With a spirited, arms-outstretched yell, Leah Okamoto Mann set the tone for the start of the multi-day Created Commons event she and Lelavision partner Ela Lamblin are presenting at Westcrest Park: Don’t hold back. Those in the opening-night spotlight certainly did not. Lamblin mesmerized attendees with music from the stamenphone:
The grant-funded event’s intent is to blend art and science – indeed, the emcee is a professor, not a performer. Dr. Sinead Younge‘s spirit, too, was boundless – as she periodically led everyone in a Ghanian call-and-response to be sure they were paying attention. She spoke about health as a human right.
She introduced Duwamish Tribe members including Ken Workman, who spoke of how this area’s First People are still here – “the hills, valleys, rocks retain the memory of the people … these people are all around you.”
He offered words of gratitude and welcome in other Northwest tribes’ languages. Then came the exuberance of dance, with the Pacific Islander Student Alliance from UW Tacoma:
They concluded by inviting attendees onto the stage for what they described as a Samoan tradition, dancing around a “princess,” Angelina, an 8th-grader who’s been dancing with them this summer. Every Indigenous culture celebrates with dance, observed Dr. Younge, before the mood turned somber. ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>“Orca Annie” Stateler and Odin Lonning, from Vashon Island, spoke – and drummed – about the Southern Resident Killer Whales’ plight:
Annie told the tales both of individual whales that have been lost in recent years, and the overview of their troubles – too little food, and also how losses have affected their families.
With orcas, as with humans, she observed, losing an elder means you “lose an encyclopedia of knowledge.” What can you do to help? “Listen to Indigenous elders,” she said, not just white “experts.” And examine your daily life – recycling, food choices, energy use. They closed after Odin presented a spoken-word lament about “no longer knowing” the killer whales. Dr. Younge offered her hope that it would move people to action. The night concluded with a chance for everyone to “flap the wings” of Lelavision’s sculpture Interspecies Communication, which towers over the stage:
If you go to Westcrest Park (9000 8th SW) during Created Commons noon-8 pm this weekend or next, you too can “flap” the sculpture. Look for it and the canopies north of the P-Patch. See the full schedule here – in the Saturday spotlight, a mini-version of DNDA‘s Arts-in-Nature festival, 3-8 pm, with music, dance, spoken word, and other art. It’s all free and casual – wander in, wander out, bring a picnic.