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Fitchburg celebrates International Youth Day at Gallery Sitka

Press release submitted by Sitka Gallery

Tatjana Kobb, MD, wants to put Fitchburg on the map — the global map of the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that is.

Dr. Kobb strives to build partnerships and empower communities. This goes beyond guiding individuals to unlock their potential. It is a commitment to stretching the boundaries of opportunities available to everyone. “We are never limited by our struggles,” says Dr. Kobb. She brings people together around initiatives in communities. Now Fitchburg can link up with similar efforts taking place all over the world.

She has organized a special event for this Saturday, along with another community leader, Gallery Sitka on Main Street. Dr. Kobb has brought together the City of Fitchburg, the Fitchburg Art Museum, and Fitchburg Public Library to celebrate International Youth Day, which the United Nations General Assembly established in 1999. The day serves an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change and as an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.

August 12 is the observed day, but some events take place before that date. The event at Gallery Sitka will take place on August 11, and August 10 is the date set for the United Nations’ official event in Nairobi, Kenya, under this year’s theme of “Safe Spaces for Youth.”

Having a space that feels safe can empower rural and urban youth, providing them with the opportunity to gather and participate in diverse activities or to talk and engage in meaningful dialogues. The rise of social media and other forms of online communication has helped youth explore new opportunities for engagement and for using their innovations to further create virtual and physical safe spaces.

“Art is a vehicle to move boundaries,” writes Dr. Kobb, seeing the healing possibilities where communities can make art and share it, ideally to bring the world together and begin to erase the “boundaries” both physical and psychological that have divided the human family for too long. Teaming up with Gallery Sitka and cultural institutions in Fitchburg is one way of unleashing the enormous potential young people have if they are given safe spaces in which to develop their talents.

Several area artists will participate. Painter Iphigenia Gossios Burg will be on hand to teach young folks about making art. Melissa James will be there to display her James Spinelli line of jewelry and talk about the process of creating it. Young artists will also get to see Jen Hemenway’s one-of-a-kind skateboards, each one sporting imaginative, original designs painted onto the surface.

The event celebrates art but also will feature a presentation by Dr. Kobb on the launch of the Global Dimensions with Local Actions Initiative, by bringing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) closer to the community, the local business leaders, and public officials. The presentations will begin at 2:30 PM. Dr. Kobb supports the delivery of social justice, makes common cause with those in need, and listens to and learns from others when choosing priorities. Actively involved in support of women through mentoring and coaching, she nurtures the practice of purpose-driven leadership and continues to empower those that lack support in their own environments. By opening the possibility for understanding the U.N. Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, Dr. Kobb hopes to motivate the youth to take part in achieving the 17 SDGs locally in Fitchburg and all around the world.

Boston Sustainability Advising is Dr. Kobb’s organization that seeks to bring communities together to unlock potential solutions and to find common ground. A physician with a background in public health who has worked all over the world, she has developed many different kinds of local organizing efforts that resulted in a net gain for the community. Two decades ago, Dr. Kobb worked in emergency relief and development with UNICEF and UNHCR. Later, she worked with large businesses and universities on sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. Now she advises students at McGill University in the International Masters Program in Health Leadership. She is committed to citizens’ diplomacy in international relations and sits on the board of the Greater Boston Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

This event will take place at Gallery Sitka, 454 Main St. in Fitchburg, on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2 ̶ 5 p.m. Visit,, and for more information about International Youth Day and its many manifestations all over the globe. The office hash tag for this event is #SafeSpaces4Youth.

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