One of the first panels of the day discussed the loss of spaces to the growing wealthy corporate culture in Seattle and, in particular, the effect of this on communities of color. Among questions asked were communities can do to reclaim these spaces in a city that is known for its liberal politics and awareness and yet still falls prey to gentrification and inequality. While these obviously questions proved to be difficult to find a singular answer, this spurred an interesting and important discussion on the extent of change that awareness can cause and issues of lip service. This was to be indicative of the in-depth discussions that would happen throughout the day which were powerfully paired with artistic expressions like a showing of the film “The Promised Land” and music performances by various womxn artists. This combination of discussion and arts offered an interesting meditation on the power of combining academia and intellectualism with the arts and how this pairing can impact social change.
The Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference begun with a blessing by Duwamish tribe chairwoman Cecile Hansen that included the powerful statement, “the Duwamish are still here.” This recognition of Seattle’s history as Duwamish land kicked off the recurring theme that was mentioned by various speakers about the spaces that we occupy. In a practical sense, the conference was organized into an assortment of spaces. This included spaces recognizing historical women, black communities in Seattle, and spaces of quiet designated for those who needed a break from the conference’s activities and noise. One of the goals of the conference was to “create brave spaces” for discussion and to find answers in a city facing issues of inequality and oppression. The 2018 Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference has kicked off to a strong start and is showing itself to be a unique and powerful event for the city of Seattle.