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Introducing S.T.E.A.M. the Streets at Groundwork!, May 2017.

Ben Gilbarg is one of Groundwork!’s most prolific members – with an alphabet soup’s worth of acronyms filling out his resume, many of them dedicated to community-empowering pursuits. Ben was a co-founder of 3rd EyE Open and New Bedford YAP; founder of the video company Visionary Communications Consultants, LLC; and now, founder of Big Picture Anthems and its S.T.E.A.M. the Streets project.

Big Picture Anthems produces hip outreach campaigns fueled by music, video, and the passion for impacting youth, states their Facebook page. S.T.E.A.M. the Streets is their latest campaign and it is designed to inspire underrepresented youth to pursue S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. career paths – S.T.E.A.M. being “Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.”

Ben kicked off S.T.E.A.M. the Streets with an event held here at Groundwork! Last May, he invited community leaders, members and teens to this co-working facility to learn about the project he had been preparing throughout the Winter – and also see the first video in the campaign.

It was an amazing evening here. The room was full of energy and purpose – and yes, thankfully packed with the very youth who are still too often underrepresented in community gatherings dedicated toward raising the level of play for everybody.

It is Ben Gilbarg’s gift and a reflection of his hard work over many years that when he puts out a call to action, people respond. He’s built a reputation for crafting forward thinking, inclusive initiatives – like 3rd EyE and YAP – that speak up, not down, to young people and inspire them to be their best selves.

The vehicle through which S.T.E.A.M. the Streets seeks to do just that reflect the notion. The videos in the campaign are compelling, professional and enlightening – for everybody, not just their intended audience. They profile S.T.E.A.M. success stories – from people who don’t look like typical Silicon Valley stereotypes but people you might see next to you on the bus.

Here’s the one Ben introduced at Groundwork!, just to give you some flavor:

It’s a terrific video – and for the viewer, especially the young viewer, helps illuminate a path forward. Teens get a lot of mixed messages; this one is unambiguous: You have a seat at this table, too.

Ben has been promoting and producing more S.T.E.A.M. the Streets vids all summer. (Follow them on YouTube here.) As I write this, he’s in New York City with the project. But luckily, New Bedford is always on his radar and he’ll back in time to reconnect with 3rd EyE Open as the hip-hop festival returns to the city on Saturday, Aug. 19. He’ll be lending a hand with the graffiti art part of the day.

Beyond that, Ben writes to me that, “We are starting an innovative program with Carney Academy this fall as part of the (S.T.E.A.M.) campaign. The goal is to boost levels of engagement and attainment in math and science through this pilot program.”

He’s also heavily involved with the recently announced “Hip Story” project (read all about it here). In fact, Ben Gilbarg is one busy guy and one incredible asset to our city – especially our city’s younger citizens.

When I ask him how he keeps inspired and how he keeps finding new ways to expand the boundaries for everybody, he replies:

“Good question. I love being creative for a cause, that’s why my title is creative catalyst.  Maybe it should be creative cause catalyst! I have a strong connection and affinity for youth who have not been given all the opportunities or have not been expected to accomplish much.

“It’s my life’s work to catalyze creative communication and education initiatives that make them more aware of opportunities, social issues, and their full future potential. I really believe that this is a big missing link in our society right now, and if we can utilize multiple techniques and sectors (public, private, social media, music/video) to reach and influence youth to be more aware and achieve greatness, then I have done my job.”

That’s not a bad day at the office.

Steven Froias