Poetry on Buses Roadshow, next stop: Bellevue

Poetry on Buses poets Hafidha Acuay, Devin Miller, Adrian Alarilla and Michelle Peñaloza and librarian Zlatina Encheva at the 4/25 Roadshow at Covington Library. Photos by Timothy Aguero Photography.

Let’s interrogate, complicate and celebrate “home” – with poetry, and at the library.

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Poetry on Buses poets Hafidha Acuay, Devin Miller, Adrian Alarilla and Michelle Peñaloza and librarian Zlatina Encheva at the 4/25 Roadshow at Covington Library. Photos by Timothy Aguero Photography.

Let’s interrogate, complicate and celebrate “home” – with poetry, and at the library.

Saturday, May 9
1.00 – 2.30 pm
Bellevue Library, 1111 110th Ave NE

“For many folks, ‘Where Are You From?’ is often a loaded question because the experience of answering can be complicated, invalidating and exhausting,” says poet Michelle Peñaloza a recent Blog4Culture post.

Join Michelle and Poetry on Buses poets Wendy Call, John Gorski and Laraine Hong for the second in a series of poetic explorations of this question, this time at the Bellevue Library on May 9.

Come for the poetry readings and stay for the facilitated poetry writing workshop. It’s free and open to the public, and especially recommended for ages 12 and up.

Can’t make it that day? Check out poetryonbuses.org for more upcoming opportunities.

Big thanks to King County Library System, Folklife and Whole Foods Market Roosevelt Square for their support of the Poetry on Buses Roadshow.

Poetry Saturday in South County

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where from

Let’s interrogate, complicate and celebrate “home.”  With poetry – at the library and on the bus.

Saturday, April 25
2.00 – 3.30 pm
Covington Library, 2711 – 164th Ave SE

“For many folks, ‘Where Are You From?’ is often a loaded question because the experience of answering can be complicated, invalidating and exhausting,” says poet Michelle Peñaloza a recent Blog4Culture post.

Join Michelle and Poetry on Buses poets Hafidha Acuay, Adrian Alarilla and Devin Miller for a poetic exploration of this question at Covington Library this Saturday.

Come for the poetry readings, check out a RapidRide Poetry Bus, and stay for the facilitated poetry writing workshop. It’s free and open to the public, and especially recommended for ages 12 and up.

Transportation is available from Downtown Seattle. Send us an email by 3pm on 4/24 to reserve a seat.

Can’t make it this weekend? Check out poetryonbuses.org for more upcoming opportunities. And happy National Poetry Month to you!

 

Big thanks to King County Library System for partnering with Poetry on Buses and to Whole Foods Market Roosevelt Square for providing refreshments.

 

Cultural Congress is Almost Here

Cultural Congress © 2013 Robert Wade Photography

Our region is home to a thriving, innovative tech community. While many have talked about its economic, demographic and structural impacts, we rarely have the opportunity to consider how tech both informs and transforms arts & culture. The 2015 Cultural Congress will explore some of those intersections through the theme of art and tech.

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Cultural Congress © 2013 Robert Wade Photography

Our region is home to a thriving, innovative tech community. While many have talked about its economic, demographic and structural impacts, we rarely have the opportunity to consider how tech both informs and transforms arts & culture. The 2015 Cultural Congress will explore some of those intersections through the theme of art and tech.

The conference kicks off on Tuesday, April 28 with a day of fantastic sessions. One highlight is a talk by Susie Lee, artist and CEO of Siren.mobi, an app that focuses on humanizing the online dating space. Lee will discuss the rise of artist as entrepreneur in the digital age, including a personal exploration of the experiences, challenges and rewards of working at the nexus of creative entrepreneurship.

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Cultural Congress © 2013 Robert Wade Photography
Our friends at the Arts & Social Change Symposium are back again this year, with a panel on Wednesday, April 29 titled: Broadening Access and Engaging the Next Generation Through Technology. Moderated by Mayumi Tsutukawa (ArtsWA) this discussion will explore some of the ways technology is being used to engage a diversity of youth in building the next arts and culture frontier. Panelists include: Jonathan Cunningham (EMP Museum), Leah Fishbaugh (TeenTix), David Harris (Hack the CD), Martin Jarmick (DXARTS Doctoral Student) and Joan Rabinowitz (Jack Straw).

On Wednesday afternoon, there will be a 4Culture planned, Pecha Kucha powered session titled: “Culture + Technology: Models for Advancing Community” Featuring a series of short, dynamic presentations on Art, Culture and Technology with stories touching on how innovation impacts inclusion, creativity, relevance, and meaningful engagement. Speakers include: Shelly Farnham (Third Place Technologies), Rex Hohlbein (Facing Homelessness), Tom Ikeda (Densho), Curtis Wong (Microsoft Research) and Aletheia Wittman (The Incluseum).

This is only a sampling of the goodness that awaits you, you can find more at the Cultural Congress website, or go ahead and register if you’re ready to dive in!

2015 Cultural Congress
Tuesday April 28- Wednesday April 29
Seattle Center Armory
305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109 

The Cultural Congress is a conference produced by the Washington State Arts Alliance that invites cultural leaders, artists, and administrators from across Washington State to engage with one another and expand their knowledge through peer dialogue, workshops, and presentations.

We’ve Only Just Begun…

Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

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Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

Writer, musician, actor, and teaching artist, Shontina Vernon is leading the inaugural project session and working with 12 participants to tell their stories through interdisciplinary performance, new media, and poetic narrative.

One by one they trickle in. Some days joyful and engaged, other days frustrated and scared. But always, they come – the young people of my Creative Justice class. And I try – we try – to meet each other with the best versions of ourselves we can muster. None of us comes perfect, but we all arrive (trust a little shaky, BS meters high) curious to learn something new about the world around us.

When the mixture is just right, it happens. Through art, someone is able to say something they’ve never said before… see themselves in ways maybe they’ve only imagined. S/he is proud and valiant, and eager to take the new knowledge and test it outside. But often, I am met with everything from an orchestra of hems and haws to outright stubborn resistance. I take it as a healthy challenge. This is part and parcel of piloting a program like Creative Justice.

I know that the resistance I meet from youth isn’t personal. It has nothing to do with the list of insecurities that may be running on loop in my own head at any given moment. Their resistance is about a fundamental distrust in a system that has never really given them the space to be, has never acknowledged the ways in which they are human, or how the systems of oppression form bars around their lives before they’ve scarcely even had the chance to experience the world outside.

As a mentor-teaching artist, I am tasked with creating the space where these young people who have been silenced by so much can speak freely about their experiences, and share their stories – adding their ideas to the way that we think about our choices and actions. It is at the heart of my social justice practice, this belief that art shapes our cultural stories, and it matters who is represented among the storytellers. This is especially true in the dismantling of our incarceration system.

Today, in class, our stories will be about loss and grief. We are making “descansos,” and discussing violence, death and healthy ways to grieve. It comes out of a rough week. Some of our students and families have had very recent brushes with loss. We will take a moment to honor those who have gone before us. Loss and violence is a real part of what my youth face in their communities everyday. To pretend otherwise is to deny what is true of their lived experience. And forget that they are children. They are afraid. They, like us, are searching for ways to be free, often with no guides.

Art is built for this. It can handle difficult things. What a gift to be able to give them tools, and then listen as they find their way to their own stories. I try to remind them that “in the telling, you rewrite it.”

Already, I can see just how important the arts will be in the transformation of our culture around incarceration and the juvenile justice system. What they have shared is honest, raw, and only the beginning of true reconciliation.

– Shontina Vernon

The Public Arena: Public Art and Its Role in Community

© Ellen Sollod, Collection and Transformation, 2011, Laboratory glass, blown glass, mirrored glass, steel. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider
© Ellen Sollod, Collection and Transformation, 2011, Laboratory glass, blown glass, mirrored glass, steel. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider
© Ellen Sollod, Collection and Transformation, 2011, Laboratory glass, blown glass, mirrored glass, steel. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

North Seattle College Art Gallery opens an exhibition on Tuesday, April 7 featuring eleven artists/artist teams that have created artwork for the public realm. The Public Arena: Public Art and Its Role in Community features proposals, plans, maquettes, working drawings, material samples, finished prototypes and parts that reveal the artistic development and evolution behind some local public artworks. The Public Arena allows visitors to follow the process of public artworks from conception to completion. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Heather Brammeier, Cris Bruch, Celeste Cooning, Kelda Martensen, Peter Reiquam, Norie Sato, Erin Shafkind and Will Gundy of the Cabbage Tree Mob, Buster Simpson, Ellen Sollod, Sutton Beres Culler, and Glenn Tramantano. Several events are planned in concert with the exhibition: Ellen Sollod will lead a tour of artwork at Brightwater on Thursday, April 23 and Cris Bruch will be speaking about his work on Wednesday, April 29.

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© Ellen Sollod, Collection and Transformation, 2011, Laboratory glass, blown glass, mirrored glass, steel. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider
© Ellen Sollod, Collection and Transformation, 2011, Laboratory glass, blown glass, mirrored glass, steel. Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

North Seattle College Art Gallery opens an exhibition on Tuesday, April 7 featuring eleven artists/artist teams that have created artwork for the public realm. The Public Arena: Public Art and Its Role in Community features proposals, plans, maquettes, working drawings, material samples, finished prototypes and parts that reveal the artistic development and evolution behind some local public artworks. The Public Arena allows visitors to follow the process of public artworks from conception to completion. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Heather Brammeier, Cris Bruch, Celeste Cooning, Kelda Martensen, Peter Reiquam, Norie Sato, Erin Shafkind and Will Gundy of the Cabbage Tree Mob, Buster Simpson, Ellen Sollod, Sutton Beres Culler, and Glenn Tramantano. Several events are planned in concert with the exhibition: Ellen Sollod will lead a tour of artwork at Brightwater on Thursday, April 23 and Cris Bruch will be speaking about his work on Wednesday, April 29.

For more information about the exhibition and events, contact Amanda Knowles, Visual Art Instructor & Art Gallery Coordinator, amanda.knowles@seattlecolleges.edu.

April 7, 2015-May 1, 2015

North Seattle College Art Gallery
Opening: Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 1-3pm and 5-7pm
Field Trip to Brightwater: Thursday, April 23, 2015, 9am-11am
Cris Bruch Artist Lecture: Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 1pm-2pm in LB1141

I am from __________. I contain multitudes.

Poet Michelle Peñaloza. Photo by Timothy Aguero Photography.
Poet Michelle Peñaloza. Photo by Timothy Aguero Photography.

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Happy April and National Poetry Month! In this guest post, poet Michelle Peñaloza invites you to participate in a series of events we’re calling the Poetry on Buses Roadshow. We hope to see you.

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

–Walt Whitman

For many folks, “Where Are You From?” is often a loaded question because the experience of answering can be complicated, invalidating and exhausting.

Let me illustrate my point by comparing two scenarios unfolding from that question:

Case #1:

“So, where are you from?”

“Nashville. What about you?”

“Oh, cool. I’m from Spokane. I heard Nashville’s nice. Do you like country music?”

Case #2

“So, where are you from?”

“Nashville. What about you?”

“I mean, like, where are you really from?”

“Um. Nashville. What about you?”

“No…like, where were you born?”

“Detroit.”

“Ok…where are your parents from?”

“Detroit. We moved to Nashville when I was in the third grade.”

“Y’know what I mean!”

“Oh. Yes. I see. The Philippines. The explanation you seem to need is the Philippines.”

“I knew it! love lumpia! When did you come to America?”

 What do we do when we limit our scope of who can be from where? When we invalidate and ignore, or smooth over the nuances of what it means to be from and of a place, a people, a country, a city?

I exaggerate Case #2. A little.  In any case, I am Filipino-American. I grew up in Nashville.  I was born in Detroit. And: These facts are not mutually exclusive!  Still, the lack of space made for the complexity of my history and reality are things I’ve been navigating my whole life. “Where are you from?” has always been a complicated question — not because I didn’t or don’t know, but because people’s responses made me doubt my answer. I learned quickly the subtext of the follow-up: explain your face; it’s not from here.

Skin color, eyes, accents, or lack thereof, each signal our “fromness,” our origins, our homes – but the narratives and realities of these signals are complex – and where we choose to claim as home equally so. It seems fitting that the theme for this year’s Poetry on Buses program is “Writing Home.” In motion, in transit in public space — who are we upon departure? Upon arrival and return?

The “Writing Home” poems demonstrate and engage the complexities of home of “fromness” with breadth and beauty. The program weaves together poetry with the public space of the bus, where “for a short while, all of us are going in the same direction.”

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Poet Michelle Peñaloza. Photo by Timothy Aguero Photography.

I’m honored to continue the work of Writing Home by emceeing and curating three Poetry on Buses events in conjunction with King County Libraries and the Folklife Festival, beginning in April, National Poetry Month. Poets from the Poetry on Buses project will join me to share visions of home. Through prompts and casual workshops* you’ll have the opportunity to engage and explore for yourself the complexities of our claims of home through the lens of poetry.

Let’s interrogate, complicate, and celebrate homeLet’s listen to and honor people when they choose to share with us their answers to the question: “Where are you from?”

 

POETRY ON BUSES ROADSHOW DETAILS:

April 25, 2PM @ Covington Library, 27100 164th Ave SE, Covington, 98042

May 9, 1PM @ Bellevue Library, 1111 110th Ave NE, Bellevue, 98004

May 23, Noon – 6PM @ Folklife, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, 98109

Big thanks to King County Library System, our partner in the library events. And to Whole Foods Market Roosevelt Square for providing refreshments.

 

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Flushed: Into the World of Wastewater Treatment

Photo: McKenzie Taplin

“For more than a decade,” writes Stranger critic Brendan Kiley, “solo performer Stokley Towles has been studying us. He examines the mundane aspects of life in Seattle like an anthropologist from another planet—our libraries, our trash system, our police force, the history of a single city block—and delivers his findings in rich, understated monologues full of bizarre, colorful trivia and bittersweet observations about how people navigate the world and each other.”

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Towles_Flushed
Photo: McKenzie Taplin

“For more than a decade,” writes Stranger critic Brendan Kiley, “solo performer Stokley Towles has been studying us. He examines the mundane aspects of life in Seattle like an anthropologist from another planet—our libraries, our trash system, our police force, the history of a single city block—and delivers his findings in rich, understated monologues full of bizarre, colorful trivia and bittersweet observations about how people navigate the world and each other.”

Towles’ latest foray into urban anthropology, entitled Flushed: Into the World of Wastewater Treatment, takes the audience on a funny and factual journey to answer the question: After we flush where does it all go?  The 50-minute monologue accompanied by projected images tells the story of Ron, a treatment plant manager, who is up at night worrying about the creatures that keep the system functioning, the sewage swim team, and the day that lemons filled the treatment plant.  An illustrated and condensed history of the “throne” is sure to amaze and entertain as Towles explains the evolution of the management of “night soils.”

Following the treatment process by following the stories of food – from table to toilet to wheat field and back to table – Towles’ portrait of the system is a portrait of the wastewater treatment workers, all of us that are a part of the system, and the farmers that close the LOOP.

(You will never flush it and forget it again!)

Running time: 50 minutes. Ages: 7 to adult.

EVENT INFO
Flushed: Into the World of Wastewater Treatment
New City Theater, 1404 18th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
Tickets: $10-$15.  Purchased through Brown Paper Ticket.

DATES

  • April 25, 26. Saturday 7:30pm and Sunday noon – tickets $10
  • May 1, 2, 3. Friday and Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday noon – tickets $15
  • May 8, 9, 10. Friday and Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday noon – tickets $15

 

This artwork was funded in part by 4Culture in partnership with King County Wastewater Treatment Division as part of the 1% for Art program at Brightwater. The artwork is intended to inspire and engage the broader community in a conversation and greater understanding about water quality in our region, environmental stewardship and the extent of the conveyance and treatment system.

Free Workshop on Accessioning + Deaccessioning

Renton Historical Society © 2012
Renton Historical Society © 2012
Seattle Post-Intelligencer photo archive at MOHAI’s Sophie Frye Bass Library © 2014, courtesy of MOHAI

Deciding what to add to your institution’s collections – and what to get rid of – can seem like an overwhelming task. In this workshop, you will learn how to decide if an item will be a good addition to your collection, how to create policies and procedures that will prevent your organization from being overwhelmed with useless “stuff”, and how to ethically remove items from the collection that have outlived their usefulness.

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Seattle Post-Intelligencer photo archive at MOHAI’s Sophie Frye Bass Library © 2014, courtesy of MOHAI

Deciding what to add to your institution’s collections – and what to get rid of – can seem like an overwhelming task. In this workshop, you will learn how to decide if an item will be a good addition to your collection, how to create policies and procedures that will prevent your organization from being overwhelmed with useless “stuff”, and how to ethically remove items from the collection that have outlived their usefulness.

RHS_2012HCC_03
Renton Historical Society © 2012

Hilary Pittenger, Curator of Collections at the White River Valley Museum, will share her professional experiences with accessioning and deaccessioning challenges and offer attendees achievable, low-cost solutions and work plans to help them curate useful and high-quality heritage collections.

Sponsored by 4Culture, this free workshop is aligned with StEPs standards for Stewardship of Collections, and is presented in conjunction with the Heritage Collections Care funding program. Workshop attendance is highly encouraged for representatives of organizations enrolled in StEPs and those planning to apply to the 2015 Heritage Collections Care program.

Seating is limited and preregistration is required.

 

Accessioning and Deaccessioning: How to Plan and Prune Your Collection’s Contents
Monday, April 27, 2015 | 1-4 PM
FREE (preregistration required)
White River Valley Museum
918 H Street SE Auburn, WA

THE WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL.
You may still contact us to be placed on the waitlist: Eric Taylor at eric.taylor@4culture.org.

Creative Justice

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County. Through collaboration with mentor artists, participants consider the root causes of incarceration (as they intersect with racism, classism and other oppressions) and focus on the positive role youth voice can have in building a more just and equitable society.

Research shows that incarcerating youth has little-to-no relationship with reductions in crime in the community. Instead, it increases recidivism, pulls youth deeper into the system, causes additional harm to youth who have special needs or are experiencing mental illness, and greatly reduces youth success in the labor market [1]. King County is actively working to reduce reliance on incarceration in favor of community-based alternatives: the total youth population in secure detention decreased 63% between 1998 and 2014 [2]. However, as the number of incarcerated youth has declined, racial disproportionality has increased: black youth are nine times more likely to be imprisoned than white youth. Community groups continue to press for alternatives to incarceration that work to eliminate systemic racism and its destructive impacts on youth and families of color.

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Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County. Through collaboration with mentor artists, participants consider the root causes of incarceration (as they intersect with racism, classism and other oppressions) and focus on the positive role youth voice can have in building a more just and equitable society.

Research shows that incarcerating youth has little-to-no relationship with reductions in crime in the community. Instead, it increases recidivism, pulls youth deeper into the system, causes additional harm to youth who have special needs or are experiencing mental illness, and greatly reduces youth success in the labor market [1]. King County is actively working to reduce reliance on incarceration in favor of community-based alternatives: the total youth population in secure detention decreased 63% between 1998 and 2014 [2]. However, as the number of incarcerated youth has declined, racial disproportionality has increased: black youth are nine times more likely to be imprisoned than white youth. Community groups continue to press for alternatives to incarceration that work to eliminate systemic racism and its destructive impacts on youth and families of color.

We have envisioned Creative Justice to advance the goal of continuing to reduce the use of incarceration while simultaneously eliminating racial disparities. Supported by 1% for Art funds and the National Endowment for the Arts, the pilot year of programming is engaging 48 youth and families involved with King County Juvenile Court.

Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

During quarterly project sessions at partner sites throughout the county, participants meet with experienced mentor artists twice a week, for two hours, to dialogue, create and share a meal. Sessions include: artistic skill building in a variety of disciplines; discussion and learning rooted in principles of anti-racism and social justice; individual and collaborative creative work; and opportunities to give and receive feedback. Family members are engaged in the projects in various ways, including participation in hands-on activities. At the end of each session, youth lead and produce community-based actions and events in which they share their creativity, vision, and new abilities.

The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is considering involvement in Creative Justice as mitigation in any case and incentive for terminating probation early. As well, youth receive community service credit and stipends that encourage participation while helping to pay court fines and other expenses.

Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

The first 2015 project session is being hosted at 2312 Gallery in Belltown. Twelve young people are working with mentor artist Shontina Vernon to explore the power of personal narrative storytelling as they consider themes of social justice, community, authenticity, and the freedom of choice. Guest artists Tariqa Waters, Amy O’Neal, Nicole Brown, Anthony Tackett, Evan Flory-Barnes, and Hollis Wong-Wear are scheduled to make special appearances.

Otieno Terry, Daemond Arrindell, and Nikkita Oliver will lead future project sessions, all with an emphasis on social engagement, and collaborate with Shontina to make supplementary Saturday drop-in classes available to a larger court-involved population. A full schedule and session descriptions can be found at creativejustice.4culture.org.

Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

Lead Engagement Artist and Program Coordinator, Aaron Counts shares his thinking about Creative Justice:

Art can be transformative. I owe my entire writing career to this idea, so it is a belief I hold close. I’ve written poetry and prose with prisoners, school dropouts, gang members and college professors and national book award winners alike, and the common thread among all of them is the desire to be seen and heard, for each of us to have a platform to tell our stories.

For court-involved young people, who are often the most marginalized of voices, that opportunity to be heard usually comes framed as anti-social action. When youth strike out against rules and norms, their negative behaviors become the story. But in Creative Justice, we know they have much more to say, and art can be the conduit that brings those ideas into the center of the conversation.

To stand and say in a beautiful and creative way, “This is the way I see the world. Any questions?” is a powerful experience. It allows us to commune with one another and really begin to hear what each of us is going through, individually and collectively. That sharing of stories is a great place to build empathy and compassion, to forge stronger connections and transform communities.

As an artist and activist, I relish the task of working in a program that focuses on making my community a more equitable place. With Creative Justice, we’re recognizing the power to create in those we’ve often vilified for their ability to destroy. How exciting is that?

 

[1] Justice Policy Institute, 2006
[2] King County, 2014

 

Arts & Heritage Day is next week!

Legislative Building on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington. Photograph taken by Tradnor on May 28, 2005
Legislative Building on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington. Photograph taken by Tradnor on May 28, 2005

Mark Gerth is the Executive Director of the Washington State Arts Alliance, which works to promote public funding, legislation, and policy in support of arts and culture in our region. Mark has years of experience in planning, advocacy, and policy development. We’ve asked him to give us an update on the upcoming Arts & Heritage Day in Olympia.

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Legislative Building on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington. Photograph taken by Tradnor on May 28, 2005
Legislative Building on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington. Photograph taken by Tradnor on May 28, 2005

Mark Gerth is the Executive Director of the Washington State Arts Alliance, which works to promote public funding, legislation, and policy in support of arts and culture in our region. Mark has years of experience in planning, advocacy, and policy development. We’ve asked him to give us an update on the upcoming Arts & Heritage Day in Olympia.

The State’s investment in our cultural eco-system – supported by agencies like the Washington State Arts Commission, the Washington State Historical Societies, and programs like Building for the Arts and Heritage Capital Projects, contributes to vibrant communities. OUR cultural investments support innovation, jobs, tourism, economic vitality, and opportunities for people to come together.

In collaboration with the Washington Museum Association, the Arts Alliance plans and organizes an annual gathering of the state’s vital and diverse cultural community. This year, join us on March 4th in Olympia to meet with your legislators during ARTS & HERITAGE DAY to advocate for arts and heritage issues that impact our communities and schools.

ADD YOUR VOICE – help us advocate for full support of agency requested funding levels for the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), both State Historical Societies, Building for the Arts, Heritage Capital Projects and other cultural programs and agencies.

SPEAK UP – on behalf of legislation (HB 1107/SB 5463), which would create the Cultural Access Washington program throughout the state. The goal of the Cultural Access Washington legislation is to increase access to cultural experiences (from arts organizations, to aquariums, science centers, heritage museums, and zoos) for children and adults across Washington. Additionally, funds would be used to provide in-school cultural education programs for K-12 students and to pay for school transportation to cultural venues.

Visit the Arts & Heritage Day page on our website to find your Team Captain – register for lunch – learn about the issues – and plan your day of advocacy! To learn about pre-Arts & Heritage Day events on March 3rd in Olympia, visit http://washingtonmuseumassociation.org/arts-heritage-day.

If you can’t make it to Arts & Heritage Day, you can still participate! Sign-up to receive our action alerts – and we’ll send one to you on March 4th that will make it quick and easy for you to contact your legislator and express to them your strong support for arts and culture in our state.

Sincerely,
Mark Gerth, Executive Director
Washington State Arts Alliance

A Sanctuary of Words

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Anna Goren, a community-oriented poet, writer and editor brought the Poetry on Buses theme, Writing Home, into the King County Correctional Facility. In this guest post, she shares her thoughts and a few of the remarkable results of an inmate women’s creative writing class.

This past November, I sat in the audience of 800+ at the Paramount Theatre, as we celebrated the launch of Poetry on Buses. Watching project participants read their poems aloud with live music, I enjoyed the revelry of the evening, but knew something was missing from the ongoing discussion of home. A few blocks south, on the 9th floor of the King County Correctional Facility, a group of my favorite writers had something to say on the topic, too.

Each week, I co-facilitate a creative writing class for incarcerated women with two other writers and activists, Jay Thompson and Michael Hood.

Isolated from homes and stripped of possessions, these women have few opportunities to remind themselves of their humanity while in jail. In matching red jumpsuits, they watch Seahawks parades and workweek traffic from a small window over downtown, eyeing the days we so easily take for granted, moving freely.

Struggle is familiar to them. Many have been victims of intimate-partner violence, been denied housing, or struggled with addiction and survived poverty. Almost all of them have children.

As they anxiously await trials and sentences that will determine their future, with few tools at their disposal, they find a way to do the unthinkable each week. They laugh, make jokes and cobble together birthday cards from old copies of the newspaper. Above all, with their eyes on home, they write poems. 

As a class, we write poems about everything from Ferguson to food-stamp Thanksgivings, to the gap between a stranger’s teeth. We dissect Neruda, and push back on Hemingway. We write letters to deceased loved ones, and odes to the bathroom door. Seasoned poets and first time writers gather together to create a space for us all to share our stories — where we come from, what feeds us, who and how we love.

The vulnerability, bravery, brilliance, and good humor they put down on the page each week is what takes most of us years to muster up.

“What is an endearing flaw you like in yourself? In someone else?”

“What lives in your gut?”

“What do you do when you get home?”

Though many of the women write fiercely on these questions and others from their tanks, many have never shared work in public, until now.

After being published in the Poetry on Buses project with a piece inspired by this class, it felt important to bring the prompt of home into the jail.

It naturally resonated for the women, as they considered the homes they have lost, and the ones they will build. In their work, they have built a sanctuary.

Below are selections from writings on home in the King County Correctional.

 

Prompt: When I go home?

poem1

 

 Prompt: Write about a home that is not your own, but you know very well.

poem2

poem3

*This student was transferred to a different facility prior to publishing. For security purposes, only initials are used here.