What's new? JULY at Window Seat
PRIDE weekend tabling
We got to meet so many beautiful queers out and about tabling at Capitol City Pride! We heard stories of queer joy - some coming out stories, one about two people holding a commitment ceremony in 1996!, so much bravery and beauty - and see queer community and joy on full display! Folks could visit the collage and scrapbook station and express their creative selves.
Over the past six months we've been facilitating Community Roots, a community oral history project based in Olympia, Washington about how people come together to make change and create new possibilities for themselves and their neighbors. Led by Memory Activist, Elaine Vradenburgh, with a team of community researchers (pictured above), we've been gathering oral histories about three local organizing efforts that are important to our collective history in the South Sound:
Camp Quixote, a tent city that sprang up in downtown Olympia, Washington in February 2007. It was the first visible tent city of its kind in Olympia, although it's a part of a much longer and unfinished story about who has access to housing in the area and who doesn’t. We were interested in the moment when 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 evaluation of campus needs led to the center opening to student families as a priority. 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 that was established in the mid-nineties for activists to work, collaborate, host events, and engage with community. The cafe occupied the top floor of Bulldog News in downtown Olympia. Over the course of three years and the efforts of a small core group of organizers, hundreds of people passed through and benefited from the space in myriad ways. The need for affordable space is a theme that comes up repeatedly in our 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 their hosting business Bulldog News closed.
Our cohort learned how to conduct audio recorded oral history interviews and edit those interviews into short audio stories. We also explored the ethical and power dimension of conducting oral history projects. The interviews and curated projects produced by cohort members will be used as part of community installations and programming that our cohort will plan this summer. So stay tuned!
This project wouldn't be possible without the generosity and trust of the community members who shared their stories with us:
- Camp Quixote series: Selena Kilmoyer, Rob Richards and Glenmar Hapa
- The Liberation Cafe series: Courtney Bennett, Pat Tassoni and Peter Bohmer
- Driftwood Daycare series: Bonnie Coate, Keith Eisner, Donna Simon, and Ingrid Gulden
Funding for this project was provided by the Thurston County Heritage Grant Program. And a big thank you to the Liberation Collective for providing space for us to meet each week!
Cohort Members Share Their Experiences
Mindy Chambers, local journalist and activist
"In January, I was proud to join Window Seat Media’s Community Roots project and delighted that I could put my journalism skills – interviewing and writing – to work to the benefit of our beloved community.
Building community – that’s the cornerstone of Window Seat, which does something so special –merging story-telling, activism, and multi-media to connect us with our history as we prepare for our future.
I’m a long-time community activist, and I am not shy about sharing my concerns that we are quickly losing what’s commonly called institutional memory – the facts, myths, legends, experiences, and knowledge we hold together about this wonderful place at the tip of the Salish Sea where we live.
Window Seat pulls people together to be sure we capture the wisdom of our elders, our experts, and our eccentrics. It recognizes and raises up the voices of the historically marginalized and seeks renewal and reconciliation.
Amazing work, right?
In Community Roots, we are asked to examine how the threads from the past are woven into how we organize and create whatever is next, relying on each other during tribulations and joining hands in celebrations.
Window Seat Media is worthy of praise for so many reasons, among them the nurturing learning environment Elaine and Meg support participants in creating. Working with a whole lot of folx who are learning a whole new set of skills isn’t the easiest thing, but they do it with grace and good humor."
Aidyn Dervaes, Evergreen Student
"I have been working with a story collection on the Driftwood Daycare center. This center opened in 1971 as a student contract and as a piece of The Evergreen State College. I had the joy of working there for 5 years during my undergraduate degree. Last summer, I stumbled upon the center’s history in a scattering of photographs and newspaper clippings headed for the trash. I wanted of course to celebrate these memories, and the people who helped create them. Childcare is widely overlooked in higher education. Having access to a space like Driftwood allowed countless mothers, fathers, and caregivers to receive their education, while knowing their children were safe.
I was referred to the Community Roots project through a professor at Evergreen. I had been working with the Children’s Center materials since the summer and was struggling to find a way to truly celebrate this community. Julia Zay, who had been my professor in a course focused on Art and Archives recommended that I investigate this new cohort. I had some knowledge of Oral histories and had even began the process of recording stories from the children centers community, but Window Seat allowed me to understand the importance of sharing stories, connecting with the past, and celebrating the present. This cohort gave me the tools to navigate what I was already curious about and introduced me to some amazing individuals who have been kind enough to share their knowledge with me. The greatest thing I take away from these past six months with Community Roots is the ability to listen to understand, opposed to respond. Window Seat has also enabled my desire to explore all the rabbit holes in life, and lead with curiosity. I really want to thank them for all the support and understanding they have given me in my last quarter of my undergraduate degree, and I cannot wait to hear all of the stories that Window seat will bring us in the future. This is majorly important work, and I am grateful to have been involved in any capacity."
Welcome to the Board, Diana!
We couldn't be more thrilled to welcome Diana Perez as our newest Window Seat Media Board Member. We met Diana through our partnership between TOGETHER! and Brave Practice Playback Theatre Collective, where she helped us bring improv to youth before and after school. Thank you, Diana, for your service and the expertise you bring to our team!
"I am the oldest daughter of two Salvadoran immigrants, a first generation college graduate and a community-based worker. Growing up in Thurston County, my family and I utilized many of the resources I now collaborate with. It is an honor to repay and continue the efforts of those resources that provide connection, stability and equitable opportunities so that our community continues to thrive.
I am a Community Schools Manager at TOGETHER! who works closely with the Tumwater students and families. Through this position, I have been able to connect and support folks with their individual needs. As relationships and trust grow, we learn that our needs are much more common and with communication and storytelling, we are able to connect and support one another at a micro and macro level. Window Seat Media is unique in their way of connection and support, and I am grateful to be a part of their efforts to create social change through community storytelling."
Food for Thought: stories, projects, events, and works we love
Washington State Parks is hosting a local showing of the documentary Rooted Wisdom this Saturday, July 8 at 9pm at the Millersylvania State Park Boat Launch. The film travels through Adkins Arboretum with historian Anthony Cohen to understand how self-liberators on the underground railroad used their knowledge of the natural landscape to forge a path to freedom. The history of enslaved people in the United States is a complex subject, and this guided experience uses nature as an entry-point into the discussion. The film will be followed with additional resources and a moderated discussion led by Dr. John Scott and park staff.