Built on the premise that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn, the North Avenue Knowledge Exchange is a community-based educational program that offers a range of free classes to area residents.
It was developed in 2016 as a partnership between MICA, Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse and the Baltimore Free School.
Here’s how it works: The exchange invites proposals for classes. After reviewing proposals, exchange leaders then decide which classes to host and where. Locations include MICA and the Baltimore Free School. Among the most popular classes: jewelry-making, gardening, scented oil-making, dancing, poetry writing, grant writing and financial literacy. There are also classes that focus on specific subjects, like “The Art and Business of Street Performing” and “Repatriation Possibilities for Baltimore Africans.”
“We find learning in so many forms and venues that are really outside of the scope of what we typically think of in terms of degree programs or what MICA offers,” said Gwynne Keathley, vice provost for research and graduate studies at MICA. “The exchange really validates all of that learning.”
In addition to providing education, the exchange also helps build relationships that strengthen the surrounding communities, including Penn-North, Station North, and Greenmount West, she said.
“I see North Avenue at the heart of Baltimore – an east/west corridor, bridging west and east Baltimore communities,” Keathley said.
This historic street was also a site of the 1968 riots, which devastated area businesses, which impacted development there for decades. Keathley is proud to be a part of the area’s recent renaissance.
“It is a privilege and an interest to contribute to the regrowth of North Avenue and part of rebuilding creative communities at our city’s center,” she said.