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The Mobile Community Brick Factory & Monument Moving Forward

The Mobile Community Brick Factory & Monument
is a public art process that supports social and spatial change in Baltimore and Philadelphia in order to build a new kind of community-driven monumental public space using personalized, hand-made bricks.

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The Mobile Community Brick Factory & Monument (MCB F&M) is a project centered in process, people, and making. To date, we have engaged over 15,000 people in Baltimore, made over 2,500 unique bricks, and collected over 1,000 personal stories from Baltimore residents. Lead artist, Marian April Glebes, has been invited by her neighbors in Woodberry, Medfield, and Hampden and the creative team at Union Collective to bring this project to Baltimore City permanently.

The Mobile Community Brick Factory & Monument makes something new for the Union Collective campus and beyond that uses a process developed over the past decade. This monument is a grassroots process and product made by the people who live here, together. As such, all facets of the work address social justice movements and tensions surrounding monuments in cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia while reminding us that we are all part of a greater whole. The goal of the process and product is to create a new type of community-built monumental public space, using heritage methods that reflect the historical construction and living heritage of these “brick cities.”

The Mobile Community Brick Factory produces hand-made bricks using local hand-processed clay and historic water-struck methods. Participants personalize and inscribe their stories onto these bricks.

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Chaunyia is a participant. (Image below-top) She made a brick about how she loves transgender people. Then, she gathered her classmates and everyone else who was at the brick factory that day around her, and taught everyone what it meant to be transgender; how trans-gender people are not people to be afraid of, how trans-gender people need to be loved. Chaunyia was 11 years old at the time she made this brick. These bricks – their people and their stories – are our future, and our past.

A second example is a group of power ladies who live together in a house and program for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. (Image below-bottom) They found out about the brick factory and wanted to join as a group to make bricks. Their bricks read “Dream the Dream,” “Original,” “Love my Life,” and “Create your own destiny.”

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We believe ordinary voices matter, especially those that aren’t usually heard, that public space should be built by the people who use it, that heritage is alive, memory is mutable, and history is ongoing - made by daily lives. Our bricks represent pasts, presents, and futures that would otherwise remain untold and unwitnessed, built, shared, and spoken by urban residents. All are welcome and included in the process - a different kind of monument – not one to a dead white guy on a horse, but a living space that honors the past and is built collectively by the people who live in and use our cities.

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The project includes two monumental components: a permanent Community Brick Monument and the Mobile Community Brick Monument, an ongoing series of exhibitions that create shared spaces and collect oral histories through ethnographic methods. In Baltimore, over 150,000 people have visited the Mobile Community Brick Monuments, finding connections to stories that are like their own.

The Community Brick Factory (process) includes:
» Hands-on workshops that make bricks and collect oral histories;

» Communications and marketing efforts to encourage a wide range of participation across Baltimore and beyond;

» Individual and collective on-going partnership building and community engagement.

The Community Brick Monument (product) includes:

» Mobile, temporary exhibitions of the hand-made bricks;

» Co-design sessions that determine the form(s) of the permanent monument;

» A permanent community brick monument for the people of Baltimore City.

Like the bricks themselves, the form of the permanent monument is created by the community. What if we could build a wall that was not divisive? What if these stories were embedded in transit locations, and became part of the journey through the city? What if they created a new space of gathering and conversation, or a path towards hope? What if they were strategically placed alongside existing urban monuments in order to be in concert with the voices that preceded them? Whether diffused or together, the Community Brick Monument reminds us that we are all part of a greater whole.

This project is shovel-ready for its 10-year Anniversary in 2025 to build a permanent monument for the Union Collective campus made of community bricks that sends hope through messages like these to the future. This project is for everyone:  artists and makers are one with residents. All who pass by are participants, and all are invited to make the pieces of the monument.

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