Cultura Cura / Culture Cures: Neigbor to Neighbor (N2N) Fall 2022 Spotlight

By Aileen Balahadia, N2N Program Consultant

Amigos de Seattle is a radio platform aimed at connecting and providing resources to Spanish-speaking communities in Seattle.

This Fall’s round of N2N grantees features several groups demonstrating how Cultura Cura or “culture cures.” N2N has a long history of supporting and partnering with Black, Indigenous and people of color, along with immigrants, refugees and youth building community and transforming their neighborhoods. This important work often centers cultural identity, pride and connection. More than just celebratory festivals, dance classes and sharing food, connection through culture strengthens communities. Strong communities are foundational for long-lasting systems change.

What we’ve learned over the years is that this bold celebration and reclamation of cultural values, traditions and indigenous practices advances communal prosperity, health, wellness, and restoration. If culture can, in fact, cure, then the work of these grantees is imperative for the preservation and longevity of their communities, particularly throughout the last two years of the traumatic pandemic and racial injustice.

For example, the ALA Garifuna Womens group is working to implement a cultural preservation program for a Garifuna community that experienced displacement and threat of cultural extinction. This program is a first step towards healing. Many of their members are also domestic workers who have worked together, and this connection to culture—and to each other—boosts efforts to improve the working conditions and rights of workers.

Pictured: members of the ALA Garifuna Womens group sit for a photo.
Pictured: The ALA Garifuna Womens group is working to implement a cultural preservation program for a Garifuna community that experienced displacement and threat of cultural extinction

Many of our grantees are also working to incorporate cultural knowledge and tradition in health and wellness. The Latina Network for Healing is launching a new effort called “Leadership and Transformation.” Created by longtime respected Latina leaders, this project aims to center women’s wellness traditions from their diverse community. They will co-develop a program that uplifts effective ancestral and cultural tools for personal and communal liberation. Similarly, leaders with the Somali Reconciliation Institute are piloting efforts to address health and trauma from a uniquely Muslim-centered curriculum.

Moreover, some grantees use creative mediums to reach, educate, and strengthen their communities. Amigos de Seattle is a radio platform aimed at connecting and providing resources to Spanish-speaking communities in Seattle. Their funded project will provide opportunities for small Central and South American groups to create radio programs featuring their folkloric traditions and culture. Once groups establish their programs and draw in listeners, they hope to encourage civic engagement among their audience. For example, during the pandemic Amigos de Seattle helped get 1,500 people vaccinated. Likewise, Movimiento AfroLatino Seattle centers AfroLatino arts and culture and is deeply rooted in collective liberation and anti-oppression. Their funded project facilitates conversations that promote Black and Indigenous pride to strengthen their advocacy for racial and social justice movements. They believe highlighting community dialogue and art helps create space to connect and strengthen the identities that oppressive systems try to erase.

Lastly, the Seattle Griot Project will host a theatrical Maafa Commemoration. This is a healing journey that engages African Americans to participate in the telling of a story of Africans who were torn from their homes, transported across the Atlantic Ocean and enslaved in America. The Maafa theme is “The Way Out Is Back Through,” which means that for healing to take place, there must first be a recognition of the root causes for the harm. The organizers call the Maafa, “a painful journey, but it is also one that is jubilant and spiritually moving.”

The full list of N2N Fall 2022 grantees is:

  1. ALA Garifuna Womens Group*: Requests support to implement a program in South Seattle/South King County that would preserve and educate about the culture and language of the Garifuna people so that we can maintain a strong cultural identity while organizing on domestic worker and immigrant rights.
  2. Amigos de Seattle: Requests support to further develop the Latinx Spanish radio station, rooted in South Seattle, by providing leadership opportunities for diverse cultural groups to engage their community through radio workshops focused on topics of interest, like Latino folklore, the environment, and health.
  3. Eagles Nest Community Kitchen: Requests support to educate and empower BIPOC youth in Kent/South King County to advocate for Food Justice in school lunch programs, which also encourages communities to grow, sell, and eat healthy food.
  4. Fatherhood Accountability Movement*: Requests support for “Soufend Sunday Check-Ins” at Rainier Beach Community Center dedicated to the healing of Black males through healing circles and safe space activities where healing from trauma can begin to create healthier families and communities.
  5. Latina Network for Healing, Leadership, and Transformation**: Requests support to work with Latina women based in Kent to co-develop a program that focuses on community healing by uplifting ancestral, cultural, and effective existing tools for liberation in the Latino/a/x community. The Network also includes other individuals, groups currently engaged in cultural healing work.
  6. Movimiento AfroLatino Seattle: Requests support for MÁS Conversations for MÁS Pride, virtual diasporic community organizing spaces in South Seattle/South King County. that promote AfroLatinx diaspora identity, art, self and community love, wellness and pride in order to advance racial and social justice movements.
  7. No More Under*: Requests support to organize and educate members of South Seattle’s Black community, in partnership with the Holgate St. Church, to then join a wider constituency to build an advocacy campaign in support of water safety legislation at the State.
  8. Nehemiah Initiative Seattle*: Requests support to empower the African American community through leadership development, mentorship, and outreach in support of developing community-owned property of Black faith-based institutions in South Seattle and Central District.
  9. One Vibe Africa: Requests support for African Dinner Experiences that bring together S. Seattle African diaspora community to enjoy the talents of musicians, artists, chefs, and leaders. Youth are trained to produce the dinners, create digital content, promote local businesses and get engaged in community initiatives with attendees.
  10. Shared Spaces Foundation*: Requests support of Heron’s Nest education and ecological programs and facilities, in relationship with the Duwamish Tribe, created to serve Indigenous Native communities and beyond, advance Land Back efforts, and strengthen youth, educators, artists and others.
  11. Somali Reconciliation Institute**: Requests support for a groundbreaking series of Islamic Trauma Healing & Reconciliation workshops focused on the Muslim community, in partnership with a mosque in Kent, to raise awareness of health and encourage positive connections within the community.
  12. Strippers are Workers*: Requests support for worker-led leadership to outreach with other workers, engage in popular education, build coalitions and work together to fight for better industry conditions for dancers of Washington, the majority of whom are BIPOC, women, trans, non-binary and LGBTQ+ in S. Sea/S. King County.
  13. The Seattle Griot Project*: Requests support to conduct conversations in South Seattle and beyond based on a theatrical presentation of the “Maafa Experience” highlighting its impact and legacy in the Black Community that will foster generational healing and a foundation for growth.
  14. Washington Ethnic Studies Now*: Requests support to work with Concord International Elementary school in South Park to develop a Family Engagement Framework to help education professionals be more responsive to the needs of their community, including appropriate ethnic studies curriculum.

* Indicates first time N2N grantee
** Also indicates first grant written ever for organization

For more information about Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N), please contact Program Consultant Aileen Balahadia at 206-250-4299 or [email protected]

The quarterly deadlines for N2N are January 30, April 30, July 30 and October 30.