Solstice Parade founder on building community through art

2013 Fremont Solstice Parade biker (Flickr photo by Lambert Rellosa)

2013 Fremont Solstice Parade biker (Flickr photo by Lambert Rellosa)

Long before the Fremont Solstice Parade was world-renown for the phalanx of naked bicyclists that kick it off, the event was created as a way to build community through creative expression.

The parade was birthed by Barbara Luecke and Peter Toms, migrant arts-workers who brought the concept of a Solstice Parade with them when they came to Seattle from Santa Barbara in the late 1980s. Solid Ground and its forebear, the Fremont Public Association (FPA), helped birth the parade by providing institutional support to the Fremont Arts Council. The parade was more or less grafted onto the Fremont Fair, which was produced by Solid Ground from 1974-2009. The Fremont Chamber of Commerce assumed control of the Fair in 2010.

Barbara Luecke, co-founder, Fremont Solstice Parade

Barbara Luecke, co-founder, Fremont Solstice Parade

The Fremont Parade was conceived with two fairly conservative restrictions that seemingly paradoxically fostered its spirit of pure unabashed creation: There were to be no printed words (or logos) and no motor vehicles (except aid chairs). This limited commercialization and freed participants to come together in a celebration of life and art.

Fremont Solstice Parade (photo by Eric Frommer)

Fremont Solstice Parade (photo by Eric Frommer)

Annual public workshops are at the heart of the parade, bringing artists and other participants together to create and collaborate on costumes and ensembles in an art lab environment. The parade and workshops are managed by the Fremont Arts Council.

In this brief video, Barbara Luecke tells the story of the genesis of the Parade and role that Solid Ground/FPA played in building community through the arts.

 

Voices of Community celebrates Solid Ground’s roots

Forty years ago this season, Solid Ground’s forefathers and foremothers came together dedicated to a singular mission: They would lift up the depressed neighborhood of Fremont, building community through art, activism and a wildly positive attitude. The fruits of their labor are visible in the art-saturated Fremont community of the 21st Century; in the thriving culture of recycling started by the early Fremont Public Association (FPA); and in the legacy of good works strewn across King County in fighting poverty and oppressions.

This legacy was built not only by the FPA and Solid Ground, but also via the groups and organizations that have spun off from us: Fremont Arts Council, Seattle Workers Center, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), Economic Opportunity Institute, our Broadview Shelter & Transitional Housing, our Giving Garden at Marra Farm, our Sand Point Housing campus, and countless others.

On Thursday May 8, founders, friends, current staff, volunteers and program participants came together at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center (located in the neighborhood now known as the “Center of the Universe“!) to rekindle our founding impulse through story, socializing and celebration.

Some of the highlights are captured in these video clips of stories told by Armen Napoleon Stepanian – the honorary but official Mayor of Fremont, self-declared Christopher Columbus of Curbside Recycling, and legendary political rabble-rouser – and Frank Chopp, for many years the irrepressible Executive Director of FPA, now Senior Advisor to Solid Ground, and Speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives. More clips will be posted on this blog soon. Enjoy the power and the passion (and sorry for the compromised audio; we’ve got subtitles to help you along!)

 

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Ode to the Fremont Fair

I was up at dawn this morning, the celestial pull of the solstice drawing me to the hard gray streets of Fremont.

fremont fair 2013

Today’s news

Yesterday’s rain was a drain, and I couldn’t help but think of the stage crews, the truckers, the roadies and the shuckers who were staging and loading and stocking at the Fremont Fair.

Al

Al

Everything’s wet from the night before, your legs are tight, your shoulders sore. In the afternoon sun you’ll forget the bone chill, for moments of bliss in the midst of it all.

But right now it’s hot coffee, two sugars and a dash of cream, recovering what blew away, getting back to your layout schemes. It’s 18 hours of lugging and waiting, pressing and debating. A crew that becomes family, a community that lives and breathes.

So, here’s to the vagabond fair folk, the traveling tribe of festival and fun, here’s to Phil and Marko and Jessica and 1,000 others who keep the flame alive.

volunteer greeters 2007

volunteer greeters 2007

Here’s to Oliver, Adina, Dox and crew, Al, Pete, Russell and countless more. Here’s to Armen the Mayor, Artis, David, Paul and other others. I know the fathers’ names but few of the mothers.

tomorrow

tomorrow

Here’s to 25 years of Arts Council parade, here’s to Lynn and Barb and Cathy and art without words, the vendors, the food trucks, the hawkers and buskers, the craft folk and importers and oh, here’s to you …

… for getting to Fremont and seasoning the stew.

Happy Solstice everyone!

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