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Ms Kathie’s Seagull Mamma showis both an introduction to theater as well as a lesson in trash management and recycling for young audiences. So it was fitting that when Kathie diStefano, Avalanche Arts, visited elementary schools in Baltimore in late February and early March that her collaboration was with Young Audiences of Maryland

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Young Audiences Arts For Learning with Kathie diStefano.

 Baybrook Elementary and Wolfe Street Academy were both visited where Ms Kathie performed to audiences ages 4-6. As with most of her shows, this performance piece is an interactive comedy show designed to teach kids how important it is to throw trash away where it belongs. At Baybrook she performed to 150 kids, assembly style, and at Wolfe Street an audience of 50 children experienced her show in a more intimate setting. Silly moves, recycling bin falling on her head and a play along story where children from the audience joined her on stage, were elements that captivated her audiences. For the show’s finale Ms Kathie put on a pair of clogs and proceeded to teach the children a Dutch Trash Song, translating it as she went along. The shows left all wanting more, so plans are in place for another ‘Baltimore City Schools Tour’ in late October into early November 2019.

Ms Kathies Seagull Mamma shot sleeping

'The Seagull Mamma’ show is an English version of the Dutch ‘Zeemeuw Mamma’, part of the educational programs that visit schools in the Netherlands. There are lessons that go along with the show, tips on how to run a successful community clean up and all kinds of projects and inspiring links for the teachers to share with their students. Avalanche Arts, Stichting Lawine in Dutch, have been touring Dutch elementary and high schools for many years and since 2007 with their trash and recycling educational program. Avalanche Arts show schools how easy it can be to add trash and recycling themes to required curriculum in a user friendly way. Avalanche Arts operate from their base in Rotterdam, go to for more information on their Dutch programs and for their English site.

Ms Kathie cleaning up with kids

Avalanche Arts Teams up with Baltimore City

From February 25 – March 1st. Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Avalanche Arts, led by Kathie diStefano, continued to work on their collaboration designed to teach trash management and build recycling awareness. Avalanche Arts has been working on this theme full time for over 10 years in Rotterdam, as well as in Vlaardingen and Maassluis, smaller towns boarding Rotterdam and often referred to as ‘greater Rotterdam City’. Although Dutch and American cultures can come across as very different at times, their struggle with litter, trash reduction and good recycling strategies are similar in many ways.

Kathie and Tracy DPW 2019 03 01

The DPW – Avalanche Arts collaboration will continue throughout 2019. The next phase of the collaboration will be done remote and in October 2019 Ms diStefano will again travel to Baltimore to work with the city’s recycling and communication teams. The first step is to create a slide show presentation for middle school students, along with a series of teacher guide materials and worksheets. DPW community liaisons will visit schools to share this work and all teaching materials will be placed on DPW’s website so that interested schools can access the trash lessons directly. Avalanche Arts is excited about sharing their expertise in trash and recycling education with Baltimore City and are looking forward to continuing the work with DPW’s recycling teams.

Ms Kathies Recycling Show 2 with clog


Op 10 oktober heeft de Nederlandse School in Bethesda, een stadje net buiten Washington, D.C., ‘Operatie Afval’ op visite gehad voor hun Culturele Middag. Met het project reisde ook

Juf. Kettie (alias Kathie diStefano) mee voor de aftrap en afsluitingsshows. Het was een unieke ervaring voor de Amerikaanse die al 30 jaar woont en werkt in Nederland om in het Nederlands taal te doceren en te spelen terwijl het project zich in Amerika afspeelde. Het Nederlands/Amerikaanse publiek heeft genoten van de activiteiten. Er werd met een verfrissende blik gekeken op afvalgedrag en recycling. En de kinderen stonden op het podium, begeleidt door Juf. Kettie met haar aparte accent, en dat alles op een stralende en zonnige herfstdag.

 2015 kathie opening show


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2015 girls (6 7 too young) playing vuilspel






  Kathie's Blog  

Lawine USA

The Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee hosted Kathie diStefano as “artist in residence” in December of 2013. Kathie, educational director Avalanche Arts, visited Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School and Ben Franklin High with workshops and performances about environmental issues. This was part of the ongoing project “Playing in a Cleaner Neighborhood” designed to teach trash management and increased recycling responsibilities.

Afgelopen december was Kathie diStefano op uitnodiging van de Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee “artist in residence” in Baltimore. Daar heeft zij scholen bezocht met “Spelen in een Schonere Wijk”.

Lawine-met-Operatie-Afval-in-Baltimore-met-de-Burgermeester WEB tekst


Check out our



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"Baltimore Mayor Spoke at Reception Honouring Visiting Artist from Rotterdam"

'The Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (BRSCC) hosted a reception for Rotterdam artist Kathie diStefano 17 December, 2013 at Chesapeake Arts Center. The reception celebrated and honored diStefano's collaboration with garden educator Jason Reed and celebrated the participants of their workshops in the Curtis-Bay neighborhood. diStefano's December 2013 artist residency in Baltimore is part of the BRSCC's ongoing artist exchange project: HarborTraces.'

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“What a delight to have your talent, dedication and inspirational energy around! We were so lucky Steve made the connection with you in R'dam and you were willing to come over and enlighten us, the teachers and the kids in the classroom. You are the BEST and what a creative force, hopefully the BRSCC can work with you in the future and extend this collaboration.”

Annet Couwenberg, chair Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee

“I have genuinely enjoyed having the both of you at our school and in our class. I hope that this is the start of an ongoing partnership and friendship. Thank for all that both of you do!”

Chris Wilson, English/Drama Teacher, Ben Franklin High

“My students are so enriched by their work with you.  Thanks for sharing your gifts with us”.

Kelly Klinefelter Lee, English Teacher, Ben Franklin High School

“Kathie's presentation was eye opening! I had no idea how similar people's perceptions of garbage in Rotterdam was to citizens in Baltimore. It was awesome when we had to get up and work together to undo the tangled mess we had become.”

Kate Amberger, Curtis Bay Elementary School

“Working with Kathie was a joy, and we can all be extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short time.”

Jason Reed, Filbert Street Garden community outreach project en Open Society Fellow.

“Our project had so many wonderful “highs” thanks to the talent, flexibility and humor of Jason Reed. It was great fun to collaborate with him and I welcome with open arms another opportunity to work with Jason.”

Kathie diStefano, Avalanche Arts, Rotterdam, Nederland.


Avalanche Arts Teams Up With Masonville Cove

In addition to leading workshops in Baltimore schools Kathie also visited Masonville Cove as part of her artist in residence. This collaboration with Masonville Cove was part of a developmental workshop series for local teachers. Avalanche Arts uses creative and performance arts as tools to entertain while teaching audiences how important it is to deal with trash in an environmentally friendly way.

“Learning through laughter”motto Avalanche Arts


Lawine Op Visite Bij Natuur en Milieu Centrum Masonville Cove

Kathie diStefano, hoofd onderwijs Stichting Lawine, was op bezoek bij Masonville Cove als “artist in residence”, een onderdeel van de Baltimore Rotterdam Zuster Stad programma, in december 2013. Zij verzorgt workshops en lessen voor docenten en leerlingen bij Masonville Cove natuur centrum zoals bij scholen in de regio. Lawine’s afval-educatie programma “Spelen in een Schonere Wijk” krijgt een Amerikaanse tintje zodat Baltimore bewoners voorlichting kregen over hoe hun afvalgedrag de lokaal omgeving zoals de wereld kan beïnvloedt.

Lawine gebruikt al jaren toneel en spel als leermiddel om belangrijk maatschappelijk boodschappen over te brengen. Zij combineer comedy met educatie en voorlichting. De wens om een hoog pleziergehalte te hebben tijdens het leren is een rode draad geworden in de manier van werken van Lawine; van daar de Lawine motto “lachend leren”.

  Find out more?   •   •   Masonville Cove Environmental Center•   • 



Planting the Seeds of Creativity

Kathie diStefano, actress/director at Avalanche Arts, Rotterdam, teamed up with gardener/musician Jason Reed, Filbert Street Garden, Baltimore, in December 2013. The collaboration was part of the Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee’s international arts exchange program Harbor Traces.

Using creative and performing arts as tools Jason and Kathie went into Curtis Bay area schools to generate awareness for environmental issues focusing on trash problems and the consequences of modern day “shop ‘til you drop” consumption behavior. Their first of a series of workshops took them to Ben Franklin High school. There they led group discussion about trash in the community and played theater games. Improvisational games and comedy sketches were the basis of work which centered around a one-act play entitled The Eco News Show.

 Ms. diStefano lives and works in the Netherlands where she runs educational and community outreach programs on trash management themes. Originally from the US she has settled in Rotterdam some 30 years ago.

When asked if there is a difference between the Rotterdam teenagers and Baltimoreans she was quick to respond. “The accents may be different, but the essence is the same; young people from different cultures who sign up for a performance arts project discover new and wonderful creative energies that they love sharing with audiences. It was great to see how the students took to the work immediately, and in between the creative work we help clean up the community as well.”

group planting garden - ok 

                                                                        Find out more?   Filbert Street Garden• 

                    group planting garden wide shot - ok




HarborTraces explores two different cultures and places that share similar characteristics such as a evolving harbor town, now surrounded by industry, interstates and rail systems as part of a metropolitan city.  Heijplaat, Rotterdam, Netherlands and Brooklyn-Curtis Bay, Baltimore, Maryland, USA are the two cities that are the subject of an environmental cultural arts exchange between the residents of these places through the efforts of Steve Bradley, media artist/educator and Kathie diStefano, theatre artist/educator.

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A collaboration between Avalanche and the Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee.

Professor Steve Bradley, University of Maryland Baltimore County, was hosted for two weeks by Kathie diStefano of the Foundation Avalanche in Heijplaat, Rotterdam. During his stay, Steve gave art and animation workshops to a group of young people who work in Heijplaat.

This Rotterdam target group are young people of Heijplaat Green Supply, a collaboration between Woonbron & ASVZ. This club is a special group of young people in different ways. ASVZ is an organization for people with intellectual disabilities, and secondly, these people almost daily to the litter problem in the district Heijplaat.

For a week long series of workshops where help in which trash was transformed into art. The workshop help process and final product in equal regard. As they collected waste and processed it into artistic objects pictures were recorded and turned into a animated films. Similar workshops were are also given to young people in Curtis Bay, Baltimore and the best films of both cities were shown on 27 and 28 October in “The Trash News”. On Sunday the 28th at 3:30 p.m a reception will be held. The reception is in the context of the Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee. Avalanche uses art and play to teach enviormetnal awarness, correct waste behavior and the reality of recycling.


For more information about Avalanche Foundation’s Harbor Traces: Kathie DiStefano, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (+31) 10-4292518.



Video items covering "Harbor Traces" 2012 oktober (in dutch)
announcing Harbor Traces and the Trash News Show   &    The Trash Show

Sponsors and generous support
Baltimore, Maryland USA:  Baltimore <-> Rotterdam Sister City, Mayor’s Office, UMBC (BreakingGround, American Studies & Visual Arts), BFHS@MC, MSAC Arts in Community Grant, Curtis Bay Seniors, Polish Home Hall, and Curtis Bay Coalition, and Imaging Research Center Fellows

Heijplaat, Rotterdam, NL:  Stichting Lawine, Duurzaam Heijplaat / Sustainable Heijplaat, Woonbron, Charlois 550, Heijplaat Groen / Green Heijplaat, ASVZ and de Kolk


Video items covering "Harbor Traces" 2012 oktober (in dutch)

announcing Harbor Traces and the Trash News Show   &    The Trash Show