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Baltimore Uprising Art Archive: Series 1

“Art is not the handmaid of politics. It is its own remedy! And its healing is sacral.” – William Everson Today begins a series we are dubbing the Baltimore Uprising Art Archive. It is a living archive designed to highlight the cultural production efforts of Baltimore’s citizens in response to the Baltimore Uprising.  Please contribute […]

Profile Spotlight: Jeff Brunell

What’s your name and organization?Jeff Burell Image
My name is Jeff Brunell, and I work on a project called The Revolution Within at the Center for Grace-Full Living.

How old are you?
I am 31 and 3/4 years old.

Which neighborhood do you live in and which neighborhood do you work in?
I live in Charles Village and work in McElderry Park.

Describe your art or organization?
The CGL is a community wellness center. TRW is about engaging in healing practices (from storytelling to martial arts; acupuncture to quilting) as a way of working through trauma on both individual and community levels. The idea is that working on this kind of urgent but difficult material helps free up our energy – which we can then apply to social action, arts, and all the good stuff.

I also write songs and poems in fits and starts.

What are you currently working on?
TRW just hosted its first session, and we’re going to be having these events every Tuesday evening for the rest of 2014. They’re happening here, at 2424 McElderry St (21205), between 6:30-8pm. I’m trying to balance my time between coordinating our facilitators, building a case for what we’re doing through the literature on trauma informed community work, doing outreach and connecting with other folks working on similar issues, hunting for grant support, and preparing for a kickoff workshop that we’re hosting at the end of this month.

What social justice cause(s) are you particularly drawn to, and why?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m particularly interested in any effort that expands access and participation for people whose hours and mojo are too often chewed up with the day-to-day of survival against an inhumane economic backdrop – stuff like stable housing, free and relevant education, community ownership in development processes, minimizing barriers to health care, etc. I hope that TRW – with free one-on-one counseling and specialized holistic courses – can contribute in a small way to a larger movement toward actualization and power building for both individuals and communities. Why – because I’ve watched myself and people I love put real passions and justice work on the backburner in the pursuit of survival and too often, distraction. So I get excited about anything that brings more voices into the conversation – not just politicians, academics, and foundation folks – particularly voices which might have lost faith in themselves or the use in trying somewhere along the way.

Who or what inspires you?
For starters – time in nature, peoples’ movements, music, and my excellent cat. Enough sleep, good food, and walking a lot help, too.

What’s the best part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
There’s enthusiasm and a wide-openness – it feels like being part of a very large and organic thing which hasn’t yet been co-opted and sold back to its participants.

What’s the worst part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
Part-time jobs on the weekends help make ends meet, but mean missing some great happenings.

What sort of and/or social justice projects would you love to take on?
When I have a little bit more bandwidth – by November, maybe? – I want to get more involved in housing issues. Connecting people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore to some of the city’s extensive vacant housing seems obvious and urgent.

Who would you like to collaborate on a project with?
So many people in so many arenas – for now, I’m focusing on all the different ways that TRW is linking up with other projects and amazing folks.

What’s one social justice organization that people need to know about, and why?
I think that YES (Youth Empowered Society) is really awesome. I was homeless on and off as a teenager and wish that there’d been such a place at that time – but living in the suburbs, I might not have heard about it even had it existed. So I hope that the word has gotten out to young people who are in a similar position now.

What type of ways do you see artists addressing social justice issues in Baltimore?
Countless ways – from the subtle and coded to the really representational and documentarian. And not just in artwork but, perhaps more importantly, in personal practices and values – communities that are engaged in the trial and error process of modeling a more just society on a small scale, day-to-day, in hundreds of different ways throughout the city.

How do you think artists or arts organizations are changing Baltimore?
Again – countless ways, and some have their downsides. But I think that Baltimore’s becoming known as a center of energy and artistic freedom, and that’s both great and true. And I think that there’s a reverberating effect there – that tone and mood become infectious, and more and more people claim the space for art in their own lives.

Stop by the Center for Grace-Full Living (2424 McElderry St.) to participate in The Revolution Within:
Upcoming Schedule
9/16 – Physical Fitness and Nutrition
9/-23  Martial Arts for Mind, Body, and Soul

Guest Blogger: Devlon Waddell Credentialization: A Social Construct

I am Devlon E Waddell; author of three published works (and contributor to others), publisher of a dozen, founder of an organization that has sent youth across the country and shifted the operating budget of a high school by well over a million dollars, developer and implementer of high school creative writing curriculum, founding member of a BCPS middle/high school, public speaker, mentor, coach, husband, father and the grinch that stole poetry…

What does this mean, toward the end of Social Justice? Absolutely nothing. In the realm of employment, a resume offers key indicators as to skill, will and fit, in terms of performing a specific task. Beyond a practical application of a certain skill-set, past experience serves only as a historical context for the work that lies ahead. However, with issues of equity, we are faced with “the fierce urgency of now”. There is no room for the revisiting of days gone by. And, by virtue of our humanity, we are all equal contributors in the building of a larger community.  It is with that in mind that I choose to engage. I find no hierarchy in interpersonal relationships. Regardless of credentials, we are equal; in voice, contribution and authority. The manifestation of such principles is simple. How is it done? At your next convening:

1. Don’t ask the folk you meet about their organizational affiliation. It doesn’t matter.

2. Do genuinely ask the folk you meet about their day. You may learn something meaningful.

3. Don’t present your agenda as if it is everyone’s top priority. It isn’t.

4. Do listen intently AND respond appropriately. Validation of voice does matter.

This notion of inherent authority beyond that which comes along with experience is laughable. Even as ‘do-gooders’ we cannot seem to escape such divisive constructs.

New NEA Research Tool on Working Artists

The NEA has released an online research tool based on information of 2.1 million artists in the United States’ labor force. “Equal Opportunity Data Mining: National Statistics about Working Artists,” contains 70 searchable tables with figures on working artists by state and metropolitan area, by demographic information (including race and ethnicity, age, gender, and disability status), and by residence and workplace. The tool offers tables, a map of state-level rankings, and links to original sources.

The tool can also be found under the Tools and Tips page.

Funding Opportunities Available for Community Greening Projects

Parks & People will be hosting grant workshops for three grants to fund community greening projects. The grants, which focus on community-led greening and service projects, would be a great opportunity for artists, community members, and organizations to receive funding to start or continue community projects.

Those interested in playground restoration and programs that support public parks can apply for the Partnership for Parks Grants. The grants provide awards ranging from $500-$5,000 and are co-sponsored through Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks and the Parks & People Foundation. Individuals and organizations interested in applying for the Partnerships for Parks Grants must attend a free workshop on either:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013  -or- Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:00—8:00pm
Rec & Parks Office, Druid Hill Park, 3001 East Dr., Baltimore 21217

Community gardens, vacant lot restoration, and environmental education activities are just some of aims of the Neighborhood Greening & Clean Water Grants. The Clean Water Mini-Grant can provide up to $250 in funds for recipients, while the Neighborhood Greening Grant awards up to $1,000 in funds. Those interested in applying for either of the Neighborhood Green/Water grants must attend one of the following free workshops:

Wednesday,  May 29, 2013 6:00—8:00 p.m.
Parks & People Foundation, Stieff Silver Building, 800 Wyman Park Drive, Suite 010, Baltimore
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 6:00—8:00 p.m.
Zeta Center for Healthy & Active Aging, 4501 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore
 Wednesday, June 5, 2013 6:00—8:00 p.m.
Bon Secours Community Works, 26 North Fulton Avenue, Baltimore
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:00—8:00 p.m.
HEBCAC, 1212 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore

Individuals attending a workshop are asked to RSVP at least four days before the workshop they plan to attend. You can RSVP by contacting (410) 448-5663 x111 or valerie.shane@parksandpeople.

Two additional great resources for artists, community members, and organizations interested in greening spaces in Baltimore to check out are Baltimore Green Space and Power in Dirt.  These resources can help provide an idea of what is available and some of what is already going on in Baltimore.

 

Mapping Baltimore: GBCA’s Brown Bag

The Baltimore Art + Justice Project assisted yesterday with the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance’s “Map it Now” Brown Bag. BA+JP’s Kalima Young and Rebecca Yenawine from New Lens co-facilitated the packed event where many individuals presented their organizations’ maps and data collection experiences. Public Laboratory, Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, Baltimore Jazz Alliance, Story of Place Project, Arts Everyday, Power In Dirt, Baltimore Green Space were some of the groups whose efforts were shared and discussed at the event.

Throughout the conversation the importance of art in the community was continually referenced and the effect that research and visual tools, such as maps, can have on showing the positive impact art and cultural programs have on communities. Some of the issues and challenges that were raised related to collaborating and bringing in new people. The Greater Baltimore Tech Council and the Tech and Social Change Baltimore Meet up Group were discussed as two good ways that arts, cultural, and justice based workers could reach out to individuals in the tech community looking to collaborate.

Continuing the Conversation: What have been some of your challenges and experiences collecting data and mapping Baltimore’s cultural,  arts, and justice based communities? What have you found?

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: Baltimore City

At the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting held on October 17th, Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts discussed some of the key points covered in the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report. The report showcases the large economic and social impact that the nonprofit arts and culture industry has on Baltimore City, generating $388.2 million in economic activity.

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations themselves were found to spend $266.3 million. The spending of the organizations ranges from supplies (which are often purchased locally) to paying employees (supporting 9,505 fulltime equivalent jobs). Baltimore City’s arts and culture organizations create a wide array of jobs for administrators, artists, accountants, event planners, and many more. In addition to generating $260.4 million in household income to local residents, Baltimore City’s arts and culture organizations also provide $33.9 million of revenue for state and local government.

The report also highlights how arts and culture organizations bring in a significant amount of income to local businesses by event audiences: $121.9 million. Attendees who come to arts and cultural based events often shop at stores close to the event venue, eat at restaurants, pay for parking, and/or stay at nearby hotels. In the AFTA’s survey, 64.1% of all non-resident respondents stated that their reason for traveling to the city was to attend an art/cultural based event.

The Arts and Economic Prosperity IV report provides strong evidence of the important role that the arts and culture industry plays in Baltimore City’s economy. Not only does the arts and culture industry act as a source of jobs, household income, and government revenue, but is a primary aspect of Baltimore City tourism. Supporting Baltimore City’s arts and culture industry clearly coincides with supporting the city’s economic well-being.

To read the full report please click here.

Mapping: A Tool for Participatory Justice

By Nicole King

Neighborhoods of Baltimore

The Baltimore Art + Justice Project is focused on strengthening art and design-based collaborations to improve the lives of city residents. The strength of the project lies in its grounding in place, the city of Baltimore, while also creating a space for connections and community to grow. Arts districts are important social and economic engines for cities; however, for social justice to be truly achieved, the project needs to reach the overlooked areas of the city where art and justice may seem in short supply. The reality is that we simply need new tools and a new vision to better learn to see the connections that arts can provide in urban areas. We need a road map.

The method of the Baltimore Art + Justice Project includes creating such a road map in connection with Animating Democracy’s Mapping Initiative. This project has the potential to make the hidden visible and connect various resources for a more dynamic and lasting impact on Baltimore’s cultural landscape. At the December 2, 2011 Bmore Historic conference at the Maryland Historical Society, I attended a session on Spatial/Digital Humanities where mapping initiatives in the Baltimore region were discussed. One central question of the session was: Why mapping? What is so alluring about this tool at this specific moment?

People love maps. Maps help us navigate our day-to-day lives and enable us to see relationships and patterns. Moving beyond the practical aspects, exploring maps give us a new perspective on seeing place and our connections to it. Maps can be framed as an art form as well as a practical tool. Maps provide a context for understanding places and help to make social and political boundaries as well as geographic ones visible. However, as anyone who has worked with maps (in the form of artifacts, digital representations, or data visualizations) knows, maps only tell part of the story, and sometimes they even lie. Therefore, people (artists, historians, designers, preservationists, archivists, and the general public) need to fill in the blanks and provide the deeper context and connections. To achieve these connections with the Baltimore Art + Justice Project, the aspect of data collection is supplemented by community engagement on the ground. This project provides a tool for envisioning a more connected and just city, but it needs you to engage in dialogue, outreach, discussion, storytelling, and other interactive activities.

Maps are flat until people interact with them. Data is just numbers until connections, patterns, or ideas emerge. There are various mapping projects in urban areas that have directly intervened in the lives and spatial stories of the people and places that make cities work. The City of Memory map designed by City Lore in New York City provides the ability for users to add to the collection of stories. Digital Harlem: Mapping Race and Place in the 1920s allows the past of a specific neighborhood to come alive. Cleveland Historical is a free app that puts history and culture right at your fingertips. Working with the Cleveland Historical format, Baltimore Heritage, the city’s nonprofit historic and architectural preservation organization, recently developed Explore Baltimore Heritage, a website and smartphone application for both iPhone and Android devices featuring a map of historic neighborhoods and buildings from across the city.

My area of expertise is in place-based urban history and culture. However, I see history, culture, art, and community as essential tools for developing better and more just cities.  Often, the places we never really see are the very ones that offer new perspectives on our culture and our shared history. The Baltimore Art + Justice project uses a web-based mapping resource to provide artists, designers, arts organizations, community-based organizations, advocates, and funders a tool for advancing social justice in Baltimore.  All city residents from all walks of life need to make the connections and make this project come alive.

Maps matter when people use them.

BCF Community Arts Grants Available!

The Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) believes the arts are a critical component of vibrant neighborhoods and a vibrant city, and therefore intends to make grants to programs that engage neighborhood residents in making art that benefits their communities; and forge partnerships among established arts institutions, community-based arts organizations, grassroots artists, and local neighborhoods.

BCF’s Neighborhood Grants Program provides Community Arts Grants of up to $7,500 to support projects conducted in partnership by neighborhood groups, local artists, and arts organizations to increase neighborhood vibrancy.

Applicant organizations must either have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status or apply through a nonprofit fiscal agent. Examples of suitable projects include:

  • An artist residency with a community organization
  • An arts project as part of an organizing/advocacy campaign
  • Professional development for a local artist who will use her new skills to design a neighborhood project

Applications for this first round of 2012 Community Arts Funding are due May 15, 2012. A second round of applications will be considered later in the year.

Download the application in MS Word format.

Art Improves the Lives of At-Risk Youth: A New Report Further Confirms What We Already Know

 A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts examines academic and civic-behavior outcomes of teenagers and young adults who have engaged deeply with the arts in or out of school.

The report finds that  teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic status (SES) who have a history of in-depth arts involvement show better academic outcomes than do low-SES youth with less arts involvement.  Students involved in the arts earn better grades and demonstrate higher rates of college enrollment and attainment. Young adults with intensive arts experiences in high school were more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults without, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. The report concludes that at-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied.

This is great news that should inform education policy.  That being said, why are the arts always the first to be cut from a school’s budget?  What can we do to make the case for arts education?   Weigh in with your thoughts.

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