Out of The Blocks | WYPR

Out of The Blocks

Stories hidden in plain sight

Out of the Blocks is a uniquely immersive listening experience that emerges from a mosaic of voices and soundscapes on the streets of Baltimore.  A custom-tailored score colors and connects this tapestry of stories hidden in plain sight.

You can get the Out of the Blocks podcast at iTunes or Google Play

Contact Aaron Henkin

Out of the Blocks is produced with grant funding from the Cohen Opportunity Fund, the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund (creator of the Baker Artist Portfolios), Sig and Barbara Shapiro, Patricia and Mark Joseph, Jonathan Melnick, The Andy and Sana Brooks Family Foundation, The Hoffberger Foundation, Associated Jewish Charities,  The John J. Leidy Foundation, The Kenneth S. Battye Charitable Trust, and The Muse Web Foundation, which invites listeners to hear more Baltimore stories at Muse Web.

all photos by Wendel Patrick

It’s hard to write a 'spoiler-free' description of this episode because these stories from 1100 Ward Street take so many surprise twists.  Let's just say we meet a man who almost got to play with The Orioles, a guy who ended up becoming friends with a woman who stabbed him, a woman who survived a house fire, a man who got the closest thing he ever had to a father figure when he was behind bars, and a repo man who struggles to make his own car payments.

1100 Ward Street, Part 2

Aug 1, 2017
all photos by Wendel Patrick

This episode is an unlikely triptych of redemption stories from the 1100 block of Ward Street.  We meet Paul’s Place Peer Recovery Coach Dolly Miller, who’s been clean for nine years now after spending more than half her life addicted to drugs.  We visit with Paul’s Place Ambassador Volunteer Coordinator Will Thomas, who overcame addiction and homelessness and uses his experience to guide others with similar struggles.  And we get to know Paul’s Place volunteer Paul Schurick, whose life changed profoundly when he was sentenced to community service after being disgraced in a political scandal.

1100 Ward Street, Part 1

Jul 17, 2017
all photos by Wendel Patrick

Back in the 1800’s, they literally herded pigs through the streets of Southwest Baltimore’s Washington Village, from the terminus of the B & O Railroad to the neighborhood’s meat packing plants and butcher shops.  The nickname, ‘Pigtown,’ has stuck, but the industry is long gone from this part of the city.  These days, the neighborhood is known for unemployment, homelessness, and drug addiction.

7200 Harford Road

Jul 3, 2017
all photos by Wendel Patrick

7200 Harford Road is about as far north and east as you can get and still be in Baltimore City.  It’s tucked just inside the county line, and downtown feels far-off when you’re out here.  On this block, MMA fighters train at American Muy Thai, customers get perms at Umberto’s Hair Salon, folks line up for Italian and German specialties at the counters of Mastellone’s Deli and Mueller’s Delicatessen, and the 112-year-old Fenwick Bakery sells homemade marshmallow donuts.  Field producer Adam Droneburg is our guide as we visit these spots and more on the 7200 block of Harford Road.

600 Cherry Hill Road, Part II

Jun 20, 2017
all photos by Wendel Patrick

We have our own community here. It's like no other neighborhood.  We're R.I.C.H. Raised in Cherry Hill.

600 Cherry Hill Road, Part I

Jun 5, 2017
all photos by Wendel Patrick

This place, people counted it out to drown.  But Cherry Hill is literally that.  We are a hill.  I don’t care how much water you surround us by.  We are a hill that will always stand and will always be bold.

2100 Edmondson

Jan 4, 2017
all images by Wendel Patrick

The corner diner, Soul Source, is the hub of the 2100 block  of Edmondson Avenue. The manager, Joyce, has been serving breakfast to the locals for 30 years. Her restaurant looks out onto a West Baltimore block scarred by gunshots and stabbings. But the block is more than its scars. It’s a block where a Pentecostal pastor keeps her faith in the face of suffering, where a reformed drug dealer works as a kitchen appliance repairman, and where a political reporter from Kashmir has found sanctuary working behind the counter at a sandwich shop. It’s a block where a former Nigerian soccer star operates an auto repair shop. In his car lot, he lets a homeless man sleep in a van. Next door is an army veteran who issued air-strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And across the street is a tire repairman who’s trying to beat a 30-year heroin addiction. Crystal, who works in the kitchen at Soul Source, sums it up like this: It’s not always peaches and cream, but this is a place that you know is always going to be real.  

600 Deepdene Rd

Sep 18, 2016
all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 2016 season finale episode of Out of the Blocks takes a twist, as we travel to the 600 block of Deepdene Road in North Baltimore’s Tuxedo Park neighborhood.  The sounds of city traffic give way to the natural harmony of cicadas, birds, and frogs on this tree-lined residential block, nestled up against the city’s Stony Run Trail.  The stories here are a study of families in all their varieties: families with same-sex parents, interracial parents, single parents, and adoptive parents, as well as empty-nesters, divorcees, and newlyweds.  The twist?  For the Out of the Blocks producers, this episode is personal.  Wendel Patrick used to live here, and Aaron Henkin lives here now.

2100 E Monument

Jul 1, 2016
all photos by Wendel Patrick

The 2100 block of Monument Street is anchored by the Baltimore’s Northeast Market, a honeycomb of vendors selling fish, meat, fried chicken, barbeque, bulgogi, deli sandwiches, and baked goods.  The commerce spills onto the surrounding sidewalks, where open-air peddlers hawk sunglasses and socks, CDs & DVDs, umbrellas and pepper spray.  Unemployed entrepreneurs polish headlights, sell loose cigarettes, and do whatever else they can to make ends meet.  It all happens in the shadow of the looming Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, an institution at pains to restore relations with the neighborhood in the wake of longstanding ill will.

200 W Saratoga

May 13, 2016
All photos by Wendel Patrick

The 200 block of West Saratoga Street is nestled in the frenetic bustle of downtown Baltimore.  Church bells ring in a duet with the clanging Light Rail, city buses rattle and hiss, and loud sidewalk conversations compete with the din.  These are the sounds that reverberate through a block peppered with Bengali body oil shops, barbershops and salons, a magic candle store, and the shoe-repair shop of a Russian cobbler.  A vanguard of artists populates a five-story building on the block, a honeycomb of musicians, painters, fashion designers, and jewelers.  As a sum of its parts, 200 West Saratoga is an ecstatic cacophony of optimism, ambition, anxiety, and resilience.

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