UMBC Gender Inclusive Housing

When we first started this project, we knew very little about UMBC’s Gender Inclusive housing option. The information available on it was scarce and outdated. In addition, both our individual experiences and the experiences we’d heard about from others who had applied for Gender Inclusive Housing (GIH) in the past made us concerned for the situation. We’d heard that RAs and those in Living Learning Communities were not allowed to participate in Gender Inclusive Housing. We experienced being assigned an apartment instead of getting to choose where we live like those in standard housing. We were told that someone’s Gender Inclusive Housing application was denied. It seemed to us as though many aspects of the Gender Inclusive housing process were at best, inconvenient, and at worst, outright discriminatory. Continue reading

The Charm City Art Space: An Oral History

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Our activist project was to create an oral history of the Charm City Art Space (CCAS), a longstanding Baltimore Do-It-Yourself venue and staple of the local music scene that recently closed down for an indefinite amount of time. Our goal was to interview several different informants with various connections to the space in order produce a short audio segment that gives a narrative history of the art space, including critical reflections on the space and the role it played in the local community.

We began by laying out a general blueprint for the project – we planned out who we wanted to interview, what we would ask them, and how to go about coordinating interview times. We wanted to curate a final product that offers a variety of perspectives in order to offer as unbiased of an account of CCAS’s existence as possible, so we planned to interview informants with various different relationships with the art space. In the end, we were able to interview one of the space’s founding members, one of the more recent members, and a musician who had played and attended shows at the art space throughout its lifetime. We contacted them over email, scheduled a time and place to interview each of them, and conducted and recorded each interview when the time came. After conducting all of the interviews, we set to work listening to each of them and deciding what material we could best use for the final piece. Having worked out a general timeline for the final narrative, we edited the audio into its final form. Our result was hours of raw material neatly condensed into one seventeen-minute audio segment.

ccasshowWe faced a number of challenges throughout our work on the project. For one thing, the logistics of scheduling a multitude of interviews – interviews that necessarily had to be conducted in person and in a space where clear audio could be recorded – were far more difficult to coordinate than we expected. Several of our potential informants simply ghosted us despite multiple attempts at contacting them; other interviews just didn’t work out despite our best efforts. In fact, we scheduled and rescheduled an interview with one informant four different times, and yet conflict arose with every single appointment, and we were never able to complete the interview. All in all, for future endeavors we learned that is is very important to plan as far ahead as possible and leave a good deal of time to coordinate and conduct interviews; had we done this, we might have been able to interview more informants and gather an even more diverse set of perspectives. That being said, the interviews that we were able to conduct ran very smoothly, and we were nonetheless able to create a solid final product and accomplish the core goals we set out for ourselves.

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This project taught us that activism can take a great number of forms. Before we started, we were not even sure that an endeavor such as this was activism at all. The material we read and discussions we had in class helped in part to change our minds on this subject, but the greater lesson came from actually pursuing the project itself. As we researched what we could about the space’s history, we realized there were a number of relevant critical issues woven into the narrative of Charm City Art Space’s history that could be examined. Discussing these issues with our informants felt like activism in and of itself because we learned so much, and we realized that making these dialogues and narratives publicly accessible was in fact an important undertaking. We learned the importance of simply providing other people with the resources and opportunities to make their voices heard, as we did with this project in coordinating, recording, and publishing these interviews. By helping to lift these voices, we have enabled other people to listen to and learn from them, just as we did.

via Lane Kennedy and James Callahan

Listen to the final audio piece here.

Photo credits to Phil Hiotus, Kate Frese and Farrah Skeiky

“Writing Doesn’t Have to be Lonely:” Workshops & Activism in UMBC’s Writing Center

I declared my major in literature and creative writing the summer before beginning myworkshopfb freshman year. I was driven to pursue the passion I felt for creative expression through language, and now, after four years of this study, my preferred mode of expression has changed; yet, I have found meaningful ways to utilize the unique set of skills my education has equipped me with in order to help others learn and create. Most importantly, I found a way to develop a project that used these skills and enabled me to have a positive impact on a local community of writers. By hosting a series of creative writing workshops in UMBC’s writing center, I explored the relationship between creative writing, peer writing and activism, and considered the role of creative writing communities in the lives of writers in a higher learning setting.
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Activist History: the South Baltimore Voice and Chronicling Labor Movements

74336dd4-eec9-4e14-b27f-3e11cf887406Our group chose to research the South Baltimore Voice after the class’s initial visit to the library for an information session on the archives and special collections. We took an interest in the Voice because of its radical politics and local news coverage, and mission to give a public platform for individual South Baltimore voices.

We visited Special Collections in the library, where we were able to read back issues of the Voice donated to UMBC by the Alternative Press Center. The Baltimore-based Alternative Press Center is one of the oldest self-sustaining alternative media institutions in the United States. The APC donates the back issues of their collections to UMBC, with the most recent issues being published five years previously. Continue reading

The Tale of Three Sisters

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Originally, I was at a loss of what I could possibly do for my activist project, but then I remembered my grandmother-in-law. Unfortunately, due to complications between my grandmother-in-law, her two sisters, and the Federal Government, I cannot mention their names nor the photographs of the interviews. They were very conservative about this documentary being on the Internet, or any social media sites – which was my original intent.

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