Five years ago, I thought I might have to leave Baltimore. Not because I wanted to but because I thought I needed to.
It was 2008. Like many employers, Urbanite magazine, where I worked, was feeling the effects of the Great Recession, so I would soon have only half a job.
The cut gave me a chance to rethink a few things. Just a few years earlier, I was at the
I knew people in Washington. Before I was forced to think about life after Urbanite, I attended an event at the
It was an absurdly generous comparison. Like me, Strobe Talbott had been a journalist — with Time magazine. He also studied in the UK — but as a Rhodes Scholar, and with
One of those people was foreign policy expert Bill Antholis, Brookings' managing director. I went to D.C. the day I met him ready to be told that I should grow up, that it didn't matter that my heart wanted me to scrape out a career in Baltimore. I might need to prove myself elsewhere.
But Bill said I was wrong. The friendships he made while he was still a student volunteering for a political campaign, he told me, were invaluable and helped him throughout his career. His advice: do good work where I was, dig in, build a network, and let everything else develop from there.
He was right. The things that bind me and many others to Baltimore aren't holding us back. They're what will move us forward. This city is accessible in ways that many others are not. I was impressed that here, eminent domain didn't stop residents in a battered neighborhood from fighting for and winning a fairer resettlement package, as happened with
Last week, that decision was rewarded. It had been a while since we'd been in touch, but a few months ago, Ms. Durrani asked if I would like to present at Brookings. Now head of the Institution's diversity initiatives, she was familiar with some of my work and gave me the chance to speak to her fellow staff members about the diversity-related topic of my choice. I said yes and asked
Afterward, a crowd waited patiently at the foot of the small stage to speak with us. Actually, almost all of them were waiting for Wes. But I was proud of what we did together and my role as co-producer. Five years after I went to D.C. looking for a job, I came back with a few friends. This time, we were the experts.
It was a good day. After Brookings, I went to the zoo and lingered for a while on Dupont Circle, but by the time rush hour subsided I still had no regrets about going home.
Lionel Foster's column appears every other Friday. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @LionelBMD.