Baltimore Bets on a New Type of First Responder: The Librarian – The 74 – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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One day in June, the employees of the Enoch Pratt Free Library gathered online to learn something new: how to de-escalate conflict, mediate grief, and help people feel better about themselves. 

They got instruction from Lawrence Brown, a professor at Morgan State University who trains organizations on racial equity, then broke out into smaller private sessions where they had tough, but open, conversations about healing their own and their city’s trauma. 

“There was conversation about understanding history and the impact on neighborhoods in current Baltimore,” said Heidi Daniel, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system. “We are focused on questioning how the library can play a role in healing inequities and examining our internal policies and practices to do better work.” 

That session was part of an experimental effort by Baltimore leaders, who hope to enlist city agencies, starting with the library, to answer a big question: How does a city that has suffered trauma for decades, including over 190 homicides just this year, begin to heal? Baltimore is teaching its city staff how to spot and assist people dealing with that trauma, and turning city facilities into places where they can learn to cope and, in turn, assist their neighbors in processing their own pain and suffering. 


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