SoCoCulture Membership Meeting Notes
5/16/2023 – 1-3 PM
Our meeting was hosted by the Kent Historical Museum (thanks to executive director Dylan High). Mary Clymer, SoCo leadership team member and Renton Municipal Arts Commissioner, served as the emcee.
Dylan welcomed everyone to the Museum, which is housed in the historic Bereiter House at 855 E Smith Street, Kent, and invited everyone to check out the exhibits. He gave a land acknowledgement that paid tribute to the Muckleshoot and Duwamish as the stewards of the land Since Time Immemorial, and he pointed out the new Welcome Figure that has just been installed on the Museum grounds. It was carved over a couple of years by Mike Evans, Snohomish tribal chair and father of the Blue Heron Canoe Family.
Our panel discussion focused on the youth mental health crisis that is happening nationwide, and brought into focus some of the ways local health organizations and our own SoCo members are grappling with the problem.
When you stop to consider what young people are facing today, beyond the regular issues of adolescence, here are some of the things they’ve had to contend with:
- lack of in-person socialization during COVID,
- homelessness, hunger and other poverty-related issues,
- racism/homophobia/gender fluidity,
- cell phone ubiquity/social media bullying,
- alcohol and other substance use,
- increasing threat of gun violence in schools,
- increasing rates of teen depression and suicide,
- concerns about climate change impacts,
- disillusionment with adults’ political dysfunction and inability to bring about meaningful problem-solving,
- difficulties in recognizing/diagnosing neurodivergence and accommodating those behaviors,
- and, for immigrant youth, the disruption of traditional family life and entry into a new culture that may be very different from the one their families had to leave behind
Even if the young people in your own life seem to be coping fairly well, chances are that there are many people sitting beside them in their classrooms who are not. This should concern all of us.
Our first guest presenter, Jordann Doler, Mental Health First Aid Program Manager from Valley Cities, a nonprofit organization that specializes in Behavioral Health Care programs throughout South King County.. She shared some daunting statistics about youth mental health and talked about Valley Cities’ Mental Health First Aid classes. Although this training is valued at $170, it is being offered at NO COST to people who live or work in King County thanks to federal funding awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department. Valley Health offers both Adult Mental Health First Aid classes, which teach adults how to help other adults in crisis, and Youth Mental Health First Aid classes, which teach adults how to help youth in crisis.
In either case, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) can help you recognize common signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. The course can help you how to interact with a person in crisis and connect them with help. It also teaches self-care techniques and tools.
After taking the MHFA course, you can follow the steps outlined in the ALGEE protocol to come up with a plan for someone who may be at risk.
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen nonjudgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Valley Cities offers about 15 MHFA trainings a month – some are held in-person at locations around King County. Others are held virtually. MHFA trainings can even be brought into high schools – but 10% of the staff at the school must commit to being trained in order to be effective.
To learn more about MHFA training, visit valleycities.org/mhfa or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next two presenters were SoCoCulture members Eduardo Mendonça and Roxana Pardo García.
Eduardo Mendonça is the director of Show Brazil Productions; CEO, President and Co-Founder of Brazil Center and BrasilFest; and a voting member of the Latin Recording Academy-Grammy. Eduardo has worked in both the Seattle and Highline School Districts as a teaching artist, and he is the Music Director for iBuildBridges, a nonprofit organization that brings together young people throughout the South Sound to mentor them in using music and storytelling to build relationships between people of different backgrounds. In this same spirit, he worked with the City of Kent during COVID to bring together a small cohort of at-risk youth in a beat-building workshop that provided socialization, skill-building, and lessons in self-esteem.
Eduardo talked about his efforts in keeping musical instruction and interactions going for the youth he worked with during the pandemic – it was difficult, given the technical challenges of working with Zoom, but nNow that we’re coming out of that phase, he noted that most problems happen after school lets out every day – hence the use of art as one of the tools to keep young people safe during those after-school hours.
He talked about how he was inspired by the Power of Hope summer camp which takes place every year on Whidbey Island, and the way it focused on how arts could be more intentional giving voice to young people – providing “safe containers” where young people are able to talk and be listened to. He referenced the “Highs and Lows” practice used in many summer camps to get young people to open up, and he said he has modified the practice by changing it to “Lows and Highs” – this “shifts the energy” to ending each person’s sharing on an uplifting note, and passing along the joy.
With iBuildBridges, Eduardo was given the unique opportunity by a funder to build a program from the ground up. He developed a model for young musicians from very different backgrounds to gather and make music. But at each session, they don’t just dive into the music. The first 45 minutes of the gathering are spent in breaking bread together and checking in with one another – low to high. The next 25 minutes are devoted to community building and problem solving. And only then do they get to the final hour, where they rehearse together, bringing together their diverse instruments and musical talents to create original music and group performances. (iBuildBridges will be performing at Northwest Folklife this year!)
Finally, Eduardo left us with the thought that we need to build longevity and continuity into our programs, to help young leaders develop over time. “We need to have more and more and more funding for the arts – that gives us the opportunity to problem-solve and learn to work together as a community.”
Our third guest presenter was Roxana Pardo García, founder of La Roxay Productions and also Alimentando al Pueblo, which is a foodbank that provides culturally relevant foods to Latinx community members in South King County.
Roxana talked about how, growing up, she didn’t really feel like college material but somehow ended up at the University of Washington, and once she enrolled in her first ethnic studies class she knew she had found her place. She told us that she felt like a sponge as she soaked up histories of different migrant populations that hadn’t been represented in the textbooks in her K-12 education. She ended up earning a degree in American Ethnic Studies and then put a lot of thought into how she could put that degree to work.
At the UW she’d learned about epigenetics and how 600 years of colonial wounds could have an enduring impact on her people. She recommended the work of Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands. (Note: that work was recommended previously by Olisa Enrico, a friend of SoCoCulture, and is included in https://sococulture.org/racial-equity-matters-resource-list/)
When all of that was overlaid by the pandemic in 2020, “I felt like my community was doomed,” Roxana said.
But she also remembered a philosophy that had been handed down to her by her own elders: the idea of focusing on work that will benefit the seven generations that will be born after us. So, like Eduardo, Roxana decided to focus on “shifting the energy” away from the idea of generational trauma and to focus on transmitting an inheritance of joyful resilience.
“We’re not going to perpetuate harm, we’re going to perpetuate healers.”
In July of 2020, shortly after the pandemic had taken hold, Roxana founded Alimentando al Pueblo, the nation’s only Latinx food bank (located right here in Burien/White Center!) that provides boxes of culturally relevant foods. Additionally, with an Open 4Culture grant, they got a mariachi band to perform as people came to pick up their food boxes and giving out locally created art as well as food to families. She wants kids who are going through these difficult times not to be harmed by the additional stress and trauma brought on by the pandemic, but instead to remember these trips to the food bank as a time that brought joy and strengthened community ties.
Roxana is also working on a “bad-ass youth camp” to help young Latinas figure out how to “become a cool home girl” by recognizing how individual health intersects with collective health.
Pat Patterson has served as SoCoCulture’s Treasurer, following Dan Cox’s resignation from the position last October. Now Pat has retired from his long service in the City of Covington’s Parks Department earlier this month, and submitted his resignation as SoCoCulture Treasurer as well.
At today’s meeting, Maggie Larrick, Managing Director of BAT Theatre, was nominated to serve as SoCoCulture’s new Treasurer by Renton History Museum Director Dr. Elizabeth Stewart, and the nomination was seconded by Rainier Youth Choirs Director Karen Fulmer. A vote was taken among the SoCoCulture members in attendance and the vote was unanimous in favor of installing Maggie as SoCoCulture’s new Treasurer. Current balance in SoCoCulture’s BECU account is $1594.
At the SoCoCulture leadership team meeting earlier in May, the leadership team voted to increase annual SoCo membership dues to $40. That change will go into effect on June 1.
After SoCo’s previous meeting in March on how to maximize media coverage in South King County, Olivia Sullivan, assistant editor at Sound Publishing, went back to the sales department at the Federal Way Mirror and mentioned the idea that had come up in our meeting about publishing a culture-focused insert that would run in all of Sound Publishing’s South King County papers. So at this meeting, we had a follow-up visit from Cindy Ducich, Multi-Media Sales Manager for the Federal Way Mirror, who had worked up a plan for an Arts & Culture separate pull-out section that would run in early September simultaneously in the Auburn Reporter, (Enumclaw) Courier-Herald, Federal Way Mirror, Kent Reporter and Renton Reporter. The pull-out would depend on whether we can get enough of our SoCo members to advertise.
Ad rates are as follows:
- 1/8 page 3 col (5”) x 5” $465
- ¼ page (vertical) 3 col (5”) x 10” $650
- ¼ page (horizontal) 3 col (5”) x 10” $650
- ½ page 6 col (10”) x 10” $900
- Full page 6 col (10”) x 20” $1250
- Sponsorship 6 col (10”) x 2” $2000
- Space reservation deadline: Monday, August 21, 2023
- Deadline is: Monday, August 28
- Publishes in Enumclaw: September 6
- Publishes in Renton: September 7
- Publishes in Auburn/Federal Way/Kent: September 8
Editorial content will focus on South King County cultural stories..The section would also include a full-page calendar of cultural events taking place in South King County this Fall. This new initiative is a great way of reaching new audiences in South King County! If interested in participating in this opportunity, contact Barbara McMichael at email@example.com
FYI – SoCo membership meetings will resume in the Fall.
- September meeting will focus on ways to “green” our organizations and will feature speaker Sarah Sutton, founder of Tacoma-based Environment & Culture Partners
- November program will focus on Main Street Programs and Creative Districts in South King County (hosted by the City of Auburn)
4Culture Communications Director Christina DePaolo announced several 4Culture funding opportunities that are coming up – find them all at www.4culture.org/
Christina also announced that 4Culture has decided to discontinue funding of the SoCoCulture administrator/liaison position when Barbara McMichael’s contract expires in March, 2024. Christina said that 4Culture is interested in exploring other ways the cultural funding agency can serve South King County. Contact Christina and/or Barbara with your ideas – Christina.DePaolo@4Culture.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
SoCoCulture members in attendance at the May 2023 meeting:
Auburn Symphony Orchestra, BAT Theatre, Greater Kent Historical Society, Kent Cultural Arts Program, Kent Downtown Partnership, La Roxay Productions, Lake Wilderness Arboretum, Pacific Ballroom Dance, Rainier Youth Choirs, Renton Municipal Arts Commission, Renton History Museum, SeaTac Arts Culture & Library Advisory Committee, Seattle Southside, Show Brazil, SoCo leadership team, South King County Genealogical Society
The meeting adjourned at 3 PM.