(Photo by Flickr user urbanfeel, used under a Creative Commons license)
The Parkway Theatre in Station North smelled of coffee and popcorn; two ingredients needed to kick off Breakout LIVE in Baltimore on Wednesday night.
Breakout bring together artists, entrepreneurs and activists to help cultivate support for positive change in cities across the country. Breakout hosted a weekend event in Baltimore in 2015, but the Nov. 15 event marked the first one-night Breakout LIVE event for the organization.
Entering the theatre, the mezzanine was buzzing alive with local vendors.
Thread Coffee is a Baltimore based collectively-owned small-batch coffee roaster you can find in Red Emma’s. City Weeds brought in a splash of green to the chilly winter air, handing out fresh pressed juice and HempKettle Tea warmed up those interested in organic hemp-seed blended teas.
Beside the local refreshments sat thought-provoking art from C. Harvey. It was a powerful lead into the kickoff of the speakers, who brought an authentic energy to the stage.
Koni Fidel, a local Baltimore artist, shared through spoken word poetry about his experience growing up in Baltimore and how it led him to be an artist. Fidel’s work has allowed him to work in schools and universities across Baltimore and throughout the country with the message, “Your story is important, don’t let society tell you different.”
Thread Founder Sarah Hemminger illuminated the stage with her data on the value of building interpersonal relationships through the organization’s family program. This program connects underperforming high school students with a family of volunteers to build a network and foster academic achievement. Her vision for Thread is to reach more than 7 percent of the students across the city, which will lead to the impact on 20,000 Baltimore residents. Her call to action was grand. “At a time with such division in our country, we all need to build strong interpersonal bonds that will resonate beyond Baltimore,” she said.
Changa Bell and Bobbi Rush brought a lighter energy. Bell, founder of the Black Male Yoga Initiative, led a silent guided mediation. He also shared how his experience being “borderless” brought him back home to Baltimore with love, compassion and empathy. His program teaches yoga and meditation to students across Baltimore to encourage mental and physical health.
The event concluded with Baltimore based singer, Bobbi Rush, sharing an original song and the inspiring story behind her music.
Amid the many shared bits of wisdom throughout the night, the message that “we are and can be agents of change” came through strong.-30-
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