3rd Annual Cultural Organizing Institute in Baltimore

By Imagining America | April 15, 2015

Baltimore, MD
June 12-14, 2015

Hosted by the MICA Office of Community Engagement and MICA PLACE
in partnership with UMBC and Alternate ROOTS

The 2015 Imagining America Cultural Organizing Institute offers institutional and organizational teams from around the country the unique opportunity to explore broad based and cultural organizing praxis as a vehicle for achieving large-scale transformational goals. The 2.5-day institute will focus on three initiatives that have used different organizing strategies in their efforts to develop the relationships and build the infrastructure needed for long term culture change – on their campuses and in their communities.

Through storytelling, performance, discussion, and other workshop activities, participants will learn about each project in depth and then, in the style of a charrette, engage project leaders and one another to understand the many complex challenges of each effort. Participant teams will then be led through a process intended to help translate what they’ve learned into their own institutional, organizational, or community context. Teams will share their ideas with the group, receive feedback, and begin to articulate a strategy for moving forward with their work.

The 2015 Imagining America Organizing Institute is open to teams of at least 3 people from IA member institutions, other higher education institutions, or community organizations. Teams that include people from across sectors is encouraged.

Learning and Action Objectives

  • Learn different organizing models, philosophies, traditions, and literatures
  •  Learn and rehearse specific broad-based and cultural organizing practices
  • Learn and experience collaborative art making processes that deepen understanding of a topic of common concern.
  • Reflect on and strategize about using cultural organizing in participants’ campus, community, and cross-sectoral efforts.

Leadership Teams

Imagining America (IA) is a national consortium of publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and community activists working toward the democratic transformation of higher education and civic life. The members of IA create democratic spaces to foster and advance publicly engaged scholarship that draws on arts, humanities, and design. Our members catalyze change in campus practices, structures, and policies that enables artists and scholars to thrive and contribute to community action and revitalization.

The MICA Office of Community Engagement is the center of MICA’s engagement initiatives. Their four major programs are: the Community-Based Learning program, the Baltimore Art + Justice Project, the Community Art Collaborative, and the Community-Engaged Grants program.

MICA PLACE, where the institute will take place, is a hub of engagement in East Baltimore that prepares students for civic-minded careers in action-oriented community arts and social design work. It supports community development, revitalization, and health and well-being in East Baltimore and beyond through community/college engagement, educational programs, and the development, documentation and dissemination of new knowledge and resources. MICA Place is one of the three initiatives participants will learn about at the organizing institute.

Alternate ROOTS is a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the Southern U.S., creating a better world together. Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in community, place, tradition or spirit. The organization’s 2011 partnership with Baltimore-based CultureWorks, and residents of West Baltimore, led to ROOTS Fest, a massive festival responding to the 1.4 mile “Highway to Nowhere,” and celebrating the cultural heritage of West Baltimore. The festival attracted over 11,000 people. ROOTS Fest is one of the three initiatives participants will learn about at the organizing institute.

UMBC’s BreakingGround, developed collaboratively by a wide range of campus partners, is a platform for making visible UMBC significant commitment to campus and community engagement, celebrating UMBC’s innovators and change agents, and inviting everyone in the UMBC community to get involved in this movement. Through courses, community events, and forums for sharing and deliberation, BreakingGround helps to bring people together and facilitates everyone’s creative contributions to the common good. BreakingGround is one of the three initiatives participants will learn about at the organizing institute.

Cost and Time Commitment

IA Consortium Member Team (Team of 3)………………………………………………….. $450.00
    Each Additional Team Member $100.00
Non-Member Higher-Ed. Affiliated Team (Team of 3)…………………………………… $525.00
    Each Additional Team Member $100.00
Community Organization Team (Team of 3)………………………………………………. $225.00
    Each Additional Team Member $  50.00


Travel expenses and hotel accommodations are NOT included in this fee, and must be paid separately by each participant. The institute will begin at 6pm on Friday, June 12; convene from 9am – 5pm on Saturday; and end on Sunday at 3pm. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Saturday and Sunday.

We invite a wide a range of stakeholders working in or connected to higher education, from all sectors and disciplines. We especially hope to work with community-based and student artists, humanists, and designers with an interest in exploring higher education’s role in a democracy.


A special hotel room block has been reserved for attendees of the 2015 organizing institute, at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Downtown Baltimore, on the nights of June 12 and June 13, 2015

To reserve a room, call Toll Free Reservations at 855.539.1928. Ask for the Imagining America rate or Group ID “1506IMAGAM.”

You may also go to the hotel website, click on reservations, and enter the group ID “1506IMAGAM.”

Requests for special room arrangements must be made at the time of booking. In order to qualify for the Group Room Rate, attendees must make their reservations by Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Directions to the hotel can be found here.

How to Apply

P1010480-1Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 45 people. If you are interested in participating please complete the application and brief letter of interest below, no later than Friday, May 22, 2015. One application and letter per team. The letter of interest should explain, in as much detail as possible, how the team feels the institute will benefit the work they are trying to accomplish within their institution, organization, or community.

The planning team will review and respond to all applications.  All questions should be directed to IA Associate Director, Kevin Bott, at or 530-297-4640.

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