A Culture of Possibility 005

Cultural Organizing in West Baltimore









Arlene Goldbard

Francois Matarasso

Denise Griffin Johnson



May 21, 2021


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In the fifth episode of A Culture of Possibility, Arlene Goldbard and Francois Matarasso interview Denise Griffin Johnson, a cultural organizer in West Baltimore on the east coast of the U.S. She talks about racial justice, building on community strengths instead of deficits, the “highway to nowhere” and more.

Denise Griffin Johnson is the director of the Arch Social Community Network in West Baltimore, a community-led cultural organizing network founded in 2015 and based at the historic Arch Social Club. Denise has decades of experience as an organizer and advocate in Baltimore, during which she has held many positions in government and nonprofit organizations and served on numerous boards and advisory groups.

She is a co-founder of CultureWorks Baltimore, a member of the national network Alternate ROOTS, and a Cultural Agent with the US Department of Arts and Culture (a non-government entity).

In 2011-2013 Denise collaborated with Alternate ROOTS and Roadside Theater to produce a cultural festival that drew an audience of 11,000, and in 2015 she collaborated with the higher education consortium Imagining America to produce a national conference and cultural organizing institute in Baltimore.

Denise is a graduate of Coppin State University, with an MS in Family Counseling.