Public Health Series
In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. To respond to the disparities of COVID, most affected communities on the frontlines of the pandemic have been the driving focus of our Public Health Series. Along the way, artists, designers, storytellers and creatives have emerged as important changemakers that public health advocates can collaborate with 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’s 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.
Check back at www.spl.org/Dreamathon to see videos from our amazing lineup of Dreamathon speakers and artists and a report-out with Dreamathon insights for a better pandemic future.
About the Public Health Series
The 2021 series explores 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, shows that art might play a surprisingly important role in helping everyday people to understand how to respond to COVID. Getting creative may even be an important way 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.
From SOUL Clinic pop-ups to our October Dreamathon events (the culmination of the digital learning lab), we plan to close out the year with insights on community-centered public health solutions. A big part of this work is amplifying voices from most-affected communities. Along the way the connections between civics, creativity, racial justice and public health come 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 shows 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.
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 forthcoming SOUL Clinic videos, spearheaded by the African American Health Board and The Seattle Public Library’s artist-in-residence Nikki Etienne, share 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