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The Baltimore Sun

“Light city love letter”
By Jen Ronald
March 31, 2016

On Monday night, I stood on the harbor with Fort McHenry at my back, the lyrics of our national anthem so close to their source, and watched another love song creating itself in front of me in neon lights as “Dear Baltimore,” the art installation of letters by Thick Air Studios paraded by. Dear Baltimore, fill in the blank, it seemed to invite. Dear Baltimore, this is all a love letter to you, it seemed to say. Dear Baltimore, we love you. Dear Baltimore, we have hope. Dear Baltimore, we are still here. Dear Baltimore, we are strong. We have talents. We are yours. Dear Baltimore, can you hear this? O, say can you see? (“Organizers hope Light City will light the way for a renewed Baltimore,” March 26.)

My local heart soared. I stood on the harbor with friends, my daughter, my childhood memories, stories of all of my family back and back and back, illuminated: the tugboat workers, accordion players, boxers and dreamers, poets and bankers, teachers, crab-eaters all. Dear Baltimore, you are home. And like any true home, you are one crazy mixed bag of stupid love. And like any true family, we will fight anyone who is not us who dares speak a word against you. You know why? Because we see this light, Baltimore. We know you. We believe in you, always have.

This next paragraph could be about all the famous people who trace their roots to Baltimore’s quirky sensibilities or about those in other big cities who like to promote nearby Baltimore as an important cultural hearth, a food and arts mecca, but it shouldn’t be.

If you are from Baltimore, this next paragraph can only be about Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, founders of Light City Baltimore. What a debt we owe these two. We should parade them through town and give them the keys to this city, for they are just two regular people who have reminded us that in Baltimore this is what two people can do. This is citizenship at its finest. Two people believed in an idea that could better their city. They badgered everyone they could to make it happen. They are Baltimore’s best.

I thank them and everyone who listened to them — every sponsor, participant and volunteer. Together you brought this incredible event to fruition. I hope it does great things for our city, this week and beyond.

Dear Baltimore, come out and see this. Remember your own great ideas. Badger people to make them happen. We could keep this going.

Jen Ronald, Baltimore