Fall events on sale now! Virtual and In-Person presentations available.

Program Director Shin Yu Pai on Highlights from our Fall Calendar

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Shin Yu Pai is no stranger to Town Hall Seattle. She began her relationship with us back in 2018 as an Inside/Out Artist in Residence for the Phinney/Greenwood neighborhood, curating programs that brought new local voices like author Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma, Kathleen Alcalá, Rex Hohlbein of Facing Homelessness, and artist Susan Robb to the Town Hall Stage. In 2020, she wrote the vital blog piece, Town Hall Land Acknowledgement: Beyond Gestures, and pitched the concept to produce what would eventually become Lyric World, her podcast series centering on poets and poetry by BIPOC writers, with an emphasis on AAPI authors.

Over the years, Shin Yu’s presence at Town Hall has brought intention and community focus to our programming; it only seems natural that she became our Program Director earlier this year. Town Hall is thrilled to have Shin Yu onboard— read on to learn about what she looks forward to the most this season.

Season notes from Program Director, Shin Yu Pai

Shin Yu Pai, Program Director

In many ways, 2021 feels brand new. As we begin to safely host in-person events, I am honored to develop programs that reflect new relationships with community partners, center conversations on racial equity, and increase the visibility of work done by BIPOC creators. (Learn more about our racial equity statement and commitments here.) Below is a small preview of what the season holds:

Our Arts & Culture series elevates the work of local artists and brings world-renowned cultural icons to Seattle audiences. This fall is no exception as we welcome national luminaries like Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith and Guggenheim Fellow Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, along with South Seattle Emerald founder Marcus Harrison Green and illustrator Susanna Ryan of Seattle Walk Report in conversation with Crosscut‘s Knute “Mossback” Berger

The new season also offers more musical opportunities than ever before. Our five-concert Global Rhythms series (tickets on sale soon!) begins in October with Quetzal, a Los Angeles-based rock group founded by Chicano Artivista and guitarist Quetzal Flores. Further into the series, we’ll hear from master of the rubâb Homayoun Sakhi, Korean shamanic folk-pop band Ak Dan Gwang Chil (ADG7), and other exciting artists. 

 Bridging the realms of literature and music, The Bushwick Book Club Seattle will present their entire 9-concert series in The Forum, including songs inspired by Michele Zauner’s Crying in H Mart and a tribute to children’s author Beverly Cleary

Gage Academy of Arts founder Gary Faigin returns to host a series of conversations with visual artists, including Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio and critically-acclaimed portraitist Rose Frantzen. Later in the season, our Short Stories Live series makes a grand return.

Town Hall’s Community Partnerships start the season strong with a mayoral candidate forum presented by Inspire Washington. Later this fall, look for several free, interactive racial equity workshops, the first of which will be led by Seattle-based MIT author and speaker Ruchika Tulshyan

Our Civics series brings New York Times best-selling author Keisha N. Blain, journalist and former White House aide Keith Boykin, youth literacy advocate Tracy Swinton Bailey, radio host Thom Hartmann, and many more thought leaders to our stages for thought-provoking discussions on social and political issues. 

 Last but not least, our Science series explores topics like longevity with Dr. Nir Barzilai and Dr. Nathan Price of the Institute for Systems Biology, the response of plants and animals to climate change with natural historian Thor Hanson, and a lifetime of musings on animals with author Susan Orlean. Town Hall and Grist will also present Dr. Rupa Marya and Raj Patel as they explore systemic racism and its impact on the human body. 

So much more awaits us as the season progresses and I’m excited to bring even more diverse events to Town Hall this year. You can see the full list of upcoming events and purchase tickets on our website; new events are being added every day so check back often. And if you have ideas for events you would love to see on our stages, let us know! 

– Shin Yu and the Town Hall Seattle Team

A More Perfect Version of Ourselves

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“To tell a story of Seattle.” “A looooong discussion about the kind of city we want to share.” These phrases don’t appear in Town Hall’s mission statement but they’ve become a shorthand for the goal of our perpetual, expansive calendar. It’s inevitable and appropriate that Town Hall should ultimately be described by what we do, and not how we do it—but it’s at odds with our DNA.

Underneath our busy calendar is an essential passivity. Town Hall was founded as a collective resource to support other non-profits. While we program some of our own events, we are at heart a tool, waiting to be picked up by other people, and other organizations. This makes us different from most cultural producers; even the events we program ourselves are designed to complement the work of our community partners.

To be maximally useful Town Hall has long prided itself on what we’ve called “an architecture of inclusivity”, designed to encourage participation and help people feel at home. Low ticket prices would mean low barriers to attendance in the pews. Low rental rates would mean low barriers to presenting from our stages. A program philosophy of saying “yes to the good ideas of others” would mean the community itself determines the defining events of the Town Hall calendar. An intentional informality would help us feel welcoming, even while high production standards elevate professional and community-based presenters alike.

It’s a great system and we’ve been justifiably proud of what we’ve created. But a system is only as good as its inputs—and if those inputs are limited, the output is inherently limited. (This is officially the end of the tech metaphors.)

Our system hasn’t created a deeply inclusive place—owing to that passivity at our heart. Town Hall itself is the product of a network of people and institutions who call it home, and that network is overwhelmingly white. Despite our desire to be welcoming, historically not enough BIPOC artists or BIPOC-led non-profits have seen Town Hall as the right place to express their ideas or creativity. Many people don’t know about Town Hall (we’ve been around for 22 years, but we’re still pretty small). Still others know about it, but don’t see themselves or their concerns represented in our calendar. Whatever the reason, if we embrace the goal of a calendar that truly reflects the full breadth and diversity of our community we have a long way to travel. And that journey begins by rejecting our passivity and embracing a more active approach to the community we want to support beyond our walls, and foster within them.

And so our four years of equity work—four years and still just beginning—is a declaration that a mere architecture of inclusion is no longer good enough. And though it might have felt sufficient, it never was. If you read the Equity Commitments accompanying this post, you can understand the concrete steps we plan to take in the coming year, and you can even hold us to account.

Town Hall isn’t a social justice organization, but we are vested in modeling a more just society; our equity journey is toward a “more perfect version of ourselves.” Becoming a place where as many as possible feel truly welcome is essential to delivering our mission; it’s essential to our vision of a story of this city told through many voices; and it’s essential to any meaningful discussion—looooong or short—about the kind of city we want to share.

 

-Wier

Looking Toward a Brighter Future Next Season

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In a typical year, June marks the end of our season. Same thing in 2021— but truly nothing else about the past year+ has been typical. Since last March we’ve produced over 250 events, only a -handful in our actual home; over 100,000 viewers tuned in to our digital stage, from Ballard and Boston, from London and Lake City. Some of the coolest events were only possible because of this remote approach, like dream discussions pairing authors from across the country with interviewers around the world (Elizabeth Lesser and Jane Fonda, Steve Davis and Chelsea Clinton, Kehinde Andrews and Russell Brand, J Mascis and Richard Thompson). Amid the darkness of the pandemic it felt like a small gift simply to do (a version of) what we do: connecting authors, ideas, artists and activists with curious, engaged Seattleites. 

Last year also allowed for exciting growth close to home, through new relationships, initiatives and clear focus on our equity goals. We fostered deeper collaborations with partners like Northwest African American Museum and Urban Native Education Alliance, found new partnerships with organizations like Young Women Empowered and YouthShallLead, launched a brand new ticketing and donation system called my.THS, and hosted three remote artist residencies, with Hailey Tayathy, Joshua Roman, and Timothy White Eagle. 

All good—even great—stuff. But all that gratitude aside, we also confess we’re weary of screens, and eager for the chance to be our truest Town Hall self, by offering shoulder to shoulder, face to face experiences in our building. (Remember that place?)

It’ll take a while to tidy up and air out the joint so plan on a customarily light summer, and a return to new normalcy in September. As we finalize work on our building flow, safety modifications, and “front-of-house” protocols, we’re aligning our approach with the latest guidance from King County Public Health and our colleagues in the regional cultural sector.

Meanwhile, in nearly every conversation we’re asked, “How is Town Hall doing financially?” Like most organizations the pandemic required creativity, and difficult choices. To survive the last 14 months, we weathered two separate staff-wide furloughs, cut three full-time positions, enacted significant pay and hour cuts on leadership, and laid off nearly all of our event staff. Together these measures reduced the budget by about 35%—but they kept the majority of our administrative staff intact. Combine this strategy with humbling generosity from our individual, foundation and corporate supporters, and sustaining commitments from our membership, and we’re in a strong position to ramp up to full operations in September. 

It was emotional to have only six months back in the renovated building before shutting our doors. Soon, just over two months, we’ll throw them wide and welcome you back into Town Hall. You can expect a blended program this fall, featuring in-person and livestream attendance at a mixed calendar of programs originating from both 8th and Seneca and the world beyond. Until then, revisit the media library to catch something extraordinary you might have missed—and take five minutes to create your account on our new ticketing system my.THS

Town Hall belongs to all of us, and we can’t wait to invite you back home…

Wier

PS: We’re Taking a Summer Break! The Town Hall administrative offices will be closed from July 2 – July 11.

Meet Timothy White Eagle, Town Hall’s Spring Artist-in-Residence

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This spring, Town Hall is thrilled to welcome performance and visual artist Timothy White Eagle as our Artist-in-Residence. He has worked extensively over the past two decades exploring Native American, Pagan, and other earth-based spiritual practices. This will be a continued focus during his residency, as he interrogates the differences between early Indigenous peoples’ handling of death and the Christian colonizer approach to death, a topic that has been heavy on his mind in the time of COVID.

One of the roots of his work is thinking about how to decolonize a room that is shaped like a crucifix. Considering that relationship becomes even more poignant when thinking about our Town Hall historic building, which was originally the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist. As with many Christian Science churches, this one is built to resemble a public building, with no religious symbolism inside or out—except the cross shape of the 860-seat sanctuary, now called the Great Hall, where White Eagle will present the culmination project of his residency on Sunday, June 20 during a six-hour durational open house performance.

White Eagle is a mixed-race, undocumented, urbanized Indigenous American artist and storyteller who was raised by adoptive white parents in working class Montesano, Washington. He was adopted at birth, and due to the circumstances of his adoption is not a registered member of any tribe. His art practices craft experiences and objects designed to heal both creator and audience, with his preferred mediums including objects, photography, performance, and installed stage. “All of my artwork stems from a ritual practice,” White Eagle said, in a video produced by The Stranger last spring. “I, with my work, am looking to heal parts of myself and parts of my community, and I have spent the last 20 years in some pretty intense environments learning about ritual and learning about traditional practice.”

This work began in the late 1990s, when White Eagle curated and performed in his landmark art/coffee house performance venue in Seattle called The Coffee Messiah, a space that is still lovingly missed by reviewers and community members. He spent his 20s exploring performance-based art, and in 1995, he began a mentor/protégé relationship with a Shoshone-Metis teacher, Clyde Hall. Around that same time, White Eagle began helping to craft personal and community rituals within his spiritual circles.

In 2006, he began collaborating with photographer Adrain Chesser, which led to the release of their book The Return in 2014.

White Eagle started working with MacArthur “Genius Grant” award winner Taylor Mac as a consultant on Native American content for Mac’s “A 24 Decade History of Popular Music,” which went on to become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2017. His consulting work led to a small role in the show’s NYC premiere, which further led to a job as Dandy Minion Artistic Director for the touring company of the same show.

In 2016, he returned to his interest in installed space, crafting major installations “The White Room,” followed in 2017 by “The Red Room.”

In 2019, he was the recipient of the three-year Western Arts Alliance/Advancing Indigenous Performance Launchpad Award. Native Launchpad aims to provide US-based Indigenous artists with the tools and resources needed to further their careers. That same year, he was commissioned to create a large installed space, “Songs for the Standing Still People,” as part of the yəhaw̓ show at King Street Station. (Read more about that installation here and find an article discussing it here.) He also received a commission to create temporary work for the AIDS Memorial Pathway in 2019.

In 2020, he was awarded a major Seattle CityArtist Grant for his project The Violet Symphony, which was intended to premiere at On the Boards in March and in New York in the fall of last year. White Eagle and his collaborators continue to brew and consider a performance for Fall 2021 in both Seattle and NYC.

Across the last year, he has been continuing to offer stories and spiritual practices to the community. Most especially that has happened on his Instagram. But also, a year ago now, he shared a video letter to the city, produced by The Stranger, where he offered a “simple, basic ritual that you can do all day long, many many times if you need to.”

Earlier this year, in January, he gathered us (virtually) around the campfire to share a story about the origin of our destructive consumption habits, the importance of holding each other in community, and his hopes for a reconnection with the cosmos for Seattle Neighborhoods’ Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project. He served as artist-in-residence at legendary experimental theatre club La MaMa during winter 2021.

When asked what pieces of art have been bringing him comfort or joy over the last year, White Eagle noted, “I have been diving into the greatest hits of Indigenous writers: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, Tracks and Four Souls by Louise Erdrich, House Made of Dawn by M. Scott Momaday. I have read most of these decades ago, it’s been great to revisit [them].”

And when asked what he’s optimistic about right now? “The young people I know give me optimism, the ones I am connected with have an ability to see the world for what it is: on the one hand, make jokes, not take anything too seriously, and then hit the streets fists raised, seeking change.”

Join Town Hall and White Eagle on May 3 for a free program exploring historical death practices in Indigenous communities, and on June 20 in our Town Hall building for an open house performance honoring the longest day of the year. the Summer Solstice.

Shankar Vedantam Shines a Light on the Hidden Brain

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Shankar Vedantam and Brian Greene will be the keynote speakers for Town Hall’s annual gala fundraiser taking place on April 9 at 7PM PDT. They’ll be discussing the meaning in an evolving universe. The event will be a real-time virtual celebration. Tickets start at just $75, and donations directly support our radically accessible ticket prices. More information can be found HERE.

Our brains are mysterious. There are as many neurons in the brain as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. That’s a lot of neurons. There’s much we don’t know about what goes on inside our noggins. How do neurons talk to each other? How does the brain compute? Heck, we don’t even quite know what the brain is actually made up of.

Knowing how much we don’t know, it’s no surprise there’s plenty in our brains that remain hidden. Shankar Vedantam is doing his part to shine a light on that. He joins us twice this month; first as a special guest at our virtual gala on 4/9 and then alongside KUOW’s Ross Reynolds on 4/13 for a talk about the power & paradox of the self-deceiving brain. Vedantam is a writer and correspondent who uses journalism and research to inform the public on social science issues. A lecturer at Harvard University and Columbia University, he’s most known for his Hidden Brain book published in 2010 and the subsequent podcast and radio program. It’s been on NPR since 2015. Shankar likes to focus on the effects of unconscious bias in everyday life.

Whether it be the rituals of how we eat pizza, the relative happiness of winning the bronze medal, or eating cupcakes after working out, Vedantam showcases how our mundane day-to-day activities might not be so mundane after all. Indeed, our unconscious patterns drive our human behavior and those biases shape our choices, and those choices trigger actions that change the course of our relationships with others. This is to say, Vedantam teaches a lot about our brains by using his.

Not to be partial—our hidden brains can’t help it!—but we think you should attend Town Hall’s annual gala fundraiser as Vedantam and famed astrophysicist Brian Greene talk about the universe, and don’t miss Shankar’s event with ross Reynolds on 4/13.

It’s not every man that can explain String Theory to Everyman.

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Brian Greene and Shankar Vedantam will be the keynote speakers for Town Hall’s annual gala fundraiser taking place on April 9 at 7 pm PDT. They’ll be discussing the meaning in an evolving universe. The event will be a real-time virtual celebration. Tickets start at just $75, and donations directly support our accessible ticketing strategies. More information can be found HERE.

It’s not every man that can explain String Theory to Everyman. No, most people can’t put into simple terms what a Calabi-Yau manifold is. Nor what Ricci flatness is. Most folks can’t make much sense of the multiverse, even if they did watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Luckily, there are some talented people out there who can take huge mind-blowing questions and concepts and make them understandable to people like, well, us here at Town Hall. Enter Brian Greene.

Brian Greene is a theoretical physicist, mathematician, and string theorist. He is coming to Town Hall to help us understand, in part, the universe. It’s actually something of his forte, synthesizing expert-level ideas in easily digestible ways. Stephen Colbert now understands General Relativity better thanks to Greene. Talking about Einstein, the man who gave us that theory of gravitation, Green, as part of his “Your Daily Equation” video series with World Science Festival briefly highlights what the big deal is with E = MC2. Also, what is String Theory, actually? Greene can answer that with citrus fruit.

A professor at Columbia University, he’s done quite a bit of research on the Calabi-Yau manifolds mentioned above. Don’t know what that is? You’re not alone. You might not know him from theoretical physics circles, but you might from his award-winning books, such as The Elegant Universe, Icarus at the Edge of Time, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and the Hidden Reality. He’s also had PBS specials and, yes, he was indeed in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Greene is known for his pioneering work in superstring theory and has been frequently called one of the great “science communicators” of our time. He uses analogies and thought experiences to provide a means for laypeople to learn about String Theory and other heady topics. Can there be a unification of Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics? Greene thinks so. How many dimensions are there to the universe? More than ten? Green thinks so. What is reality? More specifically, what is spacetime? Greene can walk us through it. What are black holes? Did Disney get it right? Not really at all. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Can we travel to the past? Is our universe the only universe?

The most important question, though, is what do the answers mean for us? How does an ever-expanding universe impact our humanity? Now, that’s a lot to unpack. Luckily, we have a premiere science communicator to help us along the way. Get Greene’s help with these big questions at Town Hall’s annual gala fundraiser. Join us!

Your Brand New Town Hall Dashboard

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Several years ago we embarked upon a long-term project to significantly overhaul our ticketing system. After a strong partnership with our friends at Bold Type Tickets, we knew there was frustration and difficulty in navigating away from our site to purchase tickets, needing to have your member number handy to get access to pre-sales, not being able to renew memberships at the same time as making ticket purchases, issues with password resets, and a multitude of others. Plus, as we’ve been focusing on our digital stage programming, we’ve heard concerns about having to log into another platform to watch events. Much like the building remodel and Homecoming, it’s been quite a journey, with some definite growing pains and unexpected delays, but it’s here! We’ve just introduced my.townhallseattle.org, affectionately known to our team as my.THS, to simplify the process of purchasing, donating and viewing online. 

We want to extend a special note of gratitude to you as a member. Town Hall members have always been core to our mission and community, and they are more essential than ever in supporting our work in this challenging time to continue to foster conversations and community. This support has been instrumental in the creation of My.THS, from providing feedback to help us shape what our needs were, to the financial support to get us started on this project. We are finding joy in celebrating this project milestone, and you are a huge part of that. So thank you, and we hope to see you in my.THS soon!

There are a seemingly endless list of reasons that we’re excited about my.THS,—and new discoveries still to excite us—but we’re going to share just ten of them with you here.

  1. Do you have vouchers associated with your membership? If you are logged in to your account, you will see the vouchers you still have left to redeem and be able to apply them to any tickets you choose when you’re checking out. This also means you don’t have to try to keep track of how many vouchers you have left to use—just log in to my.THS and it will be visible with your member information! As a special bonus, all vouchers totals have been reset with the launch, so you’ll have a full set of those to use.
  2. Trying to access member pricing for an event that has a member discount ticket? In addition to having vouchers readily available, member pricing for tickets is automatically available when you are logged in to your account.
  3. Member status and renewal date can now be checked in my.THS. On the very first screen when you are logged in, you will see your membership information. You can upgrade to a higher membership level, you can add secondary member information, and you can see when you’re getting close to renewal time!
  4. Your email address is only shared with Town Hall. No more third party ticketing or broadcast sites! One of the things we hear often is that our community doesn’t always feel secure with sharing their information to Bold Type Tickets or Crowdcast. my.THS solves that problem.
  5. Less staff time spent working with different systems, which means more time to help out patrons! Our previous ticketing system required quite a bit of time from our patron services team to set up and maintain. Rather than wrestling with systems that don’t work for us, my.THS allows us to cut out the middle men, and allows our team to spend more of their time being available for patron needs.
  6. Coupon codes are easier than ever to use in the new system. From working with our members to rental clients and community partners, having our own system allows us to create coupon codes to serve any purpose, and be 100% controlled by our team. The next time you get a renewal membership letter you might even see a special deal!
  7. Town Hall has more control over the ticket buying process and the information that is included in confirmation emails. Another bummer about using third-party sites is that we didn’t have much control over the communications it would send out for events. Our customization for communications has increased by a magnitude, so we can tell you all the things you might need to know—and omit anything you don’t. It also means that our patron services team is going to be better able to respond to technical problems, because it’ll be our system.
  8. Ticket fees have gone down and now directly support Town Hall. Bold Type Tickets/Stranger Tickets added a flat rate as well as a percentage to calculate their fee, usually working out to about $1.36 for a typical $5 ticket but adding up to $2.54 for a $25 concert ticket. Our fee is $1 per ticket, and rather than supporting a third-party company, now your fee will directly support the creation and maintenance of my.THS, as well as the general operation of the platform.
  9. One log in to rule them all! No more having to remember a bunch of different logins and passwords for ticketing and donations and watching events. You log in to my.THS and you’re all set.
  10. Which brings us to perhaps the best feature: everything is all in one place! Once you’ve registered and logged in, you can buy tickets, watch and rewatch events, renew or upgrade memberships, and donate from one convenient dashboard. You can even buy a ticket for a friend and then email it to them!
We hope you will do some exploring. You can find more information, some video walkthroughs, and screenshots of answers to common questions at our brand new patron services page. This system should make life easier, so as always, please reach out to membership@townhallseattle.org if you have any issues with your membership or patronservices@townhallseattle.org if you have any issues with accessing our events.

A Reflection from Masao Yamada on Global Rhythm’s Mako and Munjuru

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January 23, 2021. This date was marked on my calendar for a couple of reasons, one being the kick off to Town Hall Seattle’s Global Rhythms Series. It wasn’t just that I was excited to see local musicians who carry the musical traditions of their homelands—but because it was my culture and homeland that was being represented.

While Mako and Munjuru performed traditional Okinawan music, dance, and storytelling that helps deepen our understanding of their community and culture, I had the very distinct pleasure to have a running commentary from my mom who provided an additional perspective on the traditions of the Okinawan culture. Breaking down the instruments, the different styles of Okinawan music, and the differences between Ryusou Fashion and how it differs from the traditional attire of the main Japanese island. This led us to what we call the “Okinawan Room” at my parents house. Here you can see a beautiful Hanagasa (traditional Okinawan Hat) hanging from the wall and a sanshin on display – just don’t ask any of us to play it.

Watching the performance also led us to some deeper conversations and stories that I had never known: from my mom being taught to hide in the sugar cane fields whenever she saw US military soldiers to using caves for shelter as air strikes were happening to the villages. As my mom told these stories, there was something about having Mako and Munjuru’s style of koten music playing in the background that provided a perfect score to my mom’s life.

I want to thank Town Hall Seattle for providing me the opportunity to openly connect with my culture through their Global Rhythm Series, and more importantly for igniting conversations with my (Okasan) mother about her truths and history of Okinawa. We are planning a trip to the homeland once we feel it is safe to travel again.

Masao Yamada is a community leader who has founded youth programs/organizations with a focus on career development, arts equity, civic engagement, social justice and more. Yamada has recently developed and guided youth in co-founding a youth-led/operated radio station, Ground Zero Radio, and is part of a city-wide Creative Advantage initiative to establish equitable access to arts education for every student in Seattle Public Schools. Yamada currently sits on the Board of Directors for WheelLab and the Intiman Theatre, and is an Board Member for the Melodic Caring Project and One Love Foundation. In summer 202, Yamada became an organizer for the Seattle Children’s March and is an adult advisor to the Youth Advocates for System Change Council. To learn more about Yamada, you can follow him on Instagram @y_masao .


If you missed Mako and Munjuru’s performance, you can still purchase a subscription to the series until March 10, which will grant you exclusive access to a replay of this impactful program.

Black History Month at Town Hall

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Today is February 1, which marks the beginning of Black History Month. Black History Month was established in 1976, and what you may not know is that there is a theme every year. The theme is decided by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the 2021 theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” exploring the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States. We have put together a calendar of programs that support this theme, and we’ll also be taking a look back in our Media Library at past events that are worth revisiting this month.

Upcoming

Conversations on our In The Moment podcast will feature Black authors and poets throughout the month. (As a reminder, these episodes are released at 1 PM on Mondays, and available anytime after that.) Historian Thomas C. Holt (2/1) will be talking with correspondent and local journalist Mike Davis, contending with how the civil rights movement has been misrepresented and misunderstood. The next week, Shin Yu Pai welcomes poet Gary Copeland Lilley (2/8) to the February Lyric World episode for a dialogue about the creative and intellectual influences that have shaped his work. And finally, poet and novelist Véronique Tadjo (2/22) discusses her new book, a timely fable drawing on real accounts of the Ebola outbreak, with correspondent Kevin Kibet.

Most of us grew up with images of African women that were purely anthropological-bright displays of exotica where the deeper personhood seemed tucked away. Or were chronicles of war and “poverty porn.” But curator Catherine E. McKinley (2/10) says these images tell a different story of African women: how deeply cosmopolitan and modern they are in their style, how they were able to reclaim the tools of the colonial oppression that threatened their selfhood and livelihoods. She’ll be in conversation with fellow curator and designer Erika Dalya Massaquoi to discuss her takeaways while collecting images in her new book The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women.

Black contribution to musical history is undeniable. Renowned bass player, five-time Grammy winner, and author Victor L. Wooten (2/13) invites us to stretch our imaginations and our awareness of our interaction with music in a wholly unique presentation that provides a poignant reminder of the healing power—and humanity—in music.

A tiny, fastidiously-dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to become the mentor to a generation of young artists, including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence. He coined the term “New Negro” for this generation, a reference to the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness. Have you heard of Alain Locke? Professor Jeffrey Stewart (2/18) brings Locke’s story to the forefront, exploring his legacy and impact in promoting the cultural heritage of Black people with LaNesha DeBardelaben of the Northwest African American Museum for this co-presented program.

Dr. Ronald A Crutcher (2/20), a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician and Professor of Music, joins us to share lessons captured in his memoir I Had No Idea You Were Black: Navigating Race on the Road to Leadership. He relates how he found success as a Black intellectual steering through highly charged social issues, to become President at the University of Richmond.

Have you wondered how educators can help destroy entrenched inequalities and enact values of Black Lives Matter in their classrooms, schools, and communities? Educators and members of the Black Lives Matter at School movement Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones (2/24) have gathered essential essays, interviews, poems, resolutions, and more from educators, students, and activists. They join us to lay bare the institutional racism inherent in our educational system, and present a critical call to radically reshape learning environments.

From the Library

1/19/2021: Tyler Stovall with ChrisTiana ObeySumner about the intertwined histories of racism and freedom, specifically using America and France as reference points

12/14/2020: On this episode of In The Moment, sociologist Matthew Clair discussed how race and class matter in criminal court with correspondent Marcus Harrison Green

12/10/2020: The Seattle Human Rights Commission and UW Center for Human Rights hosted a panel about the Black experience in Seattle

12/8/2020: Michael Eric Dyson talked with Robin DiAngelo about reckoning with race on America

11/15/2020: Tamara Payne—along with her mother and brother—talked about the National Book Award-winning biography of Malcolm X, written over decades by her father, which she completed after his unexpected death

11/9/2020: Daudi Abe talked with Geo Quibuyen about the history of hip hop in Seattle

10/21/2020: A panel hosted by Town Hall, Seattle Disabilities Commission, and Seattle LGBTQ+ Commission discussed the unique wisdom of intersectional identities

10/2/2020: On this episode of In The Moment, professor Dr. Eddie Cole was in conversation with correspondent Shaun Scott about the role of campus activism in the fight for social equality

9/22/2020: Mychal Denzel Smith discussed how he believes there are shortcomings in the stories we tell ourselves about our American identity, in conversation with author R. O. Kwon

9/14/2020: This episode of In The Moment featured acclaimed writer Calvin Baker about his book arguing that the only meaningful remedy to our civil rights efforts is true integration, with correspondent Shaun Scott

9/6/2020: The Deep End Friends podcast talked about Black healing, exploring liberation, healing, hope, joy, and wholeness

And more. Visit our Media Library to see past events.


Black history and Black accomplishments have been minimized and erased, and it is wonderful to be take this time to celebrate Black people’s many contributions, to all industries and communities. But most importantly, Black history is American history—this month and every month—and we look forward to continuing to celebrate Black voices year-round.

Fermata Update | Joshua Talks the Latest TM Concert and the End of His Fermata Residency

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Joshua’s residency has technically ended, but Joshua’s not done by a long shot! Here, Joshua thanks all of our Town Music supporters and opens a surprise gift (spoiler: it’s a beautiful poster).

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