Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thomas Dolby is upskilling down-at-heel bits of Baltimore

Thomas Dolby, you're probably aware, has kept himself busy over the years. But he's doing something even more impressive than inventing ringtones and working with Magnus Pyke. Right now, he's working in a run-down part of Baltimore:

Another project in the works — spearheaded by Dolby's colleagues, Lucy Bucknell and Linda DeLibero — will help local ex-offenders make films that tell their personal stories.

“I would just love it if all of humanity that’s out here on the streets looks at this building, and rather than view it as yet another gleaming university edifice that they can’t go near, that they really have a stake in the building,” Dolby says, "and that it can have a positive effect on the community and on the revitalization of Station North.”

Sure, Thomas Dolby knows this kind of “revitalization” can be complicated.

“People get displaced, people will be complaining about the rent and all the rest of it,” he says. “And those are all things that anybody developing a neighborhood has to take into account.”

Especially, he says, if that “anybody” is a relative newcomer who — until his recent move to Fells Point — was splitting his time between the west coast of the United States and the east coast of England.

“I don’t want to steam in here like the expatriate Brit who thinks he can come in and immediately come to grips with the neighborhood,” Dolby says. “I’m learning all the time. So I spend as much time as I can in Station North, talking to people, and I’m trying to make sure that anything I initiate here makes sense, really, for the neighborhood.”
That's a really cool approach - although the "people will be complaining" line suggests he might already have had his fingers burned a little.

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