CSX provides grant for Baltimore-Rotterdam program at Benjamin Franklin High School

Baltimore, MD — July 17, 2016

CSX has provided a $1,000 grant to Rotterdam’s Avalanche Arts via Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister Cities for an “Operation Trash” exchange project designed to educate high school students at Baltimore’s Benjamin Franklin High School (BFHS) and connect them with a high school in the Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Improvisational theatre techniques and remote learning techniques will be used to teach students about sustainability, trash reduction, recycling, and to inspire them to become environment stewards for their communities.

About CSX

CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company. It provides rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products.

CSX aims to create a positive influence “Beyond Our Rails” within the communities where its employees live and work.

Sustainability is at the core of CSX’s value proposition, as freight rail is the most environmentally-friendly way to move freight over land. CSX is committed to making the community greener and cleaner by:

  • Teaching environmental stewardship
  • Planting eco-friendly trees and plants
  • Leading and supporting environmental clean-ups

CSX is a proud partner of Baltimore’s Benjamin Franklin High School in many ways, including a mentorship program between students and CSX employees at CSX’s Chesapeake Bay Coal Piers.

CSX Beyond Our Rails logo

www.beyondourrails.org

About Avalanche Arts

Avalanche Arts, an organization based in Rotterdam (Dutch name: “Stichting Lawine”), initiated the project concept. Theatre artist/educator and project coordinator Kathie diStefano from Avalanche Arts is designing the program together with the partnering schools and facilitating theatre workshops at the schools.

Avalanche Arts / Stichting Lawine

About Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister Cities

Baltimore, Maryland and Rotterdam, the Netherlands started their sister city relationship in 1985. The Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (BRSCC) is a volunteer-run non-profit committee based in Baltimore that conducts the sister city affairs. The committee encourages engagement between the two cities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal exchanges and projects.

baltimorerotterdam.org

Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (BRSCC) is part of Baltimore Sister Cities, Inc., a 501c3 organization incorporated in the State of Maryland.

baltimoresistercities.org

Rotterdam Artist/Educator planning theatre workshops for Baltimore schools

Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. diStefano’s organization Avalanche Arts (Dutch name: Stichting Lawine) has completed several exchange projects between Baltimore and Rotterdam and is planning more.

Avalanche Arts is planning several projects designed to educate students about sustainability and environmental stewardship:

  1. Pen Pal Project linking Baltimore high school students with counterparts in the greater Rotterdam area (More info)
  2. Improvisational theatre workshops for Baltimore public high school students (info below)

The Baltimore-Rotterdam committee is currently seeking funding to help support these activities.

Improv theater workshops with a green theme

Avalanche Art’s approach to improv workshops:

Bringing People through ‘play’; Improvisational theater as a tool to develop group dynamics and enhance thinking outside the box

The lessons include: drama games while practicing social skills, experiencing the power of positive thought and action and teamwork.

  • expressing creativity; ‘dare to share’
  • working together; discover the ‘freedom in following’ while adding ideas along the way
  • there are no bad ideas, only underdeveloped ones; ‘failing helps us learn’
  • sometimes scary, but always enlightening: ‘self reflection’

Once the basic technique has been introduced the “green theme” is combined with the improvisational games and exercises. In this way participants will be discussing, sharing and learning about how they can become environmental stewards through a“play” approach.

Playing improv games involves putting one’s ego on hold and working towards what is best for the group. The improvisational technique used is based on the work of Keith Johnstone with a focus on “learning through laughter.”

Background

The Baltimore-Rotterdam theatre workshops build on a pilot exchange completed in 2015 with Baltimore’s Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and a school near Rotterdam, and on previous environmentally-themed art educational projects with children and community residents in the Baybrook area of Baltimore and Heijplaat area of Rotterdam, completed by Avalanche Arts in collaboration with Baltimore artist/educator Stephen Bradley.

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (a member of the Baltimore Sister Cities 501(c)(3) association), supports these exchanges. Baltimore and Rotterdam have been sister cities since 1985. The committee encourages engagement between the two cities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal exchanges and projects.

Rotterdam artist receives WWF grant to set up pen pal exchanges between Baltimore and Rotterdam area schools

The Netherlands chapter of the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) has awarded a grant to Rotterdam theatre artist/educator Kathie diStefano, Avalanche Arts (Stichting Lawine), to link students in Baltimore with Dutch high school students in the greater Rotterdam area. This ‘Pen Pal Project’ will use social media to build awareness for environmental issues in both countries.

Participants will begin by looking critically at their own trash behavior and how this affects their communities as well as global waste problems. Students will be asked to “think globally and act locally” to help reduce litter and increase recycling in their communities.

Students in the two cities will share stories and compare findings regarding trash problems and recycling challenges in Dutch and American neighborhoods.

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Pen Pal Project builds on a pilot exchange completed in 2015 with Baltimore’s Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and a school near Rotterdam, and on previous environmentally-themed art educational projects with children and community residents in the Baybrook area of Baltimore and Heijplaat area of Rotterdam, completed by Avalanche Arts in collaboration with Baltimore artist/educator Stephen Bradley.

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (a member of the Baltimore Sister Cities 501(c)(3) association), supports these exchanges. Baltimore and Rotterdam have been sister cities since 1985. The committee encourages engagement between the two cities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal exchanges and projects.

Rotterdam artist gives trash/recycling workshops at Nederlandse School

Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. She did an artist residency in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay in December 2013 and is returning to Baltimore area in fall 2015.

On 3 October and 10 October 2015, she is giving workshops at De Nederlandse School in Bethesda. This is for kids who speak Dutch or are learning Dutch. These workshops are open to kids that are not students of De Nederlandse School; there is a fee for non-students. The two Saturdays are stand-alone workshops – kids can attend one or both. Suitable for a wide variety of ages. Using the medium of theatre & play, kids will learn about sustainability, trash/recycling, and ecology themes. This event is produced in conjunction with DC Dutch.

More information:

www.dcdutch.org/events/operatie-afval-speciaal-voor-kinderen

Rotterdam artist at Sept 26 Baltimore Sister Cities Celebration

Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. She did an artist residency in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay in December 2013 and is returning to Baltimore area in fall 2015.

On September 26, 2015, she will give a workshop about trash and sustainability topics at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance as part of the daylong celebration of the 30th anniversary of Baltimore’s sister city relationships with Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Xiamen, China. The daytime activities include performances and workshops for kids & adults; the evening features a reception.

More information about the Sept 26 event: baltimoresistercities.org/anniversary2015

Rotterdam artist plans follow-up residency in Baltimore in Fall 2015

Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. She did an artist residency in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay in December 2013 and is returning in September-October 2015 for another residency in this neighborhood. This is in conjunction with the 30th anniversary celebration of the Baltimore-Rotterdam sister city relationship. We are currently seeking funding to support these activities.

Preliminary list of activities for 2015:

Sep 26 — Workshop during the daylong celebration of 30 year Baltimore-Rotterdam anniversary at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance

Oct 5–9 — Weeklong series of theater improv workshops for Benjamin Franklin senior high school students

Oct 3 & 10 — Sustainability workshops for students at De Nederlandse School (a joint project with DC Dutch)

October — Workshops with Filbert Street Community Garden

October — Planning sessions for pen pal exchange with Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center (affiliated with Living Classrooms) and a school near Rotterdam

Fall — Bring a sculpture from Rotterdam to be installed in Baltimore (a mirror copy of a sculpture in Rotterdam harbor) in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship. C. Steinweg has generously offered to ship the sculpture to Baltimore. C. Steinweg is a logistics provider headquarted in Rotterdam specializing in the international transportation, handling & warehousing of non-ferrous metals & soft commodities; they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Baltimore office this year. More information about the sculpture is here: sealsculpturerotterdam.pdf


diStefano_DSC_4002_201312_large
Kathie diStefano conducting a workshop for Baltimore schoolchildren in December 2013

More about this artist

Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition

Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park MD 21225
Admission: Free

UMBC professors present their collaborative research in two Baltimore communities with a shared legacy of industrial development: Brooklyn-Curtis Bay (Baybrook) and Sparrows Point. The event features Mapping Baybrook, a media-based documentation of projects in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay and a film screening of Mill Stories: Remembering Sparrows Point Steel Mill. Members of Sparrows Point and Brooklyn-Curtis Bay communities also discuss the challenges they face and possible futures.

The Brooklyn-Curtis Bay community is also a subject of Harbor Traces, Baltimore-Rotterdam committee’s ongoing artist exchange that pairs this area of Baltimore with a parallel neighborhood in Rotterdam called Heijplaat. Artist Steve Bradley has been instrumental in this exchange over the past couple years. Today’s talk is a good opportunity to hear more about his activities in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay

For more information, visit baltimoretraces.org

Rotterdam artist visits Baltimore in 2014, to plan 2015 residency

Rotterdam theatre artist and educator Kathie diStefano employs participatory techniques and theatre art to create awareness with youth and seniors about the environment through creative strategies to recycle and make smart consumer decisions in Heijplaat in Rotterdam. She did an artist residency in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay in December 2013 and returned to Baltimore in December 2014 to plan future exchange activities.

Kathie diStefano’s activities in December 2014 included:

Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center (MCEEC) — diStefano conducted meetings and workshop with Living Classrooms staff. Planning for 2 digital pen pal programs between Baltimore and Rotterdam area students. Masonville Cove also expressed interest in working on hosting a workshop for diStefano with a larger audience

Nederlandse School — diStefano met with the leaders of this Dutch language school in Bethesda, Maryland to plan Fall 2015 sustainability-themed workshops for students.

Benjamin Franklin High School — diStefano met with Kelly Klinefelter, who invited her to run a series of improv workshops in Fall 2015 for her senior English class students focusing on developing social skills and working together. diStefano also spoke with Dante de Tablan from Benjamin Franklin High School’s community center.

Filbert Street Community Garden — Jason Reed met with diStefano to discuss future collaboration possibilities with Filbert Street Community Garden and Living Classrooms. diStefano met up with Steve Bradley and he took her to meet the new managers of the garden.

diStefano-Filbert-201412Rodette (left), Filbert Street Garden Manager, meets Kathie (right) in December 2014

Radio series: Stories of Deindustrialized Baltimore

A week-long radio series on the Marc Steiner show looking at the Brooklyn-Curtis Bay / Sparrows Point area of Baltimore aired in May 2014 on WEAA FM. You can listen to the archived series here:

www.steinershow.org/tag/stories-of-deindustrialized-baltimore

Series was done in conjunction with students from the Post-industrial Places Project (PIPP) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). The series focuses on individuals directly affected by the deindustrialization. It includes a segment on the Filbert Street Garden: a discussion with Chanan Delivuk, Baltimore artist and graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts program in Imaging and Digital Arts at UMBC, who grew up in Curtis Bay and currently has a plot in the community garden; Gary Brown, Benjamin Franklin High School junior who is manager of the TriVeggie Food Market program, a mobile farmer’s market, at the Filbert Street Community Garden; and Stephanie Garcia, Americorps intern with the Filbert Street Community Garden.

Filbert Street Garden Gala Fundraiser

The Garden Gala: Bringing the Green Back to Filbert Street

Date: Sunday, May 18, 2014

Time: 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: 2640 St Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21218

Event information and tickets

Filbert Street Garden is a educational community garden in Brooklyn-Curtis Bay (Baybrook), the neighborhood that has a sister relationship with Heijplaat in Rotterdam. The garden has been under the aegis of Jason Reed, a participant in our Harbor Traces December 2013 artist residency. Filbert Street Garden volunteers and UMBC students (under the guidance of UMBC professors Stephen Bradley and Nicole King) are organizing a fundraiser for the garden.

The purpose of the gala is to raise money to create the new garden manager position for this important Baltimore non-profit organization. Curtis Bay residents need a garden because the area is a food desert, which means there is limited access to fresh produce locally.

Visit the Garden Gala Facebook page for ongoing updates about this event.