Teaching Power, Globally and Locally (BreakingGround TV)

Dinah Winnick is UMBC’s Director of Communications.

CommunicationsTeam-8262Since BreakingGround’s launch two years ago this month, I’ve had dozens of thought-provoking conversations with faculty and students working together to address real-world problems in ways that both educate and empower. Thanks to New Media Studio Director Bill Shewbridge and students in his TV production course, I’m delighted to now share two of those thought-provoking conversations.

In the first video, below, I interview assistant professor Lee Blaney, chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering, and Dalton Hughes, ’14, chemical engineering, about their Engineers Without Borders project in Isongo Kenya. In the second, I speak with associate professor Denise Meringolo, history, about her BreakingGround grant-funded course on supporting Baltimore communities through public history and digital storytelling.

1. Interview with Lee Blaney and Dalton Hughes

 

2. Interview with Denise Meringolo

 

Contact the author, Dinah Winnick, at dwinnick@umbc.edu.

What Remains? Baltimore Neighborhoods in Transition (9/19)

Michelle Stefano, folklorist in residence for UMBC’s department of American studies, coordinates the Maryland Traditions program for the Maryland State Arts Council.

Michelle StefanoWhat are the impacts of post-industrial change at the community level? Whether industrial landscapes – the temples to the long-standing and once thriving US manufacturing enterprise – are re-purposed or destroyed, what lives on in the hearts and minds of those who knew them best?

The decline, dismantling, and disappearance of the many industries across the US deeply affects the towns, cities, and regions in which they were situated and the local communities with which they were intimately related. I believe understanding the effects of these post-industrial transitions, especially with respect to the relationships between community and place in both historical and contemporary contexts, is key to ensuring economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable futures for American communities.

Sparrows Point 3

(Photo: UMBC New Media Studio)

Nonetheless, when we hear about these stories of plants, mills and factories closing, it is often through the language of economics; statistics reflecting jobs lost, the rise in unemployment and the crumbling of local businesses tend to mask the more personal, or human, elements of such change. In this light, the panel, What Remains? Baltimore Neighborhoods in Transition (Thursday 9/19, 4:30 p.m., Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery) seeks to spotlight the stories and memories – the intangible remnants of post-industrialization – of the communities of two historically interrelated and, yet, geographically separate areas: Baybrook, a group of six ethnically and racially diverse industrial neighborhoods in the southern peninsula of Baltimore City and the Sparrows Point Steel Mill area of Dundalk, situated just across the southwestern city border in Baltimore County. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Baltimore area residents (and beyond) have been shaped by these industrial centers, and the significance of them – from the personal and shared perspectives of those who knew them best – does not disappear as quickly.

(Photo: UMBC New Media Studio)

(Photo: UMBC New Media Studio)

Panel participants are both UMBC researchers and members of the Baybrook and Sparrows Point Steel Mill communities. Deborah Rudacille (English), who grew up in Dundalk, will reflect on the changes she has seen in the Sparrows Point area, drawing also from her oral history research for the book, Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town. Steve Bradley (Visual Arts) and Nicole King (American Studies) will discuss their work in Baybrook, funded in part through the BreakingGround initiative, focusing on the mapping of places of both historical and contemporary importance, as well as the stories and memories associated with them. Bill Shewbridge (Media and Communication Studies/the New Media Studio) and I will highlight our work in the Sparrows Point area, Mill Storiesa collection of digital stories that aim to amplify the voices, experiences, and importance of the Mill to a wider public. Community members include Jason Reed, who is involved with environmental justice projects in Baybrook, and Troy Pritt and Eddie Bartee, who worked at Sparrows Point for numerous years. Eddie is a third generation Sparrows Point steelworker who grew up in the company town, which was situated in the middle of the Mill complex and was razed in the 1970s. Denise Meringolo (History), whose research has focused on community-based public history practice, particularly in Baltimore, will moderate the discussion.

Contact the author, Michele Stefano, at ms@umbc.edu.

Cultural Documentation in Partnership with Communities

Michelle Stefano, folklorist in residence for UMBC’s department of American studies, coordinates the Maryland Traditions program for the Maryland State Arts Council.

Michelle StefanoStudents in my Cultural Documentation in Partnership with Communities course (AMST 358) are working with local residents and former steelworkers to document their varied experiences with the recently closed Sparrows Point Steel Mill in Dundalk, Maryland.

The students spent the first several weeks of the semester learning about concepts, techniques and ethical considerations in approaching qualitative research from a community-based, out-in-the-field perspective; broader notions of community cohesion, senses of place and belonging; and the realities of post-industrial economic and social transition. Now they are also becoming key players in the promotion of the mill’s significance to a wider public by helping to safeguard its living heritage: the memories and stories of former and active steelworkers, as well as other mill personnel and community members.

In this video, UMBC New Media Studio director Bill Shewbridge and I share the ideas and experiences at the heart of this collaboration.

Contact the author, Michelle Stefano, at ms@umbc.edu.

Explore Baltimore Heritage: Public History in Action

Eli Pousson is a field officer at Baltimore Heritage in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Eli PoussonThanks to a BreakingGround-funded course this past fall, Baltimore Heritage enjoyed a unique opportunity to work closely with Dr. Denise Meringolo and nine UMBC students in the course Practices in Public History. The students worked with us to develop short video documentaries on the stories of Baltimore’s historic landmarks for our new website and smartphone application, Explore Baltimore Heritage. The student videos — produced with support from the UMBC New Media Studio — share images and vignettes from the history of grave-robbing at Davidge Hall, the ignominious demise of Edgar Allen Poe and his burial at the Westminster Burying Ground, and the complicated past of urban renewal at Baltimore’s First Mariner Arena.

Baltimore Heritage is dedicated to promoting historic preservation and neighborhood revitalization in neighborhoods across the city and we’ve campaigned for preservation on the west side of downtown Baltimore for over a decade. When we first started working with Dr. Meringolo and her public history students in spring semester of 2012, we developed a project that allowed students to build on on our existing research and tell new stories about historic places like the Baltimore Bargain House or Hutzler’s Department Store with writing and archival photographs. When Dr. Meringolo offered us the opportunity to continue working with her students into the fall, we settled on an ambitious goal: use the wealth of historic photos from local archives to tell stories with short videos. Fortunately, several of the students from the spring semester collaboration decided to continue with the second course and brought valuable expertise on the history of downtown Baltimore to this new challenge.

It has been exciting observe how the students have gained a new perspective on the role of public history in the often political and messy debates around economic development and preservation in an urban downtown. For Baltimore Heritage, the partnership has greatly extended the capacity of our small two-person non-profit and enabled us to expand the featured buildings on Downtown’s West Side.

Please enjoy these great videos on YouTube, check out Explore Baltimore Heritage online, or download the iPhone or Android application today!

Contact the author, Eli Pousson, at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org.