Dan Cosgrove began shooting videos and then uploading them to YouTube in 2008 to fight crime and grime in Washington Village, the Southwest Baltimore City neighborhood also known as Pigtown. Now he has produced a 60 minute documentary about middle class-flight from the city, called: "Fleeing Baltimore: A Documentary About Middle-Class Flight".
According to Cosgrove, it is "the first time, the subject is approached from the point of view of former-city residents who fled to the safety of the surrounding counties".
Featured in the film are former Assistant State's Attorney, Page Croyder; former City-Council candidate, Adam Meister; former Baltimore Sun reporter and lecturer at Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, Eric Siegel, Marcus Dent, Chapter Commander of the Baltimore Guardian Angels; among others.
A screening of the film was scheduled for May 12, at the VFW Post 9083, 8123 Harford Road, in Parkville, but the event sold out in 48 hours, so it was canceled and will be rescheduled to accommodate more people, Cosgrove said. A future date for the showing has not been set. Cosgrove, a life-long Baltimore County resident, and a graduate of the University of Maryland Honors Program, in Political Science, owns property in Washington Village and was elected President of the Washington Village Development Association (WVDA) six years ago. During that time he shot videos highlighting the crime and grime in Washington Village and the failure of the city government to respond to the needs of the middle-class and urban homesteaders in the community.
(Visit the WVDA YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/WVDAChannel.)
The following is a interview with Cosgrove that also appears on the Baltimore Examiner website:
Tully: How long did you work on "Fleeing Baltimore: A Documentary About Middle-Class Flight" ?
Cosgrove: It really started back in 2008 when I picked up a video camera and wondered if it could be used as a tool, to advocate for Pigtown. I've been filming a lot of the good, the bad and the very ugly, in this city, for more then four years. After years of releasing shorts, concerning a number of topics, it was time to put together a full-length documentary. It's currently going through the process of test screening and will be submitted to film festivals after the test screenings are complete.
Tully: What has been the general reaction of viewers who have seen the movie so far?
Cosgrove: This film is socially significant and needs to get out there. This may be the first time individuals who participated in middle-class flight, from Baltimore City, have been interviewed (on film) about their experiences.
Tully: Have you shown the movie to any city officials so far? Do they know about it?
Cosgrove: I've reached out to some city officials and some that ran for political office but lost. There appears to be a general interest building about the subject matter and the film.
Tully: You don't actually live in Baltimore City, so why do you care so much about it?
Cosgrove: I own property in Baltimore City and have spent the last six years advocating for better city communities as the President of WVDA. I have a strong vested interest, in the city, despite living in one of the surrounding counties. If I did not have a vested interest, I would not try to shed light on the city's problem of depopulation, its causes and consequences.
Tully: Why didn't you find a place in the city to screen your film?
Cosgrove: We chose the VFW in Parkville because John Waters used the location in several films. That said: "Fleeing Baltimore" has screened in Baltimore City three times at unadvertised test screenings. We wanted to open this screening up, to a small group of the public, so we put it on the web site. However, word of mouth (from the unadvertised test screenings) has caused an unexpected demand for tickets.
Tully: In your opinion, what are the main reasons people are fleeing Baltimore City?
Cosgrove: The main culprit causing city residents to leave the city is the government; it's dysfunctional. It can't provide the most basic services that only a government can provide. Furthermore, it's in direct competition with governments in the surrounding counties that can effectively provide those services at a much cheaper cost. People that are economically mobile are going to gravitate to good schools, safe communities, and governments that can properly bill their residents for water, for example.
Tully: How do you view Mayor Rawlings-Blake's goal of attracting 10,000 new families to Baltimore City within the next decade?
Cosgrove: It's not going to happen. In fact, there's a new trend in Baltimore City that needs to be reported: Good people with good jobs and good credit are walking away from their city homes, destroying their credit and allowing their homes to be foreclosed. The press hasn't picked up on this yet, but the city's already spinning it as being caused by the real estate bust. It's not. People are leaving the city, despite the personal cost, just to start over outside the city.
Tully: If you had it to do over again, would you invest in Baltimore City?
Cosgrove: No. This government doesn't function: It can't send out reliable water bills; it can't get the illegal dirt bikes off the street; its courts won't incarcerate repeat offenders; and its taxes continue to go up and the list of its dysfunction goes on and on.