Baltimore Rhino Makes A Splash

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In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a thousand-pound rhino living on the rocky land beside the Jones Falls River. It is a beautiful gray creature, awesome, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, and flat out surreal, positioned amid an urban setting.

People are starting to discover the beast, as they hike, bike, make out or smoke up, near the bucolic stream. “Wait, is that a rhino?” one guy asked himself aloud; another woman snapped a photo with her cell and texted a message.

To be clear: The rhino isn’t real, but looks so from afar. Chad Tyler, 29, exhibit designer at the National Aquarium, placed it there this spring. The artist sculpted the piece from foam and concrete, over a period of patient weeks, setting up studio in a Ruxton barn. Fishbowl talked to Chad about his process and vision for the unique, eco-conscious project he calls, “There’s a Rhinoceros in the River.”

FB: So, how did you become inspired to build this rhino for Baltimore?
CT: The Rhino was born of an idea originally conceived in the car while driving back to Chicago with Jowita (yo-v-ta), my amazing fiancé. Ever since we were introduced to the lower Jones Falls River valley when we moved here ten months ago, I have been in love with it. I have always been drawn to these landscapes that almost don’t seem to fit into their context, that challenge your expectations of the natural environment, and where the intersection of the manmade and nature is so seamless and integrated. Think Northerly Island in Chicago, a former airstrip, famously bulldozed overnight at the bequest of Mayor Daley. The airstrips are piled on the edge of the island, rebar, concrete, and all. Some of the old concrete lighting foundations still exist, some of the taxi-ways can be found buried by the tall grasses grown through its cracked pavement. …To me, the Jones Falls River is so much more interesting because of all its layers. Because it is this living thing, moving about the concrete rubble strewn about its banks, banging against stone walls meant to contain it–[flowing] beside and through old mills that borrowed its water to operate, underneath bridges built high to avoid being swept away…and eventually 70-feet beneath an eight-lane highway that borrows the rivers fluid design. A river seemingly obscured from view and unknown to many. The intersection of culture, history, and industry is great inspiration to me.

Having spent a number of years designing exhibits and experiences built around animals, water, and conservation, I have come to think a lot about the question of why people visit zoos and aquarium to view these animals. What is about this facilitated experience of nature that brings audiences back, time and time again? Why are we so often wrapped up, in love, with the iconic and exotic animals from the other side of the globe? I found myself in the library looking at the history of Baltimore, the Jones Falls River and the industrial development on its banks. I began to connect an interesting chronological correlation between the foundation of the Baltimore Zoo and the expansion of the cotton mills after the Civil War. The mills’ rapid growth and increased demand on the river, the manipulation of its banks, the construction of higher bridges; a certain destruction or manipulation of nature, and in kind a newfound desire to view exotic nature through the lens of a zoo, was really interesting to me.

Wait, why a rhino?!
My original idea was to sculpt or replicate a number of the world’s iconic animals. The panda bear, the giraffe, the hippo, the moose, a congress of antelope, the zebra, the rhinoceros, etc. convening on the banks of the Jones Falls as if to discuss the state of things. With obvious limitations I [singled out] the rhinoceros, the third largest terrestrial mammal, a seemingly solitary creature, built strong and yet possessing a certain compassion in its eye, almost sympathetic. I love some of the myth behind the rhino: Supposedly [adept] at detecting a fire, it runs into the forest and heroically stomps it out — a guardian to its neighbors.

What was your sculptural process like?
I began the process of sculpting the rhinoceros by first making a scale model out of plasticine, an oil-based clay. I then translated the model to a giant block of expanded polystyrene foam also known as EPS foam in a good friend’s barn in Ruxton. I basically whittled the big block of foam with a 16-inch hand saw, referencing back to the model, until I got it right. Once the form was complete, I coated it in a custom mix of glass-fiber-reinforced concrete to seal it and to create the details, color and texture.

What was the project’s hardest challenge?
Definitely the process of transporting it to the river and installing it. Once I finished with the concrete, I split the whole thing into three separate pieces. With the help, in total, of 15 volunteers across three evenings, we managed to move the pieces to the site, down a root-strewn, rocky slope, down a five foot flood wall, and across a hundred feet of boulder and gravel-laced river wash!

What do you hope viewers take away?
First and foremost, my hope with this project is to draw a smile to the face of the passersby. My hope is that once this happens, they may [stop and] see something they haven’t noticed before. I hope the project might encourage some to think differently about the river and our relationship to it… I would love if it has the ability to encourage some of the viewers to become advocates or stewards of the watershed through involvement in cleaning and protecting the river with an organization like Blue Water Baltimore. Getting involved by joining a trash pick-up event, an invasive species clearing day, or maybe by marking the storm drains on your block can help protect the watershed and continue to build an enduring relationship with the river.

Tight Genes

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Turns out Kate Middleton is 13th cousin, thrice removed, of Maryland’s own Francis Scott Key, the same fellow who wrote “The Star Spangled Banner,” we now know, thanks to news of the book, The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton, just released by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. While the several-hundred-year study, which detangles Middleton’s roots since 1521, doesn’t sound like a page-turner, pages do deliver amusing proof that the pretty princess, 29, is also loosely related to Colonial Maryland governor Sir Thomas Bladen, George Washington, General S. Patton, and talk-show-queen Ellen DeGeneres, among other famous folks. Which makes a person wonder if every one of us isn’t distantly stitched to someone famous (or infamous). Connections, once you start tracing bloodlines, abound. Check it: Baltimore native Elizabeth “Betsy” Bonaparte married Emperor Napoleon’s weak-willed brother, Jerome, in 1803–Napoleon I hated Betsy and did not invite her to set up house in France; Jerry, though he dug her, dumped her in 1805. Liz’s son, Bo, was the first president of the Maryland Club. (Although we can’t confirm if any of his relations still live in town. Anyone?) Baltimore style-setter Diana Warfield Daly is distantly related to Wallis Warfield Simpson, the de-throwning diva with the best-dialogue in “The King’s Speech” and the best-style ever to hit the royal family. Johns Hopkins Cardiologist James L. Weiss is the distant second-cousin-twice-removed of Harry Houdini. (Is that where he gets his life-saving magic?) If you knew you had old ties to someone history-book big, like Abraham Lincoln, how cool, right? On the other hand, what if you were related to John Wilkes Booth? We’d love to know who’s related to whom. Tell us what you know on the community page or below in comments…

Announcing Donated Media: MD SPCA

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Baltimore Fishbowl’s Donate Media Program gives one-year of free media to a selected non-profit. This year’s recipient is the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Learn more about the Donated Media program at the bottom of the page. 

The MDSPCA Executive Director Aileen Gabbey kicks off the program with her interview below.

What is a typical workday like for you? Our mission is to help pets and people, so I need to stay focused on that. Recently, most of my time has been devoted to opening our new building, which was very exciting! Now, I have the fun of sharing that with our supporters! I’ll give tours of our new building; I’ll share happy stories with the media; I’ll spend time with staff and volunteers on our annual goals. I also spend time working with fellow directors in our Baltimore shelter alliance. Right now, we’re doing a big joint spay and neuter event together, which has been just great.

What is the most important thing the Maryland SPCA accomplished in 2010? The new building is definitely the big highlight! Our Board worked tirelessly on the campaign and our Staff worked wonders while we were under construction. While all of this was going on, we also opened a new wellness clinic, adopted almost 3,000 pets, neutered over 8,000 dogs and cats, and took in over 1,200 animals from the BARCS city shelter. We don’t sit still!

What is your highest/most ambitious goal for 2011? Hardest challenge? We want to keep focused on helping pets and people and each year we want to help more and more. This year, we want to increase our spay and neuter surgeries by 10%. We want to help more pets through our wellness clinic. I guess our challenge will be to let people know we still need help. Despite the success of the new building, we still have animals inside who have lots of needs!

Share some inspiring animal news! One of my favorite dogs recently was Stewie. He’s a five-year-old Lab we took in from the city shelter. Not only is Stewie older, he’s also blind. There is no time limit for an animal’s stay at the MD SPCA, so we know it takes a little longer for older or handicapped pets to get adopted. The dogs go out several times a day with our volunteers. I frequently saw Stewie out with his volunteer friends, warming his face in the sun. It took a few weeks, but, Stewie finally got adopted! I’ve attached his picture the day he went home with his new mom.

What can Baltimore animal lovers do to help the MD SPCA most effectively? Come help and spread the word that we need help! We don’t receive any operating funds from the government or the ASPCA. That surprises a lot of people. We rely on kind-hearted people to donate and volunteer.

How many pets do you have? And, are you sometimes tempted to adopt your rescues? People assume I am going to have a full house! My husband and I actually have just one dog and one cat, both from the MD SPCA. I try not to overdo it. But, I have to say, it is really tempting sometimes when I see the cute faces as I walk through each day!

 

A Greenspring Valley Estate That Will Steal Your Heart (and Your Wallet)

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Hot House:  2217 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, 21153

Greenspring Punch — country manor house and estate, circa 1885, with 98 acres and gardens: $4,995,000 

What: The Real Deal. English country house, in cream stucco, with major views, stables, barns and tenant houses in the heart of the Greenspring Valley. Owned since the 1920’s by several generations of the Baetjer family, this is a house you could lose your heart to. Stunning spiral staircase leads to an oval skylight, nine fireplaces, five, six or seven bedrooms (who can count?) , seven full baths, a servant’s wing (!) and every window has a view. Ancient trees, wonderful gardens, vistas, not another house in sight.  Best of all ….”potential for horses, sheep, poultry and other”! 

Where: Greenspring Valley Road – just five minutes from the shops at Greenspring Station and Rt.83– twenty minutes to downtown, but feels like you’re deep in horse country.  

Why: Grand but not grandiose. Your friends will give you credit for more taste than you actually possess. Also, perfect place to channel the ghost of Harvey LaDew.

Why not: Don’t order the racehorses unless you’ve got another million or so to spend. It all needs updating. Kitchen, bathrooms, pool, systems, everything.  Once that’s done, the house is a dream.

Would suit: George Washington, or similar.


Jim Rouse’s Mid-Century Masterpiece Hits Market

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One Overlook Lane comes in the form of a well-designed time capsule (even the address sounds swell). It is very mid-century, very California-modern, and seemingly unaltered by passing fancies. What a tragedy it would have been had this gem fallen victim to an ’80s mauve moment. Check the built-in lounge/fireplace areas:  see yourself in repose, reading Tropic of Cancer, while twirling a cocktail from the Lucite bar cart. Originally designed and built for James Rouse in 1961, the home is still owned by his first wife Elizabeth who is selling. Is some of the furniture original and could it be part of the deal? (I call the blue chair in the living room!) Located just off Lake Avenue in Baltimore County it is currently listed at $1,550,000. For that price the 2.75 acres, 5 bedrooms, tennis court and pool are included. Sure, a mind-blowingly expensive period-faithful renovation is needed, but this place inspires you to make jello molds while smoking and what could be better than that?

Grim job market sends 20-somethings farming in Hampden. Yes, Hampden!

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Coast down hilly Ash Street in Hampden and you’ll spy a couple of queen-size iron headboards sprouting from a hill that’s been neatly divided into planted rows. The headboards function perfectly as trellises, but they look like funky sculpture.

Welcome to the Baltimore Free Farm, one of more than a dozen garden programs cropping up locally.

In January of 2010, Don Barton, 28, and a dozen or so friends, all in their twenties, all of whom found job prospects in Baltimore extremely dim, decided to found a farm in Hampden, and attempt to live off the food they raised.

Through Baltimore City’s Adopt-a-Lot program, Barton’s acquaintances Bill Hudson and Allison Guitard had secured an abandoned plot suitable for community gardening, and invited their more creative, industrious friends to roll up their flannel sleeves and plant.

The young farmers lease two buildings on site, a row house, where five of the participants reside, and a multi-use warehouse, ideal for rooftop gardening. Money’s tight, but expenses low. They stage fundraisers to help make ends meet, and received $10,000 early on from Kickstarter.com. Helps, too, that the landlord gave them a big break in rent, after the crafty crew promised to rehab the warehouse week by week.

Currently, a few hundred people participate in the Free Farm. City dwellers rent four-by-eight foot plots and raise food seasonally, for a donation of their choosing.

“We really want to lift the [intimidating] veil of mystique off food production,” Barton explains. “To show people how to do it and learn to do it ourselves.”

Seedlings have just been started in the group’s greenhouse: onion, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant coming soon.

Most days you can find at least several Free Farm members working outdoors, on the steep hillside land they call their own. Barton says they were very pleased, and frankly relieved, that soil analysis revealed healthy Hampden dirt (for the most part).

“We’re growing in the ground on our hill; it’s safe soil,” Barton says. “When we can’t vouch for the soil, we use a raised bed technique. You build a box and put landscaping plastic or a barrier, and fill it with soil, and you can grow in it.”

Core group members possess an impressive range of practical skills. Barton grew up in Carroll County, raising chickens, planting, and canning. His girlfriend, A.J. Sherman, does fiber work and screen-printing professionally. She helps decorate the space and stage colorful community events. Other workers are adept with carpentry, cooking, and coaxing a nice array of delicious veggies to life.

It sounds like a free-style hippie commune on one level, yes, but these kids seem much more driven than your typical song-singing hippies. They’re committed for the long haul, to educating people about growing food locally, and sharing and selling a portion of what they can produce. (Thus far, they’ve sold tomatoes to Woodberry Kitchen and Frazier’s.)

“I’d like to think Baltimore will follow through—we can clean this place up and make a difference,” Barton says.

Upcoming plans include alternative energy projects, and raising hens for their eggs.

“We plan to experiment with growing prawns and tilapia in tanks,” Barton explains. “And we’ll incorporate an alternative energy system to power the system—a [specialized] roof for rain collection can feed the tanks. Rooftop gardening is in the works. Up there, plants can be directly fertilized.”

Volunteers are welcome to help with farm chores every Saturday. The address: 3519 Ash Street. To learn more about the Baltimore Free Farm or to make a tax-deductible donation, go to: www.baltimorefreefarm.org

Different Values

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This is the first in our series inviting writers to anonymously share family struggles. If you would like to submit your story, please contact [email protected]

What do you do when your values clash with those of your son and his wife?

Our son, Jim, and his wife, Cathy, are ultra-conservative Christians, while my husband and I are cafeteria Catholics.

Jim met Cathy at work. He’d never been interested in our Catholic faith, but a few weeks after their first date, Jim started going to Cathy’s church. He didn’t tell us he was going to church with her until after they’d been dating for a couple of months. Their wedding ceremony was performed by a minister Cathy had known since childhood.   Clearly, our son was committed to his new wife, his in-laws and his new religion. He never discussed any of this with us. Perhaps he thought we’d feel wounded or disappointed. We took consolation in the fact that he wanted to live a faith-filled life.

After Jim and Cathy had their first baby, my husband and I noticed we were not asked to babysit, and the baby was not brought to our home to visit. Though we had never dropped in on Jim and Cathy unexpectedly, we had been instructed by our son to call before coming over to see the baby. At the time, I thought it was a reasonable, understandable request, but when we found out that Cathy’s parents were doing all the babysitting and allowed to visit anytime with no call-ahead reservation necessary, we felt like outsiders and it hurt!  

At first I tried to convince myself that it was because we were the parents of the Dad, and maybe that’s how it goes: The parents of the dad have to wait until the mom (our daughter-in-law) is ready to allow us full access. I told myself I could live with that; it’s always been my goal to be a good mother-in-law. It seemed clear Jim felt closer to Cathy’s parents, but I consoled myself with the old fridge-magnet adage, “Your son is your son until he takes a wife, but your daughter’s your daughter all of her life.”

The first time we were asked to babysit, the baby was four months old. The other grandparents weren’t available. Last choice caregivers or not, we jumped at the chance to prove we could be the greatest of babysitters.  When we arrived we were given instructions about sleeping and feedings. We were also given specific instructions about what we could and could not say in front of the baby. No “Oh my God” or any taking of the Lord’s name in vain. No four-letter words.  I reminded our son that we don’t use that kind of language, and if we did, a four month old wouldn’t understand us anyway. He said the baby would pick up on our attitude. Really? Okay. 

I could see my husband’s face. The vertical vein in the middle of his forehead – the one that’s not noticeable when he’s content – was bright red and throbbing. But we said nothing; we were afraid if we raised a fuss, we’d not be asked to babysit again. So we smiled and assured our son we would follow his instructions.   

That’s how it goes most of the time. No screaming, no yelling, just subtle reminders that they have rejected our values and found something else. We fall in line because we don’t want to be any more excluded from their lives than we already are. 

I don’t try to lure them into religious debates. But if they say something I don’t agree with, I’ll tell them calmly without anger. One day they were telling me I should live by the bible, word for word. When I said I didn’t agree and thought the bible was a good guide for living one’s life, but not to be taken literally, my daughter-in-law said, “I’ll pray for you to change.” Boiling inside, I didn’t show my anger. Instead, I said that I completely respected their right to believe as they wish and to raise their children as they think best; that I would always respect their wishes regarding their children; that I don’t believe in trying to one-up them with religion and that I can see what may be right for me may not be right for them. A couple of hours after I left their home, Cathy called to apologize.

Recently, Jim said his daughters won’t be allowed to date – ever.  He and his wife believe that God will send the right man to marry them. Uh, good luck with that. People need the practice of dating and romantic relationships to make a good decision about whom to marry. When the opportunity arises, I will try to discuss this in a non-confrontational way. I’ll try! Due to the rules my son wants to impose, I’m concerned some of my grandchildren will rebel.  How will they handle it?  Will they reject them? I just don’t know.

Once in a while I’m encouraged.  The other day, Jim said to me, “Mom, it makes me angry to see Christians carrying signs putting down gay people. Don’t they know Jesus would invite gay people to dinner?” Hearing this made me happy and proud. He has a loving, accepting heart buried in his fundamentalist chest. 

I will not allow my family to be torn apart by religion.  There is too much of that in the world.  So I will continue to try to live and let live; to love my children for the virtues I see in them and to hope and pray that they’ll practice acceptance and tolerance too.

I felt rewarded by the Mother’s Day card Jim and Cathy gave me.  In it they wrote that I am a helpful gift to their family.  I hope they mean it because knowing that I am helpful to them would make my day, my year, and maybe, just maybe I might be a good mother-in-law after all, if not the absolute best.

Barre None

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Most of us work out regularly hoping to change into a slender Black-Swan extra, not a muscle-bound field hockey hitter, yet regular cardio and weight-training often create thick, strong limbs, rather than lithe, lean lines. Since the early 20th century, body-conscious women with the workout skinny have sought the lengthening benefits of Pilates, a form of strenuous stretch-and-hold style exercise developed intuitively by Joseph Pilates, whose father was an Olympic gymnast, and mother a brilliant naturopath. The natural extension of Mr. Pilates’ challenging but effective practice, barre, a new fusion of ballet, Pilates, and yoga, helps us achieve a more svelte bod in as little as one month of dedicated class attendance, three to four times per week, with bouncy music in the background.

Can anyone attempt barre, even the clutziest, least-ballerina-like among us? Aimee Fulchino, who co-owns the only local studio for barre, aptly named simply Barre.–http://barreonline.com/ swears, “Yes, there are numerous modifications [the instructor can employ depending on the client].”

How does it transform us exactly? “Barre is a practice that focuses on each major muscle group in the body, burning it to fatigue and then stretching those muscles to achieve a leaner, longer and stronger body,” Fulchino explains. “Barre also has a meditation aspect. During class, you focus so strongly on the particular muscle group that you are working, you can lose yourself in the class. This is such a wonderful gift to the brain as well.”

Caution: It may take a few sessions before you mentally transcend the burning and muscle fatigue. What to expect, on a practical level: The hour-long class starts with a user-friendly warm-up series of knee-lifts and plies, followed by pushups and plank work, then a manageable arm weight session, moving on to a thigh series and seat-focused segment, followed by well deserved cool down. Repeat 12 times monthly, and carry your new kinder, gentler mantra: Now Natalie Portman has baby weight.

Barre. 2632 Quarry Lake Drive (410) 486-8480

ArtWalk 2011

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Art to Go: The time has come for the (artist) chicks to fly the coop. The Maryland Institute hosts the 2011 commencement at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Monday, May 16th, at 1:30. The graduating seniors’ corresponding art show deserves its reputation as a fantastic place to snag cool work on the cheap. Campus-wide exhibition will be open to the public Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 11am-5pm. About 400 students will present their work. Participating departments include illustration, graphic design, painting, fibers, and photography.
 
Early birds can survey (and purchase) work first at ArtWalk, which takes place Thursday night, May 12 at 5pm. ArtWalk gives the public an opportunity to stroll around and mingle with the students, who will be tethered to their exhibit for the night. Tickets for ArtWalk run $25, and a reception with food and alcohol follow at 8.

Anyone and everyone will have an opportunity to buy art from the graduating class throughout the weekend. You never know, you could walk away with the next Grace Hartigan. Pieces for sale will be designated with a price tag. There will also be a master price list of all artwork for sale through the MICA store (
Get a sneak peak at some of the work by students, faculty, and alum at
http://www.mica.edu/Browse_Art.html

Or check out my work at http://www.kristinhughesdesign.com/illustration!

Invasion of the Techies

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Long renowned for its industrial/manufacturing-based economy—which nearly disappeared over the final three decades of the 20th Century – Baltimore, in the past 10-plus years, gradually has established a thriving technology-driven business community. While not on a par with California’s Silicon Valley, the Route 128 corridor outside Boston, or even the stretch along I-270 in Montgomery County, Baltimore has recently begun to flex its economic muscles, fueled by support from the city and state governments, local universities, and, especially, innovative private entrepreneurs. Prominent among them are the following six individuals, determined to shepherd the city out of its rust-encrusted past into a wired future.

1 & 2. Yair Flicker (28) and John Trupiano (27), co-principals of technology consultancy SmartLogic

Yair Flicker

In a straight-from-the-tech-startup-playbook scenario, Yair Flicker and John Trupiano launched SmartLogic in 2005 in their respective apartments. Now operated from proper offices in Canton, their firm helps both startups and established companies implement innovative technology, shows marketers how to leverage technology to aid their clients, and demonstrates to existing businesses how Web-based applications can cut costs and drive revenue.

John Trupiano

SmartLogic boasts a smorgasbord of clients, from the Kidney Paired Donation project, which employs software to efficiently match kidney donors with kidney recipients, to the Spotcrime.com iPhone application, which allows users to type in their address – or any address – and up pops a crime map for the immediate area from the nation’s largest crime-accessible database (“My mom loves the service and is an avid user,” declares Flicker).

Not forgetting JP Morgan Chase, for which SmartLogic built a competitive analysis tool, and Brown University’s Distance Learning Program, for which it devised an online course management system used by the school’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Meanwhile, Flicker and Trupiano’s relentless efforts to increase Baltimore’s tech savvy include sponsoring a gaggle of events such as—geek alert!—Bmore on Rails, Baltimore Javascript Users group, Refresh B’more, Ignite Baltimore, and BohConf.

 

3. Greg Cangialosi (37), president and CEO of e-mail marketer Blue Sky Factory

Greg Cangialosi

Greg Cangialosi sheds no tears for the withering offline marketing industry. Goodbye and good riddance to clunky brochures, hotel-conference-room dog-and-pony shows, and sweaty basement phone banks. Since 2001, when he founded Federal Hill-based Blue Sky Factory, Cangialosi has grown the company from two employees to a team of 25, cementing its reputation as a national leader in e-mail marketing. Its client roster features music concert promoter and producer behemoth Live Nation, testing and assessment services provider Prometric, and global PR agency Weber Shandwick.

“E-mail marketing is an immediate, versatile channel in which you can build relationships and stay in front of your audience,” Cangialosi says. “When done right, effective e-mail marketing will ultimately help your business make more money.”

Locally, Blue Sky Factory stokes the city’s old-school wired community as an active member of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, on whose board Cangialosi serves as vice chair. Other close-to-home partnerships/associations include the Baltimore Chapter of the American Marketing Association, the Social Media Club of Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce.

“We help many local organizations build their presence in social media,” he notes, “and educate them as to where they should be focusing their online marketing efforts in order to grow their business.”

4. Martin Roesch (41), founder and chief technology officer of cybersecurity provider Sourcefire

Martin Roesch

Sourcefire takes its mission – protecting the data infrastructure of corporations, U.S. civilian government agencies, and the American military from malicious Internet attacks – seriously. Extremelyseriously. So seriously, in fact, that the Columbia-based firm’s website fails to mention even one of its clients, and its PR division, when asked to cough up a couple names, responds, “Typically, the company does not disclose customer information.” Okay, okay: Message received.

Founded in 2001 by Martin Roesch, who served as the firm’s first CEO, Surefire parlayed the success of the Roesch-written Snort intrusion-detection/prevention software into wider commercial applications. In the ensuing years, kerfuffles and epiphanies rocked the company: the feds ixnayed its purchase by an Israeli firm; Sourcefire rejected a takeover bid by another U.S. company; it completed a successful IPO; and, long after Roesch gave up the CEO title, a successor bowed out in favor of even fresher blood. Ultimately, a stronger Sourcefire emerged.

Accordingly, this past winter, Forbes magazine tabbed Sourcefire at #15 on its list of 25 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the U.S., the only Maryland firm mentioned, and it now stands poised to expand exponentially with the massive infusion to the state of military and commercial contractors associated with the federal Base Relocation and Closure process.

And Sourcefire, it turns out, despite its overt cloak-and-daggerism, actually possesses a sense of humor. Inside its fortress of solitude, a bumper sticker in Roesch’s office wisecracks “My Kid Reads Your Honor Student’s Email.”

5. Tom Loveland (50), founder and CEO of consulting and technology services firm Minds Over Machines

Tom Loveland

Though only 50, Tom Loveland comes off as somewhat Brahmin-like in the context Baltimore’s youngish techie horde, having launched Minds Over Machines, his Web-design/IT-strategy/software-development business in 1989, the equivalent of the digital Pleistocene Era. Under Loveland’s leadership, the Owings Mills-based company has undertaken successfulprojects for a disparate group of government and commercial clients, notably the furniture/home accessories maker IKEA, contracting company Whiting-Turner, Calvert Educational Services, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently cited as one of the 50 most Influential Marylanders by the Daily Record and a member of the board of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, Loveland founded the Maryland Computer Services Association, a lobbying group that in 2008 cajoled the General Assembly to rescind a six-percent statewide technology tax before the law was implemented.

Last year, he was named (unpaid) “Google Czar” by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In that capacity, Loveland marshaled the city’s public and private tech forces in an effort to persuade the Web-search giant to wire Baltimore with ultra-ultra high-speed fiber-optic infrastructure as part of its Google Fiber program. After a yearlong wait, Google selected Kansas City, KS, late last month, but, reportedly, Baltimore made a significant impression, and may yet be chosen in the future if the company continues the initiative. Undeterred, Loveland continues to champion the city as “a tinderbox of innovation.”

6. Rico Singleton (31), chief information officer, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology

Rico Singleton

This past January, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signed an executive order instructing city agencies to make data sets under their control available via the Office of Information Technology’s website. Called OpenBaltimore, the initiative offers an instantly accessible /searchable/downloadable cache of information detailing property taxes, crime reports, flood-plain risks, maps galore (including one showing the locations of homicides), and a plethora of parking-related data. Previously, info-seekers faced a glacial-like wait after filing an official public request.

In a prepared statement, Rawlings-Blake said, “Innovative and creative people will now be able to collaborate with government, and hopefully find ways to improve service delivery and save money for taxpayers.”

Rico Singleton appointed the city’s chief information officer this past November after working as a deputy CIO in New York State’s tech office, led the OpenBaltimore project.

Two weeks after the program’s official announcement, more than 30 eager laptop-toters convened for a “hackathon” at the city’s Canton tech incubator to brainstorm potential useful applications for the raw information. Weeks later, the first one emerged: the website SpotAgent.com. Something of a backhanded compliment to the city’s data largesse, it allows users to determine a “threat rating” in Baltimore’s various neighborhoods for receiving a ticket for failing to feed a parking meter or running a red light/speeding in view of a pesky pole-mounted camera—all in an effort to avoid paying a fine, which, oddly, meets the mayor’s goal of “saving money for taxpayers.”