Civic Frame in 2002.

Since its inception, Civic Frame has encouraged civic participation through media arts and critical thinking on a national platform. But before any of the organization’s programs and events could convene in other cities, Garrett says that she wanted to ensure Baltimore was first.

“My heart is here; I love this town and I love these people and even when we’re not doing our best unto ourselves and for ourselves, I think it’s really important for individuals who know better to take a stand and demand better,” Garrett said. “It’s something that I’m extraordinarily committed to.”

The Amplify Baltimore series will span throughout 2011 and will take place at the Maryland Institute College of Art. For more information, visit: civicframe.org.

 

Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor