What not to miss at the 2017 Baltimore Book Festival

By Shae McCoy

Contributor

The Baltimore Book Festival, brought to you by B.O.P.A. (Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts), will back for its 22nd  year and will be returning to the Baltimore Inner Harbor. This is a festival that caters to the literary arts. There will be book signings, live readings, cooking demonstrations, panel discussions and more to keep you occupied. This event is a family-friendly event, so there will be fun activities that will cater to everyone in the home, from parents, teens, and younger children.

The book festival kicks off on Friday September 22 and ends on Sunday September 24. The festival will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m each day. For this year, there will be 500 presenting authors featured, 11 stages, 90 literary exhibitors and 3,000 plus books that will be available via The Ivy Bookshop. Food and beverage vendors will be available around the promenade. You can expect to see authors such as, radio host and Professor Michael Eric Dyson, (Tears We Cannot Stop); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, (Purple Hibiscus); Patricia Altschul, Bravo reality TV show (Southern Charm); renowned poet Eileen Myles, (Afterglow: A Dog memoir); Ada Calhoun, (Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give); and many more!

You can find out more about the festival and the full schedule on www.baltimorebookfestival.org.

Bnotes are building in Baltimore

by Daniele Spagnolo

Paper gets cut, inked, and printed by the U.S. treasury on a daily basis. Seas of green are pumped out into our indebted society. Jackson, Washington, and Franklin can only give us the promises of their value. We see the inevitable fate of our fluctuating economy as prices get higher, quality deteriorates, and we continue to climb the mountain on inflation. When we experience economic crashes like Baltimore did in the beginning of 2007, imaginative and productive minds start turning towards solutions. The creators of the Bnote envisioned a local currency that would create incentives to build Baltimore businesses and empower Baltimoreans not only as consumers, but as contributors to the wellbeing of Baltimore. As Vice Chair, Julie Goulding puts it, “we could create a reserve of money that’s our money.”

The Bnote team is an organization led by Jeff Dicken (Chair) and an all-volunteer staff. These community pioneers started with a vision of circulating a widely accepted, sustainable and viable form of local currency. Local currency isn’t a new phenomenon, there are various systems in place when it comes to concurring local currency. Here is how the Bnote works. The Bnote is worth ten percent more than the US Dollar. So, you can go to one of the Bnote cambrio (exchange center) like CapitolMac, give them $20 and receive 22 Bnotes. Then, you walk over to a local business that accepts Bnotes, like Golden West Cafe, and you are able to pay for ten percent more of your food.

A business that has accepted 80 Bnotes (comparable to the 72 US Dollars), is more likely to cater office parties with Cafe Sage or shop for office cleaning supplies at Baltimore Janitorial Supply Co. Bnotes help prevent small businesses from driving their growth with a solely capitalist model. Bnotes also attempt to counteract the power of corporate monopolies like Walmart or Home Depot by using the power of reciprocity. Additionally, the currency flows freely between consumers to businesses, then from businesses to other businesses, and this creates more community and social capital in our city.

With more places that accept Bnotes we have more options. The volunteer team is constantly working to add new businesses to the list of Bnote friendly locations. At their launch in April 2011, Bnotes were accepted at 55 businesses. As we are coming up on Summer 2016, Bnotes are launching their new series of the 10 and 20 value Bnotes at Gallery 788 on April 30th. Now, there are over 220 places that accept this currency, and the number is growing. The two new bills will feature well known women in Baltimore’s history, and the design will be revamped and ready to trade for quality goods and services. I know what you are thinking, “Well that’s cool, but can I pay my electric bill with this?” Well, no, you can’t…yet. The purpose is not to entirely replace U.S. currency. The BNote team sees the skepticism, but they reassure businesses and consumers alike there is no risk when investing in Bnotes. People have complete control over how much and how often they decide to use Bnotes. The currency is only complementary.

A couple businesses that successfully and regularly use Bnotes are Liam Flynn’s, that accepts 1 Bnote for 1 Natty Boh, Baltimore’s favorite beer, and Zekes coffee that also serves as a Bnote cambrio. When looking at the map of Bnote friendly locations, areas include Mt. Vernon, Charles Village, Hampden, Fells point, and Harbor East. Of course, these areas do not include all citizens of Baltimore, but the Bnote team, as Jeff and Julie emphasize, “always has been and will be open to the public.” They are seeking volunteers that will help spread the accessibility and versatility of Bnotes by including the areas of West Baltimore and East Baltimore in order to more accurately reflect the socioeconomic participation with all levels of income.

   Here is where we come in, we can help! We can decide to use the Bnote, ask for it in change, and help the circulation of our local currency to boost local businesses and create a better Baltimore. The Bnote team imagines being able to create real community enhancements like a recreation center open to all Baltimoreans, partnerships with local banks to provide micro-loan services, or even venture to buy food from community gardens, all with the power of Bnotes. We can also volunteer with the Bnote team to spread the word, whether it be by social media, writing, canvassing, or actually printing and making our Baltimore based bucks.

Please, visit baltimoregreencurrency.org to check out Bnote cambrios and locations, and email baltimoregreencurrency@gmail.com to ask about volunteer options.

Ravens face season without Suggs

The Ravens lost their opening game of the 2015 NFL season in Denver. That loss pales in comparison to an injury sustained by one of Baltimore’s most important players, linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Terrell Suggs, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.
Terrell Suggs, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.

Suggs, the emotional leader of the Ravens, tore his left Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter of Baltimore’s 19-13 loss at Denver. He was able to walk off the field under his own power, and was not willing to be carted off to the locker room, but eventually did at the insistence of team doctors. Teammates thought Suggs only had cramps, and were shocked to learn of the official diagnosis after the game. Now, the Ravens are looking for other defensive players, young and veteran alike, to step up and fill the leadership void left behind by Suggs, who previously tore his right Achilles ten- don during spring team activities in 2012. Suggs offered encouragement to his followers on social media after learning his season was over after barely beginning.

“Chin up Ravens Nation! We’ve been here before…This changes NOTHING!!! Our mission is still the same,” Suggs said on Twitter after the game. Baltimore will now look to players like linebackers Elvis Dumervil and C.J. Moseley, along with defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, to take on increased roles in leading the Ravens’ traditionally strong defense. They will be called on to replace the team’s career leader in sacks with 106.5, the sixth-most among active players.

“You can never replace Terrell Suggs,” Dumervil told ESPN.com. Last season, Dumervil and Suggs combined for 29 sacks, which ranked among the league leaders in sacks by any two teammates.

The Ravens were hurt by poor execution in their two-minute drill against the Broncos. After Denver capped off a 17-play, 81-yard, 10:56 drive with a field goal, the Ravens got the ball at their 20 with 2:55 left. Baltimore drove the ball into the redzone, but Joe Flacco failed to connect on passes intended for running back Justin Forsett and wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. On third down, Flacco’s pass was intercepted by the Bronco’s Darian Stewart in the end zone off a deflection.

The Ravens defense was able to stifle an inconsistent Peyton Man- ning. Baltimore sacked Manning four times (two by Mosely), held him to just 175 yards passing, and Jimmy Smith returned an interception for a touchdown.

Baltimore will look to build some momentum during October, when they’ll face archrival Pittsburgh on “Thursday Night Football” on Oct. 1, followed by fellow division rival Cleveland on Oct. 11. Baltimore will go back west to play San Francisco on Oct. 18 and Arizona on Oct. 26 for “Monday Night Football.”

Photo Credit: Keith Allison under a Creative Common License

Training camp injuries test Ravens’ depth on offensive line

The offensive line was a point of strength for the Baltimore Ravens during the 2014 season. The line gave up just 19 sacks all season long, which meant that quarterback Joe Flacco usually had plenty of time to find open receivers. However, that strength is being tested heading into the 2015 season.

The Ravens have been plagued by injuries to their offensive line during the preseason. They were without six linemen heading into their second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. During that game alone, three more linemen were injured, including left tackle Eugene Monroe, who will be protecting Flacco’s blind side. Injuries are also testing the depth of their secondary and receivers. Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman has not practiced since suffering a knee injury during the first day of training camp. Tight end Dennis Pitta continues to recover from a hip injury. Lardarius Webb has also been in and out of practice with a hamstring injury. Strong safety Matt Elam will be out for the season after suffering a torn bicep on August 1 and undergoing surgery. The coaches had high hopes for Elam to have a bounce-back season after struggling in his first two years in the league,. Elam is not the only player who suffered such an injury. Just a week after Elam’s injury, defensive end Brent Urban tore his biceps, and is also likely to miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair the muscle.

While the Ravens’ 2014 season was clouded by the scandal surrounding Ray Rice’s now-infamous fight with his wife that was caught on camera inside the elevator of an Atlantic City casino, they were hoping for a quieter off-season. They have gotten that to a certain extent, but this off-season has not been free of controversy.

As training camp was getting underway, emails were uncovered that allege communication between the Ravens and Colts during the week between the Ravens’ loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round and the Colts’ loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game about the Patriots’ alleged use of under inflated footballs. The emails reportedly show that a phone call was made from Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg to Colts head coach (and former Ravens defensive coordinator) Chuck Pagano about footballs. The team also released the content of a text message from kicking consultant Randy Brown in which he told Pagano to make sure that the officials use a proper rota- tion of the kicking balls. Rosburg says Pagano called him to ask about a substitution play he saw the Patriots try to use against the Ravens while reviewing game video to prepare for the AFC Championship Game. Ravens Head coach John Harbaugh completely denied that any communication with the Colts was about underinflated game balls.

The Ravens’ starters on offense and defense played well in their first preseason game at home against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 13, but the second-team defense gave the lead away in the second half. Third string quarterback Bryn Renner, a rookie from the University of North Carolina, threw an interception that led to a Saints touchdown, giving New Orleans a 27-23 lead late in the fourth quarter. On Baltimore’s next possession, Renner drove the offense down the field during the two-minute drill, and then scored on a two-yard bootleg run on which he faked to the left before rolling right and finding nothing but open turf between himself and the end zone. As good as the starters were against the Saints, they were just as bad in their second preseason game at Philadelphia on Aug. 22. Flacco threw two interceptions, which led to two Eagles touchdowns. The Ravens first team defense gave up points on all three possessions it played, and their special teams gave up a punt return touchdown as the Eagles won, 40- 17. Renner was one of the few bright spots for Baltimore, completing 15 of 21 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens were flagged for 17 penalties for 139 yards, including nine accepted penalties in the first half. The game followed a week of joint practices with the Eagles in Pennsylvania.

The Ravens will open their regular season at Denver on Sept. 13 and play at Oakland on Sept. 20. Their home opener will be on Sept. 27 against Cincinnati, and will be the first of three straight divisional games, including a Thursday night game at Pittsburgh on Oct. 1. 10 days later, the Ravens will welcome Cleveland into M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore will play two straight games against the NFC West, starting on Oct. 18 at San Francisco, followed by their first of two appearances on “Monday Night Football” at Arizona on Oct.

26. San Diego will come to Baltimore on Nov. 1. The Ravens’ bye week will be Week Nine. The home stand continues the two weeks following the bye, with games against Jacksonville on Nov. 15 and St. Louis on Nov. 22. Baltimore will travel to Cleveland for “Monday Night Football” on Nov. 30. December will see the Ravens travel to Miami for a third straight season on Dec. 6. The Seattle Seahawks will travel across the country to play the Ravens on “Sunday Night Football” on Dec. 13. The Ravens will host Kansas City on Dec. 20. They will wrap up their home schedule against the Steelers on Dec. 27 before concluding their regular season at Cincinnati on Jan. 3.

In other Ravens news, wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. announced early in training camp that this season, his 15th in the NFL, will be his last. Last season, in his first year with the Ravens, Smith caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdown.

Maryland football looks to improve in second B1G season

After languishing in its final few sea- sons of football and men’s basketball in the ACC, a new era began last summer in College Park when the University of Maryland, along with Rutgers University in New Jersey, officially joined the Big Ten Conference. In their first season of Big Ten football, Maryland went 4-4 in the conference, and 7-6 overall, despite inconsistent play on offense, especially from starter C.J. Brown. Although Maryland managed to finish .500 in conference play and make a bowl game appearance in their first season in a new conference, the Terps often shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. Turnovers were a major factor in lopsided losses against Michigan State and national champion Ohio State. Penalties proved to be their downfall at Wisconsin. While Maryland didn’t play well in those losses, they had some bright spots in conference play.

Maryland won its first Big Ten game emphatically, 37-15 at Indiana, a perennial bottom-dweller in the conference in football. After committing four turnovers in a 52-24 blowout loss to then-20th-ranked Ohio State at home, the Terps bounced back with a 38-31 win over Iowa, usually one of the stronger teams in the Big Ten. Maryland also came from behind for a 20-19 win at Penn State. The game featured a fight during pregame warm-ups, followed by the Maryland captains refusing to shake hands with the Penn State captains before the coin toss. Kicker Brad Craddock won the game by kicking a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in regulation. Maryland also went into “The Big House” and came away with a 23-16 win over Michigan in a game that proved to be the final nail in the cof- fin for then-Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke. The Terps ended the 2014 season on a down note, blowing a 25-point lead in losing to Rutgers, 41-38 in the regular season finale. They then lost 45-21 to Stanford on a chilly, windy night in the Foster Farms Bowl in the Bay Area.

Randy Edsall enters his fifth season as Maryland’s head coach. This year, he’ll be joined by a pair of familiar faces on his staff. Keith Dudzinski is the new defensive coordinator, and is switching the alignment of the front seven from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Darrell Perkins has been hired as the defensive backs coach. Last year, he was the cornerbacks coach at Old Dominion University in Virginia. Terry Richardson is the new running backs coach. He held the same position for the last two years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both Perkins and Richardson were assistant coaches on Edsall’s staff when he led Connecticut to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl during the 2010-2011 season.

Junior cornerback William Likely will be relied upon by the coaching staff to be one of the team’s leaders this season. Last year, Likely had six interceptions, tied for the most interceptions in the Big Ten, and returned two of those for touchdowns. His 170 interception return yards led the conference, ranked fourth in the country, and set school single-season records for return yards and touch- downs. He also had 83 tackles (66 solo), 496 kickoff return yards with one touchdown (a 100-yard return in the bowl game against Stanford), and 225 yards and two touchdowns on punt returns. His average of 31 yards per kickoff return was fourth- best in the country. This preseason, Likely has been named to the Watch Lists for the Bednarik (Best Defen- sive Player), Nagurski (Most Out- standing Defensive Player), Thorpe (Best Defensive Back) and Hornung (Most Versatile Player) Awards. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun in mid-August, he proclaimed himself to be the best defensive back in the country.

Although Likely will lead the secondary and probably find himself matched up against the opponents’ top receivers, the defensive line will have to overcome some losses to season-ending injuries during training camp. The most recent loss was sophomore defensive end Malik Jones, who was a part of three state championship teams while attending Dunbar High School in Baltimore. Jones suffered an unspecified injury to his lower leg during practice on August 19. A week earlier, junior linebacker Abner Logan was lost to an ACL injury.

On offense, the search is ongoing for a starting quarterback following Brown’s graduation. There are three candidates for the job: redshirt junior Perry Hills, true junior Caleb Rowe, and senior Daxx Garman, who transferred from Oklahoma State. Both Rowe and Hills saw limited playing time last season. Rowe threw for 489 yards and five touchdowns in four games before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. Hills, who was selected to the All-Big Ten Academic Team, played in three games. He came in after Brown was injured against Iowa, and threw for 86 yards and a touchdown. Garman took over the starting job at Oklahoma State after the Cowboys’ original starter was injured. He won his first four starts, and threw for 2,041 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games. His best game was against Texas Tech, when he threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown. Edsall says he’s still waiting for someone to separate himself from the other two. Meanwhile, there’s still competition among the receivers. Brandon Ross and Wes Brown are also competing to be the top running back.

Maryland will open its season with three straight home games at Byrd Stadium, starting on Sept. 5 against Richmond from the Football Championship Subdivision. That will be followed by games against Bowling Green and South Florida in the following two weeks. The Terps will then travel to play West Virginia on Sept. 26. Maryland will open its Big Ten schedule by welcoming Michigan and new head coach Jim Harbaugh (brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh) to College Park on Oct. 3 as part of Family Weekend. The Terps will play at Ohio State on Oct. 10, and following their bye week, will host Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Oct. 24. Maryland will travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes on Hal- loween before returning home to host Wisconsin on Nov. 7 during Homecoming. The Terps will play at Michigan State on Nov. 14, and their final home game will be Nov. 21 for Military Appreciation Day against Indiana. Maryland will wrap up the regular season at Rutgers during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Root to the Problem, More than Freddie Gray’s Case

By Ron Kipling Williams

The uprising that took place in the wake of Freddie Gray’s murder is indicative of the crisis that America has been facing since its inception. From the abolitionist movement, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Tulsa Race riots, Jim Crow segregation, Civil Rights, and into today, we have experienced how race and class have served as powder kegs to our explosions, and has resulted in deep wounds from which we have yet to heal.

The issue of police brutality is the perfect intersection of race and class; those who have been marginalized and targeted because of their skin color and their socioeconomic background. We have witnessed this time and again over the last 50 years, from the lynchings in the south, to the police involved homicides in the North, from Amadou Diallo to Freddie Gray.

Amidst the condemnation by many, particularly in the media, for the mayhem and looting that took place, we must ask tough questions that get at the core of who we are as a society: if it were not for the uprising, would there have been attention to Gray’s murder? One case in point is the homicide of Tyrone West, who was brutalized and murdered by police on July 18, 2013. Though the autopsy determined that West died due to a heart condition which was exacerbated by the struggle with police, it is clear that police used excessive force to subdue West. No citizen should be aggravated by anyone to the point of death. We saw similar cases with Eric Garner in New York, Oscar Grant in Los Angeles, and Anthony Anderson again in Baltimore.

Another question that needs to be raised is, why have we given law enforcement such power over citizens that they can operate with impunity? The Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights has given police officers a myriad of protections that have almost given them carte blanche to conduct themselves in a rogue fashion knowing that they have not only the “blue wall of silence” facilitated by the Fraternal Order of Police, but that they have due process above and beyond the average citizen. It denotes an established hierarchy of citizenry; that the people who are sword to serve and protect us are viewed in a higher class, and the vocabulary used toward them is reflective of that.

For example, the looters in last week’s uprising were characterized as “thugs” for destroying property. The six police officers who were clearly responsible for Gray’s death were not. It is unfair and unjust to be similarly situated but treated differently. In fact, that establishes a prima facie case for discrimination. Even after the evidence revealed the police officers’ culpability, no elected official, save City Council President Jack Young, recanted their characterization of the citizens who vandalized and looted, nor did they move the police officers into the “thug” category.

Peering deeper into the lens of class, we see that police are viewed as professionals, often middle class, valuable members of society. Coupled with formidable union support, they enjoy perceptions and protections that those who are poor, lower economic class, service industry workers, unemployed, underemployed, do not. Essentially, in this post 9/11 world, police officers are regarded as heroes of our society, while “the others” are viewed as our dregs.

We are all human beings, citizens of this nation, and neighbors in our communities. However, many who are marginalized and targeted by law enforcement are the same ones this society views as predators, leeching off social programs, filling our prisons, and not contributing to the tax base. This is far from the truth. Everyone, regardless of their background, desires to have gainful employment that results in a life of decency and dignity. Our young people desire to have a school system that facilitates their learning and their future success. We all want communities that are sustainable, that has access to healthy food, health care, safety, protection, and recreation. There are no groups that are bad; that is a consistent characterization by those who have privilege, who ironically gained their privilege by exploiting the same poor and working class blacks and other minorities for profit. It is time that we cease to demonize the most challenged of us, and enact ways for them to become self-sustainable. We possess the collective community will; there must also be the collective political will to accomplish this.

Until there is fundamental change in our societal structure, there will continue to be a gross disparity in quality of life for all of our citizens, and subsequently a difference in treatment by law enforcement, which historically became licensed to protect the state. Only later did it transform to protect the citizenry. We must stop the mentality of “us” versus “them”. It only polarize and segregate us, and amplifies the kind of tragedies that we have observed with Freddie Gray and others.

The fact that 70 percent of police officers live outside of Baltimore is a very telling indicator of what is wrong with our police department. If a police officer is not from the community, then they are not connected to the community because they have no stake in it. When a person is disconnected from a community they begin to view it as “them”, “the other”, “those people”. From there the characterization disintegrates into viewing the community as less than human, which begets objectification. When one objectifies, anything is possible, because now the community is seen as merely objects, not as a collection of human beings.

We must enforce a combination of policies that cultivates law enforcement from our own communities and enact the appropriate punishment, including incarceration for those who break our laws. We need to create the kind of culture that lets our police officers know that they are a part of us, and they are accountable to us. We need to have a very strong civilian review board, and implement a mechanism that allows our city council representatives to enact legislation that strengthens the citizen-law enforcement bond.

But herein lies the rub. Police offers are human beings. A significant number of them come from our communities. Though they are sworn to uphold the law; they do not create it. They do not craft legislative or executive policies. That is the job of our bureaucratic institutions, and when institutionally racist and classist policies result in civilian casualties, police officers are the ones to fall on their sword. Consequently, neither the appropriate and swift punishment nor incarceration ever reaches the upper ranks of the ‘blue wall’ or City Hall. It seems that police are pitted against us, used as pawns in a sociopolitical chess game that serves the status quo, while we are served up as collateral damage.

I have been involved in community activism for a number of years, and I have seen the beauty and resiliency of our neighborhoods and communities. We are a loving, caring city that deserves to be protected and served. We should not allow any factions to destroy what we have built, but make no mistake, we will always rebuild whatever is destroyed, whether it be by citizens or law enforcement.