Despite moving to the city with her family the same week of the Freddie Gray unrest, Elizabeth Mount’s desires to be a part of Baltimore, if anything, increased. “I didn’t like what the media was broadcasting. It wasn’t the truth,” says the Ohio native.
“We moved in on May 2, and the protests that got violent were on April 27,” Mount says. “We were scheduled to move in April 29, but by coincidence our construction got delayed and we had a few days to be involved in the ‘community unity’ efforts happening in Ridgely’s Delight before we had the chaos of moving in!”
Mount quickly immersed herself in the community, joining the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, where she’s served as the director since September. With money in the budget for an office space, she could have leased something formal downtown, “But I didn’t want to do that. I want people to come to us, not just for the events and workshops.” Instead, Mount jumped at the opportunity to lease what used to be the Sidewalk Espresso Bar in Ridgley’s Delight. “It was in this coffee shop [in the fall of 2014] that my husband and I decided to move to the city,” says Mount, a Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University.
Now, the newly established Community Blend—which opened last Thursday—offers a space for young families to hang out. They offer free coffee and tea for DBFA members (which non-members are welcome to enjoy too after a suggested donation of $5) and a play area for children. Mini armchairs, vibrant walls and towering shelves filled with picture books and toys dominate the shop. (Mount’s son, Liam, is almost two.) “It’s a space where people can meet organically and learn from each other’s experiences.” There’s even room for a small office space for Mount and DBFA staffers.
The new DBFA space also serves as a venue for workshops and private events. Mount and the DBFA aim to “show families all of the resources that are in the city. Help them navigate the public schools and find where they can go when you want to do something fun,” she says. “I want to work with all sorts of diverse families.”
DBFA’s mission and the Community Blend concept is not new for Mount. “When I was a little girl growing up in Cincinnati, there was an uprising. I remember my mom saying, ‘We can’t help or fix this living in the suburbs,’ and so we moved into the city.” Cincinnati also has a co-op coffee shop of the same name. The model for Baltimore’s Community Blend comes from a similar safe and open space Mount remembers from college. “There was a space where you could go without pretense and just be around like minded people. I wanted that here,” she says.
Community Blend, Mount hopes, will be a piece of what keeps families in the city. “The suburbs are lovely, but moving out of the city doesn’t make it better,” Mount says. “Baltimore has its issues. But there’s a lot of hope.”
The Community Blend is open weekdays, 8am-5pm.
625 Washington Blvd, 443-966-DBFA (3232)