A couple of months back, I took the Shortlings to Locust Point in Baltimore for lunch because it was close, easy to get to and it's one of my favorite places in the city.  I like to look out across the river and imaging what the area looked like 50, 100, years ago and more.  As we were driving around, this random bus appeared on the street in front of us with music coming from it.  I looked up out the window and noticed a few people with guitars sitting in lawn chairs on top of the bus, strumming while others sang.  Still others blew bubbles off the top of the bus and into the streets. People waved out the windows and shouted greetings to the pedestrians as they passed by...

I pointed it out to the kids and they looked out to the bussers.  They shouted greetings to us and we waved back, circling leisurely around the blocks of the neighborhood and just generally having an enjoyable time on a rare warm fall day.  We followed the bus for a long time and I finally handed my phone to The Dormouse and had her take a picture because this?... 

...the fact that every time I'm there I seem something like this and it brightens my day is what I most love about the city.

I have been following with great sadness all the news out of Baltimore the past few weeks and I've read about a thousand opinions, op eds, and columns trying to make sense of it all.  I don't live there every day, but I do live close.  Close enough to feel that it is partly my home and I feel a great affinity and affection for that city.  I love the sense of community I always enjoy when I am in the neighborhoods of Baltimore - unusual for a town of that size - and how good and down to earth I always feel about the people just trying to live their lives there. Unlike many cities I never feel like an outsider or ill-at-ease there.  I never have since the first time I visited in the early 90s, when it was a very different city indeed.

What the day to day residents have gone through and continue to go through breaks my heart in a way I can't quite describe.

I don't have to condone the actions of - let's face it, a small few - to say that I at least understand and empathize with the reasons for it.  I don't know what the answers are, but the one thing I know is this: it's a very large, very complex issue and if you think you can boil everything that has happened in that community and in this nation into a few sound bites on the evening news, or even to a single incident or issue, you are mistaken. I'm proud of the response the state's attorney has made so far and her thoughtful consideration of many.  I can only hope that some good will come from this, despite my skepticism of that possibility.  But here's something I have no worries about: Baltimore will continue to gather together to create the community that makes this city so endearing to me.  Even as the unrest was happening, I watched citizens protect one another, help one another, and lend a hand to help clean up and repair the damage... because that's what a community does.
"Many say there can be no peace without justice, but so, too, can there be no true justice without peace. The riots must end before any progress can be made; progress must be made so that riots have their end."

- Geoge Takai