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About the Soul Salmon Project

Soul Salmon Declaration
The Project's Intended Effects


Project Mission: To invite northwest artists, businesses, institutions and tribes to reimagine and creatively interpret wild salmon in order to educate communities, inspire local salmon culture and generate charity to save native salmon.

Art can stop you in your tracks like nothing else! Imagine coming to work one day and being startled by an eight foot salmon you would meet only in a dream. It might be wearing a hat, sporting flames or sprouting trees or cloaked in poems praising rivers. Imagine the effects of hundreds of such salmon throughout the state!

Soul Salmon 2001 is a public art project intended to raise awareness of salmon. Soul Salmon will invite northwest artists to interpretively decorate hundreds of large (8 foot) fiberglass salmon sculptures, transforming them into icons for urban and rural communities around Puget Sound. In a dynamic display lasting from June to November, 2001, artists, teamed with business and civic sponsors, will reintroduce and revitalize wild salmon in our imagination and experience as a totem of local culture and keystone of northwest ecosystems.

Soul Salmon 2001 will celebrate, educate and precipitate environmental awareness. Soul Salmon will effectively weave together the business, environmental, educational, cultural, and charitable communities of the Puget Sound region. Soul Salmon will put "to commune" back in community, reaffirming the old notion that community is grounded in the commons that salmon embody. The project will culminate in a unified, gala auction from which all proceeds from the sale of salmon sculptures will benefit charities and salmon restoration projects chosen by the individual sponsors. It will educate, familiarize and engage the imagination, promote and stimulate the defense of wild salmon. Soul Salmon "art"iculates the community - commons connection.

In Chicago, this same strategy successfully implemented the gift of $3,500,000.00 to charities in 1999 with the sales of 300 artful fiberglass cows. Business interest is piqued by the substantial tourist enthusiasm and interest. Chicago was estimated to have a $200,000,000.00 tourist impact.

A unified, gala auction in April, 2002, and accompanying on-line auction allows patrons to significantly increase their contribution to natural resource conservation and charity by donating the proceeds of auction sales of their pieces to a restoration project or charity of their choice.

Soul Salmon will present artful, interpretive, 8 foot long salmon sculptures to urban and rural populations to establish thousands of personal connections to wild pacific salmon.

Puget Sound Communities Host "Schools" of Soul Salmon
Put Your Community On The Map!

This year there are forty cities in North America emulating the example of first Zurich, then Chicago where tourism was enhanced by an estimated $200,000,000 and $3.5 million was donated to charity through the charity auction finale. Some examples of these projects are New York - cows, Cincinnatti - pigs, Toronto - moose, Buffalo - buffalo, New Orleans - catfish and so on.

Become Part of The Salmon People!

Puget Sound is home to our eminent dweller WILD PACIFIC SALMON. Many of us are recent arrivals to the Pacific Northwest but we are here now and wonder what we have in common. How do we join together and discover the unique qualities of this place? To paraphrase President Clinton, 'It's the ecology, stupid!' We must all become Salmon People to keep our wild salmon alive and our quality of life from eroding. Most people care about the environment but don't know what to do to help. By becoming intimate with wild salmon - through sculpture and art - we can become Salmon People - people who nurture and protect wild salmon.

How can I get Soul Salmon in my Community?

Artists can find sponsors for an idea for a salmon sculpture transformation. Businesses can join together and sponsor a community run of fun salmon. City Councils can initiate a community drive to get salmon on the local map. Watershed and salmon recovery groups can fundraise by sponsoring salmon. (See non-profit section). Corporations can increase their gift to a favorite charity or salmon recovery project.

Arts Commissions can organize and call for artists. Mainstreet groups can establish the importance of enhancing local attractions. Chambers of Commerce can respond to citizens or take a leading role.

Who Is Soul Salmon 2001?

A Brief History:
A dozen people formed by invitation in Chimacum, Washington on January 22, 2000, signed The Soul Salmon Declaration (see card), and got to work.

They formed a Board of Directors under the non-profit organization named TAHMANAWIS, whose mission is to nourish Pacific Northwest arts, education, ecologic restoration and culture by encouraging periodic, spirited "art actions" that celebrate, interpret and reimagine the natural world that sustains us all. Soul Salmon is the first of these "actions".

Soul Salmon follows Chicago's example to "make no money and lose no money".

Officers of Soul Salmon 2001: President: Sara Mall Johani; Vice President: Heidi Love Hall; Secretary-Treasurer: Candice Gohn

Committees and Advisors:

Steering Technical Education
Larry Lawson Tom Jay Julie Marston
Marlene Bennet Daryl Gillette Kit Pennell
Don White Cavin Richie Barbara Bowen
Sheila Kelly (advisor) Mark Stevenson Pat Copeland
Art Reitsch Ike Eisenhour
Elyse Kane

Only a truly educated and inspired citizenry can generate the political will to establish habitat protection and stock restoration as government priorities. Soul Salmon generates dynamic and creative urban partnerships of surprise featuring salmon, keystone species of the northwest ecosystem. Business and civic patrons will partner with juried artists to sponsor artful transformation of 8 foot fiberglass salmon sculptures created by Tom Jay, pre-eminent sculptor of salmon, in three varied poses. Through a mold process, the three poses will yield hundreds of replicas for artists to interpret in myriad creative variations. Communities throughout Washington State will demonstrate rapport with wild salmon by displaying hundreds of salmon sculptures in the streets from June to November, 2001, a summer run of fun salmon. (Seattle, Skagit, Port Townsend / Jefferson County, Shelton and Bellevue have already indicated interest). A unified, gala auction in November, 2001, and accompanying on-line auction allows patrons to significantly increase their contribution to natural resource conservation and charity by donating the proceeds of auction sales of their pieces to a restoration project or charity of their choice. In Chicago, this same strategy successfully implemented the gift of $3,500,000.00 to charities in 1999 with the sales of 300 artful fiberglass cows. Business interest is piqued by the substantial tourist enthusiasm and interest. Chicago was estimated to have a $200,000,000.00 tourist impact. We must use everybody's interests to save wild salmon by building salmon recovery into every single human activity, including tourism!

Just as wild salmon is the keystone species of the northwest ecosystem, Soul Salmon, as art, defines the radiant center of this generative project. However, education must become the water Soul Salmon swim in, a current that piques public curiosity and inspires action.

The use of media and creative promotional outreach will pair poets with salmon artists, map salmon sites, both natural and artful, create educational treasure hunts, establish and maintain a Soul Salmon website with links to restoration and existing salmon information of all kinds. Updates on the Soul Salmon sculpture as they are installed will include salmon facts, history and story. These are also woven into the artists' lexicon and interpretive tool kit by inclusion in the artists' packet. The bases themselves are sculpted to define salmon issues, designed both to convey pertinent watershed lore in sculptural images and to receive various objects created by participants by creation of "salmonart" and culture. These might include pennants made by children, watershed trade beads, photographs depicting Soul Salmon from other communities for trading, and many other creative products emanating in response to the educational component of this endeavor. Soul Salmon will encourage and co-ordinate watershed awareness through county identity and foster identifying symbols such as the previously mentioned watershed trade beads to develop personal citizen interaction on a watershed and county level of awareness. Maps of the watersheds of Puget Sound will establish regional awareness. EVERYONE DWELLS IN A WATERSHED. Which one? Who else lives with us? Education of this kind quickens emergent feeling and offers a means and locus for action.

The six* month long display allows time for citizens to experience a new identity as members of salmon culture and a particular watershed. Bumbershoot will provide "liftoff" for the 2001 celebration with a display of 10 Soul Salmon in the fall of 2000. Participating communities around Puget Sound will join in the festivities by displaying at least one Soul Salmon sculpture in their community during Bumbershoot in anticipation of the Soul Salmon year (2001) to come.

*The display itself, culminating in the auction, is six months. Preparation of educational material, promotion of the idea, producing original sculpture, manufacturing salmon blanks, presenting the concept has started and continues throughout the duration.

Communities must take responsibility for local salmon runs and compel government to enforce and strengthen salmon protection legislation. Soul Salmon has the capability to spread enthusiasm and firm political will for salmon recovery to communities around the Pacific Rim through California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska, Russia, Japan, Korea. Soul Salmon can manufacture salmon blanks for future salmon projects indefinitely, in 2002, 2003, 2004....

General popular awareness and enhanced specific knowledge of wild salmon coupled with increased local, grass roots responsibility will create an emergent culture, a new combination of traditional (native) and modern sensibilities which acknowledge that salmon is the silver shuttle that weaves life in the northwest together and should be part of every land and water use decision making. Through the Soul Salmon logo, Soul Salmon has the potential to quicken awareness and solidarity among "Salmon People" throughout the northwest and other states and countries.

Schools are a central element in the Soul Salmon experience and a number of dedicated, subsidized salmon sculpture blanks will be available for students to transform. An innovative education program and teacher training will accompany each salmon blank. Local artists will be invited into classrooms to help students achieve their vision.

Soul Salmon adds critical momentum toward saving wild salmon by creating enthusiastic support for native salmon and the specific knowledge and will for what it takes to save them. By inviting artists and businesses to co-operate in environmental consciousness raising we cross a traditional divide and create a new, unexpected constituency for salmon, one that can effectively pressure government to do the right thing. We create increased income and credibility for artists, charities and salmon restoration entities as well as revivify public art in service to the environment. Incidentally, by donating business sponsored art to the auction, businesses receive tax write-offs for encouraging community / commons culture. Non profit corporations can purchase salmon blanks and fundraise while helping salmon awareness by turning the auction proceeds back to their organizations. Chicago Cows sold at auction brought from tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand dollars each.

In total, by quickening a soulful connection with wild salmon we encourage the people of Puget Sound to reimagine salmon and the great power it has to represent us. To understand its demise confirms our isolation from the fundament of the commons that grounds all communities. To paraphrase President Clinton, "It's the ecology, stupid!" Soul Salmon seeks to reveal and confirm that we are all Salmon People.

Soul Salmon generates dynamic and creative urban PARTNERSHIPS of surprise, featuring salmon, keystone species of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem.

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