common ground open mic series

common ground is organized by progressive Vietnamese American community members, artists, and activists committed to cultivating a positive and safe healing space for artistic growth and community empowerment. The common ground collective builds collaborations across communities and supports the work of social justice spaces.

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Our new logo was designed by the lovely Candace Kita.
Recent Tweets @CommonGroundOC


Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles currently working as the Voter Engagement Manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. She was a long-time writer for Sepia Mutiny, and was recently published in the anthology Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and currently writes a monthly column called Radical Love. Her personal projects include curating images for Mutinous Mind State, writing about Brown music at Mishthi Music where she just co-produced Beats for Bangladesh: A Benefit Album in Solidarity with the Garment Workers of Rana Plaza and making #MuslimVDay Cards. Taz also organizes with Bay Area Solidarity Summer and South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles. You can find her rant at @tazzystar and at

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Born and raised in Chicago, Danielle Shorr is spoken word and slam poet living in Los Angeles. She recently attended the national poetry competition Brave New Voices representing Southern California and Say Word Project. She is heavily involved in the Southern California poetry scene and plans to continue her work through performance and published work. She also has an affinity for cats.

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Bio: Jacqulyn Whang is a Korean American from Los Angeles County.  She lives in KTown and works as a middle school English teacher.  She doesn’t have much youtube videos and spends most her time performing poetry in her shower. Come say wassup to her after the show. Human over poet.

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Courageous, I try to be.
Optimistic, yes indeed!
Momma’s girl, mostly.
MUSIC lova -notes&beats <3
Orange county represent,
God is my president.
Oh, yea….i like to eat.
Underestimated beast.
Neva sleep;


When asked about the theme: “Two lines: Mom in one and aunt in the other, headed towards freedom…”



For the month of September, AF3IRM Orange County/ Affirm Gabnet will be hosting a joint Open Mic show with Common Ground at VAALA Cultural Center in Santa Ana in celebration of the women in our lives!


“Healing Through Remembering: Stories of Immigrant Women”

We are AF3IRM. We are the daughters and granddaughters of immigrant, transnational women. We want to share their incredible stories of strength and survival as they crossed borders, both physically and emotionally. We aim to highlight how the women in our lives were affected and how they, in turn, have affected us. Our roots fill us with nostalgia - a longing for a homeland, a home in which some of us have never been to. What does ‘home’ mean to our mothers and what does ‘home’ mean to us?

Not only should we share stories about our roots but we need to make the connections to our own lives so that we can understand the issues we face, as women, in our world today. As transnational women, we carry with us the trials and tribulations that our foremothers have faced. We must learn from them so that we can create a strong sense of home where we choose to lay down our roots.

We want this night to be expressive, intimate, and interactive and to use this space to share the memories of the struggles and triumphs of immigrant women. If we do not feel connected, sometimes uncomfortable, with these stories, then we cannot cope with our identities and our feelings. This night is to remember and reflect upon the stories of our immigrant mothers but it is also to raise awareness and to go forth into militant action with understanding, love, healing, and optimism in order to better/empower our lives.

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OCAPICA’s Mission

The Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Inc. (OCAPICA) was established in 1997 with the mission to build a healthier and stronger community by enhancing the well-being of Asians and Pacific Islanders through inclusive partnerships in the areas of service, education, advocacy, organizing, and research.

Covered California is in full swing but at OCAPICA, we understand that many of our communities are still  not insured. This is due to many barriers such as language access, lack of outreach, and just overall confusion on the new healthcare law.

Bio: I stumbled upon the art of magic senior yr of high school and developed unique style during college and have passionately studied the art since. I am a member of the World’s Famous Magic Castle and International Brotherhood of Magicians and have actively performed for galas, corporations, and the college circuit. I have an on going popup show entitled Trickonometry.


Bio: Priska (born Priscilla Liang) was born and raised in Southern California. Though she spent most of her adolescent years being bullied in school, she was able to find solace and comfort in music and found that her strength lay in her ability to express herself through song. Always performing with her heart on her sleeve, Priska will captivate you with her unexpectedly big voice and poignant lyrics.

On her idea of “Movement”: A word packed with meaning and a concept so simple in it’s humble necessity. Without movement and the ability to move, we would cease to be. Movement allows us to collide, collaborate, grow, change, develop and even presents us with the choice of staying still.

Bio: I am a music producer/performer from UCSD that has been playing flute for 9 years. I use elements of jazz/hiphop coupled with technology to bring realtime beatssssssssss.

Bio: Van (rhymes with “fun”) C. Tran uses overhead projectors to display “shadow poems” based off her relational experiences of the everyday.  She received her MFA in Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is the recipient of various awards from the Central Coast: Isla Vista Arts, Friday Academy, and smART families from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Her work has been exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Forum in Santa Barbara (now MCASB), alternative spaces in Los Angeles, Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association in Santa Ana, and San Diego Space 4 Art, an artists’ warehouse. Van currently lives and works as a teaching artist in San Diego, CA.

On the theme of “Movement”: Movement encompasses many ideas. My use of shadows layered over projected images is one way I like to create movement. The process turns into a storytelling with visual images.  My piece, “Ong 8-fold” is a tribute to my late grandfather. I hope that my piece will not only honor his life, but will also move the audience to feel and think of their ancestors.