What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog looks back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Miss Anna Roberta Hoge is ill,” and, “The Four Buttercups will present a novelty surprise in comedy singing.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“One of the fastest growing sections of Seattle during the past few years,” the Town Crier reported on December 21, 1918, “is the Rainier Valley.” Indeed, “The Seattle Rainier Valley Railway Company has played an important part in the upbuilding and the steady march of progress of Rainier Valley.” The story goes on discussing improvements with an eye towards the future. “The next few years will undoubtedly witness an even greater growth.”

An organization today that plays an important part in the steady march of progress in Rainier Valley is the Rainier Arts Center, one of the organizations and venues that have been instrumental for Town Hall during our Inside/Out seasons. Some Town Hall events that have occurred there in the past year include talks by Dar Williams, Tali Sharot, Theo Gray, and Dr. Beverly Tatum, amongst others.

Rainier Arts Center’s mission is to “produce and facilitate a variety of artistic and cultural productions that are supported by our community.” A program of SEEDArts, Rainier Arts Center was purchased and renovated by SouthEast Effective Development whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Southeast Seattle. The Rainier Arts Center building has been in existence since 1921 and is now a national landmark building that marks the northern gateway to Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood. The Center was originally built as the Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist. Town Hall’s building, currently under renovation, is the Fourth.

You can learn more about the Rainier Arts Center here.

What the Heck is a Sackbut?

Our friends at Early Music Seattle are partnering with Early Music Vancouver to present two performances of Monteverdi’s Christmas Vespers on December 21 and 22. The concerts will include violins, cornetti, sackbuts, theorbos, and voices under the direction of David Fallis.

You might be asking yourself, what the heck is a sackbut? Theorbo-huh? Who was Monteverdi? What’s a vesper? Town Hall is here to help.

Sackbut [sak-buht]:

A sackbut is a type of trombone popular in the Renaissance and Baroque eras. This isn’t to be confused with a slide trumpet (don’t do it) but it did evolve from it. The difference between the two is that the slide trumpet possesses only a single slide joint, while the sackbut has a double slide joint that allows for playing scales in a lower range. The evolution then: slide trumpet, sackbut, trombone. Sidebar: Are you aware that there is an English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble?  There is.

Theorbo [thee-awr-boh]: 

A theorbo is a member of the lute family. It’s a plucked string instrument with an extended neck and a second pegbox. A theorbo player plucks or strums the strings with one hand while pressing down on the strings with the other hand to different places on the neck produces different notes. That gives a theorbo player the ability to play chords, basslines, and melodies. They were developed in late 16th century Italy. You’ll hear theorbo compositions in Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo.

Cornett [cornet]: 

A cornett isn’t a cornet. Cornets are trumpet-like instruments. A cornett is an early wind instrument that dates back to medieval times. It was popular from 1500 to 1650. It’s a wooden pipe covered in leather and has finger holes and has a small horn. They were played frequently in Venetian churches. You’d hear cornetti a lot at the Basilica San Marco, the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. There were different types of cornett, like the high cornettino, the curved cornett, the tenor cornett, and the bass cornett. Some composers who used cornett, other than Monteverdi, include Johann Sebastian Bach, and Georg Philipp Telemann.

Monteverdi [Mon-tuh-vair-dee]: 

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) was a pioneer in the development of opera. He was an Italian composer, string player, and choirmaster who created both secular and sacred music. He was also the Maestro di Capella at the Basilica San Marco, where all that cornett playing was happening. Though most of Monteverdi’s output has been lost to time, his surviving music includes madrigals, sacred works, and three complete operas. His L’Orfeo (1607) is one of the earliest operas ever created.

Vesper [ves-per]:

The word comes from the Greek “hespera” and the Latin “vesper,” meaning “evening.” Vespers is a sunset evening prayer service which has been in existence since at least the 4th century. Several composers have made music based on them, including Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, Giuseppe Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani or “The Sicilian Vespers,” and, yes, Monteverdi.

Take your newfound knowledge of sackbuts and the like and attend what is sure to be a glorious evening of music. Go here for tickets.

Two Quick and Easy Ways to Give to Town Hall

Roughly 100,000 people walk through our doors each year. With more than 400 programs spanning the arts, sciences, and civics, Town Hall cultivates an engaged and empathetic community. We produce half of these events, while the other half of our calendar represents the work of 90+ other nonprofits and cultural producers who call Town Hall home. There are plenty of ways you can give to Town Hall and help create a home for this vibrant network of community organizations across Seattle. Whether it’s through volunteer time, tax-deductible donations, or even as an exciting side-effect of your online shopping, there are so many exciting ways for you to support Town Hall.

Give While You Shop

AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support Town Hall every time you shop on Amazon, at no cost to you. Smile.Amazon.com offers the same products at the same prices—but with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to a charitable organization of your choice. And from October 29 to November 2, AmazonSmile is increasing their donation rate, meaning your AmazonSmile donations will have an even greater impact! This is the largest AmazonSmile bonus donation window to date—so if you’re doing Amazon shopping, be sure to donate during this window to make the most of this incredible offer.

Employer Matching

To ensure your gifts have even greater impact, you can potentially double (or even triple!) your donation to Town Hall through the generosity of your employer. Many companies offer matching programs for charitable donations, matching your gifts for certain organizations dollar-for-dollar—and sometimes more. What’s more, your employer may also provide donations to match your hours volunteering time at Town Hall events! If you or your spouse work for a company that offers matching donations, send in the employer’s matching gift confirmation to Town Hall so we can credit you for enabling this matching gift. All volunteer hour matching donations are invested back into our volunteer program—to learn more about volunteering at Town Hall, visit our volunteer page.

And because Town Hall Seattle is a 501c3 non-profit organization, your donations are tax-deductible! Check out our support page for more info.

Our organization relies on the generosity of our community, and it’s never been easier to support Town Hall. Your donations help us keep our tickets radically affordable and our rental rates low, ensuring that everyone can afford to be a part of Town Hall—whether onstage or in the audience.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “There was a large attendance at the Women’s University Club patriotic luncheon on Saturday,” and, “Clara Bicknell Ford, whose ballet and interpretive dancing has delighted Seattle audiences, is now studying with Kosloff of New York, probably the most famous teacher in the country.”  In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Town Hall prides itself on keeping ticket prices low, and in some cases, free, so that anyone can participate in our city’s dynamic conversations. That’s why we took note of the $1 to $2 tickets for a concert that was being put on in early October 1918.

An ad on page 12 of the October 5th, 1918 edition of the Town Crier.

Anna Fitziu, soprano with the Chicago Opera Company and Andres de Segurola, bass baritone with the Metropolitan Opera Company, would be in a joint recital at the Metropolitan Theatre on October 7th. It was presented by the Ladies Musical Club.

Anna Fitziu (1887-1967) had a prolific international opera career, famed for her title roles in Madama Butterfly and Tosca.

The Spanish de Seguirola (1874-1953), was a member of the Metropolitan Opera for nearly 20 years.

Some things stand the test of time. The Ladies Musical Club still exists. In fact, it is Seattle’s oldest musical organization. First gathering in the home of Ellen Bartlett Bacon in 1891, 22 women musicians decided to form a new musical entity. The founding members were mostly middle-class, married women who also happened to be trained musicians. Over a century later, the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle is a non-profit, comprised of approximately 150 women, fostering classical music amongst its members and the Seattle community.

Their next concert is October 7th at 2pm at the Frye Art Museum. It’s even cheaper than it was in 1918. It’s free. For a full calendar of events, visit their website.

Stay in the Loop; Hear it All

As part of the acoustic upgrades taking place during Town Hall’s renovation, we’re permanently installing the Hearing Loop system in all three of our performance spaces. To give us a better idea of how a Hearing Loop works—as well as how this critical system supports members of our community who experience hearing loss—we turn to Mike James, who serves on Town Hall’s Board of Directors. Mike spoke with Town Hall’s Alexander Eby about his history with hearing loss, and shared all the reasons why he passionately supports the Hearing Loop’s installation.

Town Hall’s platform is built on the idea that everyone deserves to be heard—and for audience members like Mike James, this philosophy has never been more literal. Mike has lived with hearing loss since his late 30’s. Though his hearing aids are sufficient for smaller events, he’s encountered difficulty fully engaging with the lectures and performances he loves when they’re held in larger halls. But Mike is still a frequent visitor to Town Hall’s events, and he’s been able to fully experience our programming thanks to our Hearing Loop system.

“I’m fortunate enough to live right across the street from Town Hall,” Mike explains. He regularly attends Town Hall’s programs, and the Hearing Loop has enabled him to participate on any given night in impassioned community conversations, civic discussions, and science lectures. “The beauty of the Hearing Loop system is that it just…happens. You can sit down in the audience along with everyone else, and the sound from the event is transmitted directly to your hearing aids.”

Hearing Loop systems wirelessly transmit sound through microphones on the stage, transforming hearing aids fitted with telecoil receivers—like the ones Mike wears—into in-the-ear loudspeakers. “It’s the quality of the sound that’s the most significant thing. You’re hearing the program with yourhearing aids, so it’s adjusted specifically for your own levels of hearing loss. You can clearly hear what’s going on onstage, and at the same time you can be a part of the discussions going on around you.”

From his position on Town Hall’s Board of Directors, Mike has enthusiastically supported the permanent installation of the Hearing Loop system in Town Hall’s performance spaces. For other audience members experiencing hearing loss, this could make all the difference in the world. “A lot of people like me gave up on going to the theater or attending lectures because of the difficulty of hearing. That’s really overcome with the loop.”

To support audience members like Mike, we’re permanently outfitting our Great Hall, Downstairs, and the new West Room with their own Hearing Loop systems as part of Town Hall’s historic renovation. Accessibility is core to Town Hall’s design, and the Hearing Loop is a critical part of ensuring that members of our community who experience hearing loss will remain a part of the discussion.

“I was born in England, and I have relatives there. We’ve traveled together throughout Europe, and found that Hearing Loop systems over there are common. At museums, box offices—you name it, all of that is looped.” Town Hall is inspired by this broad accessibility, and we’re excited to be among the first organizations in our region to offer this technology to our community. “The great thing about Town Hall is that they’re one of the first institutions in Seattle to really pioneer this. It’s a tremendously positive change, and a real asset to Town Hall.”

To learn more about the Hearing Loop system, and about all the ways our new acoustic systems will transform Town Hall into a world-class performance hall, visit TownHallSeattle.org/HearItAll

Please considering making a donation to the project here.

A Statement From Ijeoma Oluo Concerning Sally Kohn’s Book

Town Hall has followed concerns about Sally Kohn’s book The Opposite of Hate voiced by Aminatou Sow and Ijeoma Oluo, amongst others. We also heard from many in our audience who asked us to address this head-on prior to our event with Kohn on Tuesday, May 1st. Town Hall does not explicitly endorse or condemn the content of our speakers’ books or presentations, but given the context of this discussion and the demands of our audience, we feel it is necessary to include the voices of the critics themselves.

We reached out to Ijeoma Oluo to ask how she would like to respond, and she has asked us to share the following statement. Ijeoma Oluo authored this statement in full and it is presented here unedited.

This presentation of Oluo’s statement is not an endorsement of its content, and we cannot vouch for the accuracy of the claims made within it. Our goal is to give the principals involved the opportunity to voice their perspectives in their own words.

See this article in Vanity Fair for additional context to the story. Sally Kohn has released a statement in response to the original complaints.

Statement from Ijeoma Oluo:

When a friend of mine reached out to me to ask if I knew that I was in Sally Kohn’s book, I was a little surprised. I had no idea that any of my work or words had been used in the book. But my work is available to the public, so I was not immediately shocked or alarmed.  But my friend, a fellow black person and writer on issues of race, was concerned about how I was being represented in the book, and so he sent me screenshots of the passage that I was mentioned in so that I could take a look.

I was shocked to see that not only was my work misrepresented in Sally Kohn’s book, it was used in juxtaposition to the misrepresentation of the words of another black woman, Aminatou Sow. Sow had already been made aware of how she had been quoted in Kohn’s book, and had made her grievances public, stating that she had been misquoted by Kohn in a way that placed her at risk due to the violent nature of the quote attributed to her and the fact that she is a black woman. She talked about the multiple efforts she had made before the book was published to have this misquote that could harm her removed from the book. When that failed and the book went to market with the inflammatory quote, Sow went public.

The quote attributed to Sow, saying that she felt like she could kill a white person who was racist toward her, was juxtaposed against what Kohn described as my approach – one of love and connection. To get my position on how to deal with racist hate, Kohn did not reference my extensive work on the subject (even though she had followed me on social media for some time and had shared my work on Facebook and Twitter in the past) nor did she reference my regular public social media interactions with the racist hate I encounter daily. Instead, Kohn referenced one interaction I had with a racist troll, on Martin Luther King day, three years ago. This interaction was not something I advertised or publicized. I decided personally, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr, to confront the racist trolls who were seeking out black people with racist hate on this day with his loving words. I figured that if they were trying to force their hate into my space, I was going to force Dr. King’s love into theirs. It was a long and painful day. Most of the racists that I replied to with the words of Dr. King replied back with more hate. One long exchange with one hateful troll, who turned out to be an angry teenager, ended with him apologizing to me and saying that I  was a nice person. I was pleasantly surprised with how that one exchange ended. But that was one exchange out of an entire day of being subjected to racist abuse.

When this exchange was picked up by feel-good click-bait sites, it was no surprise that it went viral. This story, the story of a black woman enduring hours upon hours of abuse to get one 15 year old kid to say sorry, is the type of “racial progress” story that white supremacy loves. In order to end racism, a black woman just has to be willing to endure it with enough love, and a white racist has to do nothing but tire of their hate. It is a harmful narrative, and it is one that has been shown in the 400 years that black people have been enduring violent racist hate in this country to be completely untrue.

And this was the story that Kohn chose to juxtapose with Sow’s “angry” quote. This one exchange with one racist is not in any way my approach to dealing with racists or white supremacy, and that is not a secret. I’ve been very clear about this in my work. To expect black people to endure even more pain than what white supremacy already subjects them to in the hopes that it will convince racists that we are human beings who feel pain is in itself a white supremacist expectation. We are human beings, and we do not have to prove that, and white America has no right to view themselves as the judges of our humanity. We should never even entertain that thought as to do so reinforces white supremacy. We are worthy because we exist.

Further, to act as if we have held the secret to changing the hearts and minds of white racists all along, and it was simply being nicer, and taking more abuse – is cruel. Any power we as black people have has been leveraged against white supremacy. Every tactic we can consider has been tried. We are oppressed because we lack power in this society. We are oppressed because this white supremacist system has built an entire country around our subjugation. To have a white woman who has never lived a day of that particular oppression misuse the words and work of black women to build a story about how we should endure even more pain for the greater good is an abuse of the privilege of her platform. We have our own words, we have our own ideas of what we need for our liberation, and a lot of it has to do with what people like Kohn – white people who benefit from and help maintain systems of white supremacy – are going to  start doing with that power and privilege. But in order for those ideas to be included in Kohn’s book, she would have had to ask us.

Kohn does not appear to be interested in talking to us though. And as she has been traveling to multiple speaking events talking about how sorry she is about this, and how many lessons she has learned, I have not heard a single word from her. Not a call, not an email, not a tweet. This is not what allyship looks like. This is not what accountability looks like.

But beyond this interaction, I hope that those listening today understand power and privilege dynamic that allowed Kohn to write at length about a struggle she has never known and never will know, without reaching out to those actually living it. That allowed her to lift and distort the words and work of black women without anybody in the the publishing process asking if she really had the knowledge and perspective needed to responsibly discuss this issue. Power and privilege that has famous white celebrities and thought leaders reading this book and celebrating its genius without questioning how black people may be harmed by it. The idea that in 2018 we would still be okay with white writers talking about how they feel that black people should deal with their oppression is the most disturbing thing about this whole debacle.

Sally Kohn writes about hate, but it is not the only hate that is killing black people in America – in fact, it’s pretty far down the list. It’s the exploitation, the erasure, the basic lack of dignity afforded us. This basic disregard for our whole humanity fuels the everyday abuses that deny us jobs, representation, education, effective medical care, police protection and so much more. This basic disregard harms more than just our feelings, and the way that Kohn treated my work and Ms. Sow’s work harmed more than just our feelings. I hope that those witnessing this entire debacle see how easy it is for those who think they are on the side of good to fall back on their privilege and do great harm. I hope that we start looking at the power and privilege of who gets to talk about social justice and progress in this country, and we start looking for ways to elevate the voices of those in the crosshairs of these battles and looking for ways to ease their great burden by using our relative privilege to fight with them instead of trying to speak for them.


-Ijeoma Oluo

Crooked Yet Strong

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Crooked Yet Strong

Fun Fact: One of the columns above our portico is misaligned (and has been since the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake). Don’t worry, it’s structurally sound, but this unique view atop the temporary scaffolding gives us a rare glimpse of this little quirk.


Moulding Restoration

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Moulding Restoration

The historic moulding in the Great Hall is in terrific shape for its age. A few pieces require some restoration, and those that we’re unable to repair will be fully replicated. Our friends at RAFN construction carefully removed some of the existing plasterwork prior to demolishing the old elevator. Their staff is currently working on stripping the old paint and creating molds from the newly-cleaned pieces. This will allow them to cast new plaster elements to match the original decorative accents. Soon we’ll have newly-cast moulding that’s faithful to the graceful and historic design of the original!

When the elevator was added to the building in February 1960, the construction required some of the existing plasterwork to be cut or removed. With the new mold RAFN is making, they’ll be able to replace the missing or damaged pieces and restore the Great Hall’s plasterwork to the way it looked before the elevator’s installation nearly six decades ago.


From Paperwork to Private Events

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From Paperwork to Private Events

We’re transforming our former admin offices into a brand new intimate performance and reception space. With the removal of the walls, this space will become a ~75 seat performance venue ideal for poetry readings, group discussions, or community gatherings. Our staff already hardly recognizes their former workspace![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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