Personal Narrative: Daylynn

Hi! For those who may not know me yet, I’m Daylynn - Marrow’s Founder and Director.

This is a little background about who I am, where I'm coming from, and the ways my experiences have informed my work here at Marrow. I plan to use this blog to document thoughts I have around education, the arts, and activism - and I’d love to add other voices and perspectives. If you’re a teen who’s come to a class or organized an event here, if you’re a donor, a volunteer, or a facilitator - let’s talk! The format for sharing your narrative can be whatever suits you and your story best - interview, biography - it could even take a more artistic form like a poem or illustration. In addition to personal narratives and how they relate to Marrow’s work, I’d love to include other pieces around subjects that run parallel to what Marrow does. If you have ideas, reach out at daylynn@marrowpdx.org

If you want to see my face head over to our "Team" page, or come by Marrow and say hello!

If you want to see my face head over to our "Team" page, or come by Marrow and say hello!

What inspired you to found Marrow?:

I began thinking about Marrow when I was 17. I was exploring abandoned buildings in my hometown in Connecticut as sites for photography projects. My favorite was a dormitory that had been used to house people who worked in the town’s tobacco fields. It was abandoned in the early 2000’s - I believe due to crack-downs on the immigration status of workers, but I’m not positive. I started hanging out in it in 2006 when I was a senior in high school. I immediately began envisioning its potential second life.

At the time, I was attending my 4th school in as many years - having struggled to find my place in both public and private traditional institutions. Despite being passionate and intelligent, I had never connected with school. As a junior though, I had found “my place” in Watkinson - a school in Hartford that prides itself on its “thumbprint” approach to education; that every student has unique needs, learning styles, and goals - and will be treated as such. Second to this restructuring of teens' individual needs, my favorite part of the school was CAP, or the Creative Art Program - an immersive arts program with a focus on realizing your work and actions within a broader cultural context. I was able to work alongside other young visual artists, as well as musicians, writers, dancers, and thespians. For the first time I genuinely understood what “community” meant.

So as I wandered the abandoned dormitory halls, I imagined a space where any young person, regardless of what school they went to - or whether they were enrolled in school at all - could be a part of the type of community that I was a part of at Watkinson. During my senior year I actually wrote out plans for the space’s operations. I knew they wouldn’t come to fruition, because I never had any intention of staying in Connecticut, but it had felt like an important thing to do at the time - and without knowing it I’d been drafting a novice version of Marrow’s business plan.

Determined to give other young folks the opportunity to be a part of something that might similarly transform their lives and spark their passions, I worked through my BFA and toward my Master’s degree to better understand how to make it happen. My graduate thesis work explored why non-school community education spaces do a better job than traditional schools of engaging young people in meaningful learning, and in motivating them to take that passion for what they’ve learned back into their communities. During this time I worked with teens who were enrolled in public school in Central Falls, RI - a bankrupt city with a less than 50% graduation rate. We used art to explore ways they could reclaim and reframe their personal and collective narratives. Their work and the effect it had on them as individuals, and on me as an educator, is why the reclamation of narrative continues to be a large focus in my work at Marrow.

I moved out to OR after living and teaching in CT, MA, RI, NH, and NYC, and after a year of working with unschoolers in Portland, I combined aspects of the models I’d researched as well as my professional experiences to build Marrow. We’re still in our very infancy of the long term plan, but we’re on track to be something powerful.

A collage I made in college - with photographs of the dormitory and one of my high school friends who I would explore these abandoned spaces and collaborate with.

A collage I made in college - with photographs of the dormitory and one of my high school friends who I would explore these abandoned spaces and collaborate with.

Not the dormitory - but a stable on the same property. Naomi, my model for this photo series, was also in CAP at Watkinson, and is now an educator at an alternative high school.

Not the dormitory - but a stable on the same property. Naomi, my model for this photo series, was also in CAP at Watkinson, and is now an educator at an alternative high school.

What are your dreams for Marrow? What do you see as your role in making those ambitions a reality?:

My long term vision for Marrow is for it to grow into a truly teen-led community hub for education, arts, and activism.

I also view it as vital that we continue to be diverse in the educational backgrounds of the youth who are involved here. I want a teen who may have dropped out and be experiencing houselessness to feel equally centered as a young person who’s enrolled in school and considers themself to be a successful student. I want to develop programming that is flexible enough and offers a wide enough range of ways to be involved, that it could either supplement other educational opportunities a teen may be involved in - or be their primary resource.

Some of the things I’d like to see in our ultimate home are:

  • Studio shops such as print shop, design/computer lab, wood shop, small metals shop - where youth would have the opportunity to take on real clients, with help from community mentors who would be co-working in these spaces.
  • A cafe, again as a training opportunity for youth, but also to create a space for community discourse.
  • An intimate venue for youth produced, all-ages events and shows.
  • A gallery/shop to present and sell their work.
  • Outdoor space for gardening/building/existing.
  • Private and shared studio/office spaces for both youth and established creatives.

I envision having a small full-time staff, but that a large part of the facilitating will come from rotating community members, and that much of direction will continue to come from our youth.

I see my role in Marrow’s growth as keeping my hustle at 100% and living my values. Putting myself out there - going to community events, meeting new people, talking about Marrow’s current form but also about our long-term vision. I can’t accomplish the things I listed above on my own - and Marrow can’t do it all on its own either. The people, projects, and organizations to collaborate and partner with to make this happen are all already in Portland. The people who will make this happen exist. They have these same dreams and are having these same conversations. We just all need to find each other.

My favorite place I've ever worked was a building camp called BEAM in the woods of New Hampshire.

My favorite place I've ever worked was a building camp called BEAM in the woods of New Hampshire.

They also run really amazing programming during the year in NYC and continue to be an inspiration to me.

They also run really amazing programming during the year in NYC and continue to be an inspiration to me.

Thinking of your personal goals, what do you hope to be doing in 5 years?:

I think about my life 5 years from now a lot, actually, because in January of this year Marrow signed a 5 year lease for the space in St Johns that we now occupy; so it represents a relatively firmly set pinpoint in my future.

We’ll be settling into the second phase of Marrow’s existence - whether that’s here or in a new space. Our youngest teens now will have grown into positions of leadership. We’ll have a strong community of youth, with their own opinions and stakes in Marrow’s identity. Our programming will be every day, we’ll be open long hours, and the things happening in the space will be progressive, innovative, and COOL!

On a personal level, I hope that I’ll have struck a good balance between Marrow and existing out in the world - hiking in the gorge with my pup, and taking long drives to odd roadside attractions or abandoned towns, and finding junk shops in middle-of-nowhere towns along the way.

One of the things that keeps me rooted is creating my own artwork, which the past few years this has taken the form of lost wax cast metal jewelry (you can find me on instagram @saltcircle). I hope to maintain this practice and continue in this context to collaborate with artists and writers who inspire me.

I would also like to return to academic writing- this blog hopefully being a step toward that - and be on the path to pursue a doctorate in something along the lines of an anarchist approach to education (is a PhD in anarchy an oxymoron?!)

I hope that I’ll have continued to grow my chosen family and have found more of those people who are out here in Portland dreaming the same dreams that I am.

My pup, Orion. He's hairless.

My pup, Orion. He's hairless.

Marrow Tarot

THE CALL TO ARTISTS:

Marrow is having a tarot card themed exhibition! Many of the youth in our community resonate with aspects of the tarot - whether that’s for its ability to bring forth answers, or out of an interest in symbolism and history. We want to create a visual tarot that puts YOUR narrative on display. Each card from the 78 card deck (22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana) will only be assigned to a single artist, with the intent being to create a full deck exhibition, and eventually to print an actual tarot deck.

  • Pieces MUST match the proportion of 3x5" (so for example, your piece could be 3x5", or 4.5"x7.5", or 6x10", or 7.5x12.5", or 9x15", etc). We just ask that you not make your piece smaller than 3x5" or larger than 9x15".
     
  • Your piece may be any medium (illustration, drawing, printmaking, photography, mixed media, etc). If you'd like to make a 3D/sculptural piece that's fine, as long is it can be easily photographed and remains within the required dimensions.
     
  • We ask that you include a written description for your card (details below).
     
  • This exhibition is open to any artist, but folks who are not local are responsible for covering their own shipping costs (contact us for shipping address, as Marrow's mailbox isn't secure). Local artists can drop-off or arrange for pick-up.
     
  • We ask artists 24 and over to donate 50-100% of their sale proceeds. Artists under 24 may choose do donate 0-100% of their sale proceeds. Money raised through art sales will go toward Marrow’s operational costs. Having our operational costs covered is what allows us to keep our programming free/low cost for all young folks.
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IMPORTANT DATES:

DEADLINE: all work must be AT MARROW by DEC. 1ST

EXHIBITION OPENING: Friday, December 8th

ARTIST LIST:

Phonkadelic (The Fool)
Coleman Stevenson (The Magician)
Kylin C. (The High Priestess)
Sabrina Wolfchild (The Empress)
Bylli Hayward (The Emperor)
Aaron Caffee (The Hierophant)
Julia Wohlstetter (The Lovers)
Claire Burgess (The Chariot)
Eleanor H. (Strength)
Stephanie Adams-Santos (The Hermit)
Marena Skinner (Wheel of Fortune)
Vicente Elisheva (Justice)
Drue Vidor (The Hanged Man)
Briauna Taylor (Death)
Theo Day Lewis (Temperance)
Inian Moon (The Devil)
Ayita Malila C. Nadir (The Tower)
Eva Bertoglio (The Star)
Davis MacDonald (The Moon)
Anne Avera (The Sun)
Tanner Johnson (Judgement)
Cassia Sage (The World)

Kira Ekstedt (King of Hands)
Alice Rogers (Queen of Hands)
Daylynn Lambi (Knight of Hands)
Alley Pezanoski-Browne (Page of Hands)
Holly Hogan (Ten of Hands)
B. Holgate (Nine of Hands)
Raylan Merrill (Eight of Hands)
Hoodfluence (Seven of Hands)
Skye Henterly (Six of Hands)
Eva Bryant (Five of Hands)
Kelly Chudler (Four of Hands)
Elliott Ocean (Three of Hands)
Cygnus Astrella (Two of Hands)
Holigoil (Ace of Hands)

Sal Loughney (King of Sage)
Jamie Polancic (Queen of Sage)
Scout Zabel (Knight of Sage)
Ellian Nichols (Page of Sage)
R.A. (Ten of Sage)
Maizy Zeringue (Nine of Sage)
Rubina Martini (Eight of Sage)
Annaleise Girone (Seven of Sage)
Carina Borealis (Six of Sage)
Genevieve L Reid (Five of Sage)
Riley Sequoia (Four of Sage)
Isabele Rose (Three of Sage)
Crystal Thomas (Two of Sage)
Jillian Barthold (Ace of Sage)

Kes Graham (King of Moths)
Kayden Cantrell (Queen of Moths)
Mr. Riddle (Knight of Moths)
Indigo Wren (Page of Moths)
Tina Luanna Fox (Ten of Moths)
Tommy Poirier-Morissette (Nine of Moths)
Raven Skye (Eight of Moths)
Mimi Loughney (Seven of Moths)
Kristine Kukich (Six of Moths)
Ash Marnich (Five of Moths)
C.R. Dimalla (Four of Moths)
orphie difellow (Three of Moths)
Jesse Narens (Two of Moths)
Lyric Serine (Ace of Moths)

Lupa (King of Bones)
Layla Sullivan (Queen of Bones)
Ayastigi Taintor (Knight of Bones)
Natalie Frison (Page of Bones)
Eden Valentine (Ten of Bones)
Annalise Olson (Nine of Bones)
Buff Medb Neretin (Eight of Bones)
Salem Star (Seven of Bones)
James Duckworth (Six of Bones)
Helen Tuttle (Five of Bones)
Michelle Gatchalian (Four of Bones)
Bobby Ali Zaman (Three of Bones)
Shae Uisna (Two of Bones)
Alejandra López Camarillo (Ace of Bones)

YOUR DESCRIPTION:

Tarot decks often come with a guide book that explains the meaning of each card, so that when people use them for spreads they can interpret the meanings. We'd like each artist in this show to put together a brief description for your card, which will be printed and presented alongside your piece.

Card descriptions can range from a list of words or meanings that card conjures, to a more in-depth description of what the symbols mean, and what the card might signify in different contexts. You can find plenty of examples of this online, but if you need a hand, Marrow's staff includes a few folks who are well versed in both the tarot and in writing, and would be happy to give you some direction or a hand! Just let us know. Your description can be as long or short as you like, and can be structured however makes the most sense for you and your interpretation of your card.

Some Extra Thoughts to Keep in Mind:

THE SUITS:

We changed the suits to move away from the traditional depictions of these cards, and to bring some connection to Marrow and our community. Pentacles (the earth sign) are a suit rooted in stability, sustainability, and the tangible. We switched them to bones because Marrow's name itself is rooted in the idea that community grounding starts within the bones, in your Marrow. Wands (the fire sign) are a suit symbolizing creativity, passion, and the inner drive that pushes you toward your goals. We chose to replace them with moths, because we are drawn like moths to flame to the issues and ideals that are important to us. Cups (the water sign) represent emotion and our connections with others. We replaced cups with hands - to represent the care we must take and the work that we do - both for ourselves and for others. Swords (the air sign) are associated with struggle, challenge, and change. We replaced swords with sage, which grows best in "gritty" soil, and has been used for centuries across various cultures for medicinal and spiritual purposes.

YOUR PERSONAL NARRATIVE:

The most well known deck is the Rider-Waite deck, but did you know it was designed by a woman of color? Pixie (Pamela Colman Smith 1878-1951) was an artist, illustrator, writer and occultist. She enrolled at the (newly founded) Pratt Institute in NYC at age 15, and went on to become an accomplished illustrator, set designer, and publisher of her own magazine.

She was also an activist, working for women's suffrage in Great Britain (where she was born, and returned to after school), and donating poster designs and toys to the Red Cross during WWI.

It is important to recognize and honor her work, because the deck is often represented and depicted without the context of the person who designed it. Pixie was not only an incredible artist but brought a wealth of knowledge and symbolism to the deck that is still resonant today.

We hope that with this collective show, you will all bring YOUR narratives, histories, and magic to the Tarot. We encourage you to take a look at another powerful artist working with the tarot, Cristy C. Road, and the way that she has modernized the tarot - you can view her deck here, which she refers to as "A Post-Apocalyptic Reclamation of Magic" https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/croadcore/the-next-world-tarot

We look forward to seeing what you all bring to this exhibition. If you have any questions, please reach out via email at info@marrowpdx.org.

WeMake 2017!

A DESIGN CONFERENCE ABOUT THE PROCESS OF MAKING

The rad folks at WeMake are giving a portion of their ticket revenue to Marrow this year! "WeMake is a non-profit that supports the art and design community through hands-on experiences, workshops, and design in action initiatives". Their events focus on process, and the spirit of community, so you KNOW we love them! Plus, in the past five and a half years they've raised over $50k for arts education.

WE WANT YOU TO COME WITH US

This year's conference is on Friday, October 13th, and if you're a creative young person - we want to take you. We have a limited number of tickets that WeMake has generously donated to us, so we can bring along some creative young folks. All we ask is that you (as a group or individually) help us create *something* afterwards that exemplifies what you took away. This could be your own work of art, a written blog post - anything sparked by the conference.

**If you're a young person interested in attending, fill out the form at the bottom of this page, and we'll get back to you ASAP!**

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THE CONFERENCE

The conference is from 9am - 5:30pm at The Armory (in the Pearl), with an after-party at Wacom.
There will be two performances, six keynote speakers, and 5 5-minute presentations.

Adults can still purchase a ticket online for $175 (there are discounts for students and educators as well) - and you'll be supporting Marrow by buying a ticket, too!

Keynote Speakers:

  • Interaction Design, Artists, and Tinkerer, Kelli Anderson , Brooklyn
  • Graphic Artist Luke Choice (aka Velvet Spectrum), Australia/LA
  • Brooklyn Type Designer, Nicholas Misani,  Milan/NYC
  • Illustrator & Designer, Mauja Waldia, India/Portland
  • Artists, Author +, Adam J Kurtz, Toronto/Brooklyn
  • Experimental Artist Craig Winslow, Portland/Portland
  • Emcees, Jolby/Portland

5x5— 5 minutes, 5 slides with local creative entrepreneurs: Anthony ScottAsa Bree SierackiTyesha SnowSaul Koll and Ian Williams

Performances by: 

Ural Thomas—Musician & Storyteller and B. Frayn Masters—Writer, Storyteller, Producer

You can get more info about the conference here: http://www.wemakepdx.com/wemake-celebrates/

FORM FOR INTERESTED YOUNG FOLKS:

Your Name *
Your Name
Your Birthday *
Your Birthday
If selected, I will commit to presenting what I took away from the conference (or something that inspired me) in a way that suits my skills and interests: *
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Rad responses so far have ranged from hoping to find effective ways to sell artwork to combat the harm of capitalism, to working toward building the resources to apply to prestigious art schools. We can't wait to hear why YOU are interested!

We especially encourage POC, immigrant, disabled, trans, and queer youth to apply.

Intro to Podcasting

Today Fi - who is tragically moving to FL after this week - came by and led a workshop on podcasting! After learning the basics of a couple different recording options (including Audacity, which is free, open source, and compatible with most operating systems), the group set out to record their own short podcast.

A brainstorming session landed them on a fictional segment-based piece around a group radio show hosted out of a magic/cryptid community college next to a cursed corn field... think Night Vale meets Harry Potter meets X-Files?!

You be the judge, here it is!

Pretty rad that this was conceptualized, written, and recorded in just a few hours by three teens with no experience, right?! If you want to come record a podcast at Marrow, let us know! It doesn't have to be fiction - anything is possible!

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BLOG: ACTIVATE!

Hey y’all! Daylynn here.

We’re going to start activating this blog as a space for sharing Marrow's narrative!

I’ll be curating (for now), but I won’t by any means be writing all the posts - so if anyone would like to contribute your voice, I encourage you to! Just send along an email to daylynn@marrowpdx.org

If the author isn't clear from a post itself (ie: if they don't make an introduction of some sort), I'll include their name as well as any bio/info they deem relevant at the end.

Our post categories currently include:

  • "Marrative" (Marrow's Narrative) - stories and documentation of what goes on in our space.
  • "Our Community" - interviews, stories, and mini-biographies (both in the form of text and video) of teens, parents, volunteers, facilitators, and donors in Marrow's community.
  • "Thoughts" - opinion or informative writing around any issues related to Marrow - whether that’s through the lens of community, youth, education, social justice, or just existing in today’s society.
  • "Check It" - posts about upcoming events and other programming
  • "Marrow" - content relating to our organization that needs expanding on but doesn't necessarily need its own page on our website (like this post which delves a little deeper into our mission statement).

Please feel free to comment, share links or resources, suggest topics, or share the blog/individual posts with other folks.

Programming Planning Meeting

This week we had a meeting with young folks and volunteers from Marrow's community, to brainstorm the types of workshops and events they'd like to see at Marrow, as well as the things they'd like to lead themselves.

Here's what we've gathered, including both offers and requests that have been made through our website and social media accounts.

(Many of these could fit into in several categories - we just tried to group them to make the list a little less overwhelming.)

Social

  • Queer Prom
  • Dances
  • Movie nights / movie marathons
  • Body positive events (like trips to the river, etc)
  • Anxiety disorder meet-up (play icebreaker type games)
  • Drag show
  • Game nights

Health & Movement

  • Mental health support group (facilitated by a professional)
  • Radical cheerleading
  • Inclusive/body positive ballet
  • How to do makeup
  • Spa day, including learning about skincare
  • Capture the flag
  • Frisbee golf
  • Sex education, gender education, related topics
  • Unbiased information on body modification/tattoos
  • Zumba
  • Self-defense

Humanities

  • Book club / discussion group
  • Screenplay writing
  • Creative writing
  • Satire/parody news writing
  • Witchcraft from a non-colonialist perspective, taught by a POC
  • Contemporary culture

Outdoor

  • Survival skills
  • Walking group
  • Native tree/plant identification
  • Learning about native edible and medicinal plants
  • Circus performance arts

Arts

  • Whittling
  • Music meet-ups (post Queer Rock Camp)
  • Accessible music education (learning to write songs even if you can't read music, etc)
  • Tie-dye
  • Zines
  • Improv
  • Mask-making
  • Podcasting
  • Graphic design/logo design
  • Music video creation
  • Mural painting
  • Photography
  • Stop motion animation
  • Wax carving for metal casting
  • Installation art/place-making

Life Skills

  • Sharing family recipes
  • How to file taxes, write checks, manage your money
  • Panel on navigating education systems (eg: college)
  • First aid and CPR training
  • Street medic training
  • Marketing ("get people to come to your thing")

Social Justice

  • Transformative justice and conflict resolution training
  • Manifestos (learning about them and creating one for Marrow)
  • Workshop exploring intersections of "fact", "history" and installation art
  • "Recipes for Resistance" (street art)

Math & Science

  • Math tutoring
  • Dissection / wet specimen preparation
  • Owl pellet dissection (and creating art with the bones)
  • Bug pinning

If you're preteen - early twenties and you see things in this list that you'd especially like to see happen at Marrow, or if it sparked an idea for something else you'd like to add, let us know! Email us, leave a comment here, or fill out the request form on the calendar page.

If you see something on this list that you'd like to facilitate, or if it's given you an idea for something else you can offer - either fill out facilitator proposal form or get in touch via email with any questions!

What Our Mission Means...

"Marrow aims to empower teens to take ownership over their education, and to foster a community of youth who are visually, socially and culturally literate."

but - what does all that mean?

Ownership Over Your Education

Why do we learn what we learn in traditional school systems? Our communities are diverse - in skills, intellect, interests, learning style - but we are all (more or less) given the same information, in the same ways. Our culture is always changing, but curriculums are not. Things that often feel important to young people - relationships, current events, how to explore and follow their passions, how to get a job - are overlooked. When it’s difficult to see the purpose or relevant real world application behind what you’re learning, it can be difficult to be invested. 

We want to put your education back in YOUR hands. We want you to care about what you’re doing and learning. You should. This is your life. You get one. It doesn’t have to look the way you’ve been told it has to look. We support the teens in our community by providing opportunities to explore the things that aren’t typically offered in school, or to explore those things in more in-depth ways, and from more perspectives. We also provide one-on-one and group mentoring and advising, to help you begin to fill your life with the types of experiences and people that will allow you to build the life that YOU want.

Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is defined as the ability to “interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image”. Even if you aren’t an artist, visual literacy is important. Humans have always used images (drawings, photographs, memes) to communicate, and we believe it’s more important than ever that young people be armed with the ability to navigate through the vast sea of visual information that is being thrown in our faces. When you see an advertisement (on a billboard, in a magazine, on Instagram), who is directing it at you? Why? What is their true intent? So many images are put in front of us now, and so quickly, that sometimes we don’t even take the time to break down what we’re looking at.

We believe visual literacy is at the root of beginning to understand (and question) the world, and who’s “in charge” of the narratives we surround ourselves with. We gain visual literacy by examining these messages around us, looking at and discussing artwork, and exploring how to make our OWN narratives visible through visual storytelling.

Social Literacy

Social literacy is very similar to “emotional intelligence”. It is a person’s ability to build and maintain relationships with others, to navigate through the vast variety of interactions you’ll have in this diverse world, to understand where other people are coming from, and to be able to express your own emotions. As a community-based organization, we believe this is SO important, and it’s a little alarming that it isn’t covered in traditional schools.

We explore social literacy through discussion of current events, engaging with communities outside of our own, and delving into sometimes difficult discussions - which may include family dynamics, healthy relationships, race, gender, and sexuality (just to list a few). We also encourage our members to COLLABORATE! Meet your neighbors, talk to people outside your own interests, there’s almost always unexpected overlap, and it will STRENGTHEN what you’re doing!

Cultural Literacy

Just as visual literacy and social literacy address the ability to examine and interpret visual and social information - cultural literacy is the ability to understand and participate in a culture. It’s less of a learned skill, and more of a willingness to learn the complex web of any culture, including (but not limited to) their history, dialect, belief systems, politics, idiosyncrasies and even jokes (etc etc etc).

Cultural literacy is essential for the growth of empathy and the breakdown of gatekeeping. In a city that is rapidly changing and gentrifying - such as Portland, it is important that we are in open discussion with the communities that have been here the longest, and whose voices are being choked out by new, fast-growing communities. We need to know their stories, their names, what’s important to them. Our communities need to be inconstant dialog, so that we can form one diverse community - rather than a series of communities that are constantly butting up against one another. Cultural literacy aids in this.

Sponsor Spotlight: Finger Bang

We're starting a spotlight series on the rad local businesses who support us, and on International Women's Day it seemed appropriate to start with Finger Bang (which is run by some badass women full of heart).

For anyone who isn't yet familiar with Portland's #1 spot for nail art, it may seem surprising that one of our biggest sponsors is a nail salon (let alone a nail salon with a risqué pun for a name) - but really it makes a lot of sense.

Glynis Olson opened Finger Bang in 2015, out of a need that she identified for a different kind of salon experience - one where clients could be free, open, loud, and just themselves. In Gylnis' words, "I'm just a chick that wanted a different kind of nail experience. I couldn't find what I was looking for so I built it."

Let's read that once more... "I couldn't find what I was looking for so I built it"

What could be more aligned with Marrow's mission than THAT?!

When I made my first appointment at Finger Bang - right when they opened, I didn't anticipate going back. While I've always been a fan of fierce claws, I consider myself relatively DIY and I've always done my own nails (I'd had one manicure before, and it was in 9th grade for a semi-formal dance and my aunt paid for it). I made my appointment at Finger Bang because I loved what I'd seen on instagram of Asa's work (@asabree), and I was curious about the new business, so I figured it would be a fun way to treat myself after a sort of rough summer. I've been back every. month. since. And it's not just because of the artistic talent housed in their space, it's because of what they've built.

Glynis has truly created a unique microcosm within Portland. Before even coming inside you're confronted with their no-nonsense approach to supporting oppressed communities - their front door lists their hours, as you would expect, directly followed by,
"IF YOU ARE Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Or An A**hole Don't Come In!"
After the recent election, Ryenne, who manages the shop (and who we stole the door pic from), said, "A lot of people walking by us take pictures of our sign because they think we're just being funny or shocking- we're not. It's not funny or shocking to want anyone who is not cishet and white to have basic human rights and equalities. Finger Bang loves you and wants you to know we will never stop fighting small minded bullshit and we will never stop contributing our time and money towards worthy causes."

Also admirable is Glynis' pride in and support for Finger Bang's artists, as well as her extended community. On more than one occasion I've seen Glynis look one of the artists in the eye and say, "I appreciate you". She's commissioned a local artist (Allison Bartline) to create silver Finger Bang necklaces and cuffs for them. The salon doubles as a gallery, where she showcases the work of local artists and makers (including another of our sponsors, Cemetery Gates). When Marrow moved into our new space, she went out and bought us all the essentials - toilet paper, soap, dish towels - you name it, even though it was snowy and she had a surgery coming up - because she wanted to make sure we had what we needed. The woman doesn't mess around.

She's offered to come speak to our teens about who she is and the journey she took to get to where she is now - so expect to see more of her around Marrow.

If you're looking to get some artwork on your hands, and if your idea of the ideal relaxation environment isn't necessarily "tranquil" - get yourself to Finger Bang. They support us, and we love who they are and what they do.

Also did we mention that Asa donated this AMAZING leather jacket that she spent hours and hours working on, to benefit our recent Reopening Celebration? Because that also happened. She's featured on Nike's home page right now, too. Just saying. Go take a peep.

<3

WINTER inFORMAL

We know that not everyone is into prom (for whatever reason - I can think of a dozen off the top of my head and I *went* to my prom) and that not every teen even gets the opportunity to stress over whether or not to go to prom (for instance, our unschoolers) - so on the night of Roosevelt High School's winter formal, we hosted a winter INformal.

We (the staff and volunteers) didn't want to creep on the relaxed vibe and take tons of pics, but over 20 teens showed up and danced, played twister, ate pizza, drew on balloons, played video games, and just looked generally fabulous while hanging out. Those who weren't feeling camera shy captured that fabulousness in our DIY prom photo booth - and we want to share those photos with you!

A MESSAGE ON SAFE(R) SPACES

“The world hasn’t been a very kind place lately”. These are the words of Cash Askew’s stepfather, Haire. Cash was one of the humans whose life was lost in the recent Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, and was a musician and a friend to several of our friends in the Portland community.

It’s true. The world hasn’t been a very kind place lately, especially to those who face a tougher experience already - people of color, queer and trans communities, victims of assault, Indigenous folks… sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether we’re actually moving forward or if we’re on some surreal Westworld narrative loop.

If nothing else, the past six months have proven that when we’re talking about alternative spaces, “safe” has to mean two things. It has to mean that the space is actively fighting against systems of oppression and creating an environment that is inclusive and intersectional - and it also has to mean that it is physically safe.

This issue of safety - both physical and mental, was the reason we put programming on pause in late July and started looking for a new location. Marrow’s old building wasn’t unsafe, but to be honest it wasn’t entirely up to code either. And not having windows or a proper door could be unnerving sometimes, too - allowing anyone to walk in, regardless of their agenda or what programming we were running inside.

Our members actually loved our old building. As a product of volunteer repairs, donated materials, and furniture from Craigslist, it had a decidedly DIY feel to it. It’s a familiarity that anyone who has deviated (willingly or not) from the “norm” understands. It’s a learned affection that we have for these spaces - because the other spaces are never truly ours. They belong to people with money, people with power, people who belong to the 1%. They belong to adults.

This is why we moved out of a converted garage and into a more “traditional” space (a former office building). The new space is a stretch on our budget, for sure. We can’t do it alone. But it will belong to our teens, just as our last space did. They set the tone. They decide what goes on our walls, what our values are, what programming we offer, what we fight for.

And the space doesn’t have to be unsafe to be theirs. It doesn’t have to be cold, poorly lit, without bathrooms, lacking a proper door or windows. It doesn’t have to be a fire hazard. It can be bright, and warm, and safe. It can be expensive. And in a traditional building. And THEIRS.

And it will be. The people behind Marrow, and behind these teens - myself, my fellow staff, our volunteers, our donors - they get it. One experience we ALL share is that we were all teenagers once. 

Inclusive, all ages music venues don’t have to be unsafe. Alternative education programs don’t have to be in converted garages. We have the power to stop relegating vulnerable communities to crappy spaces. It isn’t on these communities alone, but on the community at large. We can occupy these spaces that would belong to the majority otherwise. Together we ARE the majority. These spaces can be ours.

“The world hasn’t been a very kind place lately”, but I’ve seen the teens in our community hold one another up. On election night I drove one member to another member’s house so she wouldn’t have to be alone as our country took an unsteady step into a precarious future. They deserve this space, where they can learn, study, rest, create, plan, grow, relax, breathe, vent, exist, and come together - and be safe doing it.

- daylynn lambi, program director/founder