Sunshine, sweet treats and social justice drew hundreds of Baltimoreans to the Station North Arts and Entertainment District on Sept. 30 for “The Big Ice Cream Social.”

The event was held in the YNot Lot and the Impact Hub. It was co-sponsored by Baltimore’s own Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, the Impact Hub and the Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s.

Featuring appearances by Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, and Taharka Brothers co-founder Sean Smeeton, the five-hour event was part of a national campaign to promote racial and economic justice.

“Ice cream is a great icebreaker,” said Smeeton. “I think Baltimore … is a very segregated city. We don’t see a lot of people from different ethnic groups, money backgrounds and so forth together. I think ice cream can do that. It’s affordable.”

As the event got under way, visitors lined up in front of Ben & Jerry’s infamous green-and-blue, cloud-covered truck and Taharka Brothers’  fuchsia-colored “change-maker mobile” for free ice cream cones. There was also live music by A1Chops, DDm and Martina Lynch; hula-hooping kids; and local eats from BricknFire Pizza Company and Sporty Dog Creations.

At the Impact Hub, a co-working space, innovation lab and community forum, attendees registered to vote, previewed art exhibitions and listened to speakers. Topics ranged from the need for community involvement, voting rights and fair housing, to the importance of arts and STEM education.

“My main message right here, right now, in Baltimore is to join the campaign to elect [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Ben Jealous,” Cohen said. “That is the best thing you can do to improve education here, to end mass incarceration, to make a state that is based on what’s best for the individual people in the state, instead of what’s best for the corporation.”

Karim Amin, president of the Muslim Social Services Agency and a fellow at the Towson-based Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, spoke about Penn North Recovery, a wellness program that provides a variety of social services for people struggling with addiction.

“This whole project is anti-gentrification,” Amin said about the Penn North business community. “We are really trying to regenerate our entire community.”

Brittany Young, creator of  B-360, an initiative of the Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab cohort to teach young Baltimoreans about STEM subjects through the lessons of dirt bike riding, encouraged audience members to “reach outside of their comfort zones [and] to think through an empathy lens.”

  • The Big Ice Cream Social
  • The Big Ice Cream Social
  • The Big Ice Cream Social
  • The Big Ice Cream Social
  • Taharka Brothers
  • Ben & Jerry's
  • The Big Ice Cream Social