Tuesday, April 18, 2006

And now, for something a little different

How would you like to join the Mysterious Traveler (and Zorg) at the Northwest Folklife Festival for the third annual Folklife Breakfast, Sunday, May 28? The breakfast is a great way to start a fabulous Sunday at the festival — with plentiful early morning parking spaces and a delicious meal with Folklife performers, organizers, and supporters.

I've been a performer, volunteer, and supporter with the Festival for more than 20 years, and would love to share some of my excitement about it with you!

Two years ago, at the first Folklife breakfast, Yeggy Michael (now a Folklife board member) told us frankly about what happened when Folklife invited the Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somalian, Sudanese, and Kenyan communities of Seattle to put together a program for the 2004 Festival. It quickly emerged that conflicts from their African homelands continued to resonate in these communities, presenting serious barriers to cooperation. But the desire to present East African culture and art to the greater Seattle community prevailed. These communities overcame historic differences and worked together to create a powerful Horn of Africa program, a festival-within-a-festival of dancing, music, visual arts, and food. Better yet, the the Horn of Africa communities now have a continuing role in the Festival. (Tip: Check out the Kenyan Kitchen, near the Mural Amphitheater stage.)

The happy story of the Horn of Africa presence at Folklife is just one example of the increasingly significant involvement of Seattle's ethnic and immigrant communities — African-American, Native American, Jewish, Scandinavian, and Korean, just to name a few — in Northwest Folklife and its sister festivals at Seattle Center.

This year, Folklife has invited members of Seattle's diverse Arab communities to create the festival's 2006 featured program. As you might guess, this is a considerable undertaking in the current political climate. But that's part of why Folklife feels it is so timely to put the vast Folklife audience — more than a quarter million people — in closer touch with Arab culture.

Please make the Arab Communities of the Pacific Northwest program a part of your Folklife experience this year, along with the Cajun dancing, the bluegrass, the Dylan tribute, the Celtic stage, the rockabilly, the contra dancing, the hip-hop lessons, and the Klezmer workshop. And please consider joining us for the breakfast on Sunday to hear some of the fascinating stories about how Folklife does what it does.

Breakfast is on us. You'll enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the festival and be invited to join in as a Folklife supporter and community advocate.

Please contact me for further details or to let me know (by April 27) if you can attend, and if you'd like to bring guests (please do!). I'll see that you and your guests receive a formal invitation from Northwest Folklife in May with directions and all the essential details. I hope to breakfast with you May 28!

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