Don’t Just Do Infrastructure. America Needs Comprehensive Economic Development

President Trump recently proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure program. It’s generally a good idea but infrastructure alone will not produce long-term inclusive growth. To achieve that, America instead needs a comprehensive economic development strategy. That means struggling communities must invest in many different types of capital: infrastructure, health, education, and small business development.

Whether in urban Baltimore, rural Appalachia, or the open west, stagnation and poverty aren’t caused by a singular lack of infrastructure, health, education, or jobs. Struggling Americans face deficits in all. High-poverty counties in the United States have a lower life expectancy than many developing countries. Education is poor, unemployment is high, and infrastructure is inadequate.

Contrast this with regions that are booming. For example, New York City has a dynamic school system, a thriving job market, and the nation’s best public transportation. While jobs are the most important intervention, they’re not a magic bullet. Different development sectors reinforce each other. You cannot take advantage of job opportunities if you’re not healthy or if you don’t have the right education.

This theory is well tested. In the field of international development, where I work, we operate from the principle that multi-sectoral programs synergize for sustainable growth. This strategy enabled the 20th century development miracles of Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, among others. These countries grew from poverty to wealth by investing in their people alongside infrastructure and businesses.

This was also America’s original development strategy; we once led the world in education. It likewise guided the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II. We must rediscover this strategy. And local communities should lead the effort. Local ownership fosters employment and a sense of purpose while optimizing the investments for local needs. One community might need infrastructure; another needs a drug treatment clinic; a third needs a high school; and a fourth could need all three.

How can we fund this proposal? Large government-funded projects are too inefficient. The stimulus legislation of 2009 found too few “shovel-ready projects” and overhauling national health care has proved contentious. The federal government’s only comparative advantage is size, so it should merely provide ample funds.

Enter the states. Governors and mayors have strong local credentials and incentives to deliver. States could submit proposals for federal funding for specific projects, augmented by state money. President Obama’s successful education initiative— Race to the Top— followed this model. So does the successful Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

To fund these projects, public-private partnerships can leverage new and old private capital and talent, spur private sector job growth, and reduce taxpayer burden. Such a strategy must target the whole country. Programs that serve everyone— rather than a particular race or class— promote unity and sustainable support.

Additionally, these projects must generate real return. Fortunately, initiatives that produce returns abound. For example, the economic return from treating a community’s opiate addiction is twelve dollars for each dollar invested. Quality education and infrastructure are similarly profitable. Family planning is also a crucial investment. The poorest areas of America have the highest birth rates. This stresses the already overburdened health and school systems, and increases competition for lower-skilled jobs. Our challenges today seem staggering, but America has recovered from worse. Economic development theory works, and the United States boasts the best record in world history. Now, we just have to execute.

Rob Cohen is a physician, Army veteran and international development practitioner. His book, “Boom without Bust: How Humans Can Solve Slow-Motion Emergencies” will be published in 2019. Follow @RobCohenMD.

Local Barber Gives Back With Free Haircuts

For most, a haircut is simply a way to look and even feel good.

However, local barber Paul Vincent also sees taking a razor to one’s hair as an opportunity to change a life by offering haircuts that cost as much as $50 to those who otherwise may not have been able to afford one.

Vincent, who owns and operates Zone 18 Barbershop in Parkville, recently provided 15 free haircuts to men near the Baltimore War Memorial downtown as a Father’s Day gift, and as a way of helping to boost community morale.

Vincent created a mobile shop for the day, bringing along a generator, tent and barber tools, he worked from noon to about 9 p.m.

“My job is to keep people sharp and all the while helping them to look and feel good,” said Vincent, who also works fulltime at Catholic Charities where he assists senior citizens with various needs.

Vincent says he and another barber wanted to give back to the community, to encourage men of all ages. He says he selected Father’s Day because he wanted the occasion to have added meaning.

Vincent and the other barber had pledged to get others involved so that dozens of underprivileged individuals could obtain free haircuts but were unable to get others involved. Still, the Baltimore native didn’t waiver. He decided to do it on his own.

“I didn’t want to let myself down and I didn’t want to let my grandmother down,” Vincent said. “My grandmother always told me to stand tall even when things seem hard and you don’t think you can complete it. That’s when you tap into your extra you, and your God-given you.”

Single-handedly, Vincent performed 15 free haircuts for men and boys in the area.

“It’s about giving back, and these people may have cousins, brothers, sons or fathers who frequent my shop anyway,” he said.

Vincent’s benevolence was praised by his sister and his father.

“This experience was a full circle moment in many ways. My dad and mom [were] raised up working in ministry and volunteerism, and it was powerful and heartfelt to witness my brother walking out principles that my dad taught us,” Cassandra Vincent said. “This was a vision that Paul shared with me, and his passion and commitment is inspiring. This is one of many things that Paul does to show others that they are remembered and I truly appreciate him.”

She also recalled some touching conversations she had with the men as they waited for her brother to tend to their locks, noting that she, her parents and Paul’s girlfriend, served lunch and spoke with the men.

“Several of them began to open up and share their gratitude, like the length of time it had been since their last haircut and several of them freely began to share some of their stories and journey,” she said.

One, in particular, was especially moving, according to his sister.

“One man shared how thankful he was for the haircut because he was just one day out of prison and he really needed this grooming as he began to look for work and a fresh start,” Cassandra Vincent said.

That was among the stories that moved Vincent’s father, Wallace O. Vincent.

“I am really proud of my son. Paul truly showed his integrity and commitment to people as he put the same effort and professionalism into grooming these men, as he would his paying clients. I took note of that and how Paul put the men being served at peace,” the elder Vincent said. “Out of all the material gifts and things I have received on past Father’s Days, this was hands down the best gift I have ever received as a father. It was absolutely the best gift, I have ever received.”

For his part, Paul Vincent said performing such a deed proved simply pleasurable.

“It was awesome. Cutting hair is my passion,” Paul Vincent said. “I love my job at Catholic Charities— that’s my occupation. But, I’m an artist and cutting hair is my first love, and the barbershop is where I learned about life and it’s where I really wanted to give back.”

Mental health Is A Real Thing!

According to the online resource,, Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Reportedly, one-in-five people are affected by some type of mental health issue and believe it or not, these numbers may be more accurate than you think.

It’s very important to check on your loved ones because on the outside, they may seem perfectly okay but you never know what someone is experiencing on the inside.

We see extreme cases of mental health problems far too often and most recently, the suicides of designer, Kate Spade; rock musican, Chester Bennington; and chef and television personality, Anthony Bourdain.

These highly publicized deaths have brought attention to a disease that is quite frequently swept under the rug. Unfortunately, it takes drastic events to bring notice to a behavioral issue that has been around since the beginning of time.

In the African American community, many people misunderstand a mental health condition and some refuse to talk about this topic, or to seek medical help.

How the black community relates to mental health and copes with certain mental health issues is definitely different than the rest of the population.

The lack of knowledge and information about mental health in the black community, ultimately leads to much bigger issues. Generally, the response to someone experiencing depression or having suicidal thoughts is to “pray about it,” rather than to seek professsional intervention and treatment. While spirituality is important, seeking treatment needs to be a priority. Shame and stigma associated with these conditions needs to be eradicated completely.

So how do we overcome mental health issues? We can start by implementing the steps below into our lives:

Talk about it. I remember the days when therapy was taboo. I can’t express how important it is to talk about your issues. I can personally attest to the stress relief that comes from talking through it instead of suppressing it. Over the past few months I’ve learned to open up more for the simple fact that there are people who love and care about you and want to help. It is also imperative to seek medical treatment.

Set goals. Don’t ever stay set in your depressive state. Seek professional help and learn to combat issues by setting personal goals to help you get to the next level in your life.

Be good to yourself— mind, body and soul. Regular exercise can help ease depression and anxiety by enhancing your sense of wellbeing.

Take time off. The no “days off” mentality is harmful to your mental health. It’s important to take time off when you need to. It’s difficult to be a productive member of society if you are tired and stressed. It’s okay to take care of yourself first.

Live a little. Try something new and make time for the things you enjoy. Take up a hobby, visit a museum, get out there and enjoy life.

Spread love and check on your loved ones to make sure they’re actually okay. “I’m okay” or “I’ll be okay” could very well be a cover up. It’s okay to not be okay but knowing how to overcome is truly imperative.

Remember that it’s okay to take care of your mental wellbeing and put yourself first!

Positively Caviar, Inc. is a nonprofit organization focused on a message of positivity and optimism in our digitally centric lives. Once a month, our Nucleus Team writes a column focused on mental and physical health tips, scientific studies, nutrition facts and stories that are positive in nature to support a purposeful and positive lifestyle. To learn more about our organization, the nucleus team or how you join our positive movement, visit:

President Trump’s Useful Idiocy

Though the president still has many supporters, there is a growing consensus, especially as the Trump-initiated trade war heats up, that he does not have their best interests in mind, never mind the best interests of the nation as a whole.

While I think I understand why so many people voted for Trump, my sympathy does not extend to the man himself, whose emotional repertoire appears to be the narrow range between meanness and self-pity.

As his first summit with Vladimir Putin approaches, though we do not have certainty about the possibility of active collusion, one cannot help but recall Lenin’s phrase “useful idiot,” by which Lenin meant anyone who could be manipulated to serve the ends of the Soviet state.

To borrow another well-known phrase, this time from the late Senator Moynihan, Trump has “defined deviancy down.” Gradually we have come to tolerate behavior in a leader that was formerly enough to derail a candidacy, if not leading to outright trial by law.

Whether Mr. Trump will or will not be able to serve out his term, it is not too soon to learn some lessons about what we seek and what we want to avoid in candidates for the presidency. In no particular order, here follows a simple and obvious list, clarified by way of contrast with the person presently occupying the office:

• A president needs to be a national model for truth-telling, encouraging and validating the scientific method, and making policy based upon experimentally validated data.

•A president needs a secure, private, inner-directed self-sense that transcends their image in the media, a self-sense that includes a solid ethical compass.

•A president needs to ameliorate, not exacerbate, conservative-progressive polarization, and consistently emphasize what all of us have in common as Americans, like equality of opportunity and equality under the law. The president that follows Trump will need special skills to promote healing between pro- and anti-Trump factions.

•A president needs to understand the racism, which is one of America’s original sins, so that they can actively encourage the principle that our diversity makes us stronger.

•Anyone who wins the presidency will inevitably possess a healthy ego, but presidents must sublimate their self-confidence into a humble awareness of their position as servant leader, which views citizens as ends rather than instruments.

•A president needs good listening skills. Most of America’s difficulties, domestic or international, have in common some kind of failure to listen. Crude bullying, such as opposition to a U.N. breastfeeding resolution because it threatens the profits of baby formula corporations, is surely not what our country wants to be known for around the world.

•A president needs to separate from business interests clearly and absolutely while in office.

•Presidents need authentic life experience that has tested them. My friend Adam Cote ran for the governorship of Maine. While serving the National Guard, he was deployed to Bosnia, Afghanistan and finally Iraq, where he began an orphanage and established an effective program that adopted Iraqi villages. Five minutes in Adam’s presence is sufficient to demonstrate that his motivation for running is public service, not power. The testing experience doesn’t have to be military; it could be any trial by fire that seasons a person.

•Presidents need a sense of humor,

especially about themselves.

•Presidents need to be scholars of the lessons of history, to avoid repeating past mistakes.

•A president needs to be strong enough to push back against establishment groupthink from whatever political

direction, such as the momentum of American techno-colonialism and militarism. Presidents can be a bulwark against the tail of unlimited military spending wagging the dog of sensible policy.

•Irrespective of party, presidents need to understand the great global challenge of environmental stress, and the imperative for greater international cooperation to help the planet through to a place where humans have learned to sustain the commons that is the life-support-system for all.

•Presidents must understand that many of our contemporary challenges are trans-national, and that the delicate structures of international law must be gradually strengthened. This will unquestionably benefit America’s security in the long term.

•Presidents need discernment. As my father used to say, quoting Leo Rosten: “First rate people hire first rate people. Second rate people hire fourth rate people.”

Of course, every trait that makes a good president also makes a good civically engaged citizen. It would seem we get the presidents we deserve (though most of the Trump voters I know are much more interesting than either the liberal press stereotype of a Trump voter or than Trump himself).

Even if at a very high cost President Trump may have done our country at least one valuable service. If we have learned the right lessons, we will tolerate a little less the political obfuscations of the mean-spirited, the petty, the mealy-mouthed, the smugly entitled (in both mainstream political parties), and still less the garrulous narcissism taking up all the air in the room at present. There is an opening, if we can encourage it,

for a more disinterested, honest political conversation. I know I will be looking among the emerging candidates for at least some of the qualities listed above— and that, I’m afraid, means I need to exemplify those qualities myself.

Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide” and serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative.

Ravens Cornerback Tavon Young Makes His Way Back From Knee Injury

Third-year Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young will be one of the players to watch when the team reports to training camp in the coming weeks.

After being selected in the fourth round (104th overall) by the Ravens in the 2016 NFL Draft, Young took over as the nickel corner for Baltimore. He posted two interceptions as a rookie.

Young tore his ACL during OTAs in May last year and he was out for the season. Now, the promising young defensive back is looking to return to form.

“I feel great. I spent a lot of time in the training room in the off-season, the whole off-season, during the season, just working on my knee— running, getting it strong,” Young said during a minicamp press conference. “Now, this is my first time playing football in almost a year, and I feel good, and I feel like I’m back to myself.”

Getting back on the field and moving around during OTAs a year after injuring his knee is a sign that things have come full circle for Young. He is more than thankful to be able to play the game he loves.

“I was happy. It felt like Christmas. It felt like a gift just to be back, and to be back with my teammates. There’s nothing like that. I feel like I’m almost at 100 percent, for real. I feel great. I feel good,” Young said.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh watched Young closely during minicamp practices this summer. He definitely saw progress from Young both physically and mentally.

“For the first time, it looked like— to me— he really got past the trepidation of coming back off the knee injury,” Harbaugh said following a minicamp practice. “But I thought today he let it cut loose a little bit more and looked really good.”

Knee injuries and specifically ACL tears are a major injury, but the recovery is quicker now thanks to modern technology that offers a more effective rehab process. Fortunately for Young he had the luxury of time. The expectation was not for him to return last year, so Young was able to gradually work his way back.

“After I got hurt, I realized I had a lot of time to get healthy. I didn’t have to rush back into it or come back midway through the season,” Young said. “I came back at comfort, and now I [can] just let loose. To be back out here with these guys is a blessing.”

The Ravens posted 18 interceptions as a team with Young in the lineup in 2016. That tied them with the Chiefs and Chargers for the most in the NFL.

Without him last year, the Ravens finished with 22 interceptions which was tops in the league. Now with Young returning to the nickel corner spot and a more aggressive defensive coordinator in Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, the Ravens look to continue their excellence defending the pass.

MDH Reminds Marylanders To Keep Wildlife In The Wild

— Each year during the spring and summer months, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) receive reports of captive wildlife situations in which residents attempt to care for or possess wild animals. These attempts are often made with good intentions but pose serious risks to both the animals and humans involved.

Any wild animal, especially young wildlife, should be left alone in their natural environment. It is safe to observe wildlife from a distance, but do not attempt to feed, pet, or rescue any wild animal. Maryland law prohibits residents from possessing certain wild animals, including deer, raccoons, and foxes. Attempting to “rescue” any young wild animal, even those that appear vulnerable or to have been abandoned, risks interfering with the animals’ natural adaptation to their environment and the development of their basic survival skills. Additionally, attempting to care for wild animals potentially exposes caregivers to diseases, including rabies that may cause human illness.

To date, 118 animals have been diagnosed with rabies this year in Maryland, including raccoons, bats, and foxes. All mammals are susceptible to rabies, including wildlife and domestic species such as dogs and cats, though in the U.S., rabies is predominantly seen in wildlife. Wild animals that might be perceived as needing “rehabilitation” may in fact be debilitated due to diseases— such as rabies.

Maryland residents are advised to stay away from wild animals due to the significant associated risks. If residents encounter a sick, injured, or nuisance wild animal, they should:

•Maintain a safe distance and do not attempt to touch, pet, or feed the animal.

•Do not “rescue” or relocate wildlife.

•Contact a licensed professional to handle the situation and report the instance to DNR or the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

DNR can be reached between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling 410-260-8540 and the USDA Wildlife Services can be reached by calling 1-877-463-6497.

Startup Nest Founder Offers Advice To Aspiring Entrepreneurs

To those who aspire to start their own business, one of the Baltimore area’s most successful homegrown entrepreneurs has a message he believes will help.

“Keep going because there’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur of color, especially for women,” said Kyle O’Connor, one of the entrepreneurs behind The Startup Nest, which in 2016 opened an incubator in historic Pigtown in South Baltimore.

Co-founded by Deonn Henderson and Marcus Howard, The Startup Nest provides an ecosystem that fosters helpful economic development and promotes diverse and inclusive innovation through its extensive domestic and global professional networks and services.

O’Connor says women of color are the highest indexing demographic as it relates to the creation of new businesses in the country.

He says he encourages all to continue “#ShiftingtheCulture,” a social media hashtag created to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those of color, that’s gone viral. O’Connor said it’s also important to do homework and not just wing it.

“Validate your idea. Put together the most basic version of your product or service and get it into the hands of your customers as fast as possible” he said. “If you do that, one of two things will happen, you will see traction and be able to add new features to your product or service or you will fail fast, which is not [necessarily] a bad thing.”

By failing fast, individuals can learn what works and doesn’t which will save money, time and heartache while also making for a stronger entrepreneur, O’Connor said.

He also suggests finding a mentor, someone to draw inspiration from.

“I am constantly inspired by many different people. I’m inspired by other young entrepreneurs of color that are doing their thing in a wide range of industries,” O’Connor said. “I’m inspired by the companies we work with. I’m inspired by the fact that even through all the social challenges we face, we are still living in a country full of opportunity and that encourages me to get up every day and just go after the things I feel most passionate about.” he said.

Recently, O’Connor attended the Baltimore Times’ Access to Capital 2.0 event, a free financial education workshop, which included bankers, credit specialists, alternative financing lenders and small business nonprofit resources.

“One of the most powerful things one of my mentors shared with me is that the key to success, in business and in life, is not money, fame or luck, but access to information,” O’Connor said. “The Access to Capital event was important to attend because in many ways it was packed with extremely valuable information coming from the regions strongest leaders and advocates for entrepreneurs of color.”

O’Connor refers to himself as “still a student of the game,” and as such, the Access to Capital event also allowed him to learn more about the various philosophies and methodologies from a finance panel. It also provided a chance to meet some “really brilliant and innovative entrepreneurs thirsting for knowledge to build their brands,” he said.

At the Startup Nest, O’Connor, who is originally from Columbia, Maryland, says the focus is to provide a platform that would allow small businesses and entrepreneurs to build and scale their ideas.

“We don’t shy away from the fact that we strive to be the most inclusive ecosystem that welcomes entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, demographics, and industries,” he said.

Like other businesses, O’Connor says he has faced his share of challenges.

“I’ve had the opportunity to experience a wide range of challenges. If I had to pick one, I would say that realizing that not every investor is the right investor for your company. In one of my previous startups, we experienced various challenges by simply choosing the wrong investor,” he said. “I would say that many times entrepreneurs are so hungry for capital that they struggle [to see] the trees through the forest and don’t spend the necessary time vetting those who want to provide capital toward their business venture.”

Still, it remains an opportune time for today’s go-getters. “It is the right time,” he said.

T. Rowe Price Grant Spurs BCCC Engagement Plan For West Baltimore

— The T. Rowe Price Foundation has awarded a grant to the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) to connect students in West Baltimore to jobs, community resources and success in higher education.

Through a $15,000 grant to the Baltimore City Community College, the T. Rowe Price Foundation will help BCCC assess and leverage the power of its existing partnerships to better understand student and community needs.

“Baltimore City Community College is grateful for T. Rowe Price Foundation’s generosity,” Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr., interim BCCC president said. “These funds will allow us to better fulfill our commitment to serving our community.”

With the grant, BCCC will hire Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) to develop a Community Engagement Plan for the college to connect traditionally undeserved residents of West Baltimore with the opportunity for a college education, workforce skills development, job attainment and increased access to community resources.

“We Look forward to working with BCCC to develop their ability to harness the untapped brilliance and innovation that exists in the community in a way that uplifts people that historically have been exploited by systems of structural racism and oppression,” said Dayvon Love, director of public policy for LBS.

BCCC will collaborate with LBS, which advocates for African Americans in Baltimore on a range of public policy interests, to develop surveys and utilize focus groups to help students in their quest for success and evaluate how to make BCCC resources more available to them. In so doing, BCCC will find new and innovative ways to connect with city residents seeking to enroll at the school.

“We are proud to partner with the BCCC and applaud the college’s commitment to extend beyond its campus to engage the broader community in a targeted manner,” said John Brothers, president of the T. Rowe Price Foundation. “BCCC leadership recognizes that its student body and employees benefit from partnerships and its relationship with the residents of West Baltimore.”

As an anchor institution in West Baltimore, BCCC offers 29 cost-effective Associate’s Degree and 16 Certificate programs in technology, business, engineering, health care, hospitality, teacher education and other fields.

Staying responsive to the needs of the community, BCCC is reorienting its programs toward Workforce Development, moving Baltimore City public high school graduates into higher education through the tuition-free Mayor’s Scholars Program and strengthening the college’s capacity-building through its affiliation with the Achieving the Dream network of more than 200 community colleges across the nation.

Teen Author Shares ‘Real Talk’ In Her Debut Book

— In her debut book, “Real Talk: A Journey to Faith, Hope, and Love,” teen author Shakira Rayann has penned a series of prose, essays, affirmations and poetry about the challenges she faced during her time in middle and high school, including: bullying.

Divided into nine sections, which includes: About Me, Honestly, The Power of Affirmations, Man, He’s Fine and more, Rayann offers guidance, as well as different strategies that helped her survive through her most challenging days.

The topic of bullying and other issues faced by teens has taken center stage in the last few years due to an increase in teen suicides. Much of the attention has been focused on cyberbullying, however, statistics show that about 28 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year, according to the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013 report. Rayann’s book focuses on her school experiences.

“I wanted to share my stories about challenges I experienced in school. My goal is to encourage other young women, who I call Queens in my book, to open up about tough topics and find solutions that come from an inner place,” said Rayann.

Rayann will participate in the 5th Langston Hughes Book Fair on Sunday, July 22, 2018 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore City.

As an early high school graduate, Rayann plans to major in psychology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University.

To learn more about Shakira Rayann and her book, visit:

Petition To Protect Our Journalists


Petition To Protect Our Journalists

In a special tribute to the victims of the tragic fatal shooting in Annapolis last week, Rocky Twyman and his wife dedicated an afternoon to gain signatures in respectful petition to Baltimore’s politicians. These lovely, caring folks also collected notes, prayers, and condolences from people all around Maryland as they criss-crossed city hall, to send to the victims’ families, and The Capital Gazette employees.