Communities for All Ages, a partnership between the Southeast Community Development Corporation, the Creative Alliance, and Banner Neighborhoods, has done just that, with a free, day-long, family-friendly, bilingual workshop, “Neighborhood Voices: Our Stories About Race Where We Live,” scheduled for Aug. 10 at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson.
Agatha So, a community outreach coordinator with the Southeast CDC says the event was born out of a desire to kick off conversations about race.
“There are a lot of stories about race and identity in our neighborhoods, but they are really hidden sometimes,” So says.
So and Maria Aldana, outreach coordinator at the Creative Alliance and lead producer of the workshop, came up with the idea for the event when they attended a similar workshop at the University of Maryland School of Social Work several months ago.
Attendees will be paired up and will tell each other “stories” that are the product of story prompts such as, for example, “Tell me about a time when, you felt powerful.”
The stories will be about three minutes long, and in between each prompt will be a debriefing, where the storytellers discuss their stories.
The workshop will be led by a professional facilitator.
Blessing Omopariola, 17, who lives in East Baltimore and attends Friendship Academy of Science and Technology, is taking part in the storytelling project. She was involved with “My Second Story,” a video-projection story telling project put on by CFAA earlier this year.
“I think storytelling will bring the neighborhoods together to help solve problems,” says Omopariola, who is especially worried about killing in the city.
“That’s all you hear about in the news,” she says.
Steve Preston, who is vice president of the east sector of the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association, will also be attending.
“It’s important to hear each others’ stories directly. It could open up a dialogue,” says Preston, who moved to the Patterson Park area from Cross Keys, in North Baltimore, about a year ago.
Preston loves living in Patterson Park because it is so racially and ethnically diverse.
He acknowledges that the summer has been rough, crime-wise, throughout the city, but particularly in East Baltimore.
“The crimes make me sick. I’ve felt like a bit of a referee on Facebook lately, but to say that east Baltimore is experiencing racial anxiety is overblown,” he says.
On Facebook, a lot of recent crimes and the races of their perpetrators are discussed boldly, and sometimes with vitriol, on various neighbors’ (not necessarily neighborhood associations’) Facebook groups.
“I’ve lived all over the world and I’ve never seen more groups intermingling so well,” says Preston, on a hopeful note. “I think that other areas could learn a lot from the great experiment that is going on in the Patterson Park community.”
To learn more about “Neighborhood Voices” or to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-276-1651.
by Danielle Sweeney