We dedicate this edition of “Notes from the Field” to the memory of Eddie Conway (1946-2023)
We are just a week away from our first spring meeting of Community Fellows and the first BFS 2.0 social of 2023. Our BFS socials are unstructured time for fellows and friends to come together to share food, stories, and build relationships. One of the things we learned in BFS 1.0 is that relationship building is the key to trust, partnership, … and good times.
Check out the BFS website to read about the new cohort of 11 UMBC Fellowswho will work with us at the BFS 2.0 Summer Institute on July 17 – 21, 2023. Congratulations!
Please consider adding your ideas for our week of work in the field with this BFS google survey (due Friday, March 3). We want to hear from you!
Please save the date for our BFS Spring Showcase on Wednesday, April 26 from 6-9pm at The Real News Network to feature the “To Say Their Own Words” archive–a partnership with Eddie Conway, Cameron Granadino, and UMBC Special Collections.
We were saddened to hear of the passing of Eddie Conway on February 13, 2023. We send our condolences to his family–especially his partner Dominque Conway–and friends. In the words of Community Fellow Cameron Granadino, “this project is really about how political prisoners inspired people to organize in the community.” We hope this archive is one small part of the legacy of compassion and humanity Eddie Conway leaves behind to inform and inspire future generations.
Lisa Snowden of the Baltimore Beat and Betty Bland-Thomas from Sharp Leadenhall will also give brief updates at the spring showcase at TRNN.
This edition of Notes from the Field is dedicated to remembering the life and legacy of Eddie Conway. We ask you to read and sit with the profile The Real News Network posted to celebrate the life and work of their colleague and comrade Eddie Conway:
As the piece points out, Eddie organized the “To Say Their Own Word” seminar program in the 1980s as a way to cross-pollinate radical thought inside and outside the prison. Eddie and Cameron reached out to UMBC and we collaborated to archive this monumental program in our Special Collections so the public can engage with these materials for generations to come–freely and without charge. The humanities are public when they serve everyone and no one (meaning they are collective and not about individual credit).
As Eddie Conway wrote in his autobiography, published in 2011:
“Organizing is my life’s work, and even though I initially balked at becoming a prison organizer, that is where most of my work has been done. Friends and family tell me that I have influenced hundreds of young people, but I don’t know. I simply see the error of this society’s ways up close and feel compelled to do something about it; I have tried my hardest to avoid getting caught up in the cult of the personality that often develops around political prisoners. I have walked the prison yard and seen admiration in the eyes of others, but had to remind myself, as I straightened my posture, that it is about something bigger than me.”
Eddie Conway called on us all to engage in community organizing in whatever form we can and to embrace our humanity and the humanity of others.
“Do your little part. Do whatever you can to help change these conditions. Because we’re moving into a critical period of history, not just for poor and oppressed people, Black people, but for humanity itself. So you need to engage. Do whatever little bit you can, but you need to do something.”
—Eddie Conway in 2019, celebrating five years of freedom
Do you have an update, call, or announcement for the April 1 “Notes from the Field?” Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
–The BFS Team
PS – Storytelling Opportunity with $350 stipend for BFS Community Fellow participation:
We are excited to start the spring semester at UMBC this week and look forward to a host of upcoming BFS-related events and opportunities. Thanks for continuing to work, think, and collaboratively build with us in 2023.
This Friday, Feb 3 is Inclusion and Public humanities: A Convening with UMBC’s Dresher Center for the Humanities and the National Humanities Alliance. Our own Dr. Sarah Fouts will be presenting and we hope to connect with other humanities professors and organizations in the region to think together about how to use the humanities to promote practices of inclusion, community engagement, and social justice.
The BFS team looks forward to providing various opportunities for BFS Fellows to connect this spring. Here’s a few BFS “save the date” reminders:
Our next hybrid meeting will be at the Lion Brothers Building (875 Hollins St. w/ entrance on Poppleton St.) on Thursday, March 9 from 5-6pm. We begin with Community Fellows updates and discuss potential programming for our Summer 2023 BFS 2.0 on the week of July 17 – 21. Please mark your calendar and think of programming that shares your research, knowledge, skill sets, or ideas for collaboration and mutual support. We welcome YOUR ideas.
For inspiration, check out the schedule from the Summer 2021 BFS HERE. We were completely virtual in 2021 and we hope to be more “in the field” for this summer… but as we learned from our inaugural BFS, the field is really us and the relationships we build. After the March 9 spring 2023 kickoff meeting, everyone is invited to The Back Yard for food, drinks, and time to connect.
We are planning our Spring 2023 BFS Showcase at The Real News Network for the evening of Wednesday, April 26 and will feature the “Say Their Own Words” project, a collaboration between Eddie Conway & Cameron Granadino (TRNN) and Beth Saunders (UMBC). The team is building an archive to be housed at UMBC and open to the public.
While a political prisoner, Eddie Conway helped organize a prisoners’ educational outreach program called “Say Their Own Words,” where thinkers and scholars came to Maryland Penitentiary and spoke about topics like impending U.S. fascism, the prison-industrial complex, capitalism, increasing surveillance, and many other issues that have become even more pressing today. In Granadino’s words, “this project is really about how political prisoners inspired people to organize in the community.”
In April, we will also have short presentations by Lisa Snowden on the Baltimore Beat and Betty Bland-Thomas. Congratulations to Betty Bland-Thomas on a recent Baltimore National Heritage Area award for the Sharp Leadenhall Heritage Festival… coming summer 2023!! (more to come on that soon)
Dr. Tahira Mahdi has put together “Baltimore Field School 2.0: Undoing & Doing Anew in Public Humanities” (Evaluation Report 2023). The report presents research from her focus groups with Community Fellows and their UMBC collaborators. Once the report is finalized, we will share it with you before our March 9 meeting. One of the suggestions from the report was a monthly update at the same time every month… and here’s the first BFS 2.0 newsletter/update for 2023.
We will post updates on the Orser Center blog on the first of the month as we plan and build towards the Summer 2023 BFS 2.0. But we really want to hear from you all… please share any updates/events/calls to action with email@example.com. Jasmine and I will promote on social media and use your updates and events for our monthly BFS updates. Look out for the next one on March 1.
Finally, the applications have closed for the UMBC Community Fellows for spring/summer 2023. We hope those from our new cohort will be at the social on March 9. Even if you cannot make the 5pm meeting, we welcome you to drop by The Back Yard and break some bread with us in an informal setting.
Updates from the Baltimore Field School (BFS) 2.0 Principal Project Team:
Jasmine Braswell, Program Coordinator, UMBC It has been an interesting transition from women’s college basketball for 6 years to working in different positions. At the end of fall 2022 towards winter I continued my volunteer work with Poppleton Now Community Association and Organize Poppleton. We made historical strides in the fight against the abuse of eminent domain in Baltimore while pushing for equitable transparency with city government. My role was to help keep the story relevant while implementing ideas and questions that gave the group a different perspective on how to improve. During the holidays, my family migrated to New York for thanksgiving which felt better than any other year because basketball has kept me away from family, so I felt very blessed to be able to make that trip and spend time with them and again for Christmas. My family and I have been working to construct our new home in Fort Washington, MD. It has been a grueling process but we finally moved in (late January 2023) after not being able to be in the home for some months because of construction. The house should be completely done in March. I have also been reporting with the Baltimore Beat on a story that involves black youth and families. It involves an investigative report on the Baltimore Police Department and their actions towards Donnell Rochester. This experience with the Beat and Baltimore Field School has widened my trajectory of community engaged programs and I am so excited to continue.
Sarah Fouts, Department of American Studies; Public Humanities Director, UMBC I had a cold winter holiday with my family in Kentucky where temperatures dropped to -11 which is rare. When Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds (maybe thousands?) of flights, I got to helm a carpool of canceled BWI flyers back to Baltimore. These flyers included my nephew, Will, who was visiting his partner in Pikesville, MD and Morgan Dowty, AMST’s Program Management Specialist. We had a smooth journey and ate at Taco Bell. Since my return, we’ve been working hard to gear up for the spring and summer Baltimore Field School 2.0. Jasmine, Nicole, and I have been meeting weekly to get the ball rolling before I head to New Orleans to continue working on my Whiting Fellowship entitled, Project Neutral Grounds: At the Intersection of Street Food, People, and the Hustle. I am on course release this semester in order to work on my grant and finish my book manuscript. We are completing the production of 11 short documentary videos and will launch these on May 15, 2023. I’ll also be finding the perfect balance between completing my book manuscript this spring and New Orleans’s carnival merriment. Wish me luck.
Nicole King, Department of American Studies; Orser Center Director, UMBC At the end of 2023, I moved to a small rowhouse in the Hollins Market neighborhood of Southwest Baltimore. This means my commute to teach at the Lion Brothers building is like 2 minutes now. As someone who has chosen a car-free life, I can say moving just 1.5 miles west has shown me many privileges I had not thought deeply about… or even if I thought about them, experiencing them is different. I learn primarily through experience. Being west of MLK boulevard, I found that there are no zipcars over here, no legal weed dispensaries, and now (with the closing of the Price Rite at the end of 2022) NO GROCERY STORES. However, the move has also affirmed what I already knew from working in West Baltimore… the people are amazing. I am excited about teaching my Spring 2023 course Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore, which continues the A Place Called Poppleton project. This semester we are working on the “I am your neighbor” project–working with residents to explore what being a neighbor is and what their neighborhood means to them. Finally, the Sarah Ann Street Historic District made it through its first (and most important) City Council hearing on January 24. It was certainly a long time coming… ONWARD to more equity in what we preserve in Baltimore and towards real community-led development in Poppleton and across the city.
Tahira Mahdi, Evaluator, Department of Psychology, UMBCWhen we talk about the importance of bringing our WHOLE SELVES to our work, I am one of those who needs to hear it and practice it every day. I am excited to share with you all that aside from teaching courses, leading workshops, and evaluating programs, I write music blogs, screenplays, and humorous fiction. My latest novel This Is Not How It Was Supposed to Go is available at Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, and by order at your favorite bookstore. “In these naughty, explosive adventures, life in the suburbs spins way out of control, and the past always catches up to kick some ass.” I am proud to say that there is nothing academic about this tale of sex, secrets, and mischief. Don’t read it. 😉See you soon!
Things Going on at UMBC… that may be of interest to BFS Fellows:
Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab
January 31 – March 18
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC) presents Tahir Hemphill: Rap Research Lab, opening on January 31 and continuing through March 18. The exhibition, which fosters experimentation and learning through visual and material explorations of geographies of hip hop, showcases an artist who occupies a hybrid space that intersects art, technology, social engagement, and interdisciplinary research.
Tomashi Jackson: Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
February 9, 2023, 6pm
Tomashi Jackson, CADVC exploratory artist in residence, will discuss her research activities on the topic of arts pedagogy, and reflect on her recent Neuberger Prize exhibition SLOW JAMZ in conversation with CADVC Director Rebecca Uchill, who interviewed Jackson for the Neuberger Museum catalogue. This conversation about public presentation of research and video artwork coincides with CADVC’s own exploratory research into presenting public art, including video, in the UMBC Fine Arts building amphitheater.
Pre-read for this program: https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news-and-ideas/the-evolution-of-brown-ii
UMBC’s Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Cultureis pleased to announce the Spring 2023 Orser Center Fellow call for applications. Any full-time UMBC undergraduate or graduate student who has one of the following can apply:
1. an unpaid internship with a Baltimore-based non-profit or cultural institution
2. a Baltimore-based research project
Orser Center Fellows receive a stipend of $1,000 for the semester February 15 – May 15.
The Orser Center fellow can (but are not required to) register for a three-credit course, AMST 498: Internship or AMST 497: Independent Research with Director, Dr. Nicole King, Associate Professor of American Studies. With approval of your advisor, graduate students may use this experience for graduate credits.
The student must also do a public presentation on the experience at the end of the spring semester.
The 2023 Orser Center Fellow should be committed to the Center’s mission of fostering innovative collaborations among scholars, students, and local community organizations. The Center seeks to put public humanities research to work as a creative response to challenges, and issues identified by communities in the greater Baltimore region.
Please apply for and/or help spread the word about the Baltimore Field School (BFS) 2.0 application. Sponsored by American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Sustaining Public Engagement Grants, BFS 2.0 seeks to create a model of ethical humanities research and teaching in Baltimore and cities like it. The Baltimore Field School 2.0 is the second iteration of a planning intensive focusing on building collaborative public humanities projects and developing the field school programming with our 8 Community Fellows.
The BFS 2.0 application is open to all UMBC graduate students, full-time staff, and full-time faculty. Preference will be given to untenured/assistant professors to support early career work in public humanities.
The application link is provided hereand is due on 1/31/23 by 11:59 PM. A cohort of 11 fellows will be selected in February 2023 and each fellow will receive a $3,000 stipend.
BFS Fellow responsibilities:
1. Attend the Baltimore Field School 2.0 event in Spring 2023.
2. Attend the summer institute for one week in July 2023 (July 16-21). The in-person institute will offer meetings, panels, and work sessions and optional programming and events with community partners. 3. Attend a reconvening for one day in September. 4. Give feedback on the project through a pre- and post-evaluation and submit suggestions for future programming.
BFS Fellows should bring interest in or an idea for a public humanities project and/or course focusing on the Baltimore area. Fellows should be interested in discussing and developing ethical methods for public humanities work.
Our Community Fellows were selected in June 2022 and will play an integral role in the selection of and programming for the BFS Fellows.
Our 2022-2023 Community Fellows are:
Tisha Guthrie, Baltimore Renters United
Aisha Alfadhalah, Mera Kitchen Collective
Curtis Eaddy II, Beautiful Side of Ugly
Eric Jackson, Black Yield Institute
Lisa Snowden, Baltimore Beat
Betty Bland-Thomas, South Baltimore Partnership
Yesenia Mejia, Creative Alliance
Cameron Granadino, Real News Network
NOTE: Your ideas or projects do not need to involve the partners listed above.
For more info follow @UMBCPubHum and others listed below on Twitter.
Last month we announced the 2022-2023 BFS 2.0 Community Fellows. It’s a great group and they have a lot going on… including this weekend.
On Saturday, October 22 at 2pm BFS Community Fellow Tisha Guthrie @TishaGuthrieMSW and Baltimore Renters United @b_renters are hosting an amazing event in Poppleton. It is the kickoff of a free concert series that will move around the city providing a space to spread joy in our communities.
Guthrie, who is a resident of Poppleton, explains, “In a city like Baltimore, which has suffered and continues to be blunted by trauma after trauma, a more comprehensive approach is our best chance at building a sustainable movement. The people of Baltimore deserve emotional, physical and mental spaces to dream. The BOC Joy project strives to provide such a space.” Come out to dance, dream, and learn more about renters rights and housing justice.
Later that evening BFS Fellow Yesenia Mejía-Herrera is an organizer for the annual Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival. The festival starts at 4pm and the parade is at 7pm. Mejía-Herrera explains, “Absences of Indigeneity in Baltimore’s Latinx community represents a disconnect for many people, like myself, from our Indigenous cultural traditions.” Like Guthrie’s solution based in the joy that comes from creating community, Mejía-Herrera explains, “As a part of my work with the Artesanas at the Creative Alliance and as the director of the CIELO program (Creatives, Immigrants Educators, from Latin America Origins), I will work with the immigrant communities to encourage, promote, and honor our Latin American cultures and traditions.”
BFS 1.0 partner Nicole Fabricant @nikifab77 (Towson University) and BFS 1.0 & 2.0 Community Fellow Eric Jackson of Black Yield Institute @BlackYield will be speaking on Sunday, October 23 at Black-owned bookshop Urban Reads@urbanreadsbooks as part of the Mellon/JHU funded Sawyer Seminar on the Right to the City @BRT_RTTC, a 2-year seminar bringing together intellectuals, organizers & artists to reflect critically on the city as a site of political struggle.
You can watch the first RTTC event The City and Black Nationalism on YouTube:
Bmore Historic 2022 took place in-person at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on Friday, September 23. Students were free this year!
What do we do at Bmore Historic?
Past, in-person unconferences have been structured around four session blocks: two in the morning and two in the afternoon. We usually have between four to six sessions in each of the time blocks for a total of twenty sessions throughout the day.
Final Session III 1:40-2:30 PM
Black Churches in the Restoration Room
Preservation for the People (Poppleton & Sharp Leadenhall) in the Lunch Room
Decline of the Trolley in the Assembly Line
Final DEBRIEF w/ Kate Drabinski & Kalin Thomas in the Studio (by entrance)
THEN… happy hour at Little Havana’s. Where the conversations continue.
Thank you for coming! follow @bmorehistoric to stay in touch
Students will present their collaborative A Place Called Poppleton StoryMap project as part of UMBC’s Public Humanities End-of-the-semester Showcase on Friday May 7 from 4 – 5:30pm via Blackboard Collaborate (click link here to join).
In addition, WEDNESDAY, MAY 12 at 5pm students will share their StoryMap project, interviews, walking tour brochure, and zine (designed by artist Markele Cullins) with communities members who so graciously took the time to talk with us and the general public via a student ZOOM PRESENTATION. For info and link see our Facebook Event.
The project is a collaboration between Nicole King’s Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore course and Bill Shewbridge’s Media Projection fellows. King’s American Studies students have been researching the history of Poppleton and Shewbridge’s students producing short films from interviews and in the field on the history of Poppleton and how local stakeholder feel about the neighborhood’s changes related to redevelopment.
A Place Called Poppleton documents the history and culture of the Poppleton neighborhood of Southwest Baltimore. UMBC students will produce a StoryMap digital walking tour of the neighborhood with a focus on the area’s African American history and places lost or endangered due to redevelopment. We seek to document and share engaging stories of the past and present through archival research and listening to those who live, work, and are connected to Poppleton.
UMBC students working on the A Place Called Poppleton project invite you to a presentation of their initial work plan on Wednesday, March 10 from 5-6pm … Join Zoom Meeting
The A Place Called Poppleton project documents the history and culture of the Poppleton neighborhood of Southwest Baltimore.
UMBC students will produce a StoryMap digital walking tour of the neighborhood with a focus on the area’s African American history and places lost or endangered due to redevelopment. We seek to document and share engaging stories of the past and present through archival research and listening to those who live, work, and are connected to Poppleton.
The Baltimore Field School is accepting applications for a student fellow to assist us with graphic design, content creation, and web design for an estimated 5 hours per week during the spring semester. This position offers a $1,000 stipend from the Orser Center endowment.
Sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Baltimore Field School is a planning intensive focusing on building collaborative public arts and humanities projects developed with community partners. The project seeks to create a model of ethical humanities research and teaching in Baltimore and cities like it. During 2021, we will focus on programming, a week-long summer institute, and a fall convening. The Baltimore Field School is committed to anti-racist and decolonial models of engagement working with communities in Baltimore.
The student fellow must be interested in Baltimore and the arts and humanities. Working directly with the program assistant, the fellow will help develop graphic design branding and the Baltimore Field School website and promotions focused on information and updates for participants of the Field School as well as the public.
The position requires:
Interest in the future of Baltimore City
Skills working in WordPress
Graphic Design skills using Adobe Creative Suite
Experience and interest in the arts and humanities as social change agents
Generative; building off ideas and creating more possibilities
Application should include: (1) a CV/resume (no longer than 2 pages), (2) a paragraph on your interests and potential contribution to the Baltimore Field School (included in the body of the email), and (3) links to work samples.
Student can receive 3 credits of for AMST 498: Internship as part of the fellowship. Start date is February 15.
Wednesdays – 4 – 6:30pm (online) – Prof. Nicole King – firstname.lastname@example.org w/ community fellow Curtis Eaddy of the Southwest Partnership
AMST 422/682 is a public humanities seminar where students develop a preservation project on the overlooked history of a Baltimore neighborhood. As part of the Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition project students will explore the city’s social history with a focus on the southwest neighborhood of Poppleton. Poppleton’s history is a case study exploring the ravages of urban renewal, highway construction, and redevelopment as well as the rich traditions of African American culture in West Baltimore.
This course will educate students in documenting and preserving cultural history through place-based research and oral history/ethnographic methods.