Public Health Series
For our social justice series in 2021, we focused on public health, designing a series that would respond to the disparities of COVID by focusing on communities most affected by the pandemic. Along the way, artists, designers, storytellers and creatives emerged as important changemakers and collaborators with public health advocates to meet the challenges of COVID and protect communities.
What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon
The 2021 Public Health Series’ final project was an engagement initiative about reimagining a better pandemic life for everyone. It was called What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon.
#Dreamathon wrapped with a virtual dance party on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, and a BIG community celebration of solution-making on Saturday, Oct 23, 2021. Participants used the hashtags #DreamathonWA and #StaySafeTogether to join the conversation.
About the Public Health Series
The 2021 series explored key equity questions raised by the COVID pandemic:
- How can we #StaySafeTogether?
- How does the pandemic help us understand racial and social justice, along with culture?
- How can art, creativity and community-led responses from the frontlines help us prepare for the next leg of the pandemic?
- How can people who have the largest health inequities shape a response that is more fun and joyful?
Research from SOUL clinics, a COVID-response project from BIPOC mutual aid organizers, suggested that art might play a surprisingly important role in helping everyday people to understand how to respond to COVID and to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic.
Partners like the African American Health Board, Central District Forum for Art & Ideas, Gathering Roots, LANGSTON, Native Kut, Pacific Islander Cultural Association, Tubman Center for Health and Freedom, UTOPIA, and A Sacred Passing stepped into action to help communities get resources and information.
A big part of this work was amplifying voices from most-affected communities. Along the way the connections between civics, creativity, racial justice and public health came into a clearer view.
Many local community-led responses used art as an important way to respond to COVID. Native and Pacific Islander communities, for example, did groundbreaking work that showed how Indigenous Sovereignty and civic leadership just might be a missing part of the puzzle of addressing the inequities of COVID.
Both Pacific Islander Community Association and UTOPIA turned to cultural work, language inclusivity, storytelling, song and dance to protect their communities. Their leadership efforts have resulted in high vaccination rates among Pacific Islander communities. Their leadership efforts resulted in high vaccination rates among Pacific Islander communities.
Art Club vs. COVID
Art Club — a project at Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing to nurture strength and confidence in young leaders — did a unique virtual art workshop with local teaching artists Dakota Camacho, Jerell Davis, Nikki Etienne, and Romsom Bustillo to support children and youth during the spring lockdown.
The SOUL Clinics, spearheaded by the African American Health Board, showed how BIPOC mutual aid organizers teamed up to uplift well-being and also to make vaccines more accessible to communities of color.
Other community partners: Activist Class, API Chaya, BIPOC Executives Coalition, Black Farmers Collective, Columbia Legal Services, COVID-19 Mutual Aid, Central District Forum for Art & Ideas, Fred Hutchinson, Friends of the Waterfront, King County Equity Now, KVRU (PSAs and oral histories), LANGSTON, Native Kut, PICA WA (Pacific Islander Community Association), Pyramid Communications, Racism Is a Public Health Crisis, Seattle Parks & Recreation, Seattle Together, Solid Ground, Super Familias, Tubman Center for Health & Freedom, Unkitawa, UTOPIA, Wa Na Wari, Washington Census Alliance, Yes Farms, Young Women Empowered
Government partners: King County Library System, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington, Washington State Department of Health