In response to the COVID-19 delta variant, The Seattle Public Library (SPL) has teamed up with an array of entertainers, community organizations, and artists to create “What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon.” The Dreamathon is a series dedicated to encouraging community members to imagine a better pandemic life through art, music, and knowledge.
“We started COVID response projects in 2020 but intentionally decided that community-led work should be at the center of what we were doing,” SPL public engagements program manager Davida Ingram said. “So there’s a really beautiful array of culturally specific work that happened in response to COVID that has a lot of implications for racial justice and the role that arts and culture sort of plays in amplifying concerns around public health.”
Last month, two Seattle writers were selected to participate in writer residency programs in Korea which will begin this fall. Jeanine Walker will be Wonju City of Literature’s inaugural writer in residence for six weeks while Takami Nieda will be in Bucheon for four weeks.
The residencies are offered through the partnership among UNESCO Cities of Literature. Seattle was named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2017 and the local program is run by Seattle City of Literature, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Seattle’s vibrant literary community and connecting that community with the rest of the world.
Bucheon also received the title of a UNESCO City of Literature in 2017. Soyoung Jung, the coordinator for the Bucheon City of Literature, feels the history of the city makes it the perfect place to receive that title. Bucheon grew rapidly during the 1970s and ’80s during Korea’s industrialization and has developed a community very involved with improving lives through knowledge.
“People were gathered together and they were anxious and very eager to learn things,” Jung said. “Many movements, like social and labor movements, were very active in those areas. So we really have that kind of strong heritage about thinking radically and thinking socially about how to make an inclusive society.”
As we transition into fall, the BLOOM Giving Garden at Wa Na Wari is beginning to wrap up the season. The BIPOC-youth-run garden began as a response to COVID-19 and has continued to grow and expand in its second summer.
The garden is a collaboration between Wa Na Wari, Seattle Public Library (SPL), YES Farm, The Black Farmers Collective, and EarthCorps. The project aims to educate and uplift BIPOC youth by fostering food sovereignty and honoring sacred land and Indigenous practices whilst building community. Eight fellows have been selected to run the garden through their involvement with farm-related programs.
C. Davida Ingram, a Wa Na Wari partner and SPL public engagement employee, teamed up with Hannah Wilson from YES Farms and came to Wa Na Wari with the idea for a garden.
“Our goal is to look at the environment that Communities of Color look in, live in, and to look at it through the lens of creativity,” Ingram said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a spotlight on economics. People were losing their housing and also people were running out of food. And because Seattle is such an incredible space for conversations around food justice and food sovereignty, we reached out to Wa Na Wari and said, ‘Would you be interested in creating a space where people could learn about food sovereignty and also would you be open to creating space for community gardening?’ And they said ‘yes.’”
On Sept. 2, Maritime High School opened its doors to its first class of ninth graders. The new project-based-learning high school is located in the Highline school district and is a recent addition to the five other career-focused high schools in the district.
At Maritime High School, “Student learning will center on the environment, marine science, and maritime careers working on or near the water,” as stated in the school’s mission.
Stephanie Burns, the program director at Maritime High School, mentioned in an interview with the Emerald that the school was a long time coming, given our region’s vibrant maritime community.
“There’ve been conversations in this region for a long time about the need for a maritime high school. And a couple of years ago, one of the commissioners for the Port of Seattle, Ryan Calkins, started driving the idea of creating a maritime high school,” Burns said. “It would be committed to supporting workforce development for the maritime industry. It would be committed to equity and access to the maritime industry because historically it hasn’t been very representative. Then also really addressing some of our big challenges and problems around climate change and environment and those sort of aspects of our communities.”
September 3 marks the beginning of the first annual Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival. The four-day event represents a multigenerational depiction of art — from poetry and dancing to music and visual art. The festival allows attendees space to go beyond observing by providing workshops for them to engage.
“I’ve been performing in Seattle for over 15 years now, but in the process of being a performance artist, I’ve also been producing shows for that length of time. And I produce shows from children all the way up through adults with a specific focus on bringing together a multi-gender generational community of Black artists,” Franklin said. “So in some ways, you could say that this festival is about 15 years in the making.”
Beginning on Sept. 3 and running from 6:30 to 9 p.m. will be the Muezz Poetry Show. Each night stars a different lineup of local poets and performers and will feature the Seattle Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith, Amber Flame, Robert Lashley, and many more. There will also be an open mic portion of each evening, with a writing workshop before the show to allow attendees to create something to share.
“There is the invitation to engage in art. So when [people] come, we’ll have some art activities that they can participate in, including being a part of the show. …” Franklin said. “What they can expect is a warm welcome, some great music, some of the best artists in Seattle in painting, dancing, and spoken-word poetry.”
Creating a multigenerational festival was very important to Franklin. That’s why on Sept. 5 and 6, the Inspired Child’s open mic from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. will encourage children from 2 to 12 years old to take the stage.
“Young people will be featured in those events to give them opportunities to build their performance resumes, perform, and curate their own performances for an audience,” Franklin said.
This weekend is not just for performing but discussing the power of spoken word, art, and community. Franklin challenges those in attendance to come with an open mind and be willing to participate.
“I think [the festival] is gonna be an experience,” Franklin said. “I would love it for people to come open to that experience and leave inspired. I think art is healing and art is also transformative and it allows us to learn from others. And so I think to be engaged in a community where everybody is participating in that is truly a give and take, whether the audience is choosing to become a part of a show in the open mic or if they’re just choosing to give that energy and attention to the artist who’s on stage, they’re a part of it. I think what people can expect is to feel.”
Events like these also represent a cost-effective way to explore different artistic routes before investing deeply in them. Cipher Goings from Northwest Tap Connection will be teaching free tennis shoe tap lessons. There will be writing workshops and painting sessions, allowing families to explore whether they are truly interested in pursuing an artistic path.
“It gives exposure so that families and individuals can say, wow, I actually liked that. I actually want to invest in this now,” Franklin said. “Exposing people to art creates an opportunity for them to activate the artist that I think is in all of us and find the road that best suits them.”
The festival represents an opportunity to get outside with your family and connect with your community through art. The weekend offers a wide range of artists across different disciplines and generations expressing themselves.
“Being able to celebrate and to share and keep an open mind provides an opportunity to really share your experiences with other people and for other people to hear what’s going on in the hearts and the minds of their community members,” Franklin said. “Activating these [public] spaces is critical, especially right now.”
Admission to the festival is free, but there will be capacity limitations to allow for social distancing. You can secure a spot by going online and claiming a ticket for the Muezz Poetry Show and Inspired Child Open Mic before the event. Masks are required for admittance and attendees are asked to wear them throughout the entirety of the event. Temperature checks and contact-tracing will also be done upon entrance.
Chamidae Ford is a recent journalism graduate of the University of Washington. Born and raised in Western Washington, she has a passion for providing a voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine, and Capitol Hill Seattle. Reach her on IG/Twitter: @chamidaeford.
Featured Image: Photo courtesy of Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival.
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Last week, the Rainier Arts Center premiered its first BIPOC Youth Film Camp. Reel Youth Film Camp is a week-long program that allows Black and Brown kids, ages 7–11, to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking and explore their creative side.
The idea for a BIPOC film camp stemmed from program instructors, Tiffany Bennett and Obadiah Freeman, who were feeling disappointed by the lack of diversity at other youth film camps.
“Originally we started doing camps with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and doing those camps was amazing,” Freeman said. “We both love teaching students of all ages of all types, but we recognize that SIFF was really only providing service to a certain demographic because of the network that they help. So we found that there are opportunities to make that opportunity for others as well … I’ve always been inspired by filmmaking and being Black. And that’s kind of what brings all of what I do together and, I think, what we do.”
This Juneteenth, on the cusp of Seattle’s record-breaking heatwave, Nicole Camp and her husband and daughter opened the doors to Lashelle Wines.
Located in Woodinville, this Black- and female-owned winery is only the second of its kind in Washington State. The winery features private tastings of a wide array of wines, from Marsannes to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although the winery has only been open since the beginning of summer, Camp has been interested in winemaking for years. In the early 2000s, while raising her children, Camp began to experiment with mead-making by turning to the fruit in her yard.
“I did a version of winemaking with mead because we had apples and pears in our backyard. And my very first trial was actually more along the moonshine aspect, very high, very kind of bitter. And then just going along, practicing, looking, and trial and error,” Camp said. “When I realized that Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market actually sold wine grapes just for people to eat, then that’s when I realized, ‘Yes, I want to actually do this,’ because I had that opportunity to play with real grapes on a much smaller scale.”
“The central goal is to preserve and celebrate traditional practices that are either rare, endangered, or unique in Washington State,” Langston Collin Wilkins, director of the CWCT, said. “We really want to provide funding for artists to take time out of their lives and out of their busy schedules to secure the vitality of their cultural traditions.”
On August 15, the South Park Collab is throwing a party. Day Party, an outdoor dance event, will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. along the Duwamish River, with picturesque views of Downtown Seattle, and will feature arts-filled fun for those over 21.
The event has been organized by Cheryl Delostrinos, the co-founder of Au Collective. Delostrinos views herself as a connector, and Day Party aims to remind South Park that even after over a year of isolation, a powerful community exists there.
In July, the Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) awarded $1 million to 17 local organizations to support summer learning programs. Mostly concentrated in the South End, these funds will support programs that help students prepare for school in the fall.
Chris Alejano, the interim K–12 division director for DEEL, explained that the department had an idea of what type of organizations they wanted to partner with. They specifically looked for programs that support getting students ready for school while also prioritizing mental and physical wellness and addressing educational gaps.
“We’re looking for organizations that have a history of serving those students that are furthest away from educational justice,” Alejano said. “[Also organizations] that had some sort of experience achieving outcomes related to academic support, college and career readiness, [and] health and wellness — or at least a plan that showed that they had a strategy behind how they were going to address those topics.”