News

Jun
7

Event Lessons from Healing History, Youth Voice, and Living Art

Filed Under: Vibrant Community - Posted @ 11:54am

GTCF sees that great things happen when community gathers together. Every month, we talk with organizers of events who posted on our Community Calendar to find out what happened.  Tamiko Nimura from Tacoma Japanese American History , Michael Haeflinger of Write 253, and Katherine Wimble Fox from Pacific Bonsai Museum share their vision and lessons from local events in May.

Tacoma Japanese American Day of Remembrance

  • PHOTO: Tacoma Fuji Taiko (by Jesse Love)

Location
Washington State History Museum

Event Date
May 17, 2018

Overview
Tacoma Japanese American Day of Remembrance commemorates the forcible evacuation of over 700 Japanese Americans from Tacoma’s Union Station as part of Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. The event, co-hosted by Tacoma Japanese History and the Washington State History Museum, featured a memory procession from Union Station to the museum, folk song sing-a-longs, a traditional music performance, a historic photo walk, and a public art activity.  

What were you hoping to accomplish?
We had 3 main goals for this event: 1) Space to honor the vibrant Japanese American community that existed before World War II.  2) Connect Tacoma to the Days of Remembrance and Japanese American history around the country.  3) Create a larger sense of Japanese American community in Tacoma

How did it go?
I believe that close to 300 people attended over the course of the event’s three hours.  There was a cross-section of attendees across age and ethnicities, with many members of the Japanese American community, both historic and recent arrivals present as well.  Student volunteers from Tacoma Community college were also in attendance, as well as faith leaders across Tacoma’s communities.  Washington State Representative Bob Hasegawa and State Senator Jeannie Darneille were both present, which was an honor.

Highlights
One highlight for me happened during the taiko performance, when much of the museum lobby and balconies were filled with people enjoying the performance.  Taiko is an important and empowering cultural force in the Japanese American community, crossing generational boundaries.  So much of the history of Tacoma’s Japantown is a story of loss and sorrow, and the taiko group’s performance was a vivid reminder of the community’s resilience and capacity for joy.

Also, a Japanese American woman who had grown up in Tacoma but not known about the city’s prewar history called the event “healing”.  Another woman reflected on her deceased husband’s connection to Tacoma’s Japantown saying that he would have been happy to see that the history is still being remembered.

What did you learn about putting on community events?
People often love to help, however they can.  Reach out and ask across your circles and communities.  Even if they are not able to give you exactly what you ask for they may be willing to give you something else. Several friends, community members, and neighbors provided support for me on the day of the event, and I’m overflowing with gratitude and awe at how generous my communities have been.  Partnership is also very important.  The staff at the Washington State History Museum were extraordinary co-hosts, and all my co-sponsors were generous with their time and resources.  I would also add that the power of social media can really go far in helping publicize the event.  I sent out a “save the date” notice on social media two months before the event and finalized the schedule for publicity one month in advance.

What’s next?
After the thank you notes, rest first!  I would like to do at least one walking tour of Japantown and a Day of Remembrance once a year each May.  We hope to have the “Tacoma Japantown Then And Now” photo exhibit travel, if possible.  And there are grant applications that I would like to apply for in order to make the event more self-sustaining.  There are other projects in the works to tell Tacoma’s Japantown story, including several at the University of Washington, Tacoma and through HistoryLink, the state online encyclopedia.

 



Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Slam

  • PHOTO: Louder Than A Bomb -Tacoma (by Johnny Schuler)

Location
Tacoma Community College

Event Date
April 28, 2018

Overview
Louder Than a Bomb-Tacoma (LTAB-Tacoma) is a space for teen poets and spoken word artists to share their stories and build community around their love of writing and performing poetry.

What were you hoping to accomplish
Beyond hosting a poetry slam, we hope to introduce poets to each other who normally wouldn’t meet because of geographic or other barriers.  Our region is so richly diverse and we would like to create spaces that celebrate that diversity while supporting students’ artistic and academic pursuits as well.

How did it go?
We held four preliminary bouts and a finals bout on April 28.  The energy at LTAB-Tacoma is always high and the support for one another’s work among the teen poets, as well as the support from the audience, is evident throughout the day.  After the show ended, we had many people commenting to the staff and the poets about how moved they were by the work they heard on stage.

Highlights
I was personally delighted by the quality of writing and the range of subject matter that the poets explored.  Poets presented pieces about their personal lives and the stories of their families, friends, and communities.  They also expressed concern with the current political climate, and wrestled with and reacted to the current wave of school shootings in creative ways that implore the adults in their lives to critically assess how their actions may affect the youth.  Each year at LTAB, we are treated to a multitude of experiences and ideas, which is precisely why we present the program in the first place.

What did you learn about putting on community events?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned in presenting LTAB in Tacoma and other cities is that the most important element is youth voice.  It’s imperative for us to put those voices first at the event and all the workshops leading up to it.

What’s next?
Our goal is to grow from eight teams in the slam in 2018 to 12 in 2019.  Each year, we hope to grow in accordance with our capacity, with the ultimate goal being representation from as many Pierce County schools as possible. 


Bonsai Fest

Location
Pacific Bonsai Museum

Event Date
May 12-13, 2018

Overview
Every year on the second Saturday of May, we celebrate World Bonsai Day (an annual event organized by the World Bonsai Friendship Federation). On the second Sunday of May (Mother’s Day) we typically have our busiest attendance day of the year. Also, Mother’s Day weekend has been the time when Pacific Bonsai Museum hosts the local bonsai club–the Puget Sound Bonsai Association (PSBA)–for their annual member bonsai show. So this year we decided to combine all three events in one fun, festival-like weekend: Bonsai Fest!

What were you hoping to accomplish?
We always want to connect people to nature by introducing them to the living art of bonsai. Visitors could see bonsai both in the PSBA show and in our 2018 exhibit, ‘Living Art of Bonsai: Elements of Design.’ For Bonsai Fest, we also offered an art-station, poetry writing, pop-up shopping, and food. The club also conducted bonsai-making demonstrations, asked visitors to vote for ‘best in show,’ and had a drawing to win a free bonsai.

How did it go?
It was great! We had a record turnout.  It was our busiest two days ever with about 3,000 people visiting over the weekend.  The weather was perfect, everything looked beautiful, and people were in a good mood!  We even got media coverage in the Seattle Times.

Highlights
The bonsai making demonstrations were very popular and captivating. Some people were so engrossed, they sat and watched for four hours at a time. We did a live Facebook video of a snippet of one of the demos, so you can watch if you are interested. https://www.facebook.com/pacificbonsaimuseum/videos/1066265486860159/

Our art-making stations–where kids and adults can draw and color while learning something about bonsai– are always loved by families. One mom described the papers, stickers, pens, pencils, and crayons strewed across the table as “the most perfect mess.”

What did you learn about putting on community events?
You can never publicize your event too much, so post information on all the online calendars you can find. Perfect weather doesn’t hurt either. Also remember that while you have everyone there, to maximize the opportunity to deliver information into their hands on your next event, or program, or any other information you want them to have and act on. 

What’s next?
We are going to make Bonsai Fest! and annual event for sure. In the meantime, we have another new program launching this summer: The LAB (Living Art of Bonsai); an experimentatl collaborative for bonsai design innovation.  It kicks off on August 4th with a live bonsai styling event in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Lakewood.  In the Autumn we will host Fall for Bonsai, highlighting our bonsai’s fall foliage, and in December we invite guests to join us for our 5th Annual Bonsai Solstice. 

 

Want to share your events on our calendar? We invite local nonprofits, organizations, and individuals to help us keep the Community Calendar up to date by posting their own events to the calendar.

To begin posting you’ll need to create an account

Once you’ve created an account, you will be able log in and post your events to the Community Calendar at any time.  Submissions will be reviewed by GTCF staff and shared on the calendar once they are approved.  We usually get them up within 24 hours.

If you have any questions, or need help getting your account set up please feel free to call us at (253) 383-5622 or email Joe Hunich