Unique Youth Arts Program Celebrates 10 Years in West Seattle!

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August 2018 the Unified Outreach Youth Arts Program will celebrate 10 years of providing unique arts programming in West Seattle.

The charity is known for its annual youth fashion show and runway extravaganza, free to the public and organized by middle and high school students as part of a work-readiness-in-the-arts program that has partnered Unified Outreach with a number of other organizations in the past including the Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, SYVPI, and SW Youth & Family Services in order to provide work training, educational tracks, and networking opportunities to at-risk, underserved, and special needs communities.

student-splash-1In previous years Unified Outreach has been recognized for its focus on empowering young women from underserved communities as seen here: https://kingcountynews.org/2017/06/13/young-women-find-empowerment-through-arts-in-west-seattle-2/

Unified Outreach has also been a leader in efforts to stop youth violence and in providing opportunities to special needs youth, which we will talk about later in the article.

Founded in 1998 the program began with a small group of volunteers providing free art classes to kids at transitional housing shelters throughout Seattle, with no official center of operations (other than a PO Box) until the program found a home in West Seattle’s Ginomai art center in 2008. Ginomai means “to create” in Greek, and was the vision of Pastor Dan Jacobs, of the West Seattle Christian Church. Upon the closing of the West Seattle Christian Pre-School in 2007 Pastor Dan’s idea was to provide artists with an affordable space to create art and host small community meet-ups.

In 2014 Unified Outreach provided nearly $40K in renovations to the building, including removing massive amounts of asbestos from the old school building, as well as providing new paint, carpet, lighting, carpentry work, and bathroom renovations. As part of the renovations Unified Outreach also constructed a new sounds booth for use with both music recording and cartoon animation voice-overs, for use in the video production and cartooning studios.

WHAT SORT OF ARTS PROGRAMS DOES UNIFIED OUTREACH OFFER?

Unified Outreach is one of the most eclectic arts programs in the NW, and in previous years has offered both traditional and contemporary programs including drawing, painting, theater, fashion & runway, video production, cartoon animation, hip hop art, breakdancing, comic book design, short-story publishing, and more! Summer day-camp offerings have included cartooning camp, crafting camp, and sports & athletics camp.

Cultural Celebrations

In 2011 Unified Outreach hosted the 30 year “Breakers Reunion”, which brought together 3 generations of Seattle B-Boy’s/B-Girl’s in a multi-generational event that took many through a time-warp and back to the early 80’s, to celebrate all the iconic Breakdance Crews, seminal Graffiti Artists, legendary Dj’s, a platinum selling Rapper, and great memories of days gone by. https://kingcountynews.org/2012/08/05/4-generations-of-b-boys-come-out-to-celebrate-30-years-of-hip-hop-culture-at-the-seattle-city-breakers-reunion/

Fashion & Runway

As previously mentioned, the program is best known its annual youth fashion expose, which will be held on August 11th at 6pm at 4400 42nd Ave SW, complete with a free dinner buffet. You can enjoy a clip from one of the previous shows at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmlekISzOPI

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Violence Prevention Initiative

In 2013 Unified Outreach leadership joined with pastors and community leaders in Rainier Valley to combat the rise in youth-on-youth violence, submitting a proposal to the Mayor’s Office aimed at building community programs that strengthen police and community dialogue, provide mentoring services for youth, and give community leaders a support in taking a hands-on role in engaging the issue. Additionally, Unified Outreach has employed the work-readiness-arts program as a means of reaching at-risk and gang affiliated youth, using the arts to break down cultural and economic barriers, build positive self-esteem, and provide mentors, career opportunities, and networking resources.

Special Needs Partnerships

If you ask the Unified Outreach founder Edward Dumas how Unified Outreach got its start, he will tell you that it all started with Alice.

Alice Conover (formerly Toledo) is the mother of Unified Outreach Co-Founder David Toledo. Edward tells us that Alice started a food-bank from the steps of her own home back in the mid 1980’s, while he and David were attending high school together . “The Helpers” was one of the first neighborhood food banks in Seattle, and Alice worked around the clock to build relationships with local grocers; securing quality food that would have been thrown out due to expiration date and delivering it to elderly, disabled, and low income neighbors. Putting in long hours, paying for her own gas, helping her neighbors with food, money for bills, a place to stay if needed, and a friendly ear – Alice taught her children the value of service.

Paul Anton ClipAccording to Edward, David has shared two great memories from growing up in the home. One is that his mother opened her doors to the community, with the food bank but also to anyone in need of temporary shelter. She often hosted families referred by the church, including refugee families from Ethiopia and Vietnam. The other great memory is of his mother spending hours sitting on the front stairs talking with Paul Anton, a young man who was born with cerebral palsy that had limited his speech and upper body motor skills. However, this did not prevent Paul from graduating from Blanchet High School, nor prevent him from fully engaging in great conversation with the use of his feet to spell out words and make sentences on the sidewalk, or if needed, with a pencil held between his toes.

5e5b3-dub2lbzvoaaujez-jpg-largeAlice taught her kids and their friends that everyone has gifts, and everyone can shine if given the opportunity. Fast forward to 2018 and you’ll see the reflection of Paul Anton in the work that Unified Outreach does, such as the staff and student hosted panel at the Emerald City Comic Con, featuring Clayton Bragg. Clayton was also born with Cerebral Palsy, and like Paul Anton he would not let his disability hold him back. Clayton is an aspiring rapper who has also lent his voice to one of the characters in the “Meet the Mascots” cartoon produced at the Unified Outreach center.

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You can find out more about Clayton and Meet the Mascots here: https://kingcountynews.org/2018/03/07/west-seattle-arts-program-gets-animated-at-emerald-city-comic-con/

You can find out more about Paul Anton and Alice here: https://kingcountynews.org/2018/06/25/celebrating-paul-anton-alice-toledo/

Meet the Team!

Another thing that makes Unified Outreach unique and worth celebrating is the long-time volunteer staff who have almost single-handedly funded the program for the last 20 years. The grassroots charity still raises most of the program funding itself, with most coming directly from the volunteer instructors and staff, many who have been with the program over 10 years. But that’s okay say’s Director of Operations April King who does  programming, community outreach, curriculum design, admin duties, and in-class instruction. Oh, and did we mention that she’s also a Cordon Blue trained chef who makes sure that every Fashion Show is complete with a mouth watering buffet?  “We’ve been doing this for so long it’s second nature,” she says. “Every child that comes through the program becomes one of the family. They are all my kids. In the end, it’s all worth it.”

We proudly join Unified Outreach in celebrating 10 years in West Seattle! We hope to see you all at the August 11th Fashion & Runway Expose’!

WEST SEATTLE ARTS PROGRAM GETS ANIMATED AT EMERALD CITY COMIC CON

March 1-4, 2018 Seattle experienced the 15th Annual Comic Con, with an attendance of over 90,000 comic book, sci-fi, and pop culture fans. Comic Con has come a long way since 2003 when the first convention hosted a little over 2500 attendees.

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Comic Con Panel 2018

The convention features a wide array of activities and programming including industry guests, celebrity signings, and costume contests. This year West Seattle’s own Unified Outreach was featured in dual roles as both 2D instructional coaches in the Family HQ area, and as panelists in the 2D animation network forum on Saturday night, discussing their animated cartoon series “Meet the Mascots.”

cd-coverWest Seattle families know Unified Outreach from their 10+ year operating history in the West Seattle Junction where they offer a variety of programs each year; including a summer day camp focusing on cartoon animation, and an annual Youth Fashion & Runway event culminating a work-readiness-in-the-Arts program for at-risk youth.  This year’s Fashion Show is scheduled to happen at the end of August; you don’t want to miss it!

 

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Clayton Bragg is a member of the Unified Outreach team and was a featured speaker at the Saturday night panel where he spoke about his work as a voice-over artist and musician (having recently released a new song and video with Seattle icon Raz Kaz). Clayton was born with a heart defect and cerebral palsy; but that hasn’t stopped him from actively pursuing a career in the arts and sharing his motivational story with kids of all ages.

 

Sammy Tekle Vicious PuppiesSammy Tekle is a former Unified Outreach student and current Unified Outreach staff member; teaching classes in cartoon animation, music production, and breakdancing.

 

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For more information contact Unified Outreach at UnifiedOutreach@Hotmail.com or (206) 371-1139.

LOCAL RAPPERS C-DOGG and RAZ SIMONE TEAM UP “AROUND the WAY”

 

While we’re currently here on Earth, inhabiting these physical vessels, it is each individual’s responsibility to be the architect for the life they desire. As such, one has the power to actively choose to manifest and live the life they want – whether an individual chooses to thrive and live in their light or succumb to the comfortable complacency of their darkness is solely that person’s decision to make. But, based on the thoughts, words and actions you consciously or subconsciously decide to put out into the Universe, the Universe will return to you exactly what you send out.

So take your power back.
Far too often, people surrender their personal power to exterior forces – be it money, relationships, jobs, environment, dis-ease, etc. Despite all the “darkness” that seems to be taking up space around the world today, we are living in extremely auspicious times. And now, perhaps more so than ever, is the time for each and every being on this planet to take back, embrace and recognize just how absolutely and limitlessly powerful we are.
With “Around The Way”, Raz Simone links up with Clayton “C-Dogg/B-ragg” Bragg to demonstrate the power of using your time and energy to build up another individual while simultaneously putting on display how recognizing your own power can help to inspire and influence those around you. In doing so, “Around The Way” allows both Simone and C-Dogg to play their hand in making this world a better place.
At only 22 years old, C-Dogg has been surviving and thriving through all the obstacles God has placed before him, including a lifelong bout with cerebral palsy. And no obstacle is put in your way to stop you – they are only there to help your growth and help push you to recognize your own power. With 27 surgeries under his belt, 11 of which have been on his heart, the determination and the drive of C-Dogg has helped to inspire a number of people who have witnessed or heard his powerful story.
One of the people inspired by C-Dogg is Raz Simone. Although they don’t have the “same problems”, Simone and Clayton have both inspired each other with their ability to overcome adversities. In Raz’s own words, the two have the same spirit. And that spirit does not quit, does not surrender, and it certainly does not give up it’s power – it’s internal light – to exterior forces.
As Raz points out on “Around The Way” with a slick double entendre, his work is “always quality” and he never stretches it. Anyone familiar with Simone’s body of work recognizes the Black Umbrella founder has a catalogue abundant in both quantity and quality – he’s not cutting corners or laying down half-assed verses in order to get content out there. So, even when he’s helping out his people, Simone isn’t going to hop on a track just for the hell of it. According to Simone, he told C-Dogg he would only get on record with him if he was feeling it and, when it came to “Around The Way”, Clayton “slapped the mess outta [him] wit this one.”
A common theme when discussing Raz Simone is his authenticity and his realness. Being “real” does not always have to mean you’re “street” or “gangster” or anything along those lines – realness has more to do with an individual’s drive, dedication, heart and their authenticity. Realness comes from one’s ability to overcome even the hardest of adversities without getting trapped in the darkness. There are school teachers who are real, there are chefs and plumbers and cashiers who are real. Realness is about the individual in and of themselves, not the label placed upon them based on exterior factors.
In that sense, C-Dogg is real. And Simone is real.

As always, credit and praise must be sent to Simone’s go-to cinematographer, Jacob Hill. Feeling inspired by the energy of the experience, Hill went back to Black Umbrella HQ after shooting “Around The Way” and decided to edit and finalize the video that night. Instead of sleeping, Hill made sure the video was turned around in time for release overnight. That’s heart, dedication and sacrifice…that’s real. And not only did he come through with the quick flip of the video, but he cooked up a final product that gives off no sense of being rushed or half-assed. Ya’ll, there’s something to be said about work ethic

and it’s clear there’s a reason Hill is reppin’ Black Umbrella…

Much love to Raz, B-ragg and Jacob Hill for creating and sharing this beautiful message of acceptance and love. This that medicine the world needs a heavy dose of right now.
Experience “Around The Way” below and peep some older BTS footage of Raz and B-ragg in the studio here.
Originally Published at https://yeezytaughtmehappythoughts.blogspot.com/2018/01/raz-simone-around-way-feat-b-ragg-video.html

When We Were (Almost) Kings: How the Seattle Seahawks Got Their Name

By Sean Keely

David Eskenazi Collection

 

There’s a bit of irony in the fact that Seattle almost acquired the Sacramento Kings last year and turned them into the new Seattle Sonics. It would have been the second time a franchise named the Kings turned into something else in Seattle. The first time was when the Emerald City got its NFL franchise, you know, the one potentially-playing for their second Super Bowl crown soon.

So how did we end up with Seahawks anyway? We begin that story at a time when we were Kings…

Despite overtures around Seattle to acquire a pro football franchise as far as back as the 50’s, the possibility of such a thing seemed out of reach. That was, until Wayne Field formed the Seattle Sea Lions Management Corporation in 1969 with one goal in mind…land an NFL franchise. In 1971, the would-be franchise changed it’s name to the Seattle Kings. There are multiple reasons given for the name-change, including the fact that the team would be playing in King County Domed Stadium (a.k.a. The Kingdome), which was located close to King Street Station and that Washington Huskies football legend Hugh “The King” McElhenny came on board as Team V.P. and General Manager.

Over the next few years, a rival Seattle ownership group called Seattle Professional Football emerged and the two went back and forth attempting to woo the NFL as well as locals on the idea that they were best suited to run a franchise. The NFL, however, initially thought Tampa Bay was more ideal and, in April 1974, awarded them the next expansion team.

Fears that Seattle had missed it’s opportunity were quieted soon after and on June 5, 1974, Seattle became the NFL’s 28th franchise. The only question was…who would own the team? After crunching the numbers, the folks behind Seattle Kings Football Club decided it was no longer feasible and withdrew their consideration for ownership of the franchise. Seattle Professional Football was deemed the franchise owners and Lloyd W. Nordstrom (of THOSE Nordstroms) was named majority partner.

Before throwing his support behind Seattle Professional Football, Wayne Field made one request. That, due to the hard work and time his group had put into the effort to get an NFL franchise in Seattle, the Kings name be considered. That overture was denied and the club’s name was put to a vote.

After a public contest that drew over 20K entries for 1,741 names, the Seattle Seahawks were officially named on June 17, 1975. The team played their first game on September 12, 1976 and the rest is history. Or, hawkstory, as it were.

Back in 1974 when the question of whether or not the team would end up sticking with Kings, then-managing director Herman Sarkowsky told reporters, “there are already too many Kings in professional sports.” Considering Seattle almost eliminated another one from the professional ranks last year, perhaps that’s part of our lore.

Originally published January 15, 2015 at https://seattle.curbed.com/2015/1/15/10002148/when-we-were-almost-kings-how-the-seahawks-were-named

 

FAT LACES ~ The secret origins of Seattle’s Hip Hop community revealed!

Image Standing 1987by JP Scratches

December 1, 2017 FAT LACES – the Life and Death of Seattle Hip Hop is an eye-witness account of the who/what/where that happened on the Northwest Hip Hop scene from 1982-1994. The historic Dance Clubs, iconic Breakdance Crews, seminal Graffiti Artists, legendary Dj’s, and platinum selling Rappers are all waiting inside.Fat Laces Cover Finished nov 12

Sir Mixalot’s early job as an arcade vendor? The New York City Breakers defeat at the hands of Seattle’s High Performance crew? Edawg’s shady domino technique? The stories are finally being told in the extremely detailed book on the golden age of Seattle hip hop by acclaimed Seattle artisan David Toledo.

David Toledo’s writing embodies the genius of hip hop in all its chaotic beauty. The raw emotion of teen angst and first loves with the wisdom of an old soul. The hunger, passion, and wide-eyed optimism of youth tempered with a life-time of loss and disappointment. His first-person writings of Seattle’s hip hop history, iconic characters, and historic events take readers to a place of wonder and excitement as he jumps quickly from past to present and back again, from happening to happening, introducing multiple characters and conversations. Providing an emotional potpourri that perfectly fits the subject he is writing about. Hip Hop at its roots is contained-chaos; a whirlwind of emotion and art that somehow fit together like a hand in a fingerless glove.

Paperback available at Amazon.com.

 

Local High School Wins State Hip-Hop Championship Despite Obstacles and Loss

Image may contain: 2 people, people smilingThe Todd Beamer High School dance team took first place in the 4AState Championships hip-hop division in Washington State, avenging their 2016 loss and 2nd place finish the previous year.

2016 was a year of success as the Todd Beamer Dance Team won 1st place in all but one of their competitions, including the USA National Competition in Anaheim, California.

The one exception was falling to 2nd place in the 2016 State Championships, notched by Shorecrest High School.

Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, people standingWhat made the victory even more amazing is that the Todd Beamer Dance Team did not have a coach for more than half of the 2017 season.  After losing their 2016 Coach the Team-Captains (High School Seniors) took on the job of planning, scheduling, and conduction practice until Coach (and founding TBDT member) Debbie Yaranon joined the team.

The story behind this season would make a perfect made-for-tv movie about friendship, perseverance, and determination.  These girls never gave up, and worked together to make their dream come true.  We can’t wait until 2018 to see what’s next!

YOUNG WOMEN FIND EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ARTS IN WEST SEATTLE

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Unified Outreach has been actively engaged in youth arts programming for nearly two-decades; and for the past 10 years has provided an eclectic catalog of unique programs from the Ginomai Arts Center in West Seattle’s Alaska Junction neighborhood.

August 21st Unified Outreach hosted their annual Youth Fashion Expose; a free community event which provided a top-shelf catered dinner and a raised runway with 20 models showing off the latest designs by Seattle Designers Carlisa Minnis and MAC Fashion House.

But behind the scenes is where the magic happens. The fashion show is part of a work-training program created by Unified Outreach that teaches Middle and High School students the skills necessary to deliver a high end event such as this. Student are trained on a variety of Adobe software programs used to design brochures and flyers, create music mash-ups, and edit photos and videos. Students also learn to construct the raised runway, provide staging ambiance, and operate the sound & lighting board.

april-toonThis year, Unified Outreach Regional Manager for Nevada, Mrs. April Goode returned to Seattle to assist with the 2016 program. April has been active with Unified Outreach for over a decade, serving as Chief of Operations in Seattle before moving to Las Vegas in 2013.

“The reason I am back in Seattle is because I love this program. Of all the different classes we offer this one is closest to my heart because we are not only exposing kids to new artistic mediums, but we’re teaching them how to use those skills out in the real world” April says.

cd-coverThe program, visualized and launched in 2010 by Unified Outreach staff; was presented to Mayor McGinn at a series of town halls. The following year Mayor McGinn and the city began funding the Office of Arts & Culture work-readiness grant program; which provides Unified Outreach and other local Charities with funding to assist with program costs and to provide each youth with a monetary stipend.

April says that she has personally seen lives changed by the program. “We build artistic skills, we focus on resume building, educational tracks, and networking opportunities. But we also focus on team building, communication, and breaking down barriers. All of this comes together to build positive self-esteem; which is the greatest gift we can give our kids”.

And the proof can be seen in the instructors themselves; many of which began the program as students and have now returned to give back to the program that they love.

darrian-splashDarrian started attending classes over 10 years ago, participating in music, dance, and video programs; where she co-hosted the Unified Outreach/SCAN Television program “What’s Good Seattle, the Shop 206”. Today she teaches classes in Fashion/Runway Event Management, as well as summer day camp Cartoon Animation and Video Production programs.

Isis first walked the catwalk six years ago at the pilot work-training program in 2010. This year was her first in the role of Instructor. “I really feel like I identify with the kids in the program. And it feels really good to share the things I’ve learned over the years.”

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kiel-splashKiel has been participating in Unified Outreach classes for as long as she can remember. From traditional drawing and painting, to contemporary dance, cartooning, music, and video. This year was her first as a program instructor for the Cartoon Animation Summer Day Camp.

Karla participated in the work-readiness program in 2013 and this year returned as an instructor for the Runway program. Now 18, Karla is also using the contacts she made through the program to pursue her own career in Fashion and Design.

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Unified Outreach Co-Founder David Toledo stated that it’s only natural that Unified Outreach would have strong leaders such as April and the previously mentioned students-turned-teachers.

“The Unified Outreach program was really inspired by my mother Alice; who in the early 1980’s opened a food bank from the steps of our own home. Mom was so creative, with a “lead by example” attitude, and a fearless advocate for kids, seniors, those with special needs, and really anyone who needed help. And my sister Diana Toledo-Palmer is the same way. She’s such a great example and inspiration for me. She’s a leader in the community; active in so many community organizations and working so hard to make West Seattle a better place for our children”, David Said.

Unified Outreach is located in West Seattle. More information is available at www.UnifiedOutreach.com

Race Relations From A New Perspective with Seattle Icon James D. Croone, Sr.

by JP Scratches

The Northwest has long enjoyed the music of James Croone and his group the Emerald dr-crooneStreet Boys ~ Seattle’s legendary Rap group whose claim to fame includes Seattle’s first pressed rap album in 1983, and boasting legendary hip hop radio personality Nasty Nes Rodriguez as their DJ (prior to his joining Sir Mixalot’s group).

After a spiritual awakening Dr. Croone left music to focus on education and a call to ministry; receiving his doctorial degree and founding Seattle Urban Bible College.

Now, after a decade of community outreach Dr. Croone has released Seymour & Parham: The Move of God Amid Relationship and Conflict.

If the walls at 312 Azusa Street could speak, they would surely tell of the “color line washed away by the Blood.” But what would they say about the relationship between the two men at the center of the charismatic phenomenon? Author James D. Croone, Sr., examines the story within the story.

Was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that touched off a worldwide Pentecostal movement able to touch the heart of its prophet? Or would this color line, what W. E. B. DuBois called “the problem of the twentieth century” and “a matter of cultural patterns, perverted teaching and human hate and prejudice, which …caused endless evil to all men” wreak havoc even in this cherished sanctuary?

croon-bookThe author finds that the walls of Azusa Street Mission indeed speak volumes. This book explores the relationship between Pentecostal pioneers William J. Seymour and Charles F. Parham by examining the doctrine of God at the core of their bond, the laws and societal norms at the beginning of the twentieth century that impacted interactions across racial lines, and the cultural divide that had shaped two very different contexts for religious experience and worship practice.

As the world grows more and more chaotic; we need more authors like Dr. Croone who have a genuine interest in building bridges between all peoples.  This book is highly recommend!

Copies are available at https://www.amazon.com/Seymour-Parham-Move-Relationship-Conflict/dp/1502499762/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479950535&sr=8-1&keywords=james+croone.