Tag Archives: Wa Na Wari

Wa Na Wari’s Walk the Block Returns as the Biggest Black Art Festival in the Northwest

by Patheresa Wells


Walk the Block is an art festival and fundraiser for Wa Na Wari, a Central District hub for Black creativity whose name means “our home” in Kalabari. The festival encourages participants to stroll through the neighborhood, where homes, businesses, parks, porches, and other shared spaces are turned into art installations and performance sites. The second annual Walk the Block takes place on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2–6 p.m. beginning at the Medgar Evers Pool at 23rd and Jefferson.

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‘Joy Has a Sound: Black Sonic Visions’ — a Book Review of Wa Na Wari’s New Anthology

by Patheresa Wells


If you close your eyes and imagine what joy sounds like, what might you hear? The laughter of a loved one? The crescendo of your favorite piece of music? When I tried to recall the sounds of joy, so many other senses flooded in — they kept trying to drown out the sounds. This made me realize that sound can often be an overpowering experience, making silence a relief. But if we do not explore sound — do not imagine its possibilities or examine how it can shape us — then, we may find ourselves blocked. We may discover that silence becomes a barrier because the ability to make noise is a privilege. 

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Kwanzaa — a Holiday of Purpose and Principles

by Patheresa Wells


A seven-day African American and Pan-African celebration starting on Dec. 26, Kwanzaa — created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga — was developed as a way to connect, commemorate, and honor community and culture by focusing on Nguzo Saba, or the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. These principles are rooted in traditions of first fruits or harvest celebrations that are found throughout Africa. Even the name of the celebration is taken from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, or “first fruits.” 

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PHOTO ESSAY: Rediscovering the Central District With Wa Na Wari’s ‘Walk the Block’

by Susan Fried


Over seven hundred people bought tickets for Wa Na Wari’s inaugural “Walk the Block fundraising event on Saturday, Oct. 16. Attendees were treated to a feast of visual art, music, dance, food, and drinks. 

Upon arriving at the event, participants were given maps, chose custom racing bibs with a variety of words and slogans, and then set off on a .08 mile walk through the Central District neighborhood. During “Walk the Block,” they could find work by artists Inye Wokoma, Chloe King, and Kimisha Turner. There were also video pieces by Martine Syms, Sable Elyse Smith, and the Shelf Life Community Story Project, as well as live music by the Gary Hammon Band. Three blocks away, in front of the Garfield Community Center, there were dance performances by Northwest Tap Connection and the Bring Us Collective, with jazz trumpeter Owuor Arunga playing in between performances. There were 15 stops along the way.

Elisheba Johnson, co-founder of Wa Na Wari, told the Emerald that the event was “a total success.” 

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Wa Na Wari’s ‘Walk the Block’ Fundraiser Will Center Community Art Experiences

by Sarah Neilson


On Saturday, Oct. 16, from 3 to 6 p.m., Wa Na Wari will be holding its annual fall fundraiser event in a brand new way. Tomorrow, “Walk the Block” will be a pop-up Central District art walk of art installations, dance and musical performance, video, and food. The outdoor festival will showcase and celebrate the work of Black artists working in a multitude of mediums across a 0.8 mile stretch starting at Wa Na Wari and including neighborhood spaces like parks, gardens, and Black-owned homes and businesses. There will be food and drinks available for purchase, live DJs, and even “artbrellas” — umbrellas featuring work from artists Zahyr Lauren and Jazz Brown. 

Community is at the center of Wa Na Wari’s ethos. Specifically, the vitality and presence of Black art and creativity in the historically redlined Central District which, according to Wa Na Wari’s website, has seen a reduction of its Black population from 80% in 1970 to less than 10% today due to multiple waves of gentrification. Located in a fifth-generation Black-owned home, the space itself is stewarded by one of the four founding artists, Inye Wokoma, the grandson of Frank and Goldyne Green, who purchased the house in 1951. Despite the ongoing neighborhood displacement, Wa Na Wari and the people behind it are committed to decentering the narrative of erasure that often gets tied into discussions of gentrification.

“Showing the stories of people that made this neighborhood so great, are still making this neighborhood so great, is really important,” said Elisheba Johnson, Wa Na Wari’s curator and a co-founding artist, about Saturday’s “Walk the Block” event.

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BLOOM Giving Garden Teaches BIPOC Youth Black Liberation and Food Sovereignty

by Chamidae Ford


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.’”

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The Morning Update Show — 8/12/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Thursday, August 12

Live from Liberty Bank Building | LIVE — Elisheba Johnson of Wa Na Wari | LIVE — Stephanie Morales of The Liink Project | LIVE — Edimbo Lekea Artist | Community Building Through Art

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PHOTO ESSAY: South End Marks First Federal Juneteenth With Celebration and Joy

by Susan Fried, Ronnie Estoque, and Maile Anderson


From marching, dance, and roller skating, to meditation, music, and a restaurant homecoming, South Seattle marked the first federally recognized Juneteenth 2021 with beautiful spirit and joy. Emerald photographers hit the streets on Saturday to capture some of the many happenings around the South End. Among them: In the morning, “No Healing, No Peace!” A Walking Meditation for Black Liberation was held at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park and Jackson’s Catfish Corner celebrated their grand opening and return to the Central District. In the afternoon, It Takes a Village Juneteenth Festival took place in Othello Park while KCEN’s annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration marched from 22nd Avenue and Madison Street to Jimi Hendrix Park. Black Girls Roller Skate hosted a Juneteenth roller skating party at Judkins Park and, in the evening, Wa Na Wari wrapped up the day at their Juneteenth Outdoor Celebration with live music.

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Sensing Out of Numbness: A Conversation With Shin Yu Pai

by Jasmine J. Mahmoud


How do we sense at this time? With the onslaught of violence against Asian American and Asian Diasporic people, the horrifyingly regular state-sanctioned murders of Black and Brown people (including CHILDREN), and general harm towards those who our society minoritizes, I’ve been feeling numb and guilty in my inability to sense, as well as to post, donate, fight, and make sense of what’s going on. How do we sense well at this time?

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Lisa Myers Bulmash: the DNA and Soul of Black Art in Seattle

by Lisa Edge


In Lisa Myers Bulmash’s home, a new item commemorates her contest winner status — a cerulean pageant sash. The phrase “Miss Thang 2021” is written across it, and a rhinestone-encrusted safety pin ensures it stays in place. Bulmash can’t help but laugh when she talks about her husband’s playful gift. 

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