Community Coordinator Spotlight: Wes Weddell

Community Coordinators are an integral part of the Northwest Folklife’s mission and vision to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Their talent, time and expertise as a Community Coordinator create opportunities for folks of the Pacific Northwest to participate in arts experiences and learn about the living traditions that occur daily in our big neighborhood.

Today, we introduce you to performer, writer and teacher Wes Weddell. Whether it’s supporting folk duo Reilly & Maloney, collaborating with The Bushwick Book Club – Seattle, or gathering together the vast community of Singer Songwriters of the Northwest – you can find Wes leading the Emerald City Songwriters Circles at the Northwest Folklife Festival since 2009.

What cultural traditions do you or your group share with the greater community?

 The craft (and performance) of songwriting and original music

What does it mean to you and to your community to be connected to Northwest Folklife and how long have you been involved? What impact has the organization made on your community?

Singer/Songwriters have been part of Northwest Folklife from the very beginning, and we’re glad to remain a part of festival programming.  I have been Community Coordinator since the 2009 festival.  As we’ve developed the Emerald City Songwriter Circles at the festival, unamplified gatherings where anyone can come share an original song, it’s been fun to watch the culture of listening grow alongside the well-established Folklife culture of jamming.

How do you interact with Northwest Folklife outside of the Northwest Folklife Festival?

A lot of year-round preparation goes into planning the circles, recruiting new hosts, and growing/fostering appreciation for original music.

Please share a performance memory connected to Northwest Folklife that had an impact on you?

We’ve had many lovely moments in the Emerald City Songwriter Circles over the years.  From young children sharing their own original songs to off-the-wall, laugh-out-loud masterpieces from newcomers and established pros alike.  This past festival one songwriter shared how much the circles had meant to him during his recovery from serious health challenges – hard to find a more touching endorsement than that.

How can Northwest Folklife and its fans connect with you through social media?

Google your favorite local singer/songwriter and follow him/her!

What specific community in the Northwest do you hail from, how about your group? (If you are from Seattle, please give us the specific neighborhood – ex. Queen Anne or Ballard or West Seattle, etc.)

 I live in NE Seattle.  Our revolving-door cast of hosts hail from all over town and the region.

 Please share the Northwest Folklife events you have contributed programming for?

 I was part of programming-proper back in 2004…but wearing the Community Coordinator hat: Emerald City Songwriter Circles, 2009-present.

Connect with Wes here.

Thanks for a great Seattle Children’s Festival!


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At the Seattle Children’s Festival, families not only watch and listen but Play, Dance, Sing, Learn, Taste and Participate!

oolleemmdrum1  Thank you for another fantastic Seattle Children’s Festival! It was a great day of music, dance, art and exploration at the Seattle Center. More than 3,000 of our neighbors helped us to celebrate our BIG neighborhood along with 154 artists with 32 performances across 6 different venues. Families were able to experience all kinds of Folklife, from traditional Chinese dance to beat boxing. And so much more!

Take any good pics at the festival? We want to see them! Post your favorites on Instagram or facebook #folklifekids. We’ll have ours up soon!

We hope to see you all back for the 4th annual Seattle Children’s Festival next year! Mark your calendar for Sunday, October 8, 2017

 

 

A Letter from Rob Townsend

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 6.04.13 PMDear Friends,

 

I write this as I am about to step away from the leadership position here at Northwest Folklife. I’m passing the torch to Mark Crawford, a talented, seasoned nonprofit leader who will serve as the Interim Executive Director and will ably shepherd the organization into its next chapter. The coming 2016-17 year is truly Folklife’s bridge to the future!

 

It has been my privilege to be at the helm since 2008. We’ve all enjoyed nine Folklife Festivals in that time, but we’ve also seen the birth of our Seattle Children’s Festival, soon to enjoy its third edition. We’ve seen the resilience and strength of the organization through our country’s trying financial period, and now look forward to a brilliant future together.

 

I have seen the strength of Northwest Folklife from my privileged position: that strength is you! Our organization is a prime example of community power in action. It will continue to flourish and grow only with your continuing help in all ways – through programming, community awareness, volunteerism and with your financial support. I hope as we all look forward to Folklife’s 50th year in the not-so-distant future, we will see Folklife maintain its position as a cultural beacon for all in our region.
Thank you all, so very much, for your wisdom, your support, and your participation in all that makes Northwest Folklife so unique and special.

 

Warm regards,

 
Rob Townsend

 

Tips for Exploring the Seattle Children’s Festival

CC0A7188Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival is just around the corner. This one-day, multi-cultural, inter-generational festival that “Celebrates Our Big Neighborhood” takes place on October 9th. Fun for all ages, bring your family and friends down to the Seattle Center for a day of singing, dancing creating, learning, and more!

Here’s how to be a smart traveler through the Festival while exploring a world of cultures:

  1. When you arrive at Seattle Center, stop by a Donation & Information Booth and pick up an Event Passport. Use this as a guide as you choose your adventure throughout the Festival.
  2. Browse through your Passport and find out what workshops, performances and crafts await you in the schedules listed! There is a plethora of cultural performances to see — if your group is feeling energized, find the next Movement Series workshop or Dance Workshop to get movin’.
  3. Ready to get your hands dirty? Stop by on of the TWO Discovery Zones at the Festival, both featuring a variety of hands-on workshops and activities. Looking to learn how to eat healthy? Stop by the Armory balcony and see Chef T teach about using the fruits and vegetables from y our neighborhood.
  4. Before you leave, don’t forget to turn in your Passport About Me page at the Donation & Information Booth for the chance to win a prize!
  5. Your donation makes the Folklife magic happen. Please give today and add your color to the Giving Gateway! Suggested donation is $10 per person, $20 per family. Or visit give.nwfolklife.org

Folklife is the everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation.  Inspire a Child’s Cultural IQ: Give Kids the Gift of Community.  Thank you!  It’s because of you and our sponsors that we can keep this festival FREE!  Even more importantly, that we nurture the artists, doers, and organizers of our community so we can come together and celebrate each other.  So, thank you!  You are very much a part of this!

 

Community Coordinator Spotlight: Katrina Ji

What does it mean to be a Northwest Folklife Community Coordinator? Great question! This is a group of dedicated individuals from all walks of Northwest life. These people give of their time and resource to bring their own cultural traditions to the greater community through Northwest Folklife.

Katrina JiToday, we’d like to introduce you to Katrina Ji, the Artistic Director, Choreographer, and lead dancer of Culture Shakti, a dance studio that bridges the gap between east and west, providing dances classes for Belly Dance, Bollywood, Bhangra, Rajasthani, Garba, and more. Katrina is the Northwest Folklife Community Coordinator for the Bollywood Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

 

What cultural traditions do you share with the greater community?

The Bollywood Showcase highlights a variety of high octane Bollywood dances from India including Bhangra, Garba, Tollywood and more.

Please share the Northwest Folklife events you have contributed programming for?

Not only have I been contributing to the Bollywood Showcase each year, I initiated the Bollywood Showcase. In addition, I also program a Bollywood Dance Party with DJ Kazan and other local DJ’s along with a dance lesson by myself. Plus this past year, I programmed a Bollywood Kids Showcase on the new outdoor stage.

What does it mean to you and to your community to be connected to Northwest Folklife?

I am thrilled to be an advocate for promoting Bollywood and Folk Dances of India at the Northwest Folklife Festival. I have been the community organizer for five years now. Being part of the Festival has helped our company gain visibility for larger opportunities including the Democrats of Washington Holiday Party and the F.U.S.I.O.N. Gala Auction Fundraiser.

katrina-ji-image-2

Can you recall a performance memory that had an impact on you?

One of my fondest memories at the Northwest Folklife Festival was seeing a group of young girls that I had been teaching through Aki Kurose. (Group Healths’s Teen Youth Mentorship Program) on the stage. They were so proud. I am so happy they were provided the opportunity to participate as a school field trip. They were so excited for the opportunity to dress up in the costumes that I provided them on the Armory Stage. 

 

Find Katrina Ji on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or online at CultureShakti.com. 

 

 

Explore Fine Artisan Chinese Teas, Friends of Folklife

If you were to time travel to China any time after 10BC, you are likely to find tea. Tour the world by any means these days, and you are likely to find tea.  Statistics say that fifty-one per cent of Americans drink tea every single day.  Tea is enjoyed in a countless variety of settings: as a personal moment, as an afternoon ritual with cakes, as a choreographed tradition such as the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and as a special tea tasting for Friends of Folklife at the Northwest Tea Festival!  Please RSVP to attend.

Tea is folklife, folks!

The Northwest Tea Festival has extended a special invitation to Friends of Folklife to enjoy a private tea tasting presented by Catherine & Ned Heagerty of Silk Road Teas. As tea purveyors, Catherine and Ned are well known for their tea discoveries, relationships with artisan growers, and their excellent quality tea finds. So, this will be a big treat!

teafestivalSession Description:
During this session Catherine & Ned will talk about their quest to find rare Chinese teas and make them available in the United States. Attendees will learn about this process and will have the opportunity to sample a selection of these teas, expertly brewed for their enjoyment. There will be ample time for questions and Catherine & Ned will be happy to share some of their vast knowledge about tea.

About Silk Road Teas:
Silk Road Teas is known as a purveyor of rare and artisan teas from China.  Each spring, they travel in the tea-rich southeastern provinces to source their teas.  Visiting tea markets, small farms, specialty tea companies and tea brokers, they find the finest varieties of white, green, oolong, black and Pu-erh tea.

Silk Road Teas are grown and processed by true artisans of the leaf.  They purchase most of their teas in picking-teasmall lots that are single origin and often handmade.  It is their belief the best tea is harvested early in the spring, when the days are warming and the nights cool. In that brief harvest window, known as “before the rain” teas, the fresh and tender leaves offer nuanced flavors and tastes.  These teas are limited in supply and are recognized as some of the finest teas in the world.  Once plucked and processed, many of their teas are not blended and they preserve these unique small lots for their customers’ enjoyment.

Time: October 2nd at 11:00am-12:00pm
Session Title: Fine Artisan Chinese Teas
Session Leaders: Catherine & Ned Heagerty of Silk Road Teas
Admission to the Northwest Tea Festival is $10, and there is no additional charge to Friends of Folklife for this special invitational tasting. RSVP by the end of day Sept 26th.

Become a Friend of Folklife

Warm Welcome To Mark Crawford

Northwest Folklife’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Mark Crawford to serve as Interim Executive Director upon the upcoming retirement of current Executive Director, Rob Townsend. Crawford and Townsend will work for two weeks together in transition before Crawford assumes the role on October 1.

Crawford brings to Northwest Folklife over 25 years of nonprofit executive leadership experience in the region in both long term and interim roles. He has served as Interim executive with Bellevue Arts Museum, The Arc of King County, Foundation for Early Learning and others.

“Northwest Folklife is fortunate to secure Mark’s services to lead the organization through this leadership succession. His experience will help assure leadership continuity and a solid future for Folklife,” says Rafael Maslan, Northwest Folklife’s board president. Crawford’s charge will be to maintain current operations and funding, conduct a thorough organizational review, and support the search process for a new permanent executive director.

Crawford’s leadership features strategic development initiatives and his ability to create and execute the operational business plans necessary to realize those strategic visions. Says Crawford, “I am very pleased and excited to have been offered this opportunity to work with such a wonderful organization, staff, Board and the many, many volunteers and community representatives.”

Crawford is associated with Third Sector Company, a firm dedicated to the continuity of nonprofit leadership. Third Sector will provide resources that will further assure a positive succession process.

Townsend will leave his role on September 30 after almost nine years, but will volunteer for Folklife’s third annual Seattle Children’s Festival on October 9.

 

Humaira Abid's Fountain Head

ArtXchange Gallery To Host Humaira Abid’s Artist Talk & Mingle for Folkstarters

Humaira Abid

Humaira Abid can make wood look as flexible as a rubber hot-water bottle or as hard as a cast-iron faucet. She can make it curve and curl — or turn into shoes and shoelaces. She can even transform it into a shirt, trousers, jacket and dress that hang with convincing limpness from stainless-steel hangers in an open clothes closet…  But Abid, a Pakistani artist who divides her time between Seattle and Lahore, also packs a visceral punch with her content.  – The Seattle Times (Michael Upchurch, “Review: Seattle sculptor Humaira Abid blends dazzling craft, potent content in Red”, April 2011)

Humaira Abid is inspired by a folk art form that many enjoy: woodworking. She has combined it with a craft of her native Pakistan: miniature painting as illustration. What followed is Abid’s unique story as an artist. Using her chosen art forms for social commentary and personal self-expression, Abid has honed her skill and techniques to make these materials sing and rise to become fine art.

Sculptor Humaira Abid will present “From Ordinary to Extraordinary,” a talk about her inspiration and artistic process, situating her work in the context of feminism, international women’s issues, and the landscape of contemporary Pakistani artists for Folkstarter Friends of Folklife on September 22.

A selection of Abid’s work opened at ArtXchange Gallery on August 4 and is currently featured at the Tacoma Art Museum. Humaira Abid takes ordinary objects from everyday life and makes them extraordinary. Some of her work is humorous, some ironical. Abid turns, carves, and constructs in wood, combined with various mediums using great skill and detail.

Abid is one of a small number of female sculptors to rise to the top of her field. Her commitment to her artistic career is illustrated by her continuous pursuit and participation in art residencies, art exhibitions, symposiums and workshops.

Abid’s work has been reviewed by the Seattle Times, the Stranger, KUOW Public Radio, the Seattle Weekly and the Huffington Post. She has appeared in the Stranger’s Arts & Performances Quarterly magazine, Sculptural Pursuit, American art collector magazine and in-flight magazine of AIR INDIA. Documentaries have been produced on Abid’s work by PBS KCTS9 TV Chanel (which got nominated for NW Emmy Awards) and Bellevue Arts Museum, WA, USA.

Abid has exhibited her exquisite work nationally and internationally including in Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Mauritius, Nepal, Kenya, Dubai, Bolivia, Germany, Russia, UK, USA and won many awards and grants.

About Art Xchange Gallery

ArtXchange Gallery is a unique art gallery exhibiting artists who explore culture, social issues, and heritage. We work with local, national and international artists who reflect diversity of influences shaping the Seattle community and contemporary global culture. ArtXchange aims to spread appreciation for the beautiful art and craft traditions that continue to inspire and inform artists today, as well as provide exposure for artists whose work educates audiences, asks questions, and creates dialogue about our world.

About Folkstarter Friends of Folklife

Folkstarters support Northwest Folklife’s sustainability and growth, and year-round multi-cultural programs with annual gifts of $250 and over. To RSVP and for more information, please contact sheila@nwfolklife.orgAll gifts make the Folklife magic happen.

Become a Friend of Folklife

Next Friend of Folklife Meet Ups
Mark your calendar for new opportunities to experience arts, culture, and community.

October 2 at the Northwest Tea Festival: Friends of Folklife are invited to RSVP to a free tea tasting on October 2nd at the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival (October 1st and 2nd).  Sample several delicious international teas prepared and served by industry experts while meeting and mingling with your fellow Friends of Folklife.  Limited to the first 20 RSVPs, festival admission not included, information for attendees will be sent out early September.  To RSVP and for more information, please email sheila@nwfolklife.org.

Sunday, October 9: 3rd annual Seattle Children’s Festival at the Seattle Center. This multi-cultural, inter-generational festival will feature music, dance, activities, and exploration from around the globe. No admission charge, thanks to your donations.

Saturday, November 12: Friends of Folklife meet the Clay Club: fun and neighborly times with Pottery Northwest and Northwest Folklife. $10 for Friends of Folklife and Clay Club members.

TobiasTheOwl

A Night of Music, Painting & Dance

Tobias The Owl

Friends of Folklife are invited to meet up for First Thursday on September 1 at AXIS Pioneer Square. Visual art, live music, live mural painting, and dance are all part of this immersive Seattle sight and sound show. The first 15 Friends of Folklife who ‘check in’ will receive a 2016 Festival T-Shirt. Join or renew as a Friend of Folklife on the spot.

AXIS Pioneer Square presents “Audio/Visual”, a group exhibition hosting Seattle artists from a variety of disciplines collaborating to create a unique sensory experience. Focusing on the past and present Seattle music community, Audio/Visual will showcase a diverse representation of art, music, and visual performance. The show is sponsored by Northwest Folklife, Seattle Acoustic Festival, and New Amsterdam Vodka with a portion of art sales benefitting Arts Corps.

Three noted local artists Ryan Henry Ward, Ten Hundred, and Wakuda will showcase their collaborations with sculptor Katie Kurkjy and will also display their individual creations.

Along with visual art, the event will feature solo and collaborative performances by some of the region’s most acclaimed musicians, including Daniel Blue (Motopony), Andrew D.B. Joslyn (Macklemore), Tobias the Owl (pictured above performing at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival) and others.

Sponsored by New Amsterdam Vodka, complimentary drinks will be on hand for those 21+! The event is free and open to the public.

RSVP at EventBrite or Facebook.

AXIS Pioneer Square

AXIS Pioneer Square

Become a Friend of Folklife.

Pictured: Ana Montes’ Flamenco Danzarte performs at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival Discovery Zone. Photo credit: Christopher Nelson.

You Make It All Possible 🎵🎶

Pictured: Ana Montes’ Flamenco Danzarte performs at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival Discovery Zone. Photo credit: Christopher Nelson.

Pictured: Ana Montes’ Flamenco Danzarte performs at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival Discovery Zone. Photo credit: Christopher Nelson.

This is what it means to be a Friend of Folklife: you make it all possible.

Did you enjoy the 45th Northwest Folklife Festival? It is but a portion of the opportunities that you create with your philanthropy: people of all ages, cultures, and means join together in self-expression and participatory arts. Renew your gift today.

Community-powered all-ages cultural showcases at the Folklife Festival numbered a record 152 this year, including Blues Dance, Fiddle, Rhythms of India, Japanese, Mexican Folklorico, Maritime, Morris Dance, Filipino, Reggae Rising, Stand Up Comedy, and more. The 2016 Cultural Focus: Power of the Human Voice through Song brought countless folks together for participatory singing and chorales. Dancers enjoyed 83 hours of dance opportunities at Warren’s Roadhouse and in The Armory!

Your summertime gift sustains Northwest Folklife leading up to our new fiscal year on October 1, when we start fresh with the Seattle Children’s Festival on October 9.

Become a Friend of Folklife

A main event in Northwest Folklife’s ‘Our Big Neighborhood’ youth and family program, the Seattle Children’s Festival is a day dedicated to sparking children’s’ curiosity about the world and developing young minds and bodies through movement, rhythm, song, and hands-on activities. New highlights this year include opportunities to learn American Sign Language; join in the Movement Series with Irish Set Dancing, Kid’s Yoga, Family Dance, and more; and a great variety of interactive performances presenting world cultures.

A whole sampling of ‘Folklife Presents’ workshops and performances bridge the Northwest Folklife Festival and the Seattle Children’s Festival, along with new arts and culture connections for Friends of Folklife. Through intergenerational, multi-cultural exchange, we are promoting greater social understanding. The more we celebrate one another the better.

Your gift sustains Northwest Folklife’s 45-year tradition of celebrating our big neighborhood.

Pictured: Ana Montes’ Flamenco Danzarte performs at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival Discovery Zone. Photo credit: Christopher Nelson.

Pictured: Ana Montes’ Flamenco Danzarte performs at the 2016 Northwest Folklife Festival Discovery Zone. Photo credit: Christopher Nelson.

You make the Folklife magic happen: we can’t do it without you.

Please renew your support today.

Learn More

P.S. You are invited to Become a Friend of Folklife, and Thank You for being one! We hope to see you for these new adventures: Arts and Culture Connections for Friends of Folklife.

*P.P.S. Two dedicated donors have offered to match your gift in a campaign called ‘1,000 for the Future.’  New gifts of $1,000 from corporations and individuals will be matched through 9/30/2016!  Please contact Sheila Siden at 206.233.3953 or sheila@nwfolklife.org to learn more. Your support makes our cultural community thrive. Thank You!

Arts & Culture Connections for Friends of Folklife

Hobnobbing at Friend of Folklife HQ. All photos by Christopher Nelson.

Hobnobbing at the Friend of Folklife HQ. All photos by Christopher Nelson.

Friends of Folklife gathered for a good time at the Friend of Folklife Headquarters, meeting up with life-long friends and making new ones,  at the 45th Folklife Festival. These convivial moments have inspired even more opportunities for Friends of Folklife to connect through music, arts, culture, and folklife.

‘Our Big Neighborhood’ Programs: North, East, and West Everyone Welcome!

Saturday, August 20:

  • CHOMP! Dig Northwest Folklife’s multi-cultural programming at CHOMP! Marymoor Park: Halau Hula O Napualiani, Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project, Rhythms of India, Anzanga Marimba Ensemble, and Ocheami. First 15 Friends of Folklife who ‘check in’ with your 2016 Friend of Folklife Button at the Folklife table at CHOMP! will receive a 2016 Festival T-Shirt.
  • Cultural Arts Series It’s a casual evening of participatory Sound and Fury Morris dancing at Crossroads Bellevue’s excellent international food court, 6:30pm.
  • Arts in Nature Festival at Camp Long in West Seattle, in partnership with Nature Consortium.

You are invited to Become a Friend of Folklife, and Thank You for being one! We hope to see you for these new adventures:

Friend of Folklife Meet Up!
Thursday, September 1 at 6pm – 9pm:
Axis Pioneer Square First Thursday – A Night for Folklife
Experience Axis Gallery’s new space with an original multimedia performance featuring Katie Kurkjy, Andrew D. B. Jolsyn, Daniel Blue of Motopony, and Tobias the Owl. First 15 Friends of Folklife who ‘check in’ will receive a 2016 Festival T-Shirt. Opportunities to join or renew as a Friend of Folklife will be presented.

Special Invitation to Folkstarter Friends of Folklife
ArtXchange Gallery Humaira Abid’s Artist Talk & Mingle
Sculptor Humaira Abid presents “From Ordinary to Extraordinary,” a talk about her inspiration and artistic process, situating her work in the context of feminism, international women’s issues, and the landscape of contemporary Pakistani artists. Abid turns, carves, and constructs in wood, combined with various mediums using great skill and detail. A selection of Abid’s work opens at ArtXchange Gallery on August 4 and is currently featured at the Tacoma Art Museum. E-vite coming soon to Folkstarters for this September get-together.

Autumn Heads-Up…

  • October 1 & 2: Northwest Tea Festival will offer a special international tea tasting for Friends of Folklife. Participants pay regular $10 admission, and are invited to enjoy a special tea tasting.
  • Sunday, October 9 from 10am-5pm: 3rd annual Seattle Children’s Festival at the Seattle Center. This multi-cultural, inter-generational festival will feature music, dance, activities, and exploration from around the globe. No admission charge, thanks to your donations.
  • Saturday, November 12: Friends of Folklife meet the Clay Club: neighborly times with Pottery Northwest and Northwest Folklife. $10 for Friends and Clay Club.

Subscribe to our eNews for even more opportunities to connect with the greater Northwest Folklife community. Join us on Facebook. Contact me any time with your ideas and questions.

All my best,

Sheila
Development Director

Friends’ philanthropy sustains Northwest Folklife and its 45-year tradition of celebrating our big neighborhood.  The more we celebrate one another the better.

The Uncommon Market on Fisher Terrace. Photo by Christopher Nelson.

Friend of Folklife Headquarters’ neighbor, The Uncommon Market on Fisher Terrace. Photo by Christopher Nelson.

All Friends of Folklife are invited to enjoy the oasis of the Friends of Folklife Headquarters at the Northwest Folklife Festival on Memorial Day weekend in May, and receive the Festival Guide by mail prior to the Festival (please be sure we have your current address!)

Renew your support as a Friend of Folklife.

The More We Celebrate Each Other The Better

Ryan Davis shares his personal perspective: It was Saturday night and I was watching The Banner Days perform at the Vera Project stage after having spent the entire day soaking in all the fantastic music and performances of the 2016 Folklife Festival.  In between songs singer Beth Whitney took a moment to thank the audience for “coming out to Folklife instead of staying home and watching Netflix.” The comment got a bit of a laugh and The Banner Days continued their fantastic set.

The Banner Days

Beth Whitney & Bradford Loomis are The Banner Days, soulful folk duo from shores of Seattle.

For whatever reason that simple statement about not staying home stuck with me. As I was enjoying the festival on Sunday it occurred to me that Beth was tapping into something bigger than Folklife or even Netflix. She was making a comment and thanking the audience for being present and celebrating The Banner Days’ music as a part of the larger celebration known as The Northwest Folklife Festival. It’s something I’ve thought about a bit lately. Before mass media, human beings entertained and celebrated each other with intimate performances to small audiences for thousands of years. They were called tribes, and all human needs had to be met within them including entertainment. Those thousands of years of conditioning created a yearning to be recognized by our peers and to celebrate them in a much more intimate manner than we tend to do these days. Rather than celebrate each other, we have celebrities: people we are highly unlikely to ever meet let alone actually have a relationship with, but there we are watching Netflix and other media and celebrating people we can’t know. This is detrimental to our relationships and how we view each other. Certainly we enjoy very high quality entertainment from incredibly talented individuals, but that’s not the same as cheering for your neighbor as they perform a song, poem, dance, etc. for your entertainment. Something has been lost in that change over the past 100 years or so after radio became common in most American homes.

Guerrilla contra dance breaks out to the tunes of the Charles Street Messengers. Photo credit Christopher Nelson

The Northwest Folklife Festival is one of only a few opportunities our regional community has to really celebrate one another. It gives me hope that there is a tremendous amount of people who are interested in seeing and celebrating their neighbors. The more we celebrate each other the greater the sense of connection and community. A virtuous cycle is started when we take the time to go out and support our friends and neighbors in their artistic and cultural pursuits. We are celebrating one another in a powerful way that lifts all of us and leaves us with a sense of community and connectedness that is very difficult to create in our fast paced always logged-in lives. These celebrations create opportunities for different groups in our community to collaborate and lift each other up, and hopefully in the process the relationships that get developed allow all of us to feel like celebrating–I know I do.

Ryan Davis
Northwest Folklife Board Member

Ryan DavisRyan Davis joined the Northwest Folklife Board of Directors last year. He is the Director of Business & Operations at Pratt Fine Arts Center. As a local musician, Ryan has performed at venues large and small all over the Puget Sound with a number of different groups.