Rambling Rose: Maryland outdoor festivals give back to the community

— Hello my dear friends, can you believe it; it’s June already! I know the weather doesn’t show it yet, but all the action in the community is showing that it is.

The Baltimore Times is all about “positive stories about positive people” and I like that, which is why I make sure my columns reflect that as much as possible. Of all the bad stuff that is going on, believe me there is a lot of good happening in the Baltimore metropolitan area too!

For starters, check out the festivals and shows throughout the summer, that feature fun for the entire family.

The Boltonstock Festival will be held on Saturday, June 3 from 5 to 10 p.m. in Sumpter Park. It’s free and open to the public! Lots of live entertainment, including: jazz, blues and R&B. There will be a lots of food vendors, arts & crafts, and yours truly “Rambling Rose” will be there signing books.

Boltonstock Festival 2017 will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Sumpter Park located  between Eutaw and Bolton Streets on the west and east; and Robert and Laurens Streets on the north and south. All are invited to this fabulous festival with a great variety in music with lots of vendors. Rambling Rose will be there!

Courtesy Photo

Boltonstock Festival 2017 will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2017 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Sumpter Park located between Eutaw and Bolton Streets on the west and east; and Robert and Laurens Streets on the north and south. All are invited to this fabulous festival with a great variety in music with lots of vendors. Rambling Rose will be there!

The Avenue Bakery summer music series is a concert venue held on the first Saturday of the month from 4 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, June 3, 2017, in the Avenue Bakery Courtyard, on Baker and Pennsylvania Avenue, the students from Booker T. Washington Arts Academy will perform, as well as Aaron Rhines and The Groove Unit. Food and drinks will be on sale. Other dates for the Courtyard Music Series, include: “Taste of Jazz @ The Avenue Bakery is July 8, August 5 and September 2. Tell your friends.

Then there’s the Jazz Expressways Foundation Jazz Breakfast Show featuring the Robert Shahid Ensemble to be held on Saturday, June 10, 2017 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Forest Park Senior Center at 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue in Baltimore. Tickets include: a large buffet breakfast, live entertainment, vendors, book signing, BYOB, free set-ups and food catered by Tis-Shay’s Touch Caterer. As a board member of this organization, believe me when I tell you, it will be fun time all the way. I will see you there. For tickets, call 410-833-9474.

Here we go folks! Gospel Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017 from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at the Memorial Park, 1936 Woodlawn Drive. There will be gospel groups, dance ministries, choirs, spoken word, mime, comedians, vendors and a lot more. For more information, call Markcus Miller at 410-940-5545.

Join the Eubie Blake Cultural Center and the Arena Players at their fundraiser for the arts. There will be a night full of food, fun and festivities and the proceeds will go towards programming for both organizations. Troy Burton, manager director for Eubie Blake and Rodney Orange, Jr. for the Arena Players, Inc., want you to “Jam for the Arts!” on Saturday June 10 at the Eubie Blake Cultural Arts Center, 847 North Howard Street from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. There will be a light buffet, live entertainment and cash bar. For more information, call 410-225-3130 or 443-814-8147.

Tonight! Friday, June 2 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. my chapter, Trinity No.5 is having a “Friday Night House Party with a lite buffet and cash bar at 411 E. Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson, Maryland. You all are invited; put on your dancing shoes. For more information, call 443-962-5090 and tell them “Rambling Rose” told you.

My lands of mercy! I am out of space, I got to go folks, don’t forget to check out my new look for the summer, my mascot photo. I just love my Rambling Rose hat.

Remember if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474or email me at rosapryor@aol.com. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Ravens striving to cultivate youth on offensive line

— The Baltimore Ravens have forged their identity as an old school physical team. That’s the way their head coach John Harbaugh was raised. The hard-nosed mentality is one that General Manager Ozzie Newsome looks for when he evaluates prospects.

Former offensive line coach Juan Castillo did an outstanding job working with his group before moving on to the Buffalo Bills during the off-season. The Ravens now have Joe D’Alessandris coaching the offensive line.

D’Alessandris has nearly 40 years of coaching experience, including time with Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and San Diego Chargers.

Harbaugh has eagerly tried to revisit the success the team had running the ball back in 2014 when they gained a total of 2,019 rushing yards. Baltimore’s ground game was the No. 8 rushing attack in the NFL under then offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

A large part of the success can be credited to their interior linemen, guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele, as well as Jeremy Zuttah at center. Osemele is now with the Oakland Raiders while Zuttah has moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.

Yanda is the only remaining starter from that unit. The left tackle position will be held down by 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley who is returning from a successful rookie season.

Stanley is an athletic tackle that can hold his own against some of the top pass rushers in the NFL and clear ways for running backs to get to the second level of the defense.

Second-year player Alex Lewis will likely man the left guard position next to Stanley. Having played mostly at tackle when he was in college, Lewis is looking forward to the opportunity to move inside.

“You get to pull, hit people and you’re always helping out, whether it’s Ronnie [Stanley] or the center,” Alex Lewis said after OTAs last week. “It’s a lot of fun at guard, pulling around the front side, pulling around to the outside, and there is a lot of versatility at guard, and it’s right there in your face. It’s you against me.”

The rest of the offensive line is yet to be determined. Baltimore has two pure centers on the roster in rookie Brandon Kublanow and second-year player Matt Skura. Ryan Jensen and John Urschel have both seen game reps in the past. Jensen has been a spot starter for the Ravens when Zuttah was injured.

Fourth-round pick, Nico Siragusa figures to be in the mix to start at right guard. His mauling style of play fits what the Ravens want to do on offense.

Fellow 2017 NFL Draft pick, Jermaine Eluemunor could be another option for Baltimore at right guard. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, he has an imposing physical presence that will wear down interior defenders as the Ravens continue to pound the ball inside late in games.

An intriguing option to fill out the Ravens offensive line is Stephane Nembot. He has a rare blend of size and athleticism that he showed while playing tackle at Colorado.

Nembot is a raw prospect, which is why he went un-drafted in 2016. However, with the right coaching, he can develop into a solid option at right tackle.

James Hurst is the likely starter at right tackle when the Ravens open up training camp. He is the most experienced tackle on the team. The fourth-year player started three games in 2016 and eight games in 2015.

With the right blend of coaching experience and developing players, the Ravens may be able to establish a long-term unit that can grow together.

The Topic of Mental Health Cannot Be Tabled: Why talking about mental health is so important

— During the month of May, we recognized Mental Health Month to raise awareness for the millions of Americans living with a mental health condition. Since one in five adults or approximately 43.8 million people, will experience mental illness during their lifetime, it is safe to say that everyone is affected by the issue. Approximately 20.2 million adults in the United States experience a substance use disorder each year and 50 percent of them have a co-occurring mental illness.

Quite often people are alarmed when you begin discussing mental health, but there is only one way to overcome that fear and that is through transparency and awareness. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act.

This year, Instagram launched a #HereForYou campaign, which encourages users of the social media platform to open up about their mental health. Since the launch, teens and young adults have been taking to social media to share their stories of overcoming the obstacles of mental health and leaning on each other in a safe space by offering friendship, support and collaboration. As a result of this campaign, Instagram has become a social media platform where users can post about feelings and mental health as a coping mechanism and get support from those who share their experiences and those who don’t.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also provides several forums for individuals with mental health issues or substance use disorders to speak freely and without judgment. I believe, it is vital for individuals with mental health issues to be able to talk openly and without facing unnecessary stigma. However, communities of color do face higher levels of stigma, receive less access to treatment, and are less likely to receive treatment at all. In fact, even though the prevalence of mental illness by race is similar in white adults and black adults, the use of mental health services among the groups differs. According to NAMI, white males use 11.3 percent of mental health services and white females use 21.5 percent of mental health services while black males use 6.6 percent and black females use 10.3 percent. This may be due to a culturally insensitive healthcare system, less health insurance coverage, racism in health treatment settings, or general mistrust of healthcare providers.

Unfortunately, there are serious consequences for a lack of treatment. Untreated mental illness can cause further emotional, behavioral, or physical health problems. We have seen the impacts of mental illness gone untreated in our veteran and homeless populations. Far too often, our veterans and the homeless are ignored and do not receive proper treatment. When they go without treatment their livelihood is affected tremendously—broken relationships with family and friends, loss of financial stability, or feeling they have no purpose in life.

Serious or severe mental illnesses, which are schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, major depression, or bipolar disorder, cost America about $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Individuals living with serious mental illness die 25 years, on average, earlier than others. Not to mention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S, and the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 15-24. In Texas, one person commits suicide every three hours on average and 44,193 Americans commit suicide each year. In many cases, it is common for those who attempt suicide to have a mental illness.

We must do more to support individuals who suffer from mental illnesses and be willing to involve ourselves in programs that support them. As we continue to have open conversations about mental health, with respectful language, we can abandon the social stigma associated with mental illness.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is a Texas native, serving her 13th term representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas. She was the first nurse elected to the U.S. Congress. In December 2010, Congresswoman Johnson was elected as the first African-American and the first female Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology— a position she still holds today. You can follow her on Twitter at @RepEBJ.

West Baltimore Celebrates 10th Annual Boundary Block Party

— Residents of Central West Baltimore will gather on Saturday, June 3, 2017 for the 10th annual Boundary Block Party at the Pennsyl

Food is free for anyone who brings their voter registration card or registers to vote at the No Boundary Block Party on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Pennsylvania Avenue Triangle Park located at Fremont and Pennsylvania Avenues in West Baltimore.

Courtesy Photo/No Boundaries Coalition

Food is free for anyone who brings their voter registration card or registers to vote at the No Boundary Block Party on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Pennsylvania Avenue Triangle Park located at Fremont and Pennsylvania Avenues in West Baltimore.

vania Avenue Triangle Park located at Fremont and Pennsylvania Avenues.

Organized by the largest advocacy organization in West Baltimore, The No Boundaries Coalition and Pennsylvania Avenue’s own community arts program, Jubilee Arts, the Boundary Block Party is an annual event that brings residents in the 21217 together across race and class lines.

The block party will feature marching bands, local music acts, face painting, mural painting, a community-run produce stall, free food and voter registration.

Featured entertainment includes: Eze Jackson, The Baltimore Twilighters, Dynamic Force, Abou The Flute Maker, and Mova Kween and more. Food is free for anyone who brings their voter registration card or registers to vote at the event. The event is free and open to the public.

The Boundary Block Party was started by a group of residents from five neighborhoods in 2007 to create a space for residents to come together in the largely segregated area of Central West Baltimore. After three years of hosting the annual block party, residents met in the basement of a church for the founding meeting of the No Boundaries Coalition. Since 2010, the Coalition has grown into a nationally recognized advocacy organization that has pushed for police accountability in Baltimore City’s consent decree, opened a community-run produce stall, and tripled voter turnout in Sandtown.

Jubilee Arts will be celebrating their year end community art students. Attendees will be able to see performances from neighborhood kids in ballet, hand dancing and line dancing. Additionally, Jubilee’s Youth In Business will be selling original T-shirts, jewelry, and mosaic flower pots designed by young, creative Entrepreneurs.

Year Up executive is a homegrown success story

— Born and raised in Baltimore, Roland Selby was drawn to the nonprofit Year Up Baltimore, when two of his relatives entered the program and a short time later, a head- hunter approached him about becoming executive director.

Year Up, a college and career development program where low to moderate-income students ages 18 to 24 earn money while they learn, aligned with his passion and interests, said Selby, who holds a B.S. in accounting from Morgan State University.

“I am motivated by achievement in everything that I do. I am extremely competitive and results driven,” he said. “I continuously seek to develop myself professionally, personally and spiritually. I also take pride in the success of my team and their accomplishments, especially those I mentor.”

Since joining Year Up Baltimore, Selby has expanded the number of students served and increased the organization’s footprint at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), as well as the partnerships with Maryland businesses.

(Left to right) Marcus Washington, WJZ-TV news anchor; Roland Selby, executive director, Year Up Baltimore; and Year Up Baltimore student Adam Megahed on the set of WJZ-TV's program

Courtesy Photo

(Left to right) Marcus Washington, WJZ-TV news anchor; Roland Selby, executive director, Year Up Baltimore; and Year Up Baltimore student Adam Megahed on the set of WJZ-TV’s program “On Time.”

“It’s important that the program makes a direct contribution to help the city by connecting young adults with the opportunities they want and need by placing them with local businesses like BGE, Horsetail Technologies, TOPKATS Group, and PROARC, Inc.,” he said.

“I was a typical teen. I enjoyed socializing, playing sports and I was a bit rebellious but overall I was not very focused and did not have any goals,” Selby said. “Fortunately, I had support in both my parents and grandparents and a host of caring adults as mentors. That guidance and wisdom assisted me with navigating the trials and challenges of adolescence and helped me to become grounded and focused on achieving short term goals such as completing under graduate studies, pursuing a meaningful career, and providing insight on how to be a productive citizen of the world.”

Year Up officials note that 12 million jobs that require candidates with post-secondary education will go unfilled in the next decade while six million young adults are disconnected from stable career pathways.

The solution, they say, includes connecting young adults who need opportunities with companies who need their talents. The nonprofit identifies urban young adults who are highly motivated but lack opportunities to enter the mainstream economy.

Officials speak with companies to understand the skills needed and participants spend six months in a classroom learning the hard skills sought by employers and the soft skills successful team members need.

Students then intern for six months with a Year Up partner company, applying their skills while gaining critical work experience. Upon graduation, participants are ready for a meaningful career in which they’re able to contribute to the economy and their community.

Approximately 83 percent of students are employed, earning $17 per hour or $35,000 annually. Each of the last two graduating cohorts received employment or became full-time students.

“Our program is based upon having high expectations for our students and to provide high support to assist them on the path of successfully earning an internship and in completing the program,” Selby said. “We use a contract to reinforce this philosophy and we state the following expectations: show up every day; be on time; dress professionally; and submit deliverables on time.”

By adhering to that contract and infusing core values into programmatic elements, Year Up helps to provide a foundation for students to be successful.

“Participants are going to be challenged personally and academically while they are growing professionally. Our contract system is designed to model expectations of professional behaviors and provides room for students to learn and grow,” he said.

“Year Up is not easy. They will need to be resilient and able to bounce back and fail forward. If anyone is interested in being a part of Year Up they have to be open to the process.”

To participate in Year Up Baltimore, individuals must be between 18 and 24; have a high school diploma or GED; be from a low-to-moderate income family; a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or possess an employment authorization card; be available five days a week for the full year of the program; attend Baltimore City Community College; and be motivated to learn technical and professional skills.

For more information or to apply to participate in the program, visit www.yearup.org/Baltimore or call 410-919-9530.

2017 NBA Finals loaded with stars, historical implications

— This NBA Finals is in uncharted territory.

For the third consecutive year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are facing off with the title on the line. The Cavaliers, who in 2016 ended a sports title drought the city of Cleveland had been living under since 1964, are aiming to repeat. The Warriors, who won the title in 2015, are out for revenge.

This is the first time in NBA history that the same two teams are meeting in the NBA Finals for three straight seasons. To take it further, never has there been a championship “rubber match” — the third installment between two teams that would break the tie — in any other North American professional team sport. Until now.

This trilogy, which is scheduled to end in mid-June, will leave either Golden State or Cleveland with bragging rights.

“It’s definitely unique,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s nothing you can take for granted. Even though we have the best player in the world (LeBron James) on our team, you still can’t take it for granted. Health plays a part, a lot of things play a part in this. So going to The Finals three straight years, you have to enjoy it. You have to relish the moment.

“But now that we are here, we have business to take care of.”

How rare is it for the same two teams to meet three years in a row with a championship on the line? It’s only happened once in each of the other major North American professional sports — and the last instance was more than half a century ago, when the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens battled for the Stanley Cup from 1954-1956. The Red Wings won the first two Cups, while Montreal hoisted the third.

In the NFL — before the Super Bowl era began — the Detroit Lions topped the Cleveland Browns in 1952 and 1953, with the Browns getting retribution in 1954.

You have to go back even further for a Major League Baseball trilogy, and it all took place in New York City. The New York Giants got the best of the New York Yankees in back-to-back seasons, winning the World Series in 1921 and 1922.

But in 1923, the Yankees, playing their home games in the original, brand-new Yankee Stadium, got the best of the Giants, winning the World Series in six games. That Yankees’ roster was packed with Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock.

Which brings this back to present day. Unbelievably, this already-loaded Warriors’ roster from last year — led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — got better by adding superstar Kevin Durant. He’s seeking his first title and is second for the Warriors in scoring with 25.2 points per game this postseason.

“I can’t go out there and do everything on my own, or I can’t go out there and just let my teammates do all the work for me,” Durant said. “I got to do my part and we all got to make it come together as a group.”

The Warriors also have a likely healthier Curry, their leading scorer. In the first round of the 2016 playoffs against the Houston Rockets, Curry suffered a sprained MCL, and he didn’t look like himself in the NBA Finals.

Ahead of this year’s series, Curry says he has some swelling in his right elbow and will probably wear a shooting sleeve. But he has downplayed it, saying that the elbow doesn’t hurt and that he feels “totally different” physically heading into this year’s NBA Finals compared to 2016.

“Obviously not really dealing with any bumps or bruises really besides this elbow, that’s not really a factor,” Curry said. “So other than that, feeling fresh.”

Like the Warriors, the Cavaliers enter this year’s Finals healthy. For the third time in a row, they aren’t favored, but they have a deep bench and several great 3-point shooters. When those shots are falling, it opens things up for James, giving him the option to drive to the basket or post up.

In 2015, James carried the Cavaliers on his back when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love went down with injuries. James again led the way in 2016, but he had their help, including Irving’s dagger three to close out Game 7.

James, who took home NBA Finals MVP honors last year, is the only non-Boston Celtic to reach the NBA Finals seven years in a row, that in its own a massive feat. He’s going for his fourth title.

“I don’t like to be satisfied too much,” James said. “Because then you become complacent. But it was a reward because when you set out a goal and you’re able to achieve that reward or achieve that goal, like all of us, then it’s rewarding and you feel good about it.”

“But I’m not a complacent person. After we were able to accomplish that last year and we celebrated for a few days, I got right back to work, mentally and physically get my body ready because I wanted to be able to put myself and put our teammates and put our franchise in position where we had an opportunity to do it again.”

The Warriors are 12-0 in these playoffs, becoming the first NBA team to accomplish the feat, and the Cavaliers are 12-1. The NBA hasn’t had a championship series in which both teams reached The Finals with one loss or fewer in the playoffs since the 1950s, when teams played far fewer postseason games before The Finals.

It’s tough to get more even than this. And with these star-studded teams, this may not be over even after this NBA Finals “tiebreaker.” Could these teams return in 2018? Right now, the way the league is constructed, it just might happen.