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Robert Blum
Ed Burns
Kuo Pao Lian
Pavlina Ilieva

Former Baltimore policeman and city public school teacher and current writer/producer of HBO's The Wire Ed Burns joined with interim director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute Dr. Robert Blum to figure out a way to radically change the future of Baltimore neighborhoods. With award-winning architects Pavlina Ilieva and Kuo Pao Lian of Hord Coplan Macht, they have come up with a plan to create safe environments for inner-city children by walling off certain city neighborhoods. This team believes that these walled neighborhoods would foster an environment in which children could be born, raised, and encouraged to develop their humanity in an otherwise inhumane inner-city setting.

photo by Mitro Hood

by Robert Blum, Ed Burns, Kuo Pao Lian, and Pavlina Ilieva

What if we walled off an entire city neighborhood?

"Imagine walling off a generation from the incivility and crime outside in order to save a community," writes Ed Burns. "Some may say that we cannot afford such an approach; but we would argue that we can afford nothing less. Others would say that there is not the knowledge base for such a generational plan; but we could point to numerous demonstration programs at every age and stage of a child's life to say that while all the evidence is not in, we know more than enough to move forward. The question is whether we have the will."

He stood on the pristine stretch of his back alley and eyed the tomato on the vine in Mrs. Bracken's backyard. It was lush and ripe red and so very compelling. He surveyed the expanse of rowhouses; no one was about. He slipped the gate's latch and was in and out of the yard in a blink. He cupped the fruit in his two small hands, took a deep breath, and launched it. It hung in the blue of the August sky for an instant before rocketing back. Splat!

Out of nowhere, Mrs. Williams appeared, leaning over her chain-link fence, head shaking with disappointment. "Boy, I know your mother raised you better."

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