Wish Tree

I have learned that there are many ways that we can speak out against hate, oppression, social injustice and inequality and act to make our world a better place.  

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Earlier this year one of our Muslim families at Thurgood Marshall was a target of hate speech on school grounds.  We continue to be saddened by this incident and others, but I am proud of the way our school community responded and I'm honored that the Wish Tree project could play such a vibrant role.  I want to share this story with you, hoping to inspire other schools and other communities to make their own wish trees!   The project was embraced by the students, teachers, staff and our community in ways I couldn't have imagined and I thank each and every person who participated in bringing the work to life.  You have touched my life deeply and hopefully those of countless others.

My son and I had been reading Wishtree by Katherine Applegate at the time. This is a lovely story about how a community responds with care and love when the word "leave" is carved into the base of a tree near the home of a Muslim family.  Red, a huge oak tree and the local neighborhood's wish tree, bears witness to the profound way in which the symbolic ritual of writing and hanging wishes unites and welcomes all members of their community.  

Our Principal, Katie May, responded brilliantly to the incident by inviting the school community to a letter-writing event held one morning before school.  Dozens of us gathered with our children to write letters of support to the family. Inspired by Applegate's book, it was at that time that I realized that our school needed a Wish Tree, and I'm so happy that Principal May agreed! 

After several days of collecting donations of scrap fabric from individuals and The South Seattle Senior Center, and Pacific Fabrics, I set to work stripping them all to size. (Shout out to Amy Zarrett for helping me early one morning!) My goal was for every student, teacher, parent and community member to have the opportunity to write their own wish to tie to our Wish Tree.  Teachers graciously took time out of their day to help students write their wishes.  Students tied their wishes to the fences surrounding the school, giving them the opportunity to place their own and read those of others. Upon reading their wishes it is apparent that it is our youth that function as inspiration for us all. 

 

...Wish writing continued for parents, siblings and others at Community Night....

 

I'm an improviser. I think big, jump in, and leave the planning on the shore.  One of the things I loved about this project was the figure-it-out-as-you-go vibe!  So, flying by the seat of our pants and not wanting anyone else to risk falling from a ladder, my husband and son helped tie all remaining wishes to our proud tree...

Every classroom in the school ended up reading the book and little did we know, a wonderful surprise was brewing behind the scenes.  Ms. Applegate ended up visiting our school! Our kids sat enthralled listening to her speak, asked thoughtful questions and gave insightful answers. Afterward, she visited our playground to read our wishes. 

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While our Wish Tree project does not purport to have resolved issues on a greater scale, I do believe that our kids have participated in and witnessed a creative way to better our world, little by little. My hope is that they have learned that there are many ways to exude messages of respect and kindness, toward one another and toward themselves. 

Now it's your turn....bring a Wish Tree to your community! 

 

 

 

Keep the Eye Open

Keep the eye open and look for new artifacts in the spaces we inhabit with such frequency that we risk becoming otherwise unaware.  

I had never noticed this spot before. I pulled up the street. The same old street as I aways do and waited at the same stoplight, just like I've been doing for the past three years.  My eye was carried just beyond the light where sits a retired lot, asserting its presence. It is as if it attempts to extend itself until someone takes notice.

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Color and texture on walls leads me to find what is on the other side and what may be around the back.  I finally rest my eye on a window, singing the praises, wrapped in sweet, sweet blues.  I open up a conversation. 

A Snowy Day

Two nights ago I went with my family to see a performance of A Snowy Day and other stories by Ezra Jack Keats at the Seattle Children's Theater.  As I watched, I realized that I was experiencing something that I hadn't in many years: the power of art to truly transport the individual, both maker and receiver. 

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Land-I

When encountering a space we have the magical opportunity to honor the stories and legacies already embedded while simultaneously incorporating our own.  The power of places is that they have the ability to retain the energies, narratives and histories of those people and events that have already passed through.

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Private Property

     The notion of private property.  Let's think about that. With each day and each new development our sense of "property" becomes more and more rigid. It strays farther away from any idea of community, of sharing, of helping.  We seem so bound to the idea of obtaining property, in whatever form that may be, and retaining it as our own. Private property.  What would happen if no language, no philosophy, no religion and no rule of law had ever put forth the notion of private property that has been so inculcated into our method of being?

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Hometown

The "Hometown" phenomena has always seemed strange to me. Or perhaps I am estranged  from it.  People ask me where I grew up, what town I am from? I have no attachment to any town, or even any house in particular.  I do know that I spent my very lucky childhood running in the woods. I grew up with room to see how far I could leap, to see how fast I could get from point a to point b.  I grew up cutting my bare feet on barnacles and having my young skin slashed by tall blades of grass. I grew up not being called back until dinner and believing that I was in the company of magic. 

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Breathe

I came across this image today. It was shown last year at The Photo Center's annual Longshot Exhibit. I took several images along the same theme.  I stood atop a chair, hovering over the threshold of our doors that open to the outside.  Air came and went. The curtains rose and fell. It looked like breath. The house, its lungs, were breathing. All spaces contain energy of some form or another. That energy needs to be captured, released and renewed. Not unlike our own.

Pea Patches

I'm newly interested in the Pea Patch as a means to explore the interaction of diverse individuals who may not otherwise interact.  A space to cultivate, harvest, share the common land toward a common basic human need: the inclination to self sustain in a healthy, collective manner.

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Spaces of Peace

Post-election. As someone interested in our relationships to space and place I am profoundly disturbed.  Not only am I personally wounded by the continued hatred-led division in our country but I am also saddened for the masses that already experience traumatic exclusivity and physical harm. I feel an even greater rupture for all from a place we should all be able to call home.  I feel a rupture from my own sense of country and my sense of humanity. I also feel that change is possible if we can retract our thoughts from fear's space and envision a place where humanity is coexisting.  Little by little, within our small communities we must continue to work to make this exceed beyond mere vision in order to form realities where places of peace and harmony exist. 

Port Townsend-2

Allowing oneself to play, no matter what age, really should be such a simple thing. Nothing quite screams "play!" like Port Townsend's numerous festivals and parades. They have a celebration for everything. Everything. Port Townsend plays and it plays hard and the people love it. Characters among the crowd begin to look familiar. The White Rabbit shows up every time. Alter Egos establish a pattern of being and come out to play every chance they get. 

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Port Townsend - I

I'm beginning to realize that my love affair with Port Townsend, WA began in my youth.  While in high school, as a dancer, I attended a week long workshop at Centrum, held at Fort Worden's campus. I later went again, for theater. I distinctly remember the sense of relief and encouragement as I met other teenage artists.  Oh, there aremore of us!  My relationship with Port Townsend is ever growing. I did not expect to begin to bond with another place so intimately. And I did not realize until recently that this process began 25 years ago. 

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