Energize your work day in a healthier way

With long workdays and fully booked nights, it’s no surprise that sometimes a solid eight hours of sleep is just not an option for many. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 “Sleep in America” poll, about one in ten Americans say they are likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate time— like during a work meeting. With some positions, falling asleep at inopportune times is simply embarrassing, but in other lines of work, falling asleep is very dangerous.

Try these tips from TOPS Club, Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, to relieve fatigue and stay productive:

Get up and go— Studies from the American Heart Association say that movement increases the flow of blood to the brain, which, in turn, helps you feel more alert. Incorporating more activity into your day can give you a mood boost, too. A study of 210 UK workers, most of them with sedentary jobs, found that exercising during the workday made them feel more forgiving of their coworkers’ mistakes and more confident in their own abilities, as well as increased their work performance. Take a short walk outside the office, or inside if the weather isn’t cooperating, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand while talking on the telephone, and take regular breaks for stretching.

Pack some protein— A 2011 study published in the journal Neuron found that protein stimulates orexin cells in the brain, which send electrical impulses that keep us alert and awake. A carbohydrate-rich snack, on the other hand, boosts blood sugar and then lowers it just as quickly, which can cause that drowsy, dragging feeling. Quick, work friendly, high protein bites include a hard-boiled egg, a cup of Greek yogurt, a handful of pumpkin seeds, or almonds.

Give in to your caffeine craving— The reliable favorite, caffeine, undoubtedly works to keep your eyes open, but what’s the healthiest way to get it into your system, and how much is enough? Experts consider 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day a moderate amount. So to avoid jitters or insomnia later in the day, limit yourself to three eight-ounce cups of coffee. By comparison, according to the Mayo Clinic, black tea can have up to 61 milligrams per eight ounces. Coffee and tea are a better choice than sugary and sodium-filled energy drinks and sodas but should still be sipped in moderation.

Let the light in— Does your work environment feel like a cave? With no indicators of time of day or weather conditions, fluorescent lighting, and bleak surroundings, it’s easy to feel sleepy. If you don’t work in proximity to windows, studies have shown that having a live plant can be just as effective. A study recently conducted at Washington State University showed that having plants around a work area can greatly improve employees’ energy level. The results showed that workers with desk plants were 12 percent more productive and less stressed than those who worked in an environment with no plants. Subject reaction time in the presence of plants was also 12 percent faster than those in the absence of plants.

Keep tabs on your hydration— Water is important for your overall health and plays a part in energy levels as well. Dehydration can cause fatigue, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Also consider eating foods high in water, including strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchinis, to replenish.

TOPS Club Inc.® (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. To find a local chapter or for more information, visit: www.tops.org.

Ailey II coming to Towson University

— As a child, Tyler Brown watched the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and wished that one day she would become a part of the world-renowned troupe. Brown’s wishes have come true. The Maryland native and Carver Center for Arts and Technology graduate is a member of Ailey II, Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theatre.

“It’s an honor,” said Tyler. “I have always looked up to the Alvin Ailey Dancers. To be part of an organization I have admired for years is such an honor. I am grateful for the opportunity. This is really great.”

Maryland native Tyler Brown is a member of Ailey II, Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theatre.

Courtesy photo

Maryland native Tyler Brown is a member of Ailey II, Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theatre.

Comprised of the most promising scholarship students of The Ailey School, Ailey II offers unique opportunities for artists to refine their technique while gaining invaluable performing and teaching experience during their tenure with the company.

Towson University’s College of Fine Arts & Communication and Department of Dance will be presenting Ailey II for two performances. The performances will take place Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Stephens Hall Theatre, located at 8000 York Road on the campus of Towson University.

As part of Ailey II and Towson University’s community outreach and commitment to providing access for all, Ailey II will also be presenting two, free 45-minute mini-performances at 10:00 a.m. and noon for Baltimore City and County schools on Friday, September 20.

Tyler, along with another Maryland native, Aubree Brown are excitedly looking forward to their performances.

“I trained at Carver Center for the Arts, which is close to where we will be performing,” said Tyler. “It’s great to come back home.”

Tyler began her dance training on scholarship at Peabody Dance Preparatory in Baltimore under the direction of Carol Bartlett.

“Performing with Ailey II is very empowering,” said Tyler. “It’s a great organization and great way to learn. This is my second year with the Company. Overall, it teaches you how to be strong, how to create your work and developing yourself. However, it’s also a lot of hard work and dedication. You have to push yourself every single day.”

Under the direction of Troy Powell, Ailey II is universally-renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today’s most outstanding emerging choreographers. Founded in 1958, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World.” Ailey’s artists have performed for an estimated 23 million people in 71 countries on six continents. Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Ailey II embodies Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training and community programs for all people.

“Being an Ailey dancer is very deep,” said Tyler. “It’s more than being a dancer. It also represents who we are and Ailey stands for. As a youngster, I aspired to be like them. I am proud to continue the legacy.”

Aubree began her dance training at Baltimore School for the Arts under the guidance of Norma Pera, Anton Wilson, Deborah Robinson and Linda-Denise Fischer-Harrell.

“Being with Ailey II is an honor and a huge accomplishment for me,” said Aubree. “As a dancer you have to love what you do. We try to progress and improve each day. It makes me love dance even more.”

In addition to Tyler and Aubree, The Ailey II Dance Company includes David Adrian Freeland, Jr., Gentry George, Daphne Lee, Olivier Medus, Edward Spots, Riccardo Battaglia, Shay Bland, Jacquelin Harris, Danica Paulos and Jamal White.

“I am looking forward to our performance in Baltimore,” said Aubree. “Many of my family members are coming to support me. It is a blessing, and I am very excited. We do many styles of dance. People can expect a lot of diversity, and a phenomenal show.”

For Ailey II tickets or information, visit: www.tuboxoffice.com or call 410-704-2787.

Bad News for Mayor Vroom Vroom

Mayor Stephanie “Vroom Vroom” Rawlings-Blake can’t be happy about the story that appeared in the August 25, 2013 edition of The Baltimore Sun.

photo

Gregory Kane

“Future of event on uncertain course,” the headline read. The event in question is the useless, worthless nothing of a race called the Baltimore Grand Prix.

The race is Mayor Vroom Vroom’s baby, her idea, her pride and joy. She truly believes, deep in her precious little heart, that an annual car race in Baltimore will enhance the city’s prestige, “put it on the map,” if you will.

So The Vroom— as I’m fond of calling her— couldn’t have been too happy to read the first three paragraphs of The Baltimore Sun story, which went like this:

“Gathering speed for its third year, the Grand Prix of Baltimore looks to be on track, but behind the scenes a host of challenges make it increasingly possible this may be open-wheel racing’s last year in the Inner Harbor.

“Schedule conflicts for the next two years, questions about local and state support, and the sport’s flagging popularity threaten the Grand Prix’s future.

“Grand Prix and city officials acknowledged last week that they are struggling to find weekends in August 2014 and 2015 to accommodate the three-day racing festival. Next year, an Ohio State-Navy football game takes over M&T Bank Stadium on Labor Day weekend, and a big American Legion convention comes the following year. Finding another date that doesn’t conflict with events at the city’s two stadiums and convention center has proved difficult.”

Pay close attention to that phrase “the sport’s flagging popularity.” It’s a reality The Vroom hasn’t quite come to grips with yet.

She’s been pushing— more like cramming down the throats of unwilling Baltimoreans—a sporting event that, though flagging in popularity, she enjoys. SHE, not Joe and Jane Average Citizen, wants to see large segments of downtown Baltimore closed down for three-days every Labor Day weekend.

SHE wants the rerouting and slowing down of Mass Transit Administration buses, two things that are a major pain in the neck to hundreds, if not thousands, of commuters.

Were The Vroom a mayor that puts the interests and enjoyment of average Baltimoreans ahead of her own, she’d have tried to bring annual sporting events to this town that they like.

What about an annual soccer tournament? Soccer certainly isn’t a sport that’s “flagging in popularity.” It’s the most popular sport in the world, especially in some Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Recently there was a soccer game pitting a team from a Spanish-speaking Latin American country against one from the Caribbean. It was held down in Washington, D.C., at the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

There is a large enough Latino and Caribbean immigrant population in the D.C. area that should have made that game a success. But the Baltimore area has its own burgeoning Latino immigrant population, and a Caribbean immigrant population that’s been here for years.

A series of soccer games pitting Latin American and Caribbean teams just might work. But if that doesn’t work, then a track and field invitational just might.

The IAAF— the International Association of Athletics Federation— holds regular track and field events in something called the Diamond League.

There has been a Diamond League Monaco, a Diamond League Zurich, a Diamond League London and a Diamond League New York.

The Vroom should get to work and try to make sure a Diamond League Baltimore is a regular stop on the tour. Jamaican immigrants in this area might be chomping at the bit to see— live and in person— Usain Bolt smoke American sprinters.

Note: had Memorial Stadium been renovated instead of torn down, it would have been a perfect venue for regular soccer and/or track and field events. But officials in this city, as The Vroom has shown, just aren’t that sports oriented. At least not for the right sports.

For example, it still hasn’t dawned on The Vroom that Baltimore is a basketball city, not a car-racing city.

Back in March the boys’ basketball team for Dunbar High School— which has set the standard for hoops in this town— broke the record for the number of Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association championships.

Dunbar has now won 15 MPSSAA boys basketball titles. The school broke the record of 14, which was held by Cumberland High School.

It took Cumberland many decades to win those 14 championships, and the school sure hasn’t won any lately.

Dunbar just won its fourth straight. It has won 15 championships in the last 21 seasons. The run began in 1993.

Did The Vroom invite Dunbar boys’ basketball team to City Hall, call in the TV cameras and give these young men their just props for what they achieved?

Of course she didn’t, and we know why.

All she had on her mind was the sound of “VROOM! VROOM!”

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend

Hello everyone! I hope you are getting ready to start your Labor Day Weekend. I know I am. I have to have eye surgery this week, afterwards, I need some R&R, so by the time you read this, my Boo-Boo and I will be on the road headed to Philadelphia, PA to the Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival which takes place at the Embassy Suites-Airport in Philadelphia, Penn. It’s an event I have attended every year for the past 22 years, I know I will see a few of you there. It is a very nice line up this year, even though you might not recognize some of the artists, believe me they are some of the best jazz recording artists around. Some of the other acts are the Wayne Morgan Trio, the Youth Jazz Performances, Gerald Veasley, the Farid Barron Trio, Glenn Williams Journey, Barbara Walker Story, Gerald Veasley and they will have a “Jazz Workshop” which has become very popular at this event. For more information, call Thelma Anderson at 215-753-0232 or call the hotel at 215-365-4500.

Tony Williams, national recording artist, saxophonist and retired teacher from the Philadelphia School System is the founder and producer of the Annual Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival. He is an all around musician, a mentor and an advocate of young people in the music field. He is responsible for the introduction of jazz to the many young students who have passed through the Mount Airy Cultural Center’s doors in Philadelphia.

Courtesy photo

Tony Williams, national recording artist, saxophonist and retired teacher from the Philadelphia School System is the founder and producer of the Annual Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival. He is an all around musician, a mentor and an advocate of young people in the music field. He is responsible for the introduction of jazz to the many young students who have passed through the Mount Airy Cultural Center’s doors in Philadelphia.

Well darlings, while I’m away the mouse will play. There’s a lot going on in Baltimore too. The “Dinner, Show & Cabaret (Remember the Royal Theater) is going on at the Forest Park Senior Center located 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue on Sunday, September 1 from 5-9 p.m. It is BYOB, free cups & ice, door prizes, 50/50 raffle, live entertainment featuring live Motown Revue/R&B groups with Steve “Smokey” Scribner and Mr. Disco playing your favorite line and hand-dancing tunes, a soul food dinner catered by LCE Caterers and many vendors. Yours truly will be there with my book “African American Community, History & Entertainment in Maryland” (Remembering the Yesterday’s 1940-1980) to autograph just for you. To all my senior citizens, this is a special place for you to enjoy and be safe.

My dear friend Jim “Magic” Johnson and the Old School Runners are inviting you to join them for their 11th Annual Crab Feast on Sunday, September 1, from 2-6 p.m. at the Columbus Gardens, 4301 Klosterman Avenue in Baltimore. That is off the 8400 block of Belair Road. It is cabaret style, so BYOB and your ticket also includes free beer and set-ups. Sugar Chris is the DJ. For ticket information, call 443-676-9038.

Heralds of Hope Theater Company hosts a new Baltimore Playwrights Festival Play for the last weekend, Friday to Sunday, Aug. 30 – Sept.1, 2013 in title: “Countdown to the Happy Day” at Sojourner-Douglass College Theater, 200 N. Central Avenue in Baltimore. Producer & Co-Director, Margaret Locklear with Percy W. Thomas. The two character drama features Terry Johnson-Bey and Paris Alexander. For more information, call 410-736-1846

Courtesy photo

Heralds of Hope Theater Company hosts a new Baltimore Playwrights Festival Play for the last weekend, Friday to Sunday, Aug. 30 – Sept.1, 2013 in title: “Countdown to the Happy Day” at Sojourner-Douglass College Theater, 200 N. Central Avenue in Baltimore. Producer & Co-Director, Margaret Locklear with Percy W. Thomas. The two character drama features Terry Johnson-Bey and Paris Alexander. For more information, call 410-736-1846

Another Crab Feast is being hosted by John A. Holmes Lodge #89 on Saturday, August 31 at Tall Cedars, 2501 Putty Hill Avenue from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Your tickets include open buffet, and open bar or you can BYOB, DJ and all the crabs you can eat. For more information, call 443-546-7362.

Enjoy your holiday weekend and stay safe no matter where you decide to celebrate. Remember to get your subscription of the Baltimore Times, by calling 410-366-3900 or going to their website: www.baltimoretimes-online.com. You can order my new book from me directly by sending $32.00 to 214 Conewood Road, Reisterstown, Maryland 21136, check payable to Rosa Pryor and a note with autograph instructions.

I am out of space, but remember if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me your events to rosapryor@aol.com. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Civil Rights Foot Soldier Memorial unveiled

— Wednesday, August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. To commemorate this milestone, the Annapolis-based Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Committee, Inc. unveiled the nation’s first memorial to the 250,000 “foot soldiers” of the March – the ordinary citizens who marched in the demonstration and risked the threat of personal harm to underline support for the civil rights leaders who spoke that day. The Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial, which includes the names of more than 500 foot soldiers was unveiled Wednesday at Annapolis’ Whitmore Park, the site of a bus depot from which Annapolis residents traveled to the March.

At a recent meeting with the leadership of Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) endorsed the Memorial. During the 1963 March on Washington Lewis was, at 23, the youngest speaker and a member of the “Big Six” March organizers as the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) reviews the schematic of the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial in his Washington office last Thursday with members of the organizing committee. The unveiling will take place on Wednesday in Annapolis. Pictured from left, Jacqueline Boone Allsup, President-Anne Arundel County Branch NAACP, Joshua J. Cohen, Mayor of Annapolis, Daryl D. Jones, Esq., Guarantor, US Rep. John Lewis, Marc L. Apter, PR Director for Foot Soldiers Memorial, Carl O. Snowden, Chairman Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, Inc. and Chief Joseph Johnson, Guarantor.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) reviews the schematic of the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial in his Washington office last Thursday with members of the organizing committee. The unveiling will take place on Wednesday in Annapolis. Pictured from left, Jacqueline Boone Allsup, President-Anne Arundel County Branch NAACP, Joshua J. Cohen, Mayor of Annapolis, Daryl D. Jones, Esq., Guarantor, US Rep. John Lewis, Marc L. Apter, PR Director for Foot Soldiers Memorial, Carl O. Snowden, Chairman Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, Inc. and Chief Joseph Johnson, Guarantor.

During the August 22 meeting in his office in Washington Lewis said, “As the last living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington I am proud to be on the memorial that the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Committee will unveil as the nation’s first to the 250,000 “foot soldiers” of the March – the ordinary citizens who risked the threat of personal harm to magnify the impact of the words of the civil rights leaders who spoke that day. These men and women played an important role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Speakers at the unveiling of the 2½ ton granite memorial will included Senator Ben Cardin, Congressman John P. Sarbanes, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen, chairwoman of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus Delegate Aisha Braveboy. and Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Chair Carl Snowden. Many of those named on the memorial were in attendance. Live and recorded gospel and pop music of the period will be performed.

The foot soldiers honored on the memorial come not only from Annapolis, but from all over Maryland as wells as other parts of country. “We honor those leaders and “soldiers” in the war against racial discrimination that made possible the second Emancipation Proclamation to end racial segregation and discrimination, just as the first Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 led to the end of slavery in the US,” said Carl Snowden, Chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

The Committee Inc. has successfully placed two other memorials to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Anne Arundel County – both funded by private donations. A bronze statue of King was erected at Anne Arundel Community College in 2006 after the Committee raised more than $250,000. In 2011, the Committee dedicated a plaque and garden tribute to Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, at Sojourner Douglass College in Edgewater, MD (just south of Annapolis).

Snowden spearheaded both these efforts. He envisions that the most recent monument will not only commemorate the contributions of ordinary citizens, but educate, and hopefully inspire, another generation to take up the cause of equality for all people.

‘Life, Love, Soul’ addresses absentee fathers

The topic of absentee fathers has become a universal discussion across the country. Recently Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network dedicated a two-part series on “Oprah’s Lifeclass” to the subject of fatherless sons.

Although, it may not be an issue in every household, the topic resonated with director/writer Noel Calloway and led him to write and direct his first film “Life, Love, Soul.”

Calloway grew up in Harlem, New York in the foster care system because both of his parents were incarcerated. Despite his difficult childhood, Calloway finished high school and further pursued his education at Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia where he studied film.

“My passion behind creating this film was not only a direct reflection of my upbringing, but also seeing how many of my peers lived in households where the fathers were completely absent from their lives. Some never knew who their fathers were so it became more evident to me that there weren’t many men present in the household to teach the essentials from raising a boy into a man or a girl into a woman as well,” Calloway said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, out of 24 million children in America, one in three lives in a home without the presence of their biological father.

Calloway ent on to say that, “An absentee father or a fatherless son is a familiar connection with the imagery of African American males, which is depicted in entertainment. Those roles need to be changed by showcasing more positive images of African American men who can be considered roles models.”

Calloway’s film “Life, Love, Soul” drew in a number of talented actors including Chad Coleman (“The Walking Dead” and “The Wire”), Jamie Hector (“Night Catches Us” and “The Wire”), Terri J. Vaughn (“Meet The Browns”), Tami Roman (“Basketball Wives”), as well as up and coming actress Robbie Tate-Brickle.

In addition, Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson of Ashford and Simpson made her acting acting debut in the film.

“Life, Love, Soul” was released on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 and is available for sale at Walmart, Amazon.com, as well as iTunes. For more information visit: www.noelcallowayfilms.com

Indie Soul Spotlight: Rodney Kelley Sr.

It has been said that “music makes the world go round,” but let me add something to that phrase— GREAT artists playing GREAT music, is what really, makes the world go round! People want music that takes them to another time or space. Music that reaches deep into their soul, and inspires or creates lasting memories. When I think of a musician who does all those things— Rodney Kelley Sr. comes to mind.

“Music is a passion of mine. Picking up the guitar and just letting your mind be free is something that I enjoy,” Kelley said. “When I got into this music, it was something I truly enjoyed doing. I love to entertain, but more importantly, I want to show people HOW to entertain, how to be a professional, and when given the opportunity, be able to mentor or share my experiences and teach others who also want to be in this business.”

One thing that many people don’t realize and perhaps young musicians should take note of is that you have to prioritize your responsibilities Kelley says. “I have a very loving wife and great family. There was a point in my life when I had to put away the music and support my family. It was also very important to me that my relationship with God was where it needed to be before pursuing anything, whether that is a job or music. So setting or having priorities were the key for me,” Kelley said. “Without that, then, my music would not be where it is today.”

Currently set to release his first music project this fall Kelley said, “I am very excited about this CD. People have been asking me for years, ‘when are you going to release some original music?’ Well the time is now.” Something else for Rodney to be proud of, his son, Rodney Kelley Jr., is following in his footsteps.” I never pushed my children to do anything. This is something that he decided to do on his own. To able to work with my son is truly something special.”

The Rodney Kelley Experience has played and is currently playing in various venues throughout the DMV area. If you are a lover of great music from Jazz, R&B, Soul, Funk, and Rock music, then you should make it a point to go see and experience Rodney Kelley Sr.

“Everyone I know that plays music wants to be like him. He is a perfect gentleman and is always professional and humble. I wish more music artists, would or could be like him,” said promoter Collin Sears when asked about booking The Rodney Kelley Experience for venues.

“I just want people to know, there are good quality shows and artists who truly do care about how they look, how they sound, and how they perform. I just want to set the example, educate and do my thing, the only way I know how,” said Kelley.

For more information about Rodney Kelley Sr., visit: www.rodneykelleymusic.com.

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, email: indiesoul.lfp@gmail.com or call: 410-941-9202.

Virtual Supermarket Program in Baltimore a success

— It started as a method to ease the strain of food deserts, but today the Baltimore City Health Department’s virtual supermarket program known as, “Baltimarket,” is exceeding the expectations of skeptics and others who may have initially doubted its viability.

“I would definitely say that the program has been a success,” said Laura Fox, the director of The Baltimore Office of Chronic Disease Prevention. “The program started out in our libraries and people had to order and come out to pick up their deliveries at specific times. While we love our libraries, it wasn’t exactly home and, so, we expanded the program.

The “Baltimarket” program, which began in 2010, allows Baltimore City residents, including those who receive SNAP benefits, to order groceries online and pick them up at their local library and select locations in the city. The program now includes ordering and pick up at city housing units, including senior housing.

“Baltimarket” serves East Baltimore, Washington Village, Cherry Hill and the centrally located Enoch Pratt Free Libraries. Residents place their orders online while following easily discernable instructions and promotional codes, Fox said.

There are no delivery fees and residents pay only for the groceries they receive, using cash, credit, debit and Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. There is also no maximum on the amount of groceries an individual can order through the program, but the minimum requirement is $25.

The primary mission is to provide healthy foods, but, with the exception of tobacco products, individuals are not restricted in what they can order, Fox said. “The virtual supermarket program is the only program in the country, that to my knowledge allows for online delivery of food and is able to take SNAP, or food stamps,” she said.

Since 2010, approximately $100,000 in groceries has been ordered through the program and close to 4,000 orders have been placed. There have been 426 unique, or new, customers to date, and the program’s goal remains reaching at least 30 percent of those living in city housing facilities, Fox said. “In some cases, particularly in the senior housing facilities, we’ve exceeded expectations.”

One reason Fox and other officials are excited about the program is that it makes it easier to shop for those without transportation, with limited use to a motor vehicle, or who live in food deserts.

According to city officials, one fifth of residents live in a food desert and have little access to fresh and healthy food. Because of that, about 125,000 people are at a greater risk for obesity and health problems because of the lack of access to affordable and nutritious foods.

Access to health food options is a key determinant of health, says the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

“Risks for obesity, heart disease and diabetes are strongly tied to diet, and research has found consistent evidence that diet is greatly affected by one’s environment,” Barbot said. “The unavailability of healthy foods has contributed to poor health outcomes in communities and is fueling Baltimore’s current obesity.”

The program makes it easier for residents to eat healthier says Barbot. In August, the “Baltimarket” program received recognition as the Urban County program winner of the Maryland Association of Counties President’s Healthy Counties Best Practices Award.

“We are pleased that our efforts to improve the health and wellness of Baltimore City residents by providing increased access to healthy food options at affordable prices is being recognized,” Fox said.

Further, the virtual supermarket program has been a great success in the city’s efforts to, “overcome the barriers to health that many Baltimore residents face, such as unhealthy cheaper options than affordable healthy options,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

For more information about the program, visit www.baltimarket.org.

A “Joy” to work for longtime Baltimore Times employee takes a trip down memory lane

Frederick Howard is among the longtime employees of the Baltimore Times Newspaper Group. Howard began working for the paper in 1989. At age 87, the soft-spoken Howard, serves as Director of Operations and is still going just as strong as the paper. One has only to watch him carry out his daily duties, which include determining the number of pages going in each paper, dummying pages, ad layout, and working with the printers regarding page positions to know that he is as passionate about the publication as he is about his craft.

Baltimore Times Publisher Joy Brambles credits employees like him for helping the newspaper to reach its 20th anniversary milestone. Howard, who is affectionately called “Mr. Freddie” fondly recalls his early years with the publication.

“I came to the Baltimore Times when they were on North Avenue and the paper was being pasted on a drafting board,” recalled Howard. “The complete paper was pasted and sent to the printer in page form. From there, it evolved into being done electronically. What a growth. The industry has changed so much so suddenly. However, Joy Bramble is very open-minded to change and making sure that things work.”

Howard said he was attracted to the paper’s theme, Positive stories about positive people!’

“I really liked the ‘Positive stories about positive people!’ concept that Joy started,” said Howard. “You hear about so much crime in other newspapers. I thought it was about time that someone starting printing positive stories about the nice things people were doing.”

He added, “It’s a challenge to be able to follow the program with all the temptation of the public nowadays. But Joy has stuck with her ‘Positive stories about positive people’ concept, and not gotten involved in the politics of it all. I really believe that has contributed in a big way to the paper’s success.”

A native of Baltimore County, Howard has seen the evolution of the printing industry.

“Printers have ink in their blood, and can’t get it out,” he said with a chuckle. “You meet a different challenge everyday, and the industry has changed over the years – particularly, with the advent of computers. The old presses had metal plates that weighed 35 or 40 pounds. Now you can put four pages on one plate and pick it up with one hand.”

He added, “I also like the challenges of the newspaper world. Once that’s in your blood, it’s hard to get rid of it. I appreciate very much that Joy gave me the opportunity to continue working in this field. She gave me the opportunity to continue doing something I love doing.”

Just like the presses, Howard plans to keep going.

“I plan on doing this as long as I can,” he said. “The person that got me interested in printing was my high school teacher. I liked the old printing presses. I also enjoyed printing tickets and other things. I also became impressed with linotype machine and setting the type.”

According to Howard, he went on to attend Hampton Institute. A 1949 graduate, he majored in printing.

“During my last year at Hampton, I worked at the Norfolk Journal & Guide, and at various workshops in Hampton, VA. From there, I went to work for the AFRO, where I worked for 40 years. The AFRO’s Sam Lacy and Carl Murphy had a great influence on my life, and also contributed to my interest in this business. John Murphy, III who also worked for The AFRO is also a good friend of mines.”

Howard said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is that it affords him the opportunity to do just as his high school teacher did many years ago – spark flames of interest in youngsters. He often takes time to talk to youngsters about his job at the Baltimore Times.

“I’m so proud of the kids because most of them turned out fine,” he said proudly. “One is working at a print office, and another is a head pressman at The Washington Times. Many of them come back and thank me. The influence I have had on young people makes me very feel really good.”

Howard is also proud of The Baltimore Times Newspaper Group’s 20th anniversary.

“The 20th anniversary of the paper symbolizes that people are still interested in reading newspapers, and that newspapers will continue to exist,” said Howard. “To see the papers continue to grow and thrive is great. People have accepted the papers, and love reading the community news.”

Commenting on Bramble’s success, Howard added, “You go girl!”

Note: This story was reprinted in memory of Frederick Howard

Frederick Douglass Plantation: Archaeology unveiled

— The first exhibition to display the many archaeological finds at Frederick Douglass’ childhood plantation— where he first realized that he was a slave—opened recently at the Academy Art Museum located at 106 South Street in Easton, Maryland. The exhibition is co-curated by University of Maryland archaeologists.

“Joint Heritage at Wye House” represents eight years of excavations conducted by the University of Maryland team and highlights evidence recovered from slave quarters and the Green House at one of the largest and well-documented plantations in Maryland. The major interpretive exhibition includes the rarely seen historic ledger of the plantation’s rosters of slaves. It runs through October 13, 2013.

Green House (later called the Orangery) at Wye House, Easton, MD, 1963, Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)

Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)

Green House (later called the Orangery) at Wye House, Easton, MD, 1963, Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)

“At a time when racial tensions continue to divide, our archaeology shows that American culture is an indivisible amalgam of African and European influences,” says University of Maryland archaeologist Mark P. Leone, who has led the Wye Plantation excavation. “From culinary tastes to horticulture to religion, African traditions blended with the European to shape a distinctly American culture.”

The excavation uncovered evidence of life on the thriving agricultural plantation. Hundreds of slaves toiled there, along with hired labor and family members. Artifacts include house wares, food remnants, and traces of pollen from the herbs, medicines, flowers and fruit grown in the historic “Orangery,” as it was later called, an 18th century feature on estates and plantations.

“We have gone to great lengths to provide a wealth of historic context to make plantation life as vivid and accessible as possible,” says Academy Art Museum Curator Anke Van Wagenberg. “Our display includes books, recipes, maps, artwork. Most remarkably, we can document the generations of slaves who worked there.”

Broken plate artifact

Courtesy of the Wye House Collection

Broken plate artifact

The Maryland Historical Society lent the Museum the rarely seen handwritten slave ledgers, including hundreds of complete names. The exhibit includes a searchable database.

“This holds intense interest for many who live in the area— descendants of Wye slaves,” says Leone. “Understanding history is a matter of pride.”

Dating to 1785, the Wye Orangery may be the oldest surviving structure of its type in the United States. A significant part of the excavation has been devoted to the building. By analyzing surviving bits of pollen unearthed there, Leone’s UMD colleague Elizabeth F. Pruitt was able to catalogue the arrangement and identity of species originally grown there.

“We identified more than 100 plants that grew there,” Pruitt says. “It provided medicinal herbs, leafy plants, exotic fruits and array of flowers. This was a central feature of the plantation combining beauty and practicality.”

The Wye Plantation has remained in the same family for 12 generations, dating back to 1659. The owners, the Tilghman family, gave Leone access and helped fund his research, as well as the exhibition.

“Joint Heritage at Wye House” is made possible by the generous support of Richard and Beverly Tilghman, the University of Maryland, College Park and the Frederick Douglass Honor Society. A