Category Archives: Community

The Emerald’s Guide to Art Walk Rainier Beach

Today delivers Art Walk Rainier Beach to the south end of Seattle. Fast becoming the Rainier Beach area’s seminal event, this year’s festival proved too immense to pack into just one day and as a result has been extended over the entire weekend for the first time in its brief history. This means you might need to start practicing your “sick” voice now – so you can hoodwink your boss come Monday- as all the food, music, art, and dance the festival has to offer promises to necessitate a day for recuperation!

 

Note* The intersection of Rainier Ave and Henderson will be closed for the event

 

Here is our guide to this weekend’s festivities

 

Art Walk Day 1, Saturday September 6th On South Henderson Street Between Rainier Ave And Seward

(Day 1 Events Will Take Place on Two Stages)

10:00 AM: Event Kickoff

Stage 1: Mariachi Guadalajara de Seattle

10:30 AM

Stage 2: Zumba With Toni

11:30 AM

Stage 1: Pico Blvd

Stage 2: Lion Dance Group

12:00 PM

Stage 2: Mapes Creek Walkway Opening with Yegizaw Michael

12:30 PM

Stage 2: Martial Arts Demonstration

1:00 PM

Stage 1: Salem Band

1:30 PM

Stage 2: Fly Moon Royalty

2:30 PM

Stage 1: Vote for Pedro

Stage 2: Cuban Dance Party With Reinier Valdes

4:00 PM

Stage 1: Yirim Seck

4:30 PM

Stage 2: Soyaya

5:00 PM

Stage 1: Shady Bottom

6:00 PM (End Time)

Activities Throughout Day 1: All Ages Basketball Skills Competition,Interactive Art Activities for All Ages, Art Cars

Food Trucks For Day 1: Maya’s Mexican, Neema’s Comfort, Athena’s, Quack Dogs

Rainier Beach Community Club Bake Sale

 

Art Walk Day 2, Sunday September 7th

(Events Will Take Place at Various Locations)

12:00 PM

@Rainier Beach Playfield (4707 S Cloverdale St): Ethiopian New Year Celebration (Food, Music and Children’s Activities)

@Rainier Beach Community Center (8825 Rainier Ave S): Rainier Dance Center Performance

@Rainier Beach Community Center: Chalk Art Contest

1:00 PM

@Buddha Jewel Monastery (7950 Rainier Avenue South): Buddha Jewel Monastery Tour

@Rainier Beach Community Center: Touchstones Beach Square Tour

2:00 PM

@Kubota Gardens (9817 55th Avenue South): Kubota Gardens Guided Tour with Artist in Residence Mary Magenta

2:30 PM

@Rainier Beach Community Center: SEED Arts Curated Tour

@ Rainier Beach Community Center: Touchstones Waterfront Tour

8:00 PM (Festival Concludes)

South Seattle Photographer’s Work to be Showcased at City Hall

SEATTLE – Today from 4- 6 p.m a reception for “The Gathering” Exhibit will be held at the Seattle City Hall’s lobby gallery. The reception marks the conclusion of “The Gathering” exhibit’s run at City Hall and recognizes and celebrates the community members, leaders, and artists who created the exhibit and generated a voice to address youth violence in the Rainier Beach community. The reception features brief remarks, refreshments, and a performance that was featured at the original “Gathering” event on May 31.

“The Gathering” Exhibit is composed of two featured works. The first featured work is a photo-documentary from Rainier Beach resident and artist Zac Davis titled, “The Rainier Beach Project: Overcoming Displacement.” This photo-documentary explores urban renewal and gentrification occurring in the Rainier Beach/Rainier Valley community and leverages the importance of all voices contributing to the building of community. Davis’ photo-documentary was featured as a part of the interactive event, Breaking the Pane. The second featured work is a glass mosaic, which is the result of the interactive event, Breaking the Pane. It was also designed to creatively explore the stories of the Rainier Beach community and identify collective and individual steps to address the negative perceptions of the community and reduce youth violence.

For one week in April, Breaking the Pane engaged the Rainier Beach community in storytelling to explore themes of community identity and perceptions. At five workshops, community members were asked to illustrate the words, feelings, or images that came to mind when they thought of the exact Rainier Beach location that they were standing in. The resulting clear window-like “panes” on one side illustrate how community members experience the five different Rainier Beach intersections while the other side depicts statistics of violence. The installation of assembled panes gives voice to the variety of perspectives regarding Rainier Beach and is the centerpiece that helped to turn the stories into action.

At the culminating event, “The Gathering,” on May 31, more than 150 local residents experienced the project through art, video, a photography exhibit and live storytelling, and challenged themselves (and the wider community) to let the stories inspire action. From this event, the community designed and implemented the action project, “Corner-Greeter Stands” which are weekly portable “greeting places” for the community to interact in creative and safe modes of engagement.

“The Gathering” event and Breaking the Pane are the result of a unique partnership between United Story, an organization that uses a story-telling platform to foster community-owned action, and Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, an innovative, community-led initiative to address youth violence through non-arrest approaches.

Local “Royalty” to Headline Art Walk Rainier Beach

Their music has been hailed as everything from spellbinding to effervescent – and that’s usually just after the first 2 minutes of pressing the play button to one of their eargasmic inducing anthems.

Fresh off their performance at Bumbershoot that transformed the notoriously diffident Seattle crowd into zealous dance mavens, the duo of Fly Moon Royalty brings their lively act to Art Walk Rainier Beach this weekend.

Made up of vocalist, and Rainier Beach native, Adra Boo and DJ/Producer/Emcee Action Jackson the duo seamlessly steers between Jazz, Electronica, Funk, R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop to produce a sound that defies the constraints of any genre.

The Emerald was fortunate enough to catch up with Boo before her group’s appearance at Art Walk Rainier Beach on Saturday:

Emerald: You guys are well known and have played  some fairly large festivals, including Bumbershoot most recently. What made you decide to accept the invitation to perform at the Rainier Beach Art Walk?

Boo: Aside of it working out, time wise, I actually live in Rainier Beach, so it made sense to bring a performance to the neighborhood.

 

Emerald:  They say that music and art are tools that are catalyst for transformation, be it socially or communally. As an area, Rainier Beach has seen its fair share of adversity in the recent weeks. How do you hope having a musical group of your caliber performing at its signature event changes the perception of the community?

Boo: I think that really, it’s not so much that our band performing there will change perceptions of the area, but rather people coming out to support us and the Artwalk that will do that. I mean, yes, Rainier Beach has seen it’s share of adversity, and having these events, having bands that are excited about the music they make, having a community that will come out and really stand with us and with neighbors… that’s what will change the perception of Rainier Beach, and I hope that people who know that I  live there, will be that much more amped to have us!

 

Emerald: Your music is almost impossible to pigeon hole into one genre. How would you describe your sound and who are some of your influences?

Boo: Our music tastes are vast, haha! We each listen to classic hip hop, old soul and R&B, 90’s jams, and alternative sounds, music with fresh sounds and textures, like Bjork, Little Dragon, and so forth. We grew up on good music… Stevie, Dilla, Parliament, Prince and MJ… A Tribe Called Quest, Roots, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott… to name a few.

 

Emerald: What can someone who has never seen one of your acclaimed live performances anticipate this weekend?

Boo: You might make some stank face, you might feel some good feelings, and you might be hungry afterward!

 

Emerald: You guys have been described as having a “rocket strapped to your back” in terms of a meteoric rise. What’s next for you guys?(Album, touring, etc)

Boo: Towards the end of the month, we’re kicking off our Fall Tour with a show in Everett, a Battle of the Bands show- pre game for the Seahawks vs Broncos game, and then we’re going through the Midwest, down the east coast, and performing in The Recording Academy’s first ever Grammy Festival At Sea!! We’l even have some unreleased music and visuals drop online! There’s a lot going on, but people can follow it all at our website, www.flymoonroyalty.com!

 

Art Walk Seeks to Transform Rainier Beach Narrative

Whether testified to by Albert Camus in his Nobel Acceptance speech, when he stated its supremacy as a tool to edify humankind, or the endless succession of works from writers, artisans, and musicians that have kindled imaginations and propelled human agency in directions never dreamed, much less comprehended, art has been imbued with the belief that it wields the  power of transformation. It is under this premise that the Rainier Beach area will play hosts to musical acts that leave no genre untouched, art installations that are certain to spark thought provoking discussion, and original paintings that serve as candy for the eyeball, as  it presents its 4th Annual Art Walk in an effort to profoundly alter the stubborn perception the area has been unable to discard.

Since its inaugural celebration in 2010, the burgeoning two day music and arts festival – which kicks off this Saturday near the Rainier Beach Community Center- has seen rapid growth in attendance, going from barely a couple hundred attendees in its first few years of existence to anticipating over 5000 people at this years event.

Despite the name, the event is hoping to avoid associations with the image of genteel beatniks hopping from gallery to gallery as they mull over existential matters, as it seeks to become South Seattle’s counterpart to the Capitol Hill Block Party and Fremont Festival.

For many residents, the Art Walk– with an aim towards galvanizing an often discordant Rainier Beach  community- could not arrive at a better time, as a familiar, and in the minds of some residents, lazy narrative of the area functioning as the uniquely dangerous and squalid section of the city has once again reemerged. This has mainly been due to a spate of violence the community suffered over the span of a few weeks.

“This event really gives an opportunity for people from other neighborhoods to come out and see what we’re really all about as a community. Rainier Beach gets a bad rap, but this enables people to come and see for themselves what we’re all about. They get to see how beautiful this side of town is and how well we mesh together as a community.” Said Su Harambee, the Past President of the Rainier Beach Community Club who intends to set up a booth at this year’s event.

Even as the festival has experienced impressive growth in its brief tenure as Rainier Beach’s premiere event, it has encountered some struggles- with the areas wide assortment of racial and ethnic diversity that is unlike any other in the city- in attracting the entirety of the community’s population.

“I’ve seen the posters hanging around for it and I’ve heard about it, but to be honest I kind of look at it as an African-American Event. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Says John Aaron, a Rainier Beach resident.  “It’s just that it does kind of cross your mind for a second, you know. It’s like, am I really welcomed there?”

Conversely, many community members don’t see why that should act as an impediment to the festivals continued success.

“(Rainier Beach) is one of the few areas in the city with a marjority-minority population, and I think that community events should be representative of the community they’re in- even as those communities start to evolve and change. Let’s face it, most of the events that happen (in South Seattle) end up being in places like Columbia City and may not feel super inclusive. Ballard still has the Scandinavian Festival.  Capitol Hill has the Block  Party.  Georgetown has the whole industrial vibe with a power tool race for their festival.” Said Masil Magee, who volunteered at last year’s event.

To their credit, organizers and  past festival participants do not appear oblivious to the hesitancy from certain community members to embrace the festival, and continue to emphasize  the importance the event plays in community building.

“We want to see everyone here!” States Merica Whitehall, the Art Walk’s lead organizer. “Rainier Beach is African American. It’s Asian. It’s White. It’s Jewish. It’s East African. It’s Italian. It’s Latino.  Our community is made up of many shades, and it’s our obligation to have all represented here, as it should be.”

Adds Hurambee: “Each year, from the booths to the entertainment presented, this festival is indicative of diversity of this community. It’s one that isn’t found in most places in the city.”

If any further underscoring of this point was necessary, the festival line-up, a mixture of heavy hitters and local performers, appears to contain no omissions from the musical dictionary as Jazz, Funk, R&B, Rock, Latin, International and Pop along with  a heap of other genres will all be represented.

“Most of the people in our group are from this community and we really just wanted to give back to it, by putting on a really wonderful show for them that leaves them grooving, and allows them to have fun.” Said Mike Barber, who will be performing with his group Shady Bottom at the festival.

Though easy to dismiss as just another festival for those suffering from event fatigue in a summer that seemed to feature one on just about every day that ended with a y, the importance of the Art Walk and its significance to the Rainier Beach community shouldn’t be overlooked claims Magee:

“Events like the Art Walk give this  place a sense of community. It’s a time when people can come out and join the rest of the community in enjoying an event together. People always talk about how diverse this area is, but in the day to day, there aren’t a lot opportunities for everybody to get together and mill about, and experience each other.”

“I realize that (being in Rainier Beach) we’re so close to a really dynamic part of the city that it’s easy to be a bedroom community to downtown, especially when we have so many ways to get there now.  But, this event kind of makes a statement that we are a dynamic part of the city in our own right.  We have artists and community right here. We can show the rest of the city, as well as our own community- which is the main thing- that we do have positive community events in the south end!”

Artist Opens Temporary “Passport Office” at Art Walk Rainier Beach

South Seattle – Artist Carina A. del Rosario will premiere her temporary “passport office” on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at the Rainier Beach Art Walk, on South Henderson between Rainier Avenue South and Seward Park South.

The interactive art installation invites people to consider ways race, nationality, gender and other categories are used to limit and divide people. “We all deal with forms that ask us to check boxes about ourselves,” says del Rosario. “A lot of times, those boxes don’t fit or, if we check them, that information may be used against us.”

Del Rosario explains that she created her Passport Series to provide people with a different experience. She re-framed typical application questions and participants use their own words to describe the most important parts of themselves. She takes their answers and their portraits and assembles them into individual booklets that resemble travel passports.

At the Rainier Beach Art Walk, people can view over 20 completed booklets, and participate in the project by having their portrait taken and completing one of del Rosario’s application forms. These will be added to the growing series, some of which will be featured at an upcoming exhibition at the Wing Luke Asian Museum.

While del Rosario has been working on the series with individual friends since 2013, this is the first time she will be doing it as a participatory public installation.

“To move forward in addressing civil rights and discrimination, we need to have opportunities where people can wrestle with ideas about identity in a broader context,” she says. “I want to provide a safe and creative space for people to reflect on their own struggles with identity, perhaps see things they have in common with someone completely different from them, and have an opportunity to present themselves in a more holistic way.”

Del Rosario’s “Passport Office,” at booth number 13, will be open from 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 during the Rainier Beach Art Walk. Spanish, Vietnamese and Somali interpreters will be available to assist people from those communities who want to participate in the project. Funding for the Passport Series is provided, in part, by the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture.

Cowboys and West Hillians: West Hill Youth Venture to Cowboy Camp

Photo courtesy of M-Bar-C Ranch
Photo courtesy of M-Bar-C Ranch

For one unforgettable day wide open frontiers, mammoth steeds that galloped directly out of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, and stagecoaches loaded to the brim with cowhands who made liberal usage of the expression “Yee Haw,” delighted the children of R.A.Y’s West Hill Family Center’s Youth Counseling and Therapy Program as they made the Wild West their playpen.

Last Wednesday over 60 mostly elementary aged youth and their families joined with the counselors and therapist of the Center – located in the Skyway/ West Hill neighborhood-  in venturing to Whidbey Island to experience Cowboy Camp at the M-Bar-C Ranch.

The ranch, owned and operated by The Forgotten Children’s Fund, specializes in supplying a full Old West Adventure – complete with Wild Frontier era replica town that includes a jail, vintage cowboy costumes for anyone who left their spurs and chaps at home, and horseback riding on full size stallions – for groups of children with special needs who rarely deviate too far from the confines of city life, so, as the ranch’s mission statement reads: “They can have the opportunity to be the most kid they can be.”

This opportunity appeared to be welcome by the Center’s children as all are currently undergoing some form of counseling for reasons that include physical abuse, parental neglect, and anxiety issues, as it acted as  a much needed respite from the heaviness of many of their personal situations.

It was with this context that the young city slickers unabashedly embraced the country atmosphere according to Center Director Morgan Wells, who was decked out in full cowgirl regalia for the day and at one time found herself locked up in the town’s prison by a five year old deputy. (She would not reveal what she had done to warrant such an act.)

“The kids really had a blast! They were really excited about everything they did during the day – from getting on  these large horses, as the ones who had ridden before had only ever done so on ponies, so they kept commenting about how big they were.They also loved dressing up as cowboys and doing all the arts and craft activities that the volunteers led them in. At the end of the day I asked what everyone’s highlight was and there were just so many. The kids loved their time at the ranch!”

The trip was made possible by a generous local benefactor who paid all expenses associated with the children, their families, and the Center’s staff attending the day long camp. A gift that amounted to several thousand dollars and was made primarily because the donor wanted the kids to share in the unique experience he felt the ranch afforded.

Though the trip to Whidbey provided an opportunity for the youth to venture out from their familiar urban surroundings, possibly the biggest, and most enduring, benefit of the day was that it provided a much needed bonding experience for them as they often times face feelings of alienation and ostracism that come from participating in therapy at such a young age.

“The coolest thing about this event was that during the year we mainly work with kids one-on-one, so much of the time they never meet each other, or even see each other, unless they’re passing by in the waiting rooms. Otherwise, they don’t get to build relationships.” Wells said.

“However, by the end of the day today I watched some moms exchange phone numbers so they could do playdates because their kids really hit it off. I saw a grandmother invite some of the other families to her church for an activity that she’d doing this week. There was just some really nice relationship building between the families who come here, and I think that’s really special, because it gives kids the feeling that they aren’t alone. Now they can think: ‘I’m  not the only kid around here who needs counseling or needs someone in my life.’ Everybody on the trip needs counseling for one reason or another, and yet today no one could tell them that weren’t just a bunch of typical kids.”

History and Heritage: The Community Comes Out to Othello Park to Celebrate Heritage

Editor’s Note: History and Heritage is a new column focusing on South Seattle’s storied past.

by Virginia H. Wright, Director of the Rainier Valley Historical Society

Somali Dancers 2
Lion Dancers enthrall festival goers.

Purchased and constructed in 1977 by the Seattle Parks Department, Othello Park has not been around nearly as long as some of the other parks in Rainier Valley. But in one of our oral histories, we recorded a reminiscence from Karleen Pederson-Wolfe, from her ’50s childhood living next to the area that later became the park. The following was excerpted from an interview conducted on November 14, 2001.

“We had a nice little stream that came through.  Across the street was a pond where I used to collect polliwogs and just wade in the water with boots on.  I couldn’t wait for the winter when it was ice and I could go play on the ice. Othello Park was right here across the street and everyday my dad would take the cows out here and he’d stake them. He had a big iron stake. He’d put it out and they’d graze in Othello Park during the day.”

These days Othello Park doesn’t have any neighbors sending their cows over to graze, but last Sunday, August 17th, 2014, at the Othello Park International Music & Arts Festival, there was a camel, a pair of baby goats, and a few other animals on hand to encourage kids to come out for the event. A varied array of people from the surrounding areas flooded the park, where they were able to visit the booths selling merchandise and presenting information from local organizations, including Rainier Valley Historical Society. At our booth, we had a display of ’70s photographs by local photo-journalist Denis Law, which included photos from Jimi Hendrix’ funeral procession. Visitors to our booth were very interested in seeing the photos, and reading the corresponding articles on our display board which were reproduced from our archives of issues of the Beacon Hill News and South District Journal. The event provided us with an opportunity to talk to people about their experiences living in Rainier Valley and their memories of the park itself. People talked about how much it been improved over the past few years, with the overgrown hills of blackberries being replaced by comfortable grassy hillsides.

We also had the good fortune to be able to see demonstrations of local heritage and culture, from the lion dance put on by Vietnamese group Au-Lac Vovinam Lion Dancers, to a group of Oaxacan dancers in white dresses balancing candles on their heads, a demonstration of South Indian Bhangra, to a group of Somali dancers, and even a group of very talented young tap dancers.

The Othello Park Alliance puts on the festival, as part of the annual Rainier Valley Culture Fest weekend, which also includes the Heritage Parade down Rainier Avenue, which we participated in the previous day.

Rainier Valley Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of our area, and we are also tasked with recording the activities and displays of culture in our current communities, as a way to show future generations what the Valley was like before their own time.