Welcome to the April issue! The Seattle area’s camellias, magnolias, cherry blossoms, and other delightful blooms are giving us life this season. In that spirit, we’ve included a roundup of local women-owned flower shops this issue, whether you’re looking to send some blooms for a special occasion or just treat yourself.

And speaking of the wonders of nature, this Friday is Earth Day and a chance to re-examine our own role in the environment, hold powerful entities accountable, and make positive changes. Looking for local opportunities to volunteer or celebrate this week? Check out this list.

Two things we’d like to mention on the national front before we dive in: 1) We’re thrilled—after what felt like ridiculous at best, and deeply offensive at worst, confirmation hearings—that the brilliant Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court this month and 2) We’re saying farewell to independent feminist publication Bitch Media. It’s yet another iconic outlet shuttering—with stories from former employees filtering out, it also illustrates the deeply pervasive media dysfunction that members of our industry are unfortunately all too familiar with. 

In this issue, Niki talks with theater artist, activist, and teacher Ana María Campoy of Seattle Shakespeare and WashMasks Mutual Aid on the relationship between art and social justice. And, Nia talks to a multitalented musician whose band is working on their first full-length album.
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Staging Change

Theater artist Ana María Campoy has many roles, including shaping a program with Seattle Shakespeare to bring in more marginalized voices, and cofounding a network of artists and educators who supply basic needs to migrant farmworkers and their families.

Volunteers from WashMasks Mutual Aid’s Feed the Moms event last year in Mabton, getting ready to distribute food. Seattle Shakespeare’s associate artist Ana María Campoy cofounded the growing network of artists working to help migrant farmworker families and communities. Photo by Trace Turner.

For theater artist  Ana María Campoy, art and activism are tightly bound. As the first associate artist with Seattle Shakespeare, leading a pilot program to bring marginalized voices and talent into the company, and the cofounder of WashMasks Mutual Aid, a collective made up primarily of artists who help supply Washington farmworkers with basics like food, school supplies, and books, she says there’s a striking solidarity to be found between artists and farmworkers: “Artists often have to move from place to place, like farmworkers, to look for work; people enjoy our products, but do not understand the process, or that there is knowledge and skill and wisdom. That this is skilled labor is not something that is credited to artists or farmworkers, and that we have to often fight for our living and fight for our pay,” she says. “Those foundational things, I think, is part of the reason why artists are so tied and interested in continuing volunteering for [WashMasks].”

Those efforts are sorely needed on behalf of workers whose voices are consistently underrepresented and where working conditions are often deplorable. Just before the region’s popular Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, farmworkers for Washington Bulb Company, the largest tulip bulb grower in the United States, went on strike (see “Flower Power” below). They came to an agreement after a few days and what workers won—including an increased number of portable restrooms, providing items such as hand protection and rain gear, and being allowed to prepare the rubber bands that hold flower bunches together on company time instead of their own time—speaks volumes about the basic necessities workers are fighting for—and they’re doing so in increasing numbers across Washington.

Campoy is in the middle of a three-year residency with Seattle Shakespeare. The pilot program is intended to engage early- to mid-career artists in diversifying the organization, creating mentorship opportunities and space for professionals who have been historically marginalized.

A professional actor since she was 19, Campoy wears many hats to round out her career; she’s been a teaching artist since age 24 and also produces her own work. Now in her mid-30s, she says she has a stronger understanding of her worth, the direction of her art, and the stories that should be heard. It was as a teaching artist that she developed a keen interest in the wellbeing of farmworkers and their communities. With Arts Impact’s Voices From the Field program, which brings arts to students in the state’s Migrant Education programs, she went to Wenatchee, Yakima, and other areas. “Being a guest in these communities, as an artist and as an educator, you don't enter the communities and meet the people who feed you and remain unchanged; that's just the bottom of it, I couldn’t remain the same. Doing this work has completely changed my life and I am so grateful for it.”

In 2020, as the pandemic shut businesses and performances down and masks became necessities, costume designers began using their skills to make fabric masks and giving them away, says Campoy. “Every costume designer I knew on Facebook and on Instagram was like, ‘I’m cutting up these costumes and I’m making masks—who needs them?’ I was like, you know who’s going to need them is farmworkers and they do not make enough money to go out and buy some,” she recalls. She sent a mass email to teachers she knew in farmworker communities to get a sense of the need. The response was overwhelming. The first teacher who responded, in Mount Vernon, first requested 200 masks—then 1,500.

Campoy isn’t adept at sewing, she says, but “I can organize, and I can write emails. And I am very persistent. And so I just started texting and calling everyone I knew.”

The initial goal of the mutual aid effort, dubbed WashMasks, was to make and distribute 4,000 masks. In one year, they distributed more than 30,000. As word of mouth spread and more artists tapped in to help, the group grew to continue to supply farmworkers with more than just masks: They collect culturally conscious food, school supplies, books, and more.

We need each other more, not less. We are told, especially in the United States, this lie of rugged individualism that we don’t need each other, but we really need each other. We do not live through a day without each other.”

Campoy’s can-do energy is so infectious—even across the phone—that it’s easy to understand how, multiplied by the many others now involved in WashMasks Mutual Aid, the effort rolls on. She attributes at least some of that energy to her parents and where she grew up: Her dad, from East Los Angeles, and her mother, from Mexico, raised Campoy just outside of L.A. “I grew up learning about Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, hearing about that time period from them and just hearing about the importance of taking care of farmworkers; when they would like, hear or read something about farmworkers in California not being treated well, they would just automatically do their own little mini boycotts and stuff like that. And so I was just raised with this idea of like, this is something that you take notice of.”

Last year’s heat wave made another need very clear for the collective: Heat stress mitigation for farmworkers. In many cases, companies seem to care little for worker safety, and Campoy has many examples of draconian rules—like the hops farmer who took air conditioning from worker trucks, even going so far as to take out the auxiliary power outlets so drivers couldn’t plug in their own fans.

“He said he doesn’t want workers being lazy and finding excuses to sit in the truck more,” says Campoy. They also have to drive the trucks with the windows up, so road dust doesn’t get into the hops. “The cruelty is 100% the point in that situation, because the majority of farmworkers in Washington state are still paid by how much they pick, not by the hour. So like, that reason is bullshit, it’s just an excuse to cover up the fact that you do not value your workers as human,” says Campoy. “There are more laws protecting our food than protecting the workers,” she adds.

Campoy and other volunteers have begun a heat stress prevention donation drive and are spending time talking to farmworkers to try and shape a solution that can work for them, whether it’s supplying more water, or coming up with other cooling ideas like portable shade that people in the field can have 100% control over.

Visiting migrant farmworker communities in Washington as an artist and educator profoundly changed Ana María Campoy. When the pandemic struck, she reached out to people she knew to sew and distribute masks to those communities. The effort, WashMasks Mutual Aid, has since evolved into a vast network of artists, educators, and others who now collect additional needed supplies and advocate for change. Photo by Jesse Glick.

Spotlighting Latinx people’s experiences, whether it’s through WashMasks or on stage, is a throughline for Campoy’s work, and it predates her Seattle Shakespeare residency: One of her first projects was to create a Spanish-language adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew in 2017. She went on to do the same for Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Adapting Shakespeare into a bilingual story is complex, Campoy says, not just because of the challenging translation, but also because of the different relationships Latinx people in the United States have with language acquisition, as well as the systemic issues at play.

“When I first started working with Seattle Shakes, that was part of the conversation we had to have,” Campoy says. She told the team, “We have to talk about these larger systemic issues, because you need to understand what it means to put on a bilingual story. And what does it mean to root something in a cultural space in a way that is actually by the people, for the people, and not appropriated—not because you want a pat on the back.”

The resulting adaptations have been extremely well received, says Campoy, and one of her favorite things is to notice the different ways audience members, from those who are bilingual, to those who might know just a few words in Spanish, engage with the plays. “It just becomes this really joyful community conversation.”

Occasionally it takes some getting used to for people and there have been a few critics. “There’s a lot of colonization and white supremacy tied in the history of Shakespeare specifically. Also, a lot of people use Shakespeare as a way to justify any other internal, or maybe sometimes not so internal, biases. And I think that’s part of the reason people get really shook,” she says. “Like, there’s an all Black and Brown cast on stage, or the play opens and the first lines you hear are in Spanish, not in English. If anything, I want you to get cracked open, I want you to be challenged. That’s what good art does.”

Spanish is also the oldest non-Indigenous language in the United States, she notes, older than English, “So people understand more Spanish than they think they do. That’s what I always tell people; you understand more than you think you do—just watch.”

Campoy’s role in shaping the associate artists program is a continuation of the conversation she and the Seattle Shakespeare team started with the adaptations. One thing she wants to make sure of is that anyone can take on her role, that it isn’t shaped for or about her. “Often what happens with artists of color is like, one of us will crack through the ceiling. And that’s it. It’s just the one. And we maybe are allowed to bring one other person with us into the room.” So, she says, she wanted the associate artist role to be created “to suit anyone—if you had a lighting designer or set designer, or someone who’s in arts administration that is interested in being in this role, too. Let’s have them in the room.”

As a mid-career artist herself, Campoy says, she has certainly evolved in many ways. Over the years, “I think I’ve gotten more flexible. I think I’ve gotten kinder on myself as an artist, and then also, just even more collaborative than I was before. I think the biggest message I keep learning again and again in this pandemic is: We need each other more, not less. We are told, especially in the United States, this lie of rugged individualism that we don’t need each other, but we really need each other. We do not live through a day without each other. And I think that has been the biggest lesson for me.” 

Ultimately, her creative work and activism reinforce each other. “I feel very strongly that the responsibility of artists is to do that work, is to challenge, is to push us, is to move us towards a more socially just and equitable world because everyone deserves safety, equity, and dignity.” By Niki Stojnic

Flower Power
After striking for three days, March 22–24, Skagit Valley farmworkers came to an agreement with the Washington Bulb Company, which is the largest tulip bulb grower in the United States. New terms include increasing the number of portable restrooms for workers, bumping up bonuses, and providing workers with protective and rain gear. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place on farms throughout the area, and continues through the end of this month. Photo by Nia Martin.
Looking to gather flowers for your home, to send someone, or purchase for a special occasion (including Mother’s Day, coming up) all while supporting local women? These flower shops are ready for you:

Fortunate Orchard
Verde & Co.
Odd Flowers
The Old Soul Flower Co.
Flowers Just 4-U

She Made It 

Who’s this accomplished violinist whose talents extend beyond these four strings? Tap to find out more...


What to see, do, and support this month

Currently, mask and vaccine mandates have been lifted. However, Covid-19 variants are still a risk, especially for some. Please follow the rules of the businesses or events you patronize and protect your and your community’s health by getting vaccinated and boosted if you haven’t already.

Climate scientist Dr. Sarah Myhre recently turned towards art, making vivid prints with natural themes that have an environmental story behind them, like “Lightning,” inspired by a Douglas fir Myhre encountered last summer, and “Heatdome,” which reminds us of vulnerable sea creatures when we have record-breaking heatwaves. Find them on natural and disaster studio.

Lily’s Salvadorean Restaurant is officially open in West Seattle, with outdoor seating in time for the warmer months ahead. You might recognize the name—Lillian Anaya Quintanilla has been serving up her pupusas, tamales, and more at farmers markets citywide for more than a decade

South Park Saturday Market is a small but mighty market in the south end held the first Saturday of every month. You’ll find many tasty treats and beautiful works, such as Grayseas Pieswatercolors by Rebecca García of MoonMuseStudio, and more.

Anyone else excited about the return of live dance performance? Be sure to grab tickets to MALACARNE’s (founded by choreographer Alice Gosti“this is concrete II” at the Georgetown Steam Plant on April 30th and May 1st. Masks and proof of vaccination required.

Climate justice and social justice are connected, and Earth Month is an important reminder of this link. Food sovereignty, buying local, land reparations, sustainability, BIPOC farming—these are just some of the principles Friendly Hmong Farms was founded on by Seattleite Friendly Vang-Johnson. Support the endeavor through CSA subscriptions, fundraisers, and contributions.

Just in time for Earth Day, Nancy Blakey’s recently released The Mountains are Calling: Year-Round Adventures in the Olympics and West Cascades is full of great hikes, campgrounds, fire lookouts and more for families and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts alike.
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