December 13, 2018

The non-profit organization I founded on December 14, 1993 turns 25 tomorrow and we are going to celebrate. SPLAB started as It Plays in Peoria Productions and had a mission of creating radio interview public affairs programs. At the height of that mission, our weekly show aired on 18 stations. Affiliates at one time or another included KING-FM, The Mountain, KZOK, KJR-AM and FM, KMPS, (all in Seattle), KGON-FM (Portland) and Village 900 (Victoria.)

In addition to a look back at what we’ve done over 25 years, tomorrow night at the White River Valley Museum, we’ll celebrate the museum’s acquisition of over 15 bankers boxes of reel-to-reel tapes and CDs from our historic broadcast era (1993-2005) and a few tapes from before that. You can see the interviews we did at www.splab.org/listen.

In addition to a discussion of the museum’s plans for the archive, Hilary Pittenger, Curator of Collections for the WRVM, there will be the official launch for the book American Prophets, some of the best interviews conducted over the years, transcribed and published in a beautiful (if I say so myself) collection that includes history, prophetic insight and moments that helped shape my life. 

Jared Leising has graciously agreed to be Master of Ceremonies. Barbara McMichael of SoCo Culture will discuss what SPLAB meant to the culture of South King County in the years we were based there and facilitating programs (1993-2006). Former Auburn Mayor Peter Lewis, who helped us fund many of our programs during the early years, will discuss SPLAB’s legacy in Auburn. Jason Wirth, Professor of Philosophy at Seattle U, Zen Priest, scholar, translator and author, whom I interviewed in 2017, will give the keynote. He previewed that yesterday as we strolled though Kubota Garden, and will talk about the ethos of the organization as exemplified by the work we have done over the years, over 600 interviews, facilitating the visits of many amazing poets: Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Sam Hamill, Anne Waldman, Andrew Schelling, Ethelbert Miller, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Jerome Rothenberg, Nate Mackey, Brenda Hillman, José Kozer, Adrian Castro, Joanne Kyger, George Bowering and others. Conceiving of and producing the Cascadia Poetry Festival and furthering the deep ecopoetics stance inherent in bioregionalism in Cascadia and an awareness of Cascadian poetry with efforts like Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia.

My Mom will be attending, visiting from Chicago, as will my Sister Barb. 

Doreen Mitchum, of 4Culture, who coordinates Arts Projects and the Touring Arts Roster, said by email a few weeks ago: “…Do you know how special it is to have an arts org. last for that long? You’re in an elite club my friend!” It feels like something special to hit a quarter of a century in existence. We have large goals for the next five years, including continuation of the Cascadia Poetry Festival, expansion of the August Poetry Postcard Fest to 1,000 participants in 2019 and eventually 10,000, two new anthologies to be released in 2019, more interviews, more books of interviews, more support for other bioregional poetics efforts like what is happening in Cumberland, BC, with the Cascadia Poetics LAB and who knows what else?

So, huge gratitude to everyone mentioned here, everyone who has helped SPLAB exist and create unique and (we think) visionary programs. People like Danika Dinsmore, David McCloskey and Lana Ayers, 4 Culture, ArtsWa, Humanities Washington, the City of Auburn, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and many many more, and those who have attended, or participated in any of our events. People who have taken time to make individual contributions. Our gratitude can not be adequately expressed. Huge thanks to all SPLAB Board Members, past and present, including Joe Chiveney, Nadine Maestas, Peter Munro, Matt Trease, Lisa Fusch Krause and Cate Gable. Huge thanks to Bhakti Watts, Thomas Walton and Elizabeth Cooperman. Huge thanks to you and a thousand blessings. This has been such a gift in my life. I hope to see you tomorrow night.


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