Monday, May 11, 2015

Adventure Blog 4: The Fourth (but definitely not final) Adventure!

Two Sunday's ago (I think it was Sunday) my friend asked if I would come with her to this party (or something) that she was asked to take pictured at. My first thought was "heck no" because I'm up to my eyeballs in work, but I asked her for the details of the party anyway. "It's at The Crown on friday", she says and then I said "of course" because my I needed one more adventure to write about and I definitely needed a mini break even though I'd still be kind of working at this party (or whatever it was).
Fast forward to Friday. After work I burrowed into a study nook and did work until about 10pm when she picked me up. After a quick coffee pit stop and  dashing back to The Crown we climbed the stairs where we were greeted by no cover charge and the beginning of a great set by a couple of DJ's from New York. When the Bmore Club remixes started rolling out, I knew that I made good decision and was finally able to momentarily stop ruminating over all the work that I have to do before next Wednesday. I think it was a good way to constructively de-stress for a bit before the madness that will surely envelop my life until the end of the semester. Below you'll find some of my favorite highlights from that night.

Favorite quote: "We've had a hard f***ing week but that's okay we bout to dance it out. Dance our pain away"
 Favorite photo: Taken by yours truly!

Favorite dancer: He gave the entire dance floor life!

Adventure Blog 3: Own The Change?

During my second adventure at the Food Chains screening there was an announcement for another screening and discussion event. The description sounded interesting so I decided to go back to Red Emma's on February 25th for a screening of a short film called Own the Change. (See flyer below)

 The film was very interesting an gave me a sense of what it means to be a worker cooperative in addition to the several other types of cooperatives that could exist. After the film they opened up the little back room that Jazmin talks about in her oral history for a Q&A about Red Emma's. The Q&A covered topics like the history, hiring model, pitfalls, and benefits of becoming a part of workers cooperative like Red Emma's. This was informative as well, but it began to lean more towards joining Red Emma's worker co-operative, and I'm definitely not in a point my life where I'd be able to join they're worker co-op. I feel like on some level it takes a certain collection of circumstances and traits to be able to commit yourself to their co-op model. Which would also help in understanding why it seems like they only hire their friends as employees, from the way that the process of becoming partial owner of the business is set up you'd pretty much have to like the other workers enough to want to spend a large indefinite amount of time working with them.

After the Q&A discussion I decided that I’d stay for a bit to eat dinner and do some work. I ordered a vegan turkey club that I was feeling a little apprehensive about, but the first bite was so delicious that had to stop and snap a picture for this blog post.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Advendure Blog 2: Dream Deferred (aka number two of my seriously backlogged adventures)

After class on Thursday Feb 12th I made my first trek through the City to Red Emma's. In class that day we had begun our discussion of Baltimore 68 and before our session ended Dr. King mentioned Dream Deferred , a poem by Langston Hughes. The words of the poem were on my mind while I sat at the bus stop with my chin tucked against the cold, as I waited for the downtown shuttle to arrive. It lingered in my thoughts as I made a quick stop for dinner and watched as the security guards began to usher the seemingly homeless individuals out in the cold. I was spared because I was charging my phone, had a book, and probably emitted a vibe that screamed student. 

After watching the room for a bit my thoughts turned to my next destination. I was heading to Red Emma's for a screening of the documentary Food Chains a film about migrant farm workers in Imokalee Florida. The film was produced, in part, by Eva Longoria  (Who knew home girl was producing films now?)  I didn't know what to expect from the film but I'm always down to learn more about our food system and the screening would be followed by a panel discussion so I figured that I'd have a good time. When I finally got to Emma's I had just enough time to order some tea and find a seat in the collection of chairs that were arranged in front of the pull down screen. While waiting and anxiously hoping that my drink would be ready before the film began I turned and saw my professor from my food systems  seminar. I think we were both surprised to see each other but also not surprised at all. She sat next to me and we caught up until the film began.

As the film played and the people in the film described how their lives, and the lives of others, were impacted large grocery and fast food chains the lines of another Langston Hughes poem drifted in and out of my thoughts. 
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

I'd recommend the film to everyone, so I wont summarize it here but I will share some of my immediate thoughts post viewing. We don't exist in a closed system. Everything is connected, and in the USA it seems like everything is connected to the fact that this country was built on the systemic oppression of others. The system of oppression that this country was built on has morphed into a continuous cycle of exploitation. And the churning of that cycle can be felt everywhere. It's how I was able to find myself  at coffee shop in the middle Baltimore- a city that has taken direct and debilitating blows from the systems spinning spokes- watching a film about migrant workers in Imokalee, Florida and have their stories resonate with my own.  And It's how I found my self in this course that urges to experience the city. We're all caught up in this system but it's always inspiring to hear about collections of people that are digging their way out. Even though it's wild that decades later many of Hughes' words still ring true. 

Other interesting highlights from the evening: In addition to running into my professor, I saw a handful of people that I see on campus, an old friend, and several new and old acquaintances. And just like with my professor it was both surprising and not surprising at all to see them there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Adventure Blog 1: The first of many backlogged adventures

On Saturday January 31 I stopped at Lost City Diner for a bite to eat before heading to the Charles Theater to see Selma. In retrospect, going to see this film when I did was a great way to start off this course. Here I was at the end of January, the beginning of my last semester as an undergraduate  student, Black History Month was about to begin, and I was about to dive into this American Studies course called Community in America- where we would be studying the topics of redevelopment, gentrification, and community change in Baltimore. The semester had barely begun and it already felt like an interesting space to be in. It seems  that with each year that I have been living and learning in the Baltimore area the layers of Baltimore's racial tension and history are continuously being peeled back to reveal more.

Now that the end of my last semester basically here and "riots" erupting around the city,  occupying this time and space feels more bizarre than it did before. My mind keeps wandering back to the events described in Baltimore 68'. Today my life feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone, like I stepped off my doorstep and walked into the Baltimore of the 1960s. With the same questions that danced around my mind at the start of this semester as I sat enveloped in the cushions of seat in the  Charles while depictions of  history splattered across the screen. 

(Lower image:

Monday, April 20, 2015

I FINALLY got in contact with Tony! We spoke briefly and he gave me his email address so I could send him some information about our project. I'm hoping that he gets back to me soon. We really need more voices from community members that don't have direct business interests in the area. 

Diana and I set a time for her interview. We'll be meeting at 8:45pm on campus. The recorder and location are TBD (PNK: Would it be possible to use the studio, or do you have any suggestions?) 
Diana lived closer to Greenmount West and knows the area. She has a cousin that still lives over there so she passed my contact information to her.

I started putting together my questions for tomorrow's interview over the weekend, and will probably revise them 3 more times before the actual interview. 

I wish that I could do the interview and be there for tomorrows meeting. Can't wait to hear about it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

 Today after class I was telling my classmate more about our project and she said she was interested in being interviewed. She also said she knows some people that might be able and willing to talk to us. I can't wait to follow up with her on this because I definitely think that she would add an interesting dimension to the existing set of voices. After speaking with her and several others I think it would be beneficial to add some sort of map to the back of our "ask". The name "Station North" doesn't doesn't seem to translate or resonate with folks. Having a map to show people the area that we're talking about would be beneficial, and it could initiate some good conversation.

Interview Scheduling: 
My availability didn't work with Jude Lombardi's availability. Randi's schedule was open at the times that Lombardi suggested so I linked them up to continue scheduling process. 

Aletheia got back to me, and confirmed that she was able to be interviewed this past Saturday. I couldn't take off of work on Saturday to do the interview so I sent my questions to Harima and she was able to conduct the interview. I heard it went well, so I can't wait to listen to it. 
I have an interview with D Watkins Scheduled for next week and Gaby will be my recorder. 

Tony I hasn't returned my messages about being interview so I'm trying to find the balance between being persistent and being a pest. I

I stumbled upon this while scrolling through my FB timeline and thought that I'd share.

Adventure Blogs: 
I'm seriously backed logged and will post my adventures soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

This past week I scheduled an oral history interview with Aletheia S... or so I thought. It was due to a simple miscommunication, but it definitely made my Saturday morning interesting. When she said Saturday was a good time to meet, because she'd be at Seoul Rice Cake all day. I thought and said "this Saturday" and she thought I said next Saturday. Needless to say, when I showed up to Seoul Rice Cake with Adam and his bundle of recording gear  the nice but confused owner did not know why  I was there and had no idea as to what I was talking about.  I learned (or relearned) two things from this experience. One, if you ask a potential interviewee for their contact information and they write down an email, get a number... always get a number. Two, I learned I'm a competent internet sleuth and that persistence pays off. I was able to get in touch with Alethia (via a phone call) and I'm currently working on rescheduling that interview.
Also, I got a delicious breakfast burrito and an enjoyable train ride to work out of that morning it so it wasn't a total loss.

In other "Voices" news I have two updates. The first, I'm corresponding with Jude Lombardi to schedule a time for her interview. Hopefully well be able to have someone interview her this week or next week. The second is that someone in my class today mentioned a family friend that might live in Greenmount West and I plan on following up with her about that this week. 

Idea: In terms on capturing voices on the streets maybe it would be a good idea to start talking to folks at the bus stops?