‘Kindling’ Looks to Spark Conversations Across Races and Neighborhoods

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Kindling’s vision team plans a unique community conversation. Pictured are: Andre Robinson, Nel Andrews, Jamie McDonald, Dale Terrill, and Quincey Gamble. Meryam Bouadjemi not pictured.

It’s safe to say that one factor Freddie Gray’s death and the ensuing unrest exposed is that Baltimore continues to be a city divided. We have a lot to learn about each other. Like other cities, many of us stick with who and what we know.  We tend to stay in our zones which makes it tough to engage with others outside of our routine. 

When key players from OneBaltimore, Innovation Village, Mt. Royal Community Development Corp, and the Light City team examined how to bridge these divides, they came up with a new idea called “Kindling.” As the name implies, Kindling is designed to spark one-on-one conversations between Baltimoreans who may never get the opportunity to know one another.

The inaugural Kindling event will be held this Saturday, April 30 at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in historic Bolton Hill in Innovation Village. Consider taking part in a new type of community conversation built on the belief that progress will be made when we move past labels and see one another as individuals.

Did you read the mega-viral NYT’s article To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This? In this Modern Love Series piece, Mandy Lee Catron wrote about applying psychologist Arthur Aron’s 36 questions to her dating life. The gist of Aron’s relationship-building questions is that strangers can accelerate a connection when guided by meaningful topics. Guided Q&A keeps the conversation focused, limits that awkward silence, and speeds things up.

Loosely based on this concept, Kindling’s guided conversation will be three separate 20-minute meetings where you and your Kindling partner will answer six questions. No worries though, no questions will pop up from the romance department. After a brief introduction including a few directions, you’ll be paired with your first conversation partner. Then, you’ll be paired with a second person. After your third conversation, everyone will come together for food and reflection.

That’s the beauty of a Kindling guided conversation. The six questions ensure that conversation partners have a comfortable, interesting and meaningful discussion. There’s no agenda.  And no pressure.  No one is coming up with Baltimore’s next big fix. Kindling’s purpose is simply to spark connections and to learn about each other. 

Jamie McDonald, Founder of Generosity, Inc. and Light City’s Co-Chair shares Kindling’s vision, “Just as Light City engaged so many Baltimoreans of all ages, races and neighborhoods to experience a sense of togetherness and joy, Kindling is designed to encourage real conversations. The hope is that this first Kindling conversation, as well as future ones, will lead to deeper, one-on-one relationships among diverse Baltimoreans.”

Andre Robinson, Mt. Royal Community Development Corporation‘s Executive Director, shares Kindling’s importance, “Baltimore is poised on the edge of a great Renaissance that will demand all of our talents, strength, and capacity. Relationships are key components of our social capital. Kindling is one of our best connectors.”

Kindling is free and open to the public. Join the first Light City follow-up Kindling conversation this Saturday, April 30 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  To be sure there’s ample refreshments for everyone, please pre-register at www.bmorekindling.org

The massive and beautiful Prince Hall Grand Lodge's history is as diverse as our town. Located at 1307 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217, the lodge of a perfect place to kindle.
The massive and beautiful Prince Hall Grand Lodge is the perfect spot to “kindle.” Located in Bolton Hill, Kindling conversations will take place at 1307 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217 on Saturday, April 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m..

Laurel Peltier
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel writes the environmental GreenLaurel column every other Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of UVA's MBA program, she spends her time with her family and making "all things green" interesting.
Laurel Peltier
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