Community Roots Crowdfunding Campaign
We need your help producing a new interactive exhibit, event series, and podcast featuring three historic community organizing efforts in Olympia, Washington!
Since January, Window Seat Media has been facilitating Community Roots, a community oral history project focused on people collaborating to make change where they live. Community Roots explores people’s contributions and creativity within a collective effort, demonstrating the vital and important ways we each contribute to a common ecosystem of social change. Your donations will support our exhibit, associated event series, and podcast! Community Roots will share these local histories by engaging visitors with audio interviews, photos, and ephemera that paint a picture of self-determination, mutual aid, and learning by doing.
Our goal is to raise $8,000, which will support exhibit costs including design, printing, and installation; audio story production costs; and artist and creative collaborator stipends. We welcome all gift, large and small, and get some fun perks!
A team of community researchers (pictured below) have been gathering oral histories about three local organizing efforts that are important to our collective history in the South Sound. Research ideas came to us from our community cohort, who had personal interest and connections to these stories.
CAMP QUIXOTE: a tent city that emerged in downtown Olympia in February 2007. It was the first visible tent city of its kind locally, although it's part of a much longer unfinished story about who has access to housing in the area and who doesn’t. We were interested in the moment the idea of a tent city first took root, and the alliances and community learning that are at the center of this story.
DRIFTWOOD DAYCARE: a childcare center at The Evergreen State College. In 1971, Driftwood Daycare was initially conceptualized as faculty support at the College. However, the center opened to student families in response to the shift of women entering the workforce at that time. A small abandoned farmhouse located on Driftwood Road became the grounds for the center up until the mid-’80s.
THE LIBERATION CAFE: a collectivist space established in the mid-nineties as a hub for activists to work, collaborate, host events, and engage with the community. The cafe occupied the top floor of Bulldog News in downtown Olympia. Over three years and thanks to the efforts of a small core group of organizers, hundreds of people passed through and benefited from this affordable, creative space in myriad ways. The need for affordable space is a theme that comes up repeatedly in conversations with activists and creatives in our town, even as property costs continue to rise exponentially. The Liberation Cafe lost momentum and ended in 1999 when its hosting business Bulldog News closed.
Community Roots Cohort of Community Researchers
From left to right: Mindy Chambers, Aidyn Dervaes, Kristina Cannon, Kelsey Smith, Rowen Ling, and Elaine Vradenburgh (Window Seat Memory Activist). Not pictured: Bryce Black and Meg Rosenberg (Window Seat Community Weaver).
"We have a very limited historical memory, and you don't really learn key parts of our history in school. There's been a lot of oppression, but there has also always been resistance and resistance movements...It’s important to change the mainstream view of US history, and not only victories. We can also learn from mistakes oppositional social movements and resisters have made, although nothing's ever exactly the same. Historical memory is really important. So I'm really happy you're doing this interview."
-excerpt from an interview with Peter Bohmer, Liberation Cafe Organizer and Evergreen Faculty,
conducted by Kelsey Smith
Activating Local Public History: This is the first time these community histories have been documented in this way! Our work seeks to highlight underrepresented voices and bring stories from the margins to the center. We aspire to gather and share layered narratives with artistic and ethical integrity. We work alongside artists, activists, and other problem-solvers to tell nuanced and inclusive stories—a people’s histories—of who we are together in this homeplace. We hope that this exhibit generates conversation around these (and other) spaces in the history of arts and organizing in our community.
Access-For-All Arts & Humanities Programming: This will be a free exhibit! We’re excited about the success of equity-based pricing for our programs, services, and community-centric fundraising. When folks with an abundance pay a little more to support our efforts on the front end, it allows others open access when they need it. The outcome? Everyone can participate without barriers in witnessing and making our collective history.
All-Ages Community-Building: This exhibit aims to engage an intergenerational and multicultural local audience! Our hope is to continue the conversation about shared space in the community and dream up collaborative and innovative solutions.
Communal Narratives of Success and Social Change: Community Roots attempts to widen the frame of our local history from personal to communal by adding stories of collectivism to the local historical record. Oral history is by nature an attempt to understand the complexity and nuance of the human experience through a collection of stories. Individualism is among the deepest, most pervasive, and most stubborn cultural models that we hold in the United States, shaping our thinking about a variety of social issues, from aging to housing and public safety. Individualist narratives credit upward mobility to independence, self-reliance, merit, institutional learning, and competition. Stories feature heroes, villains, and victims who succeed or fail because of their choices, decontextualized from their rich and complex family, community, institution, or cultural history. Yet, the vast majority of the world embraces a collectivist or communal culture and storytelling modes, focusing instead on interdependence and group success, collaboration, relationships, and learning through interaction and dialogue.
Community Roots is a project about people coming together to make change in their communities in both small and large ways. It's about people’s contributions and creativity within a collective effort, demonstrating our vital and differentiated individual contributions within a common social change ecosystem. This project documents social problems and collective visions while exploring cooperation, coordination, and community resilience to understand how particular systems produce the conditions that need to be changed.