2021 Week 1: Community Arts Programs

YVETTE BAILEY-EMBERSON | GREATER BAYBROOK ALLIANCE

This week was challenging for me. I realized last summer that I struggle with managing my time and creating a schedule for myself while working virtually, but I found a system that worked for me and my partner and I had enough daily tasks that I was easy to stay on track. This time, I am adjusting to a new partner that runs differently and I am still figuring out how I work best under a still largely virtual experience. Rather than daily tasks, I have overarching tasks to last the week following a Monday meeting with my supervisor. This means my week is completely scheduled by myself. That’s hard for me. I’m sure I’ll fall into a rhythm soon, but this week was largely compromised of feeling like I’m constantly working but at the same time not actually doing anything. If I was not actively working for the full 7 hour day, I would continue working after 5 pm just to feel like I did enough. You can see why this is a problem; I am not letting myself rest. It is a mental battle that I need to get through. If I was in person, I wouldn’t be working every single minute, so it is unrealistic to expect myself to while at home.

By the end of the week, I got my tasks done but it felt incomplete. My work revolved around researching information to include in an application for developers to renovate vacant houses in Brooklyn and Curtis Bay. I had plenty of notes, but no product. This is another thing I need to work through this summer: accepting the process and the learning that comes with a project. But to temporarily resolve my dissatisfaction with a lack of product, I thought about a piece of advice I received from my previous supervisor to be more confident in my ideas and take initiative. My supervisor had mentioned off-hand that she was hoping to be able to produce something to include in a grant application that showed we were already starting to think about the vacant renovation program, so I decided to create a document summarizing the research. A draft of the draft of the program application, if you will. I don’t know if it will be useful or if it is actually what my supervisor is envisioning, but I sent it to her anyway. It was at least useful for me to see that I actually did do a lot this week and I have already made something out of my “nothingness.” I was proud that I pushed through my uncertainty and did something that I thought would be useful rather than wait for detailed instruction each step of the way.

Overall, this week helped to create personal goals for myself this summer and how I can grow mentally and professionally. It’s a start.

CAROLINE COLVIN | DEWMORE BALTIMORE

My first week at DewMore Baltimore was devoted largely to onboarding workshops and more general orienting with their mission. In a surprisingly short amount of time, I have already gained valuable insight into the administrative backbone of nonprofit work.

As a nonprofit organization, DewMore relies on outside funding to maintain their ‘Youth Artivist Apprenticeship’ summer program. From my understanding, the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative (SFC) endows the program more generally, while YouthWorks provides returning ‘veteran’ poets with compensation for serving in leadership roles.

To receive funding, grantees are expected to uphold specific documentation requirements, including — but not limited to — attendance and timesheet tracking, invoices, and demographic intake. Most of my time this week was spent attending SFC and YouthWorks training sessions and familiarizing myself with the necessary files. While interning with DewMore, I will be expected to consistently maintain these documents, submitting them at grantor-mandated intervals.

Another exciting responsibility of mine will be assisting in the planning of DewMore’s ‘So Fresh and So Clean’ holistic health fair, taking place this August during Ceasefire. The fair is aimed at exploring decolonized approaches to health, with attendees gaining practical strategies for emotional and physical wellness.

As my supervisor Olu explained, the goal of this festival is not to rebuke western medicine, but to simply offer resources outside of traditional practice. Health disparities are no secret in the United States, with quality of care more indicative of socioeconomic status and zip code than anything else. Integrative medicine stresses independence and self-management, providing accessible strategies that ALL can benefit from— anytime, anywhere. No insurance required.

Especially as a student of the ‘coronavirus map school,’ it is important for me to continually check my own biases regarding medicine. Wellness is a complex subject (see: Social Determinants of Health, if unfamiliar), with western medicine a mere piece of the jigsaw: essential, but not standalone.

SIGRID EDSON | STATION NORTH ARTS DISTRICT

Although I spent the majority of my time this week on my laptop researching venues and artists in the district and planning a youth and family event taking place later in the summer, the most memorable moments of my first week in Station North took place on site at the Ynot Lot. The Ynot Lot is a privately-owned piece of land that SNAD leases and manages, and anyone can reserve the space to hold their own events. When there’s no event going on—which is usually the case during my work day—the lot is just like a little park. Right now there’s a mini gallery of pieces by local artists on the fence bordering the area, and the brick walls on the other two adjacent sides are elaborately tagged by graffiti artists who live and work in the area. The shipping container, which holds chairs, tables, and audio equipment that folks can use for events, is also tagged, along with the sides of the wooden stage it serves as a backdrop to.

Clearly the space itself is fascinating, but what will stick with me from spending time there this week will be the interactions I had with members of the community. Just by being around—running orientations for groups looking to use the space or helping out with upkeep—I started to see how the lot is a hub for organic relationships and conversations. On Wednesday, someone passing by on a bicycle stopped to talk to my supervisor about a work of graffiti at the lot that had been painted over, and it turned into a conversation about how the organization tries to respect the graffiti in the space and is collaborating with different graffiti artists—many of whom turned out to be friends of the person we were talking with—to add to the art in the space without covering up important works. The same day, we had another conversation with an artist coming to replace his work that had been stolen from the mini-gallery along the fence and ended up brainstorming new installation ideas for after the mini-gallery is taken down. Thursday we talked with one of the unhoused folks who spends time at the lot about their relationship with us and with the space, and we also showed around a musician who had booked the space for the weekend and learned about their upcoming event.

Over the rest of my time in Station North, I want to work on being more confident having these conversations and building these relationships myself. The lot is like the figurative water cooler of the neighborhood: Although the research and email writing and brainstorming I do from my desk are important, when I go outside and start talking to people I feel like the real work is getting started.

ZARA HAMID | BALTIMORE YOUTH ARTS

This first week at BYA has been less busy than I expected. While I’ve had a few meetings for onboarding, it seems like a majority of the work that I’ll be doing this summer will become more relevant once we start working with the youth in a couple of weeks.

My primary task this week had to do with grant research. I was using past lists of grants that other interns had compiled and updating due dates, information, broken links, etc. I hope to continue the works of these past interns and continue to grow the list of grants and corporate sponsorships to help BYA bring in more funding. Strangely, it reminded me a lot of the work I have done on political campaigns when looking for donor information. I find it interesting how there is a lot of overlap between two sectors that I previously would’ve thought had no overlap.

I also met with the previous CIIP intern, Amelia, who had stayed with BYA after the spring cohort finished, to be onboarded onto the social media team (check out Baltimore Youth Arts @bmoreyoutharts on instagram!). Funnily enough, very similar to the blogs that I am submitting here, I will be editing blogs from student and staff alike throughout the camp and posting it to their website (https://www.bmoreyoutharts.org/). I highly encourage everyone to check out the blogs section because the youth and staff have such amazing stories and insight to share!

Finally, I met with their head of career development, and I’m very excited to start putting together resources for different workshops throughout the summer camp being offered, while also organizing college and trade school panels for the end of the camp. All the different resources that I am reading makes me realize how fortunate I am to have been born into a family and a community that emphasizes college readiness and furthering my education, since in many high schools, discussions of college start with an “if you go to college,” rather than “when you to to college.” This small choice of language is not something I would have been conscious of prior to going through the materials provided for me to prepare for the college readiness, but I’m beginning to understand how even the small difference between when and if can have a huge impact on the future of the youth.
I’m excited to apply what I have learned so far, and what I will continue to learn as the summer goes on, into workshops for the youth at the camp!

KATHY TIEN | WIDE ANGLE YOUTH MEDIA

I spent this past week going through Wide Angle’s online orientation course, learning about the multitude of programs Wide Angle offers and the impact they’ve had on the city since opening in 2000. More than 5,000 students have been impacted by Wide Angle’s work. Reading about how a videography or photography class can transform these students’ passions and well-being was powerful. For Wide Angle students, being able to have this creative outlet to express their opinions and own their voices is allows for an avenue to advocate for themselves and to tell their stories. I don’t have to share their backgrounds or past experiences to be able to appreciate these multimedia projects. I am excited to see the work that the students will do this summer! Multimedia is the special medium that everyone can understand, regardless of where you come from. Everything I’ve learned this week made me realize that I am now part of the WAYM team, a group of individuals dedicated to teaching arts media and improving the lives of individuals around them. I am stepping into a role that has been filled by others before me, and I need to be able to assume these responsibilities and advance the organization’s mission no matter what I’m working on. For me, when I dive into projects and get overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, I have the tendency to lose sight of the bigger picture. Being at an organization like Wide Angle and being in the nonprofit sector allows me to maintain the big-picture mindset. Every day I am able to check my privilege and find something to inspire me. Looking ahead to next week, the MediaWorks summer program starts on 6/28, so I’m sure I will have plenty to do in preparation for class to start.

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