Christians bound in solemn prayer with Muslims. Jews and Gentiles with arms interlocked in solidarity. In a world of ever increasing religious polarization those scenes may seem producible only by a literal act of God. However, on Tuesday such was the reality as a diverse assemblage of religious leaders gathered together to march on the King County Courthouse, located on 3rd Avenue and James, to protest the building of the controversial King County Youth and Family Justice Center.
The $210 million Center’s construction was funded by a levy initiative passed by 53% of King County voters in 2012, and has since become a tinderbox of controversy in the South Seattle community. Many of its members view it as a pernicious perpetuation of what they feel is an already harrowing juvenile justice system. A contention that resonated with several of the clergy members in attendance.
“This is important to me because I think it’s at the core of what Christ was talking about in the Gospels- justice for those that are oppressed and release for those who are imprisoned unjustly. It’s the core of the gospel to have equity. Us being here is trying to embody that message, that we’ve heard Jesus talk about.” Said Brandon Duran, an Associate Minister with Plymouth Church UCC.
The multi-faith protest was the brainchild of Rashaud Johnson, a local teen and member of Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism (YUIR), who wanted to show that the issue of youth incarceration was a cause that unified all religions that purported to stand against social injustice, irrespective of contrasting doctrines.
“This is a justice issue. And as a people of faith, if it’s a justice issue, it’s a faith issue. So, this protest is putting feet to our faith, about the intrinsic worth of every individual, be they black, white, young, old, or whatever.” stated Masha Williams, Pastor of the Eastgate Congregation in Bellevue.
The collected clergy – whose affiliations seemed to comprise an entire Religious Studies course syllabus, and included Christians, Muslims and Transcendentalist- were joined by dozens of youth advocates as they temporarily encamped on the Courthouse’s 12th floor, forming a circle that stretched from hallway elevators to just a few feet away from King County Councilmember offices, as they engaged in 15 minutes of silent prayer.
As curious onlookers, including some King County Council Members, glimpsed the sight of heads bowed and hands clasped in prayer they were also privy to signs that read, “Invest in Education, Not Incarceration,” as they made their way passed the group.
The protesters’ goal was to shift the attention of council members to the issues the protesters say are at the forefront of the Center’s development – including a broken juvenile justice system that dis-proportionality imprisons youth of color- and in doing so, hopefully make County decision makers reconsider constructing the Center.
“I would hope that the powers that be, rethink their perspective on this. This is such a backwards way of dealing with this entire issue of youth violence. It’s very reactive. It just makes more sense to put more energy on the front end (in schools and education), and to help youth succeed and be successful whether than locking them into this box.” Said Tara Barber, a pastor with the United Church of Christ, in response to what she hoped the protest accomplished.
While it is too early to conclude as to the impact the protest had on county decision makers, the faith leaders who participated in the protest viewed their efforts, whatever the outcome, as a religious obligation.
Offered John Helmiere, pastor at Valley & Mountain Fellowship: “My faith calls me to have greater imagination than what the County is planning to do. Their imagination seems to be that things are only getting worse and we should build bigger, larger prisons to incarcerate our youth, while I think we’re called to have an imagination about the potential and possibility of our youth. I believe that we should be investing their potential rather than guarding ourselves against their danger.”
Football season is finally upon us with the Thursday night opener against the proud Green Bay Packers. Whether heading to Rookie’s in Columbia City, The Beachcomber in Skyway, or enjoying the opening night festivities from the comfort of home, every South Seattle resident not at the game is sure to be glued to a television screen for the return of Russell Wilson and Co.
After a somewhat uneven preseason which saw the Seahawks lose not one but two silly season games for the first time in two years there is some concern about this team’s depth compared to the last couple of years. The good news is the front line starters are healthy and almost universally played well in the preseason, particularly the offense which has been firing on all cylinders since the 2nd preseason game, and looks to have fully integrated our shiny new toy in Percy Harvin into the game plan.
In listing the current 3-4 best teams in the NFL with the Seahawks I would include the Broncos, Patriots, Saints, and these Packers in the elite category. Although this game is at home giving the Seahawks a substantial advantage, this will be a tough game with an opposing offense that is multifaceted with the ability to grind out hard yards between the tackles via Eddy Lacy, utilize the vertical passing game featuring Jordy Nelson, or focus on the short passing game with the breakaway ability in Randal Cobb. I actually believe this offense is better than the historic one Seattle faced in the Superbowl with Peyton Manning as that was a pocket passer and a fairly week running team which quickly became one dimensional. You may be able to stop one or two aspects of Green Bay’s attack, but you will not stop Aaron Rodgers completely nor their running game. I see Rodgers throwing for two scores and nearly reaching 300 yards on the day, but he will find it difficult to find explosive plays downfield limiting their scoring ability. Lacy will grind out tough yards, and will add decent receiving totals to his ground game eclipsing 100 total yards and adding a score. The national pundits will wonder what happened to Seattle’s vaunted defense as they will struggle to contain this attack, but don’t fear Seahawk fans, this defense will once again return to the premier unit in the NFL after Green Bay leaves town.
The bright side is Green Bay’s defense is not nearly as special as their offense. They have the ability to get after the passer, but are generally undersized and not great at stopping the run. As long as rookie Justin Britt can hold his own at right tackle I expect Marshawn to have a big game with over 100 yards rushing and a td or two. Russell will continue his strong preseason play, capitalizing on downfield plays in fairly limited opportunities. I expect Russell to throw for 225-250 yards and run for another 30-40 with two overall touchdowns.
I foresee a closer than expected game with Green Bay mostly content to grind out yards via the short passing game and quite a few handoffs to Lacy. In a virtual tie entering the final quarter the Seahawks defense and offense come up big once again in with a key turnover and late score to put the game out of reach.
SEATTLE – As parents ready their kids for the first week of school, Mayor Ed Murray yesterday unveiled his plan to reorganize the city’s education and support programs into a new Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), the first of several proposals the mayor will make in his first city budget.
The new structure will enable the city to better coordinate existing work and resources on behalf of students of all ages, improve collaboration with Seattle Public Schools, colleges and child-care providers, and increase performance measurement of the city’s work to support educational outcomes.
“Equity in education is the foundation of our democracy and the future of our city,” said Murray. “The City already supports programs across the continuum from birth through college, but we must do better to align resources for better outcomes for education. We will sharpen our focus on achieving great outcomes for all, so that none of Seattle’s students are left behind. We want Seattle to be the first city in America that eliminates the achievement gap.”
Economic disparities contribute to a persistent achievement gap in the city of Seattle between the educational attainment of students of color and white students- especially in South Seattle, which houses one of the largest swaths of the city’s African American and Latino populations :
90 percent of white 4th graders are reading at grade level compared to 56 percent of African American students.
One third of African American and Latino students—and half of American Indian students—don’t graduate on time, compared to 14 percent of white students.
The Mayor stated that research has shown that students with higher educational attainment have higher average earning power over a career, but also live healthier lives.
“All of Seattle’s children must have the same opportunity to succeed in school and in life,” said Brianna Jackson, Executive Director of the Community Day School Association. “By improving coordination across the entire system, from Early Learning to our universities, and by working together as an education community, we know we can achieve better outcomes for all students.”
Last fall, the City Council adopted a budget action asking the mayor to develop a proposal to elevate the city’s emphasis around education. The council voiced interest in aligning the city’s education and early learning programs, preparing for a universal preschool program, and improving collaboration with the school district.
“Twenty babies are born in Seattle each day and each one deserves a strong and fair start,” said City Council President Tim Burgess. “We know that high quality education empowers children of all backgrounds to lead healthier and happier lives and their success makes our city stronger. To enable our cradle to career programs to work better, the Council called for the creation of this Department and I applaud the Mayor and his team for doing the hard work to get the job done.”
For the last several months, the Murray Administration has been working to shape the new department responsible for supporting early learning, K-12 and higher education in Seattle. Most of the positions in the new department would be filled by existing city employees moving from Seattle’s Human Services Department, Office for Education and other organizations. Existing functions consolidated into DEEL will include:
Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, Comprehensive Child Care Program and other early learning services and initiatives
Elementary, Middle School, and High School academic and social support programs
School-based health services operated by the city
Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative
All Families and Education Levy programs
Nine new positions would be created to step up coordination with area colleges and universities, ensure the quality of city child care programs and pre-schools, and increase data collection to track the effectiveness of the department’s activities.
“We look forward to working with the Mayor and the new Department of Education and Early Learning to partner on behalf of our Seattle students,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. “As we head back to school tomorrow, our teachers, principals and staff are getting ready to ensure every student has the opportunity to graduate prepared for college, career and life. We cannot do this work alone. We are pleased the city will partner with us to meet our goals for student success.”
The new department would house 38 employees and manage a budget of $48.5 million, including $30 million each year from the voter-approved Families and Education Levy.
The mayor’s proposal will be included in his budget submission to the City Council on Sept. 22nd.
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!”
Washington State has a dysfunctional tax system – arguably the nation’s worst. It is critical to understand the mechanisms by which this flawed tax system adversely impacts progressive public policy development in our state.
Washington is one of just seven states with no personal income tax. This leads to an excessive reliance on the highly regressive sales tax. It is also one of just three states that tax corporations based on their revenues (the business and occupancy, or “B&O” tax) rather than their profits. This penalizes unprofitable firms (often start-ups), who would not pay taxes until they were profitable in other states. And Washington is the only state in the nation that uses both of these inferior approaches.
This taxation system has numerous drawbacks. First, as is commonly known, Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country. Washington’s poorest 20% pay 16.9% of their income in state and local taxes, compared to 2.8% for the top 1% — a ratio of six, the worst in the nation (source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy). The business tax is regressive as well. The conservative Washington Policy Center writes: “The problem is that the base includes unprofitable businesses, so if you readjusted the base to exclude unprofitable businesses, those who are profitable would see their tax rates rise.” The business tax structure also contains numerous exemptions, whose benefits are skewed toward large, profitable firms with lobbying clout. Second, it is the regressive nature of Washington’s tax system that precipitates the ongoing stream of voter initiatives to limit tax increases (e.g., I-695, I-747, I-960, I-1033, I-1053, etc.) as lower and middle class citizens seek to limit the burden placed on them by the regressive system. Even though some initiatives fail and others are overturned, the movement-at-large is influential. The Economic Opportunity Institute comments on this connection between regressivity and tax reduction: “…the disproportionately high tax burden placed on middle and low income families by Washington’s regressive tax system has led many to support tax cutting initiatives that hobble state and local government.” Third, and consequently, Washington State has become a low taxation state. Higher income states tend to have higher state and local taxes per capita. But this is no longer true in Washington State. Despite being a high income state (13th in the nation), Washington fell from 11th to 37th place in state and local taxes as a percentage of personal income between 1995 and 2011 (source: Washington State Office of Financial Management).
This decline in tax position is hindering the state’s ability to adequately fund its most important obligations – a recurring phenomenon that is on constant display in our daily news. Washington’s K-12 education spending per pupil as a percent of personal income is 44th in the nation. This has brought forth the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, calling for a significant increase in spending. Predictably, Washington’s legislators are having a difficult time complying with this decision. Washington is 49th in the nation in mental health treatment capacity. This has also triggered a judicial intervention. Higher Education suffered major reductions in state funding during the Great Recession, which gave rise to the second highest tuition increases in the country. State employees and teachers have forgone cost-of-living wage increases for years. And so on.
Washington State is generally seen as one of the most progressive states in the nation, and yet it has the most regressive tax structure in the nation. It becomes important to ask: is this merely an ironic dichotomy, or is there more to it than that? Here, it is worth noting a loose parallel between national and state tax dynamics. In Washington D.C., a common conservative tactic is to reduce taxes in order to deprive the government of the funding needed for liberal programs (“starving the beast”). In a more roundabout way, Washington State’s tax structure engenders a similar dynamic. A poorly designed tax structure drives intense regressivity, which foments efforts to constrain taxes, which has contributed to a decline in Washington’s rank in tax revenue as a percent of personal income, which has led to a series of institutions to be underfunded. To address this challenge, legislators, with progressive taxation options off the table, are forced to consider additional regressive taxes. In this manner, Washington’s tax structure forces the progressive agenda to work in opposition to itself. That is, there is the desire on behalf of liberals to fund progressive priorities – K-12 education, mental health, higher education, cost-of-living wage increases, etc. But to do so, they must decide whether to inflict further financial burden on the lower and middle classes — the very classes that these programs are intended to support.
In Washington, our dysfunctional tax system frustrates the progressive policy agenda – to the detriment of the state. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the state successfully meeting its basic institutional funding obligations over the long term without fundamental tax reform.
JohnStafford is a substitute teacher for Seattle Public Schools and a former management consultant in corporate strategy. He recently completed a run for State Senate in the 37th District. He will be writing a monthly article on public policy for the South Seattle Emerald
Scotto Moore has written and directed six productions at Annex: one late night, four mainstage, and one off night, all largely centered on science fiction. He is drawn to the speculative quality of science fiction, he says – it provides an alternate model of reality. So why the deviance?
Balconies, the story of two very different people, each hosting a party, who have only adjacent balconies in common, is more romantic comedy than sci fi. When I asked him, he said that he had recently felt science fiction was limiting him – he wants to do something different every time he does a play, and needed to branch out into other genres in order to satisfy this itch. This time, he was interested in making something accessible, with a big build throughout the entire piece in the style of Peter Seller’s “The Party”.
With all of this in mind, I sat down to watch Balconies.
I immediately noticed the set: clever hints of vastly different lifestyles through glimpses of interior décor effectively set the mood for two clashing personalities. Posters of X-Men hung crookedly from the left apartment’s orangeish walls, while on the righthand side, a perfectly manicured potted plant sat on a tasteful table against white walls. These details set the stage – literally – for a night of situational humor.
On the whole, Scotto’s deviance from his comfort zone was successful. I found the script to be cheesy but entertaining – moments of exposition caused it to drag in the first half of the first act, and the gaming conversations tended to get a bit old, but generally it zinged along fairly enjoyably.
Some of the worst over-exposition occurred in the beginning of the play, when characters were congratulating others on what they had done for the game they created – they threw titles and facts about each other willy nilly in an unnecessary attempt to make each character have a back story. The effect was falsity rather than illumination.
This was exacerbated by some distracting over-acting, which seemed to be a common problem with these actors. While their acting might have worked perfectly on a larger stage, in Annex’s intimate space it felt forced. However, despite these moments, the script’s clever quips kept the audience relatively engaged, with the odd moment of unison laughter.
The characters also shone, specifically the gamers. Scotto portrayed each nerd and over-excited gaming fanatic in a realistic but endearing way that hit the quirks of the type spot on – as a former teenage gamer, I found myself laughing in recognition at behaviors and lingo.
The plot was rather fluffy, typical of what you’d expect from a romantic comedy. The “What else could go wrong?” build was cleverly achieved with only a few minor hiccups through an increasingly absurd party, but the plot itself wasn’t anything special.
Where it shone was in its snappy one-liners and seemingly offhand comments that had me guffawing. References to Seattle-based and generational humor – one particularly hilarious comment about Cameron’s Burning Man storage unit got me for a full minute– were welcome sparks of uniqueness in an otherwise relatively generic boy-meets-girl storyline. They gave me a decided idea of Scotto’s wicked sense of humor.
Despite the show’s rather slow start, by the end, I was right along with the now-lovable characters as they navigated the new relationships built amongst the tatters of one hell of a rager.
The bottom line: Scotto’s clever comedy, while falling relatively flat in plot and acting, manages to save itself in truly brilliant moments of comedy that felt relevant and unique. Steel yourselves for some dragging moments and bad acting, but go check this show out – if only for the hilarious jokes that you’ll keep repeating long after it’s done!
Mary Hubert is a performing artist, director, and arts administrator in the Seattle area. When not producing strange performance concoctions with her company, the Horse in Motion, she is wild about watching weird theater, whiskey, writing and weightlifting.
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.
As days go by and I get older and older my soul still straddles the fence
So I often wonder will God still have my defense
As good as i think i am, there’s always a touch of bad that’s why i ponder if heaven has a layaway plan
Where, after so much good you automatically get into the pearly gates and talk to God about those thing you’ve done that you hate
So those who ponder about whether heaven has a layaway plan, let me ease your mind
God designed us all to make a million mistakes , but he also gives some of us remorse to regret the things we’ve done that we hate
So when you walk up to the pearly gates of heaven and God allows you to cleanse your soul and hands you the keys to his lakes and valley filled of gold and he says my child all has been forgiven your burdens are now mines to carry
Remember this, even if you have a touch of bad
God will always allow you to be on his layaway plan
Nestled in 98118, a zip code known for its diversity, sits a small unassuming modular building, a structure that’s home to RHF CrossFit. RHF CrossFit is part of Rainier Health and Fitness (RHF), a non-profit gym that aims to provide affordable access to a high quality fitness center. RHF accomplishes this mission by working with members in a case-by-case basis to ensure sign up fees are affordable and offer volunteer opportunities in exchange for membership.
CrossFit is known for attracting—and primarily being accessible—to higher earning, predominantly white, fitness enthusiasts. In contrast, RHF CrossFit members represent the 98118 community. Attend any of the 20+ classes that they offer each week and you’ll see people from all over the globe represented within the gym. In keeping with Rainier Health & Fitness’s goal of providing affordable access, membership at RHF CrossFit includes full access to Rainier Health & Fitness and all its amenities (free childcare and access to group classes such as yoga, ZUMBA fitness, cycling, etc.). At a rate of $90 per month and unlimited access to attend classes 5 days a week, RHF CrossFit is one of the most affordable deals for CrossFit anywhere that doesn’t compromise on quality and offers extra perks to the community.
8 Week Paleo Challenge
Speaking of perks, in conjunction with an upcoming Paleo Challenge, RHF CrossFit is inviting both their members and community the opportunity to take part in an affordable 8 week Paleo Challenge that kicks off September 15, 2014. During the 8 weeks, participants will:
Take body measurements, weigh in and perform 3 standardized workouts (scaled for appropriate skill levels)
Conduct performance workouts
Track participants’ diets—offering new recipes and opportunities to share experiences with others in the challenge
As one of the Paleo Challenge’s co-founders Danny Putnam noted, participants experience this life-transforming 8 weeks alongside a group of teammates, which alone provides extra motivation—we’re stronger when working on goals together! Registration for the challenge is just $50 and includes a challenge t-shirt plus opportunities to win loads of prizes (go to http://www.lurongliving.com/challenge/register to register and select “RHF CrossFit as your gym).
In conjunction with the challenge, Rainier Health & Fitness is offering a once-in-a-lifetime special to anyone who is new to RHF CrossFit and signs up for the challenge: 8 weeks of RHF CrossFit for $100. That’s $30/month for the gym membership plus $20/month for CrossFit. Contact David (email@example.com) if you have additional questions.
David Calderon is a graduated of San Jose State University with a Bachelors of Science in Nutritional Science with a concentration in Dietetics. He’s also the CrossFit trainer at Rainier Health & Fitness.
While the advent of Bumbershoot is met with ambivalence like nowhere else more than Seattle’s south end, where the arrival of the nation’s largest annual music and arts festival is just as likely to be met with rabid exuberance as it is with dull insouciance from past festival goers, this year’s event comes peppered with some hyperlocal flare that just might be enough to make the trip to the shadow of the Space Needle worthwhile this Labor Day weekend.
The South Seattle based creative arts trio of Andy Arkley, Courtney Barnebey and Peter Lynch, better known as the artist collective LET’S, will be presenting their fully interactive art installation Finger Power at this year’s festival.
The group, who originally formed together ten years ago as a rock band under the moniker Library Science -“We obviously called it that to
attract members of the opposite sex.” Jokes Lynch- chose to move their creative camaraderie from the realm of music into “living aesthetics” three years ago when they began yearning for greater creative expression than local dive bar performances allowed them.
Their latest endeavor, which will be unveiled today at 3:00pm at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion and be on display for the entire labor day weekend, combines the trio’s love for music, color, and gaming, and features six different interactive consoles that transform colors into instruments, encouraging six different people at a time to form an impromptu band and simultaneously spawn music and art -think Guitar Hero fused with a large scale Jackson Pollock inspired paint by numbers kit.
The Emerald caught up with the members of LET’S prior to Finger Power’s opening at Bumbershoot.
Emerald: So how does a group make the transition from rock band to creators of art installations?
Peter Lynch: After we put out three different albums we kind of just ran out of drive. It started getting more annoying than it was exciting. After we broke up the band we didn’t quite know what we were going to do, but we were still really good friends, and us breaking up the band was kind of like saying that we didn’t want to lose our friendships. So, we thought why don’t we see if we can do something else together and after about a year we started deciding to make art constructs.
Courtney Barnebey: It seemed like when the band stopped we all kind of just went our own ways and that gave us a little bit of distance from each other that was needed. We then just naturally came back together around the time that Andy got a piece accepted at the Soil Gallery.
Andy Arkley: Yeah, around that time I remember sending Peter and Courtney an email saying that, “Hey, I’ve got this show. Here’s an idea of what we can do. Do you want to try (building art installations)?” Everyone agreed to give it a try, not knowing how big of a project it actually was going to be (laughter). They say that an artist has to hone their craft, so we were used to practicing 3 days a week as a band and just translated that to working on the art installation.
Emerald: The transition actually seems more seamless than you would imagine.
Courtney: It was really interesting how everything came together because everyone of us naturally has a creative role and tendency in our group, and we fell back into that with each other. When we came back together to build these interactive installations it was like: “Wow, this is super exciting! This is why we decided to collaborate together in the first place!” We have a history, so every project we work on, we’re not forging new relationships or new ways to work with each other. We kind of just feel back into that pattern of how we used to work together. We just had a different medium.
Peter: Yeah, I felt by the end that the band was really restricting, and Andy and Courtney are more visually oriented, while I’m more musically creative. The art installation was like, “Oh! This is how we can still cluster together and make stuff, and be exploiting what we really want to be doing.” We want to be doing great work that’s collaborative, but we no longer wanted to just restrict it to, “Okay! You make the album cover. You make the live videos, etc.” This really opened up a lot of creative boundaries.
Emerald: This is actually LET’s second year at Bumbershoot. How does Finger Power compare to last year’s entry and what are you hoping people take away from it?
Andy: Last year we made a piece called Magic Synch. It was our first piece and I would say that it was definitely an experiment in making a directly interactive art installation. The curators at Bumbershoot said that the piece was pretty successful, and people really interacted with it. I think we learned a lot of things just from watching people use it, and it gave us a ton of new ideas about what we wanted to create for this year.
This installation involves color a lot more. I’d actually say that this piece is, is a lot more focused than the last one we made, there was just a lot of things going on and all kinds of craziness, this one has some pretty focused things. There’s six colors involved in it that go along with six stations. It’s a lot more obvious than last years about how you’re interacting with it. One thing that happened last year was that people would play with our art installation but they wouldn’t exactly understand what was going on, but we wanted people to be able to do that this year. Last year’s piece was a little more chaotic, and we’ve definitely pushed it towards a little less chaotic this year… but it’s still pretty chaotic (laughter).
Emerald: So why the focus on color with this installation?
Courtney: Going back to people understanding what they’re doing, we tried to use color so that people could better correlate the buttons that push on the installation with what’s going on around them. So if someone is at the orange console, and is controlling the color orange that is a one to one correlation. They can see what they’re doing and how they’re interacting with everyone else, so it was a way to give visual order to the piece so that people would get a more meaningful interaction with other from it. If a person knows what she’s doing, she can now interact with the person next to her better. We wanted to give people the tools to be creative.
Andy: Ultimately, with this piece we’re trying to create that feeling that you get when you’re collaborating with another person. That’s the feeling we already have as LET’S. We want Finger Power to inspire those positive moments derived from collaborating together as a team. That elation that comes from that. We’ve attempted to create an installation that reproduces that feeling amongst random people.
Peter: The great thing about incorporating color in this piece is that you can’t mess it up very much. You can do what you can do, and your color is your instrument for you to attempt to master in a way. The shift from last years to this years is that we’re telling people to not only rely on their ears, but also their eyes so that you’re actually looking at what you’re doing. We have both visual and sound and what other two things do you need to make instantaneous collaboration?
Emerald: So with this installation you’ve intentionally empowered people to be as creative as they choose to be?
Peter: Yes! When we were figuring out what our group was about we kept coming back to this idea of allowing people to find their own creativity, so even if they haven’t been musicians before they get to create music. They get to play with other people without having to have a superior understanding in music. Hopefully that feeling of being creative with others is something that they can take from this and apply in whatever realm of life that want.
We’re aware that probably 80% of the people who walk in and play with it will be: “Yep! Okay, let’s grab a beer.” But, the hope is that you get moments like last year when this jazz musician from St. Louis discovered us, and came in everyday to play with our installation. He kept telling us: “Wow, you guys need this thing down by the river in St. Louie! I’d have my friends come down there everyday!” He kind of became the unofficial orchestrator of the installation, telling people what buttons to push and when, and he and all these strangers created some really cool stuff together!
Emerald: What would it take for you to designate Finger Power as a success?
Andy: It’s kind of hard to know exactly because last year some things happened with the installation that I didn’t know was going to happen, like 18 year olds interacting with 60 year olds. It was surreal watching them teach each other, and that too me was one of the more successful things I saw. I guess if I see people enjoying it, that will be a success. It only takes a few people for me to be like: “Yes! I totally inspired a couple of people and they’re totally getting the purpose of the installation.”
Peter: It doesn’t take lines out the door for me to deem it as a success. It’d be nice to have people come back two days in a row though. I’d love to impress a couple of people, but I just want it to be a fun experience. It it just so happens that only 5 to 8 year olds really love it, then hey, we succeeded with that!
Courtney: For me, it’s success is defined by if we can get more people to interact with each other than they do with us, and if they are actually aware of that interaction and not just off in their own zone somewhere. I want people to look at each other and say: “Yeah we’re doing this together!” That’s when a sense of community is created.
Finger Power will be at featured at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavillion, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle 98109 as part of Bumbershoot Weekend. A display schedule is below:
Fri, Aug 29th: 3pm-8pm (FREE)
Sat, Aug 30th: 11am – 8pm (need Bumbershoot pass)
Sun, Aug 31st: 11am – 8pm (need Bumbershoot pass)
Mon, Sep 1st: 11am – 8pm (need Bumbershoot pass)
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