Remake Learning Days: What’s happening in the Hill District?
Meet Terri Baltimore and Learn Why She's Excited for Remake Learning Days in the Hill District
Pittsburgh’s Hill District is many things: the birthplace of playwright August Wilson; the stomping grounds of yesterday’s jazz legends; and home to countless artists, activists, and leaders who’ve not only reshaped the city, but paved the way for others to do the same. Recently, the community has seen a pop-culture resurgence, featured everywhere from an Oscar-winning movie to a critically acclaimed book.
As director of community engagement for the Hill House Association — a nonprofit providing a wide range of programs and services to help meet the community’s needs — Terri Baltimore has seen the Hill District’s ups, downs, and transitions. After working in the community for 25 years, she’s come to appreciate its ever-changing identity. “Working on the Hill is many things, but dull is never one of them,” she says. “That’s what keeps me coming here every day. You never know what you’ll find that will be challenging, fun, and creative — something that will force you to rethink what you thought was set in stone.”
Though it’s the Hill District’s past that made it famous, it’s the community’s future that most excites Baltimore. “It’s a neighborhood still very much in transition,” she says. “It’s becoming not only a more vibrant place, but vibrant in a 21st-century kind of way. We have this amazing legacy in music, literature, and the arts. So it’s really good to see that the neighborhood can honor that while also building upon it and moving in new directions.”
We caught up with Baltimore to talk about those new directions, and how Remake Learning Days can open them up to the Hill District’s youth.
Can you tell us a little bit about you and your work?
Sure! I work at the Hill House Association as the director of community engagement, which means I get the fun job. All of the community-facing activities are part of my work portfolio. So, I get to work in green spaces, with artists, and with folks who are developing activities around healthy lifestyles. I get to do really cool things! I’ve been able to meet with, work with, and support folks who are doing all kinds of great things in regard to making, green space, art, science, and the neighborhood.
I’ve worked here for 25 years. That wasn’t the plan — the grant [that originally funded my position] was for three years. But 22 years later, I’m still here, because this is one of the most amazing places to work. There’s always something going on in the Hill.
I’m also on the board of the Ujamaa Collective. Ujamaa is an entrepreneurial, nonprofit business center that supports women of color who are from the neighborhood, from the region, from the United States, from the Caribbean, and from Africa — women who are using art as a mechanism for building wealth for their families and taking their homemade businesses to the next level. The store has been in operation for about eight years and has provided opportunities to showcase the work of over 100 different artists.
Are you an artist yourself?
I’m not. I’m a lover of art, but I couldn’t paint a straight line to save my life!
Why did you choose to be a Remake Learning Days Community Champion?
I like the idea of people figuring out ways to engage kids and families in interesting, non-traditional ways. And I see Remake Learning doing that. I’m really appreciative of the kinds of activities that are going on in the Hill District.
Are you particularly excited about any Remake Learning Days events?
They’re very cool! I think they’re all exiting, but for different reasons.
The August Wilson Park Cleanup and Picnic and the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative’s Ultimate Play Day both take place in August Wilson Park, which is a place that’s near and dear to me. We’ve worked with the Parks Conservancy on the renovation of that space, so every time people are there — whether they’re helping to make it beautiful by cleaning it up or by creating opportunities for kids and families or just by using the place just to have fun — I always love that. And the view is just gobsmacking. It’s the most beautiful place to have fun.
I’m also excited about the Creative Kidz Showcase, which is in one of my favorite buildings in the Hill District: the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium in the Hill House. It’s a really cool way to engage kids and inspire their creativity by giving them the opportunity to make art; to take photographs; to be part of a community choir; and to do it in a way that celebrates their contributions. I think it’s great.
Why is something like Remake Learning Days important to the Hill District?
It’s a way of getting people in the neighborhood to engage with organizations that work with kids and do so many different kinds of programs. That work can happen anywhere. It can happen outdoors, like the activity that HYPE is doing, which is providing an opportunity for a number of partners to showcase their work. So it’s amazing that people are thinking about how to help kids be creative, whether they’re kindergartners or 12th graders. There’s so much technology out there now, so it’s really nice for kids to take a step back and think about play and art-making and taking care of the environment. Those are all very important, and I’m excited to see people encouraging that.
What do you want parents to know about Remake Learning Days?
That they can have as much fun as the kids! It’s funny — people think that once you’re past a certain age, you can’t run around and be silly and play anymore. I think these activities encourage kids and their siblings and their parents to throw out the expectations of age, and just have fun.
Parents: Join your kids for even more fun at these great events!
Saturday, May 19, 12-2 pm | St. Benedict the Moor School
Check out a fun, family-friendly performance preview of the children’s opera, “Goldie B. Locks and The Three Singing Bears,” adapted by John Davies with music by Mozart and Offenbach. This event will feature games, activities, excerpts from the opera, snacks, and more!
Sunday, May 20, 1-4 pm | August Wilson Park
Hosted by the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, the event is an opportunity for people from throughout the Pittsburgh region to play together and raise awareness of the benefits of play for everyone! Featured activities are carefully selected as ones that can be replicated at home, in classrooms, and at neighborhood parks.
Wednesday, May 23, 4-5 pm | Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Hill District
Experiment, play, and learn in an interactive technology program featuring paper keyboards. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) All Hands On Tech programs support learning and literacy by introducing children to technology.
For more events in the Hill District, download a free Remake Learning Days planning guide.
This blog is part of a special initiative to connect children and youth in four Pittsburgh neighborhoods (Hazelwood, Homewood, Hill District and Northside) and West Virginia to Remake Learning Days (May 17-25).