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The Netherlands chapter of the World Wildlife Fund has awarded a grant to artist/educator Kathie diStefano, Avalanche Arts (Stichting Lawine), linking students in Baltimore with Dutch high school students in the and greater Rotterdam area. This ‘Pen Pal Project’ will use social media to build awareness for environmental issues in both countries.

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Participants will begin by looking critically at their own trash behavior and how this affects their communities as well as global waste problems. Students will be asked to “think globally and act locally” to help reduce litter and increase recycling in their communities.

After a virtual introduction students in the two cities will share stories and compare findings regarding trash problems and recycling challenges in Dutch and American neighborhoods.

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The Baltimore-Rotterdam Pen Pal Project, part of Avalanche Arts’ “Operation Trash” educational project, deals with the following themes:

The enormous mountains of trash that we create year in and year out.

How litter can pollutes our communities and harms wildlife.

The dangers of plastic bags in nature and “plastic soup” in the oceans.

How our “shop ‘til you drop” lifestyle is depleting the world’s resources.

Goals

- Teach the concepts of Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

- Support community cleanups led by participants.

- Inspire participants to help find environmentally friendly solutions for trash pollution locally and worldwide.

- Support participants in becoming ambassadors for cleaner neighborhoods and increased recycling in their communities.

 

The Baltimore-Rotterdam Pen Pal Project builds on a pilot exchange in 2015 with Baltimore’s Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and IKC ‘t Palet Holy, an elementary school near Rotterdam. It also follows environmentally-themed art educational projects with children and community residents in the Baybrook area of Baltimore and Heijplaat area of Rotterdam, entitled HarborTraces. HarborTraces was a collaboration with Baltimore artist/educator Stephen Bradley and Avalanche Arts in 2012.

Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee from the Baltimore Sister Cities 501(c)(3) association, supports this project. Baltimore and Rotterdam have been sister cities since 1985. The committee encourages engagement between the two cities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems together through reciprocal exchanges and projects.