Described by organizer Laura Muñoz of Playhouse Arts as an ensemble-created multi-disciplinary, multicultural performance event, Migrations: Walking Together proved a fun and fascinating walk in the parks and other locations of Arcata on Saturday. It began in the Creamery District with a lovely dance performance and shoes — lots of shoes — and ended with a parade entering Carlson Park from Giuntoli Lane. An unexpected change in route due to construction blocking the way added an authentic touch to the “migration” experience for participants. (See the slideshow below for highlights.)
"The procession provided a way for all participants to walk together, sharing the experience of time, space and the different cultures that find themselves in Goudi’ni,” said Muñoz. “Walking together grows our solidarity. Walking is traveling in human time; it connects us to the ground and to those who came before us. As we walk, we create new paths into the future." (Goudi'ni is the Wiyot word for the region now known as Arcata, meaning "over in the woods.")
More than 120 registrants (masks and vaccinations were required) stopped at locations across Arcata, where groups shared their work, play and culture, including: Jardín Santuario (11th and F streets) with a dance in the garden by members of Centro del Pueblo; Stewart Park (1475 J St.) for taiko drumming and dance by members of Humboldt Asians and Pacific Islanders; Shay Park (M St. off Alliance) for music by The J Street Regulars; Westwood Manor Park (2217 Heather Lane) and dance by PAPA; Chevret-Vaissade Park (1770 Felix Ave) and folk music by Chubritza; a welcoming prayer and song by Laura Woods of the Yurok Wellness Coalition on the lawn of Mad River Hospital on Janes Road (moved from Potawat Health Village); and ending at the parade ending at Carlson Park on Giuntoli Lane. Participants enjoyed free Yurok fry bread tacos, live music by Latin Peppers, lots of giant bubbles, a mix of nonprofits including Humboldt Performing Arts and Culture Resilience and True North, and a popular walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic by Paso a Paso.
“My goal for this performance event was to look at who we are through the lens of migration in Humboldt,” said Muñoz, “to find the connective tissue that binds us to this part of the earth today, and to look at the systemic inequities and history that have driven us to this point — to realize, to empathize and to be compelled to just action.”
Last spring, Muñoz began collecting hundreds of donated shoes for the installation project and dance that began the procession. She said the shoes were present to help evoke visions of moving from place to place, one foot and then the other, and the rhythms of just walking.
And in case you’re wondering what happened with all the shoes, Muñoz said, “We left the shoes in place after the opening dance performance of Migrations, and we put up a ‘Free Shoes’ sign. James Hildebrandt and I went there today (Sunday) and about three quarters of the shoes had been taken. We are taking the rest to be donated or to the dumpster this week. The remaining shoes are all really worn out.”
“It was amazing how many of the shoes were gone by the time we came back from Carlson Park (on Saturday),” said Hildebrandt, who described a man on site on Sunday who had been making a ground sculpture out of the remaining shoes and splitting them up into pairs.