Message from the Executive Director….
As Founder/Executive Director of Baltimore Art & Music Project (formerly Project Millennium, Inc.), many times I’ve been asked why I continue. I ask myself that question in countless moments, usually lying awake at night. One motive continues to be the memories, and observations of the “beauty and beast “of youth. I have kept myself conscious of the angst of youth by remaining involved with teens and young people on different levels for many years. Similar to the roller coaster of sustaining the mission of the organization, I feel the confusion of youth, trying to discover who we are, where we belong and who or what to believe--- it is an exciting but painful journey ----but for many young people their journey is more painful than exciting.
Our world continues to change, the demands increase, and basic needs are usually overlooked in the quest for achievement. Since 1994, the beginning of the organization, I have watched the culture change, and the needs of the youth we serve become greater. Young minds are short-circuited by information given in sound bytes; violence erupts in schools and on the streets of their neighborhoods; the outside world they view on the nightly news reels out of control in chaos. The days of teen centers, outside youth concerts and safely walking to a friend’s house is a thing of the past----but does it have to be.
As a parent, I had the luxury of providing a nurturing, stimulating environment for my sons and their friends----a safe, fun outlet for the band to practice, home-cooked meals, and caring adults closely supervising their adolescent shortcomings. But with economic demands, single parents, poverty and a society that continues to challenge the role of parenting, providing the “home” as an outlet for children is financially and logistically impossible.
Now let me “paint” for you a different picture, the brush moves to create a “rap room” for young people to build community by debating issues, encouraged to give voice to solutions concerning their world. The colors flow to design a music room, where young people experience the “universal language” of music, even if it’s just the beat of a stick on a tin can. The stroke of the brush continues to travel to provide hands-on art activities, created to “give back” to humanity in selfless expression. The picture evolves to shape an aesthetically pleasing environment that is safe and fun, but at the same time seeks to provide the academic component to foster their education. And don’t forget the home cooked meal, of which they help construct. The vision---- a stimulating, creative home environment that provides a safety net and seeks to work as an extended community family to assist in character education, inspire critical and creative thinking and cultivate a self-sacrificing role in defining success. Everyone is an “artist”, and seeks ownership, identity and release in the formation of this canvas.
In negative terms I have been referred to as a “flower child”, but in the words of Elvis Costello ask “what’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding”. I have been touted a dreamer, and in the words of John Lennon respond, “You may say I’m a dreamer…But I’m not the only one…I hope some day you'll join us…And the world will live as one”. With hope, I will continue to believe in finding a “home” for Baltimore Art and Music Project, and have faith in our efforts to work cohesively and creatively with our young to “imagine” a better world.