2022 Week 7: Non-profit Management
Over the summer, I’ve noticed a lot of collaboration happening between the housing project of the Public Justice Center and Baltimore Renters United. The marketing graphics I’ve created for the inclusionary housing and licensing bill all received feedback from members of BRU. The PJC has a far reach in Baltimore, and while I haven’t seen nearly the extent of collaboration with other Baltimore nonprofits I’ve already met a few members from BRU. Based on my conversations with one of my supervisors, I can tell that the PJC and BRU have frequent and meaningful collaboration. My supervisor looked up to various members of BRU and trusted them to help me navigate the press conference when there were no other folks from the PJC in attendance. I’m sure BRU/PJC collaboration extends past the marketing aspect of the PJC’s work. That being said, with the projects I’ve worked on, it seems that this duo holds mutual respect for one another and the work that they do.
The press conference for inclusionary housing shed light on the other organizations that the housing project collaborates with. The folks came from many different backgrounds: legal, religious, and activism. However, what united them all was their desire to create more affordable housing for Baltimoreans and their belief that this change is best achieved through policy. Many folks, in their speeches, said that they advocated for the first bill that expired at the beginning of July, and while that bill ultimately failed to create more affordable housing, they are optimistic that the new bill will enact that change. Although, after a few conversations, I learned more about how opinions differed. It seems that politically, the bill is more conservative than some folks wanted, however, they do want a bill to be passed and sometimes that means that change happens at a slower rate than hoped for.
This week was definitely a long one, but I learned a lot and it ended on a really good note. Since this was the 4th week of Summer Champions Camp, a lot of students are much more comfortable with each other and with the staff. While this is great, it also meant they were a lot more chatty, which made it harder to get them to focus and pay attention. It got to the point on Wednesday that there were some mean-spirited jokes and disrespecting of a guest instructor, so we had to do a bit of an intervention. It was definitely a test of patience but I think since then the kids have seemed at least a bit more aware of their words and how they can hurt others even if they don’t mean to.
Both STEM lessons that I ran this week went really well. On Tuesday we did a lesson on computer science, where the main activity was racing robots that could roll. The kids really seemed to enjoy it and it was really heartwarming to see how much fun they had with it. We also did a lesson on anatomy and boxing and some of the kids were really into it. I realized how fun it can be to teach when people are really invested in the lesson you are teaching, so I am glad I was able to come up with something that a lot of the students enjoyed.
Finally, this Saturday was Corner Team’s monthly Community Day, where we officially “opened” the vacant lot we have been renovating into a community space. It was a fun, vibrant event and it was cool to meet some of the community members and partners Corner Team works with. I also got to meet some of the families of the students, which was also nice. The coolest thing about this lot was that it was done entirely by youth. One of our staff members mentioned how people often have certain expectations about how black youth will spend their summers or free time, and how awesome it is that the students at the camp are defying those expectations and doing something to improve their community. I’m really proud of all the campers have been able to accomplish with this project and am glad they got to do something that has a real impact on their community.
The Tool Library is a place that is very aligned with my values. It is a very inclusive community that values equity and tends to be highly aware of Baltimore politics. That being said, the Tool Library does have a ways to go when it comes to serving Baltimore equitably. One of my first projects at the Tool Library was to make a map of where our members live. We were all upset and disheartened to see the familiar pattern of the white L and black butterfly reflected in our membership data.
Though upsetting, it is really important to know this information so we can begin to intentionally reach out to the populations we aren’t serving. In response to this upsetting data, I have recently been working on another map. The map identifies key neighborhoods for outreach, identifying neighborhoods within 5 and 10-minute driving distances from the Tool Library, with either 0 tool library members or less than 10 tool library members. This creates 4 categories for key neighborhoods, which is useful for planning outreach.
I have also been identifying community associations and organizations that serve the key neighborhoods for outreach. We want to reach out to these organizations, introduce ourselves and our mission, and make sure we are known as a resource for community members. In particular, I think the Tool Library could be a good partner for community gardens/urban farms, as we offer a variety of gardening tools. I also think our services would be really useful to introduce to neighborhood associations, as people may turn to neighborhood associations to borrow a lawnmower or a ladder, and it could be beneficial for them to offer up our organization as a resource. In the longer term, I could see these partnerships turn into pop-up Tool Library events in neighborhoods across the city (West Baltimore Fix it Fair?), and garden work days using Tool Library tools for landscaping and building garden beds, picnic tables, etc.
For the past few weeks, the MLB draft took place and the Orioles made headlines for getting the number 1 pick in the draft, signing Jackson Holliday with a $8.19 million signing bonus. More impressive to me, however, was a piece of quieter news regarding Maxwell Costes.
I met Max at BUBA during one of the first few weeks of the internship program, and I learned from my boss that he was one of the star players on the University of Maryland’s baseball team. He finished his college career with 40 home runs, second in the program’s history (and that was including his sophomore season cut short due to the pandemic). He was a hard worker, a gifted athlete, and a Baltimore City native.
On July 20, Maxwell Costes signed to play with the Baltimore Orioles as an undrafted free-agent! It was so exciting to learn that someone who grew up in Baltimore City, played baseball in Baltimore, and trained at BUBA was going to start his major league career on the team of his hometown. My boss and I were excited at the future possibilities for Max but also for BUBA as a BUBA athlete starts to make his mark in the big leagues. This led me to discover and reflect on a simple principle:
Sometimes, all it takes is one.
One athlete, one activist, one smile, one outstretched hand. Sometimes I feel like we as humans only see the big things, the mass movements and crowd-filled campaigns. In doing so, we overlook the often humble beginnings of these tidal waves. Sometimes the initial impetus for large changes starts with a single person with a single vision and a singular drive to realize their vision.
BUBA started with my boss seeing a need in his community and wanting to fill that need. Maxwell Costes might be the one who will put BUBA on the map. And even though I am just one lowly intern, the things I choose to do now might make an impact in the future that I could not foresee.
What is amazing about Fusion is we get to oversee and be a part of the execution of the important social justice and liberation work happening in Baltimore. Fusion’s partners span across so many focus areas, as I have learned in seeing the events they put on and organizing a grant database for them to access. Their focus areas include neighborhood development, arts and culture, youth education, art and media, health and wellness, and more. Although each partner is doing unique work whether it be bringing the community together for a festival or farming healthy food for the community to fight food apartheid, they are all advocates for social justice. Each organization has the best interests of the communities they serve at heart, and it is beautiful to see that compassion and care reciprocated not only from those communities but also from Fusion.
Both at Fusion and each of their partner organizations, there is a lot of passion to make change–change does not have to be big or small or look one way or another. I have seen the overlap of the work being done at Fusion go far beyond Fusion–in fact, I was able to work at the polls during early voting week and meet with a lot of candidates for public office as well as those volunteering with them. I had conversations with a lot of different people about the work I’ve been doing with Fusion and the role it plays in the community. It felt so good to be able to share Fusion’s mission and learn about the other happenings in our communities as well. In those moments, I felt so present. It was amazing to be civically engaged while learning about the intricacies of politics and grassroots work in Baltimore. I feel that’s a lot of what I am doing at my placement as well–really trying to absorb everything around me and immerse myself in a community that has so much to share.
Impact Hub this week was particularly hectic, as my primary supervisor will be out the rest of my time here, and there have been so many different summer camps that have booked space in the Hub. For me, this week involved a lot of self paced work, as primarily what I have been working on is transcribing interviews and outlining the most prominent themes that we are seeing within these interviews. I feel like I am constantly falling short of the deadlines I set for myself with these transcriptions, so I think a good lesson for me is to set actually attainable deadlines so I am not dissuaded when I do not meet my own impossible standards. Additionally, because this is such a large project, it is very daunting to finish the amount of work I want to do before the end of the CIIP summer with only one week left. I hope to continue working at Impact Hub throughout the school year, but this does not lessen the amount of pressure I feel to finish a lot of my existing projects before I leave in August. Again, a lot of the deadlines are going to span months, but I would like to finish so much before August 5th that I find my last week here is going to be particularly busy. I am doing my best to create actionable goals and set deliverables that I know I really want to focus on completing this last week!
Everyone has told me how quickly this program goes by in the summer, but it has truly been such a fast moving summer and I cannot fathom how I only have a week left! The impending deadline has me feeling a bit emotional, as I have met so many wonderful people and I am so grateful for this program and this summer.