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Amplifying Healing by Creating Space for the Community in Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, MD is a city that has been deeply impacted by gun violence. Many residents feel the reverberations of community trauma, the collective trauma experienced in communities with elevated levels of gun violence. That’s why organizations like Family Survivor Network (FSN) are working to provide a community for survivors of gun violence through a trauma-informed model of healing and healthcare services.

“I’m in a city that continuously lives through the narrative of compounded trauma, a high volume of crime and rapid violence. We At FSN work to dismantle the barriers that perpetuate violence while supporting and serving the amazing hearts of survivors and victims of gun violence,” Dorian Walker, Executive Director of FSN, shared. “A warm and welcoming space of unity and peace, humans are encouraged to pull, push, own, and succeed on THEIR terms, creating ripples of power around them while working toward stability, truth telling, and community.”

Dorian Walker, Executive Director of the Family Survivor Network, smiles while sitting on a stoop in Baltimore, MD
Dorian Walker, Executive Director of Family Survivor Network (FSN)

As the executive director of FSN, Dorian works collaboratively with other organizations in Baltimore, including the local Moms Demand Action chapter. “[Dorian] meets the neighbors where they are. It is a privilege to observe his conversations with FSN members who stop by sometimes to just be seen and heard in their space,” Elaine Arndt, the Maryland Deputy Chapter Lead with Moms Demand Action, expressed. Elaine finds deep value in their partnership—working together on shared goals and a mission to help communities in Baltimore heal. 

“Community partners help us learn how to slow down, listen, ask questions, and take the time to understand the issues before jumping to conclusions or a solution,” Elaine shared. “And nine times out of ten, the solution is right in the community, not in an outside group. By listening and sharing, we permit difficult and more deep conversations about gun violence prevention to happen.”

For National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange, FSN and Moms Demand Action are collaborating on a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) project with the support of grant funding from Everytown’s Community Safety Fund. CPTED projects focus on making changes to the built environment of the area to reduce crime and increase community safety—whether that means restoring vacant lots or creating new art installations in neighborhoods. Each change is designed with community input and is implemented with community empowerment in mind. FSN has also received technical assistance from Local Initiatives Support Corps, who have assisted these leaders in ensuring the project will be sustained and supported.

Dorian smiles with a group of 8 volunteers outside of their building in Baltimore

“This project is designed to empower the community, increase green space availability, and provide a neighborhood gathering place for community-building and healing,” Elaine shared. “In conversations with community members, Dorian heard the desire for a green space lined with flowering plants for walking and gathering in the lawn and park.”

This project will eliminate unsightly debris and a dilapidated gazebo on the property and will replace it with a walking path, new flowers and greenery, a chess table, and more. Every improvement made to the space is with the community’s input in mind, with a goal of empowering the community and creating a neighborhood gathering space to further healing.

“We’re building community, cultivating relationships and connecting stewards one neighborhood and street at a time,” Dorian expressed. “This CPTED project will amplify the healing that’s happening here!”

Wear Orange

During National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend, we join together to demand a future free from gun violence once and for all.

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