Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ignite Baltimore - new initiatives in Baltimore - grassroots and corporate

Innovation Week also brings to Baltimore the annual "Ignite Baltimore" event, another pitch, another pecha kucha style presentation. The attraction of these fast paced 5 minutes-20-slides presentations remains undiminished as a large crowd gathering at the Brown Center shows. It could also be the beer and wine that comes with the low price ticket combined with the simple desire to network among innovators and those who want to move things to new levels in Baltimore.

16 presenters in all (see list here) couch ideas and stories from dating ("dating in Baltimore is hard but imagine dating in White Marsh instead"), 98 year old Polish Grandmothers (showing up in person), the problems of being a scientist ("41% of all post docs will be massively disappointed"), homelessness ("involves reproductive healthcare"), movie history ("cinovation"), opportunity access ("without access you can really be stuck"), home artist residency (involves 100 murals and feeling community love), city block stories, more communication, dream motivation, strategic planning, nurturing, art and exercise. A mix of pitch, stand-up comedy and lecture.

Networking before the Ignite presentations
With its huge success in its relatively new offering of Social Design, MICA is the ideal event sponsor. The Brown Center is a a perfect venue that hasn't lost a bit of its luster, which comes in large part from its place making qualities in tandem with MICA's historic main building across the Mt Royal Avenue. 

An Ignite 2014 grant brought about the three day "Bmore en Espanol" film festival in the spring of this year.  This year's grant went to Gather Baltimore by Arthur Morgan to collect waste food to provide it to the community. 

In stark contrast to these grassroots efforts to promote start-ups and making in Baltimore highlighted during this Innovation Week stands Under Armour and it's corporate attempts to do the same. 

Concurrent with Will Holman's maker space on Greenmount Ave rises an even bigger such share space on the Middle Branch, funded and constructed by Under Armour's Kevin Plank and his Sagamore Development. Plank even gave money to the Foundery, his first tenant there. Foundery is a non-profit teaching manufacturing and making. 
Baltimore Foundery is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded around the principles of community, education, and innovation. Our mission is to provide access to industrial grade tools and education, with the goal of sparking innovation within the Baltimore community.  We’re located between Fells Point and Harbor East, in the old Kavanaugh building on South Central Ave:
Plank is also engaged in a "local for local" initiative to promote or even have local production of some of its own products. These are laudable initiatives and Under Armour's large resources could be powerful boosts for the fledgling manufacturing and production renaissance in Baltimore. As long as those big guns don't blow the much more modest but also important grassroots efforts to smithereens. 

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

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