Sunday, June 23, 2024

Icicle Fund’s Long Spoon Celebration is about Inspiration and Connection

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In early June, Icicle Fund hosted an inaugural Long Spoons celebration at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts’ Snowy Owl Theater. Over eighty people attended; they were creators, educators and nonprofit organization representatives who are deeply committed to work connected to the environment, the arts and history of North Central Washington. Representatives from Icicle Fund’s founding partner organizations were all there: The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Chelan Douglas Land Trust, Methow Arts Alliance, Wenatchee River Institute and Icicle Creek Center for the Arts.

The environment, art and history have been the focal points of Icicle Fund and its founder Harriet Bullitt. The name Long Spoons derives from a parable beloved by Bullitt. The parable reflects how a challenge—trying and failing to feed oneself with an overly long spoon—can be overcome and turned into opportunity through community and innovation—by using the long spoons to feed each other instead.

Thus, the celebration was an honoring of Harriet Bullitt and also a call to action to continue her legacy. “This place has been changed by Harriet’s vision and actions,” said Icicle Fund Executive Director, Christine Morgan. “She’s allowed us to be our best and this is the sign of a true leader.”

“I appreciated Christine having an open and vulnerable heart to us when speaking about Harriet. It was clear Harriet made an impression on her both professionally and personally,” said Shawn Cardwell, Executive Director of Columbia Basin Allied Arts in Moses Lake.

Artist and former wildlife biologist Heather Murphy shared, “I was both sad and proud at the Long Spoons presentation. Sad because our friend Harriet Bullitt was gone. Everywhere I looked, I saw her fingerprints, felt her questions and heard her laughter. 

“Proud, because I felt her vision was being upheld. To help, to steward and to highlight the arts, music, environment, conservation, history and culture of this area.”

Murphy was a two-time Conservation, History and Art (CHA) artist in residence, a program supported by Icicle Fund and Methow Arts Alliance. The Long Spoons celebration also served as an exhibit of work by all CHA artists who visited both the Methow and the Wenatchee watersheds. Murphy had four works on display, including paintings and illustrated poems. Murphy’s work and that of other CHA artists is for sale with proceeds going back to the Icicle Fund. The exhibit will travel to galleries in Twisp, Wenatchee and Ellensburg.

The event also spotlighted quality art education sprung from an Icicle Fund initiative, again in partnership with Methow Arts Alliance. Kenny Renner-Singer, principal of Alpine Lakes Elementary in the Cascade School District, explained that in his seventeen years with the district, art education had been inconsistent until now, relying on volunteers and utilizing the upper-level art teacher in the elementary schools occasionally. With a Youth Art Initiative grant, dedicated artists, Amber Zimmerman and Lore Smart, worked in every elementary classroom weekly, teaching technique-based lessons. “Art is everywhere!” Renner-Singer boasted. It’s infused in the culture of the schools, which has had a profound impact.

Attendee Curt Soper, Executive Director of Chelan Douglas Land Trust, was delighted to converse with the Youth Art Initiative teachers Zimmerman and Smart, saying, “They are an inspiration and their work with our local students makes me very optimistic about the future.”

Before and after a short presentation, there was time for guests to mingle with the intent of learning from and inspiring each other. Everyone had written a snippet of a dream on their name tags to enliven conversation and offer chances to exchange and revel in shared passions and curiosities.

Morgan suggested, “Find people who can share the work, or who can help you think about how you can do the work differently and better!”

“My dream was to facilitate the use of art as an expression,” said Cardwell. “At the time I wrote it, I was thinking of the Uvalde community and ways in which my profession, arts presenting, could do any even small part in preventing a tragedy like that from happening again. My organization [Columbia Basin Allied Arts] is doing a theater residency with the Mandala Center in spring 2023 that will facilitate self-reflection and healing in high school students and community members. But after this event and speaking with the CHA resident artists, I realize art can also be a strong expression for the land we inhabit, as well.”

Toward the end of the gathering, Morgan announced that one lucky organization would win a $1500 Long Spoons grant. Waste Loop, a Leavenworth-based organization with a mission to expand recycling and composting and reduce waste, won the grant.

“Waste Loop is honored and humbled to have received the Long Spoons Celebration Grant raffle,” said Ariahna Jones, Waste Loop Executive Director. “We have been inspired by the Icicle Fund's ability to promote the intersections between art, the environment and the cultural and natural history of communities, so we plan to utilize the funds to weave these together through an art/education installation at the new community compost drop-off point.”

Morgan also shared the news, that in addition to a lifetime of dedicated work, Harriet Bullitt made a final bequest before she passed away of $12 million to Icicle Fund, which will be used strategically in the future to continue to uplift the communities of North Central Washington. Attendees left the celebration with thoughts revolving around the answer to Morgan’s question, “What will your legacy be?”

Icicle Fund, Harriet Bullitt

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