Global Slow Marathon 2020: Under One Sky

SLOW MARATHON 2020: UNDER ONE SKY Illustration: Jacques Coetzer

بنی‌آدم اعضای یک پیکرند که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند
Human beings are members of a whole, since in their creation they are of one essence.
— Saadi Shirazi

Slow Marathon 2020: Under One Sky is a collaborative artwork supported by Deveron Projects, based in Huntly, a market town in the north east of Scotland with a population of 4,500. The Slow Marathon is an annual walking event, which Deveron Projects co-concepted with Ethiopian artist Mihret Kebede in 2012. Celebrating the human pace, it is both an endurance event as well as a poetic act, that brings together friendship, physical activity and an appreciation of our varied landscape. Before responding to the pandemic, this year’s Slow Marathon was initially planned for Saturday, June 13 as a 26 mile /42 km walk.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iman Tajik, a Glasgow based artist and photographer originally from Iran, re-imagined the annual event as one of global solidarity through collective participation. Borders and the movement of freedom are his key subject matters – influenced by his personal experience of crossing borders. Through the Under One Sky project, artist Iman Tajik is forging a digitally collaborative relationship with many walkers across the world. He is collecting photos of the sky that people see when they look up while walking, and these images will be brought together in a massive artwork, created by all of the participants.

Our current climate adopts an increasing fear of the outsider into our lives and homes. Some of our politician’s rhetoric about Covid-19 being a ‘foreign virus’; subsequent border closures – they all play into existing xenophobia. The virus however, doesn’t acknowledge borders. A pandemic affected us all. So, what can we do to show that we all live under one sky?

An open invitation, sharing Iman’s poetic goal to walk around the world, was put out via social media calling for Global Slow Marathon participants. Together, we would walk 40,075 km / 22,091 miles, equaling the circumference of the Earth.

The Skywalker FAM

On July 9, 2020 Flo Oy Wong shared that her walking partner rescued this Western tiger swallowtail butterfly, which was stuck on the street. She found a long twig and gently lifted it and placed the butterfly on an agapanthus flower.

On July 9, 2020, a trio of friends who enjoy a daily walk around their respective Bay Area neighborhoods accepted the Global Slow Marathon invitation. Flo Oy Wong, Andi Wong and Mara Grimes dubbed their walking group, The Skywalker FAM. They were soon joined by Maggy, Antigone, Jan, Margaret and Anna Maria, along with other friends who have pledged to walk soon. If you would like to join the project, we welcome your participation. Walk only once or walk daily – as you wish. You can snap a photo of the sky and send us your image and mileage and we will add your individual contribution to our total Skywalker FAM mileage.

To date, The Skywalker FAM has collectively walked 182.10 miles (or 7.0 marathons) and we’ve taken hundreds of photos on our daily walks to be shared as a record of our collective journey. By agreeing to walk together, we’ve taken time for ourselves and each other to practice “social connection.” Each day, we venture out to gaze at the skies overhead, remembering to express our wonder and gratitude for the things that keep us moving.

So far, 315 walkers from over 40 different countries have walked 37176.66 kilometre — and the project is fast approaching 49 million footsteps together, 95% of our journey around the Earth.

A walk isn’t always a walk! We hope that everyone can join us, whether that’s on two legs, less or more, or on wheels. It’s not about how many miles, km or metres we cover individually, it’s about what we achieve together.

The Skywalker FAM appreciates that the Global Slow Marathon 2020: Under One Sky, as re-imagined by artist Iman Tajik, has given us an opportunity to be socially connected through walking, even as we are called to shelter in place. Cumulatively, mile by mile, we wend our human trail across the surface of our planet and through as many borders as we can.

We walk as One Family, Under One Sky!

The sky overhead, as seen from 122° 25′ 27.372″ W, 37° 44′ 37.902″ N on August 17, 2020, 5:41 PM

“Sound of Home” Summer Learning with the Del Sol String Quartet

Summer vacation provided an interesting opportunity to explore virtual learning with students at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. When the 2019-2020 school ended, students entering the fifth grade were presented with an open invitation to participate in a free summer music workshop with the Del Sol String Quartet. Our stated goal: To work with workshop participants to create a book and recording of an original musical composition for The Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project.”

With a more relaxed summer schedule, the pre-workshop assignments and on-line music workshop were designed to give students a self-driven, hands-on arts exploration over the course of a month. Students were presented with two assignments, in advance of a July 13th online Zoom workshop with the members of Del Sol. The online workshop aimed to create a low-stress experience where the participating students would have fun socially connecting with their peers through musical play.

A Change of Perspective with Digital Photography

The first summer assignment explored digital photography, through a series of prompts, inspired by nine collaborative poems written by the 4th grade class. Using a camera can help to open up new ways of appreciating and enjoying familiar physical surrounds, and the students had been sheltering in place at home since March 13. After confirming that each student had access to a cell phone that would enable them to take digital photos, the workshop participants were presented with nine exercises that would encourage students to explore their everyday surroundings. When we gathered online, it was a fun treat to enjoy seeing each of the individual responses to the same prompt and appreciate the personal way that each photographer addressed the assignment.

A Sonic Scavenger Hunt

The second assignment was inspired by Del Sol musical collaborator, composer Danny Clay, who enjoys creating playful games that help people to create music together. His Sonic Scavenger Hunt calls for students to look for objects at home based on a list of ten sounds types.

An eclectic collection of sounds, gathered at home by Leah:

Students brought their discoveries to the workshop, and together the group explored how their mini-orchestras could be put together into a musical composition. Students were also invited to record three sounds that describe “home,” found either inside their homes or outside. Sound of Home is the resulting collection, preserved for the future on the Internet Archive.

In addition to the sounds gathered at home by 4th graders, another collection, Sound of Home: San Francisco was recorded from a variety of San Francisco locations, and both collections shared in celebration of World Listening Day 2020. Since 2010, every July 18th, thousands of people all over the world have participated in World Listening Day by sharing soundscapes, in remembrance of renowned Canadian composer, music educator, and author, R. Murray Schafer. His World Soundscape Project developed the fundamental ideas and practices of acoustic ecology in the 1970s.

Teaching artist Andi Wong’s first visit to Angel Island was in 1989, when she and her husband brought her father-in-law Billy back to the island, for the very first time since he was admitted to the United States in February of 1931. Touring the barracks, Billy shared painful childhood memories of being held on the island for 18 days, not knowing when he would be allowed to leave. He sadly recalled how lonely and isolated he felt, especially when evening fell, and the sounds of music and people laughing drifted across the Bay.

The familiar soothing sounds of ocean waves lapping at the shore opens the collaborative musical composition featuring our youth orchestra of found sound. A new poem shared by artist/poet Flo Oy Wong, spoken in the Hoisan-wa dialect of the Angel Island immigrant poets, transitions to the sounds of the Del Sol String Quartet, playing a musical selection from composer Huang Ruo.

9 Poems for “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project”

“九 9 poems for Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project,” an online book of the poetry and artwork created by the soon-to-be 5th graders at Dianne Feinstein Elementary, builds upon existing school programming. 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of Author’s Day at DFES, a highly anticipated school event which brings children’s book authors and illustrators to read to children in every classroom. Sadly, this event was cancelled, along with most of the arts events planned for Spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working to help the students to create their own book was a nice way to acknowledge this special school tradition. By archiving the book of student poems, photographs and essays on the Internet Archive for open access and download, this project also offers an example of how bookmaking might be explored by classes in the future. In addition to the students, staff key to the history of the school, the librarian Carol Fuerth and the art teacher Sharon Collins, were also engaged in the project, and the history of their contributions acknowledged, recorded and preserved for the future.

Reflections on Learning: 2019-2020

The Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein Elementary School is as an example of an integrated, expansive artistic collaboration that is possible with community engagement. In a time that calls for both collective imagination and coordinated action, there is great benefit in giving young people the opportunity to learn alongside artists, who model both discipline and adaptability in art and life.

The artistic project also serves as a record of an unusual time, when so much of what was considered to be “normal” changed. There will certainly be challenges ahead in these most uncertain of times, but as students, teachers and families prepare to begin a new school year, we take a moment of reflection to appreciate the lessons that we learned in 2020.

Since we can’t go to school, I really miss it. I miss DFES, my friends, my teachers, and everything from DFES. I grew up there and can’t believe I used to be in Kindergarten. DFES is important to me because of everything I have learned there.

In the course of developing this project with the school community, personal connections were made, internal resources discovered, and bridges were built across generations, between school and home. This arts project encouraged and amplified the diverse voices of a school’s community, while recording and preserving community history. Children were presented with a multitude of ways to reflect upon their own personal identities and consider the importance of their family, school and culture, as they created their own works of art. Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School presented an opportunity to see Art as the Ocean, not just as the Island.

And the learning continues…

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: the Angel Island Project,” composed by Huang Ruo and performed by the Del Sol String Quartet with the contemporary chamber choir, Volti, will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now.  https://www.delsolquartet.com/angelisland

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundations 50 Arts Commissions, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation. Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein ES, was made possible thanks to an Artists and Communities Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein ES

ISLANDS & WALLS

THE ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION was a global crossroads for immigrants from 80 countries around the world. (An estimated 300,000 people were detained at Angel Island, including 100,000 Chinese, 85,000 Japanese, 8,000 South East Asians, 8,000 Russians and Jews, 1,000 Koreans, and 1,000 Filipinos.) When the doors of the Angel Island Immigration Station shut in 1940, the hundreds of poems carved on the barracks walls by Chinese immigrants were locked inside and forgotten. The poems were rediscovered in 1970 by park ranger Alexander Weiss.

The Angel Island poetry carved into the barrack walls imitates a well-known classical style called “jueju poetry,” developed in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907), when the arts flourished and there were many advancements in the areas of engineering and technology. Perhaps the most important of these, especially in regards to the lives of children today, was the invention of woodblock printing. Woodblock printing allowed books to be printed in mass production. Books helped to increase literacy and to pass on knowledge. It was during this time that poetry became an integral part of the Chinese culture.

In 1976, California appropriated $250,000 for the preservation of the poetry and the building. Today more than 200 poems from the Angel Island barracks have been recorded. Using the latest computer graphics technology, research teams have discovered 172 Chinese poems, 33 graphic images, and 200 inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German and English.

I look forward to the day when the descendants of the one million immigrants who came through Angel Island, including approximately 175,000 Chinese-Americans, can revisit the spot where their ancestors made such great sacrifices for them.

There are few more intimate and personal reminders of our history as immigrants than the poems carved on the walls of the Detention Barracks by those who awaited word on whether they would be admitted into this country.

Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Angel Island Bill, April 28, 2005

NAMES & NATURE

The Dianne Feinstein ES fourth grade classrooms opened the door to The Angel Island Project on January 16, when the fourth graders were introduced to Angel Island history in a poetry workshop led by teaching artist Andi Wong.

The classroom poetry workshop began with an artifact found in her grandfather’s suitcase, which was used during his travels between China to the United States. As the object was passed from hand to hand around the room, the students were invited to guess what the mysterious object might be, and why would someone might pack this item for an ocean crossing? The student’s keen sense of smell offered an important clue, and the students agreed that this object smelled a lot like cinnamon!

Cinnamon (from far away Toishan)

Ancestors (uprooted)

Scent (wafts from the battered brown)

Suitcase. (Whispers from the)

Island (of Immortals to)

Angels (here on Earth)

Collaborative acrostic poem by Ms. McCullough’s 4th Graders, (with grace notes by Andi)

The fourth graders began by creating acrostic poems inspired by their names and nature, using words to capture and express their impressions of self and nature. The student poems will inspire the creation of a book and a musical composition that will be shared with audiences at the world premiere of Your Wall is Our Canvas.

THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE

Ms. Harrington, Ms. McCullough, and Ms. Rondone’s classes were working on the poetry project, as news began reporting of a COVID-19 pandemic, which required citizens all over the world to shelter in place. In this time, the classroom poetry inspired the grade level auction project, a mirror of words, framed with art created by the fourth graders working with art teacher Sharon Collins. Words and phrases were set in “stone”— stamped into earthen clay, using solar dyes to paint with sunlight in a time of great uncertainty. The visual art piece was created to inspire self-reflection and hopes for a future where Nature and Humanity are in harmony, joined together as One. The community was invited to come to school for an Art Walk on Friday, April 13, the final day on site for the 2020 school year. The work was auctioned to raise much needed funds for school programs.

VOICES OF RESILIENCE

Fifty years ago, Alexander Weiss found long-lost poems carved into the detention barracks walls. This discovery led to the Angel Island Immigration Station’s rebirth as a National Historic Landmark

The poetry written by fourth graders in the January 16 workshop at the start of 2020, took on a whole new meaning by March 13th, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed Bay Area schools, ultimately for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Nine collaborative poems from the 4th grade were submitted and selected for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s first virtual exhibition. Voices of Resilience celebrates the 50th anniversary of the re-discovery of over 200 Chinese poems carved into the walls of the detention barracks at the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. The rediscovery triggered a set of efforts to preserve the building, ultimately resulting in the designation of the site as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1997.

The exhibition features a total of 55 poems including 22 historical poems and 33 contemporary poems selected from online submissions from the general public. In addition to the fourth grade DFES student work, the contemporary poems included contributions from former Angel Island detainees, their descendants, including The Last Hoisan PoetsIsland author Genny Lim, Nellie Wong and Flo Oy Wong – and an anthology by the Sato/Bukowski/ Haechler Family. The online exhibition ran from May 1 through through June 30, 2020, where the poems remain on the walls of the AIISF’s website archives — Voices of Resilience to be discovered by future visitors.

“At a time when there are significantly increased reports of anti-Asian harassment and assaults related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt important to AIISF’s Board and Staff to continue to ensure that the histories and stories related to the immigrant detention at Angel Island are not forgotten. Our hope is that Voices of Resilience serves a reminder of the empathy, connection, and resiliency that is important especially in times like this.” stated AIISF Executive Director Edward Tepporn.

BREAKING BARRIERS

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from The Drum Major Instinct, (1968)

In the future, it is hoped that the Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will premiere on the island. The new Angel Island Immigration Museum, the former Public Health Service hospital, will open in the future, allowing visitors to apply history’s lessons to nurture civil society and protect civil rights. The AIISF Virtual Gala, “Celebrating Our Dreams, Imagining Our Future,” takes place online on August 19, 2020. The event is free to attend, so please spread the word among your friends and family members. We can all help to ensure that the important histories and stories related to the former U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island are not forgotten, especially at a time when we are seeing increasing discrimination and attacks against Asians and other immigrant groups.

The 2020 Spirit of Angel Island award will acknowledge the dedication and service of California State Park Interpreter, Casey Dexter-Lee. For the past 20 years, Casey has worked on Angel Island, teaching the Immigration Station’s history to thousands of visitors, while also supporting the various programs and restoration efforts at the site.

In the same spirit, the young artists at DFES are using sound and images to communicate their ideas and emotions and inspire action and movement towards a more just society. The Breaking Barriers” assembly on Monday, January 13 with composer/bassist Marcus Shelby marked the 25th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by kicking off the fifth annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive led by the DFES student council to benefit homeless children in San Francisco. Students gathered at lunch time to process books donations by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers. The 2020 Blake Mini Library Breaking Barrier’s collection was created based on community donations and student reading recommendations.

Lunchtime origami workshops were also held to teach children how to fold tsuru, paper cranes symbolizing peace, compassion, hope and healing. In the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding (origami), the crane is a popular, easy-to-learn figure that children and adults of all abilities can create. At lunchtime, working together until our last day of gathering on the schoolyard, the children folded hundreds of cranes of all sizes and colors, in response to a call to action by Tsuru for Solidarity. All can contribute to the project which aims to fold 525,000 cranes, equalling the number of immigrants incarcerated annually. A community gesture to show that immigrant children, youths, families and other detainees seeking safety in our country will not be forgotten.


The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

“The Last Hoisan Poets” Lunar New Year 2020 at the Oakland Museum

February 21st is International Mother Language Day, which was established to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The United Nations states, “At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.”

National Geographic Explorer anthropologist Wade Davis coined the term ethnosphere to describe the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, intuitions and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. In his 2003 TED Talk, Wade points out the staggering loss of half of the languages on Earth, “What could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be the last of your people to speak your language, to have no way to pass on the wisdom of the ancestors or anticipate the promise of the children?”

Thanks to special readings by “The Last Hoisan Poets” – contemporary Chinese American poets Flo Oy Wong, Nellie Wong and Genny Lim – audiences have the opportunity to hear the sounds of the disappearing dialect that was spoken by many of the Chinese immigrants who first came to America. In the first part of the twentieth century, most of the Chinese immigrants came to America from the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong region. The three poets trace their roots to China’s Toishan village, home of the Hoisan-wa (a.k.a. Toisanese/Taishanese) Chinese dialect.

For the 2020 Lunar New Year Celebration at the Oakland Museum, Flo and Nellie conducted a special poetry reading in English and Hoisan-wa to pay homage to their mother language.

Nellie read three poems: Ngoi Leng Gah Thlim, My Two Hearts (1981) (04:04); Poem for My Grandniece, Eva (2019) (12:46); Ode to Rice Crust Soup (2012) (15:39)

Flo opened with a New Year poem: Slin Nin Loy Luh, New Year Comes (2020) (19:26); followed by a poem about the family’s restaurant in Oakland Chinatown, Ai Joong Wah, Great China (2018) (20:12).

With “Song Siew, Two Hands,” (2020) (21:29), a newly written poem dedicated to her father, Gee Seow Hong, Flo invited the audience to follow her lead, as she taught the poem through gesture and call and response. To close the program, Flo and Nellie playfully demonstrated – Ah Jeong Doy, Clap Your Hands (29:11). El Gee Ngneck, Throw the Pig’s Neck (30:30), two traditional nursery rhymes that the sisters learned in childhood, growing up in Oakland Chinatown.

Watch the full Lunar New Year 2020 program by The Last Hoisan Poets:

“My Story, Your Book” – DFES Family Art Night 2

On Monday, January 27, 2020 at Family Art Night #2 with the Del Sol String Quartet, the families at Dianne Feinstein Elementary went on an “Imaginary Journey” with storytelling and bookmaking.

The quartet wove a musical thread though the evening, opening and closing the evening with composer Huang Ruo’s string quartet No. 3, “Calligraffitti.”

From “The Chinese Knew” by Tillie S. Pine and Joseph Levine, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, published in 1958. https://archive.org/details/chineseknew00pine

We also introduced author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats and the annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking project at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, encouraging students to try make their own books. We shared news about the ongoing Blake Mini Library Book Drive benefitting the Hamilton Families shelter program in the Tenderloin, and shared news of the upcoming Author’s Day at DFES. The families learned how to do traditional Chinese bookbinding Cheryl Ball and Cheryl Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow.

Thank you to Mara, Patrick, Angela, Cynthia and Chae for the helping hands and set up with the #meatlessmonday spread. Lion love to Dr. Zaki, the DFES PTA Board and all of the DFES families who supported this community evening of creativity.

This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

2020 MLK Day & Blake Mini Library

Today, January 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Each year, the Blake Mini Library book drive kicks off on the MLK Day of Service, collecting through Valentine’s Day. The project encourages and supports the caring acts of children who work with their communities to collect books for the Hamilton Families shelter program here in San Francisco. This youth philanthropy effort supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. The project began in 2013, when a 6-year old boy named Blake Ansari began a book drive in New York City with the support of his family and friends.

In 2020, we invite friends and families to share acts of compassion and creativity, in celebration of the 5th annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive in San Francisco.

Students can participate by:

Adults can support students by:

  • Donating your new and recently new books (no cloth books please) to children from birth to age 21.
  • Sponsor a book title inspired by our 2020 theme: “Breaking Barriers”
  • When donating a book, write a Note of Encouragement, a special surprise message that is hidden inside the book to be discovered by a future reader.
  • Record an audio read-aloud version of a book that can be enjoyed by beginning readers.
  • Learn more about the issue of homelessness and the impacts on children and finding ways to help. Baharav, H., Leos-Urbel, J., Obradovic, J., & Bardack, S. (2017). The Educational Success of Homeless and Highly Mobile Students in San Francisco Unified School District. Stanford, CA. John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Stanford Graduate School of Education.
  • Inspire children by showing that you support their efforts.

“When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self”

– Blake Ansari, founder of Blake Mini Library

#blakeminilibrary #‎youthphilanthropy #‎literacy #nomorehomelesschildren

“BREAKING BARRIERS” with Marcus Shelby & Friends

On Monday, January 13, 2020, Dianne Feinstein Elementary School will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (1/20/2020) with a special assembly, “Breaking Barriers” with Marcus Shelby & Friends.

Artists have long used music and images to communicate ideas and emotions, to inspire action and movement towards a more just society. Music is a unifying force that has been used across generations to pass on stories of determination and courage.

Composer/bassist Marcus Shelby says, “I use music to reveal how we got to where we are; to reflect history in the most positive and truthful way.” “Breaking Barriers” will illustrate how unique voices have collectively used “The Blues,” an art form with deep roots in African-American history. Students will hear stories and songs associated with notable historical figures, such as Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson, and hear how the strength and bravery of everyday people has helped to shape America’s history.

MARCUS SHELBY is a composer, arranger, band leader, bassist, and educator who currently lives in San Francisco, California. His work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives, social movements, and music education. Currently, Shelby is an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and a new resident artist director for the San Francisco Jazz Festival 2019-2020. Shelby leads the SF Community Music Center’s Teen Jazz Orchestra program and is also an artist in residence at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival where he is the music director of the 100 member Freedom Jazz Choir, youth choir, and youth music ensemble. Shelby has composed several oratorios and suites including Harriet Tubman, Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio, Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues, Green and Blues, and a children’s opera Harriet’s Spirit produced by Opera Parallèle in 2018. Shelby also composed the score and performed in Anna Deveare’s off Broadway Play and HBO feature film Notes from the Field and many other productions over the past 21 years. Shelby has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 2013. https://marcusshelby.com/

Learn more about Marcus Shelby on Google Arts & Culture.

RESOURCES for BREAKING BARRIERS

WE SHALL OVERCOME

It was the most powerful song of the 20th century. It started out in church pews and picket lines, inspired one of the greatest freedom movements in U.S. history, and went on to topple governments and bring about reform all over the world. Word for word, the short, simple lyrics of “We Shall Overcome” might be some of the most influential words in the English language.

The song’s first publication gives credit of authorship to, among others, Silphia Horton of the Highlander Folk School, who learned the song from the tobacco workers, and Pete Seeger, who helped to popularize the song and gentrified its title from “We Will Overcome.”

With a 2017 court settlement, the melody and lyrics for We Shall Overcome officially entered into the public domain.

Artist Kadir Nelson illustrates Kwame Alexander’s poem “The Undefeated”

The Library of Congress: Activity Ideas for Song and Poetry http://www.loc.gov/teachers/lyrical/songs/overcome.html

BREAKING BARRIERS: In Life and In Sports

CHILD OF THE DREAM: A MEMOIR OF 1963 by Sharon Robinson

“Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” is a baseball-themed character education program developed by Major League Baseball and Scholastic Inc. Using America’s sport, baseball, as the metaphor for life, the curriculum is based on the values demonstrated by barrier breaker Jackie Robinson: citizenship, commitment, courage, determination, excellence, integrity, justice, persistence and teamwork.

Learning About Barriers http://www.scholastic.com/breakingbarriers/interactive/interactive1.html

THE UNDEFEATED by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

This poem, originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes.

Kwame Alexander reads his poem for ESPN. https://theundefeated.com/videos/this-one-is-for-us/

Kadir Nelson (b. 1974) is an American artist who currently exhibits his artwork in galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. His paintings are in the private and public permanent collections of several notable institutions including The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the International Olympic Committee, and the US House of Representatives. https://www.kadirnelson.com/

Interview with Kadir Nelson on All Things Considered This Is For ‘The Undefeated’

Artist Kadir Nelson illustrates Kwame Alexander’s poem “The Undefeated”

CORETTA SCOTT KING BOOK AWARDS

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Seal was designed by artist Lev Mills in 1974.  Learn more about the history of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and the symbolism in the seal on the American Library Association website.

Designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.  Further, the Award encourages the artistic expression of the black experience via literature and the graphic arts in biographical, social, and historical treatments by African American authors and illustrators.

Fifty years of CSK Book Award titles: http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/awards/24/all_years

YOUTH PHILANTHROPY & SERVICE – BLAKE MINI LIBRARY

DFES students are also invited to assist with the fifth annual BLAKE MINI LIBRARY BOOK DRIVE to benefit homeless children in San Francisco.

Each year from MLK Day through Valentine’s Day, students are invited to help to collect book donations. Students are invited to help create posters and Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the book drive or contribute reviews recommending their favorite books. Students can also support the processing of books by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers.

The 2020 Blake Mini Library Book Drive kicks off on January 20th. This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service celebrating the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.

#MLKDAY  https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service

This year’s book drive donations, which will include a specially curated selection of titles on the theme of “Breaking Barriers,” will be delivered to the Hamilton Families on Read Across America Day (3/2/2020).

Dianne Feinstein ES Family Art Night #2 with The Del Sol String Quartet

DFES Family Art Night #2 — “MY STORY – YOUR BOOK”

Monday, January 27, 2020; 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Dianne Feinstein ES Multipurpose Room

The second of four DFES Family Art Nights with the Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project will explore the importance of storytelling and the written word through the art of bookmaking. Cheryl Ball and C.K. Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow will teach us how to make our own books, and The Del Sol String Quartet will play!

In celebration of the 8th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Project, we’ll also consider the role that children’s books play in sharing the important stories and historical contributions of all Americans.

A light dinner is provided with the PTA meeting from 5:30pm – 6:00pm. 

Pictured from left to right: Traditional Chinese bookbinding, art from The Chinese Knew by Ezra Jack Keats (1958); art by Chris Sasaki from Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong: Immigrant and Artist (2019)

Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, these family evenings with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

“Honoring Our Ancestors” – DFES Family Art Night 1

The first DFES Family Art Night with the Del Sol String Quartet introduced the Angel Island Project, teaching artist Andi Wong and the members of the Del Sol String Quartet to the Dianne Feinstein ES community. The Del Sol String QuartetCharlton Lee (viola), Kathryn Bates (cello), Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser (violin) – got the evening off to a great start with a musical introduction. Everyone, adults and children, were invited to get up on their feet for an easy stroll around the room. Listening to the music, participants were invited to making contact, with smiles, head nods, touching feet, and secret handshakes in a traveling warm up to “G Song” by Terry Riley.

Andi offered a brief introduction to the history of Angel Island. Angel Island offers an important lesson on how stories and art have helped to carry historical information forward to the future. In 1970, Ranger Alexander Weiss re-discovered the poetry carved by immigrants into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. The poems were translated and preserved in the 1980 book, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by Mark Him Lai, Genny Lim and Judy Yung, and the Chinese-American community worked together to preserve and protect this important historical site for future generations of Americans.

Families conducted a four question oral history interview. Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Based on the responses, parents worked with their children to write a simple poem on the theme of family.

Resolute in her faith, 
watching the wine dark sea. Her face
to the wind. Loving God.
Black as Night, bright as Light, she stands.

The J-H Family remembers a powerful strong woman who baked a great sweet potato pie.

We sing the family song.
We speak out Spanish language.
We visit our family in El Salvador and call.

The P-B Family remembers their family's arrival in the USA

As Del Sol performed Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov, the children were invited to collaborate on work of art, an evening sky mural. Golijov’s composition finds hope and wonder in a world upended by war, when he visits the New York City planetarium with his five-year-old son, who sees the earth for the very first time — a “pale blue dot” in the vast cosmos.

In closing, we shared a wonderful opportunity to conduct an oral history interview. StoryCorps “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a national movement that empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire using the free StoryCorps App. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Thanks to Megan Wong and Patrick Wu for helping to set up our workshop materials (heavy-lifting those giant pumpkins donated by family farmer Todd Fong of Elk Grove) and serving our Thanksgiving-themed #meatlessmonday dinner. Lion love to Dr. Salwa Zaki, Rory McMahon for the tech support and DFES PTA Board support from Angela Rosoff, Cynthia Inaba and Chae Reed. Most of all, thanks to the DFES families who helped to make this first community evening of creativity a big success.

When the event was done, those who wanted a pumpkin were welcomed to take one home to enjoy. We brought the biggest of the giant pumpkins down to Pescadero to share with Dan Sudran, founder of Mission Science Workshop and the Community Science Workshop Network. Dan introduced us to his friend Gabriel, a valued team member of Puente, who knows a lot about bees and seeds.

The best way to keep going and growing is to share the learning with others!

This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Dianne Feinstein ES Family Art Night #1 with The Del Sol String Quartet

“HONORING OUR STORIES – OUR ANCESTORS”

Monday, November 18, 2019; 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Dianne Feinstein ES Multipurpose Room

The Del Sol String Quartet: Ben Kreith, Charlton Lee, Kathryn Bates, Sam Weiser. photo: by Lenny Gonzalez

Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, a series of four Family Art Nights have been planned with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong. These family evenings will introduce the Del Sol String Quartet as musical neighbors who are ready to play well with others. Together, we will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.

Our first DFES Family Art Night will introduce THE ANGEL ISLAND PROJECT and the members of THE DEL SOL STRING QUARTET, who will play especially for us. Participants will learn how to conduct an oral history interview, and use the Story Corps app. Families will also collaborate on a work of art that honors our ancestors.

A suitcase filled with stories on Angel Island.

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.