10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind

13 Dec
(In celebration of 10 years of Art at Work Month, our 10 in 10 series spotlights the top 10 ideas, people and organizations to hit Tacoma in the past decade.)

Cool cat Stella Haioulanil at the AMOCAT Awards. Photo: Rodney Upchurch

One of the great moments in AMOCAT Awards history occurred in November when AMOCAT recipient and T-town creative force Stella Haioulanil recited her freshly minted (as in just that morning) poem, I Am A Cat, during the awards ceremony at the Museum of Glass. In a feline fedora, with soft, cat-like cadences, she began:

I Am a Cat
One day not long ago, the City called and told me I was a cat. I said, I’m a cat?

Yeah! That’s a fact!

Amongst other things I Am a Cat!

I’m a Catalyst in motion….

Move’n, strive’n, stroll’n, around the Tac!
Hilltopia to be exact!
And in the City of Destiny is where I’m at.

I Am a Cat!

I Am a Catalyst in motion….[click here to hear the complete poem]

Haioulanil is indeed a pivotal cat on the local art scene – one deserving of the Tacoma Arts Commission’s coveted accolade in the category of Community Outreach by an Artist. Equipped with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Evergreen State College-Tacoma, and two Associate degrees from Tacoma Community College, Haioulanil uses her communication skills to heighten awareness in the areas of community mobilization, conflict resolution and social justice through the medium of cultural enrichment events.

Haioulanil is CEO and founder of Free Ya Mind, Inc., working to promote public discussion between businesses, organizations and urban communities through the literary and visual arts. She has partnered with the Tacoma Art Museum and Washington State History Museum to provide educational outreach to underserved populations. Through partnerships in the Tacoma and Clover Park school districts, she has administered workshops that teach youth leadership, the gift of artistic expression, and the ability to think critically and develop effective communication skills. A filmmaker, writer and radio host/DJ, this powerhouse has also worked with some of the most celebrated spoken-word talent on the globe.

Which brings us back to poetry…On the last Friday of each month you can find Haioulanil at the Bostwick Tully’s in downtown Tacoma hosting the Free Ya Mind Poetry, Spoken Word and Open Mic Show. At 10 years old, it is one of Tacoma’s most famous and longest standing poetry (and stand-up music) shows.

We asked how Free Ya Mind has changed from its inception. “Free Ya Mind’s mission has never changed, but the mission is constantly in motion meeting unique needs as they arise,” says the multi-talented artist. “Using conscious expression in the form of edutainment [we] create dialogue, awareness and change….Our main goal is to continue to be unique and innovative and to strengthen and further develop both our executive and youth advisory boards.”
Haioulanil says that Free Ya Mind’s approach to supporting young people is emphatically different than that of other organizations: “We are hip, current and raw! We meet the youth where they are and empower them in safe environments that we create. We encourage and give them permission to use their voices to talk about real issues from their perspective, that others silence. We do this through unique partnerships, outreach, innovative programming, curriculum development [and role] modeling….We are currently looking at ways to fund artistic projects that address three areas in the community that most shy away from – the impact of HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and obesity.”
Speaking of art and her own creative process, Haioulanil says, “As an artist, some of our best work is done when it is pressed out” in a hurry. “When we hide ourselves in our secret place, away from the busy world and trust our mind to be free to focus on one singular thing, [then] the desired outcome comes forth.” As with her stirring I Am a Cat in honor of the AMOCAT. Of her newborn poem, first read when it was less than a day old, she says, “The piece was challenging, fun, real and an honor to write.” The zen piece concludes:

A Cat-­a-­lyst in fact, proud of the feline in me, encouraging others to Be.

And dedicated to setting all cats free!
Yeah, AMOCAT that’s me!

Enjoy past stories in our 10-in-10 Series:

10 in 10: 2006 the Broadway Center Shines Anew
10 in 10: 2001 The Birth of Tacoma’s Very Own Volcano
10 in 10: 2005 The AMOCAT Awards

10 in 10: The F.W. Woolworth Building
10 in 10: 2001 Tacoma Gets Smart (UW-Tacoma and SOTA)

3 Responses to “10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind”

  1. Foster December 15, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    God is good! I’m very proud of my friend who is very deservant of this award: servant to the youth! Development!


  1. 10 in 10: 2006 City Arts Magazine Hits Tacoma « Tacoma Arts - December 19, 2011

    […] 10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind 10 in 10: 2006 the Broadway Center Shines Anew 10 in 10: 2001 The Birth of Tacoma’s Very Own Volcano 10 in 10: 2005 The AMOCAT Awards 10 in 10: The F.W. Woolworth Building 10 in 10: 2001 Tacoma Gets Smart (UW-Tacoma and SOTA) GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "ffffff"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "9bd28e"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "7a7a7a"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "115900"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_url", "585858"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "entertainment"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "education"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "books"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "general"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "city-arts-magazine"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "jeffrey-hirsch"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "virginia-bunker"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_sharethrough"); Share this:FacebookEmailTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. 10 in 10: 2004 Scattered Ephemera « Tacoma Arts - December 23, 2011

    […] in 10: 2006 City Arts Magazine Hits Tacoma 10 in 10: 2001 Free Ya Mind 10 in 10: 2006 the Broadway Center Shines Anew 10 in 10: 2001 The Birth of Tacoma’s Very Own […]

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