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Our Small Part

Several months ago, David Dudley, A&S '90, approached me with an idea. David, editor of Urbanite, a local monthly magazine, has been a friend and colleague since our days together at Baltimore magazine. The Urbanite staff was at work on a special issue dedicated to crime and violence, and David had enlisted Johns Hopkins researcher Philip J. Leaf to serve as guest editor. Now he suggested that our magazines pool resources to tackle this tough subject together.

I thought it was a great idea. Urban violence — particularly when it involves kids, which is what this issue of Johns Hopkins Magazine focuses on — warrants such attention. But also the collaboration itself, between a magazine published by an academic institution and one devoted to city life, reflects the kind of solution that Leaf, who is the director of Hopkins' Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, advocates. (See "Urban Violence: Can We End the Epidemic?".) No one entity will solve the problem; it's going to take many groups organizing and working in concert to begin to address the violence that plagues cities around the country.

David and I met several times with Leaf to determine what stories would be included and to get his insights about how to approach them, and we assigned stories to staff and freelance writers. Two features appeared in both magazines, edited to meet the particular needs of each publication, and each magazine published its own additional articles. (Visit for its coverage.) It was a complicated process at times, but it was also an energizing and creative experience. We were at least talking about solutions, and perhaps, by bringing these issues to our readers, participating in some small way.

For those of us who live in Baltimore, the statistics on youth violence can be daunting. Of course, statistics usually remain numbers on a page, and we go about our daily lives unharmed. But urban violence touches many beyond the drug trade. We all want to feel safe, and even more importantly, we want kids — our own and all of those we'll never meet — to grow up in a happy, healthy environment. As you'll see in this issue, there are a lot of people working in or with Johns Hopkins to make that happen. Perhaps their stories, told here and in Urbanite, will inspire more people to do some small part as well.

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