Be Here: Baltimore Storytelling Project Kicks Off

Baltimore is a town chock-full of stories. Be Here: Baltimore wants you to tell yours.

Organized by the MuseWeb Foundation, Be Here: Baltimore is a mobile storytelling project that collects stories about people and places in Baltimore and then provides access to those stories through location-based technologies, including GIS-enabled smartphones. Over the summer, they launched the project by providing grants to 20 organizations and individuals to create storytelling tours based in Baltimore. Think audiotours, but accessed through a smartphone and not restricted to the walls of a museum. Or Stoop Storytelling, but you’re hearing the story at the place where the story occurred. (Stoop Storytelling, incidentally, is part of the Be Here: Baltimore project.)

Bolton Hill neighbor Jean Lee Cole, a professor at Loyola University Maryland, won one of these grants, and her tour of Baltimore booksellers from 1800 to the present, “Books in Baltimore, Then and Now,” can be viewed via the izi.TRAVEL app or on izi.TRAVEL’s website. Several other tours include locations within walking distance of Bolton Hill, including public art in and around Penn Station, the Pennsylvania Avenue cultural district, and Station North. Then there are stories featuring specific topics, including a biographical tour about Eubie Blake, murals in Waverly, and Baltimore breweries.

Jean Lee Cole's Books in Baltimore tour.
Jean Lee Cole’s Books in Baltimore tour.

To see all of the tours, you can either go to the izi.TRAVEL website or download the app and search for Baltimore. If you install the app on your phone, you can download a tour, plug some headphones into your phone, and go walking! The audio narration for each stop will automatically start when you approach it—like magic!

To kick off the project, MuseWeb is hosting several events, where they will be demo-ing the technology and also collecting your stories. On Sept. 9they will be hosting Ice Cream and a Story, visiting 10 story locations around Baltimore along with the Taharka Ice-cream brothers’ Changemaker Mobile ice cream truck, and collecting people’s stories.

Then, on Sept. 27, they’ll be holding a Storytelling Happy Hour at OpenWorks (1400 Greenmount Ave.) from 5-7 pm. Here, they’ll be playing some of the most memorable stories from Be Here: Baltimore, offer some training on how to tell effective stories, and then help you record your own Baltimore story, on the spot.

Additional details will be available on the MuseWeb Foundation website as the events approach. Try out this new—and fun—way to explore our city.