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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TOMORROW, innovative and energetic spoken word collective ForWord will take the [common ground] stage as part of our March 1st “MERGING MICS” collaboration show with Tuesday Night Project— rumor has it, they’ll be performing some new work. The four-member crew took some time to share about the importance of art+community in their lives:


I love Hip Hop. With that being said, I’ve experienced art playing a significant role in my community. I grew up amongst those who used pencils, microphones, sidewalks, cardboards, aerosol cans, city walls, vinyl records, and mixers to get through the day. Honestly, I was never a master of the four elements, but a sheet of paper and a sharpened pencil went a long way. When I stepped into the open mic scene, I was exposed to not only emcees, but singers, musicians, and poets who all valued the freedom of self-expression. While some nailed high notes and others jammed on guitars, it was through spoken word poetry where I found myself and was able to meet so many good folks during high school, college, and still now. In this community, art is more than a role for me, for us. It is the reason to live. This community I live in and love so much is art expressed.


I think art has been a really effective way to communicate within the community, especially for those who are not comfortable articulating in plain language their feelings and concerns. I feel really lucky to have spaces like TNP and cg— spaces for people to gather, share stories and ideas, connect, and grow together.  When they can come together in spaces like TNP and cg and one can feel a part of that, it just feels like you’re a part of something bigger, working toward something bigger than yourself and that’s kind of nice to think about.


The best, and perhaps most convenient, aspect of art is that it’s accessible to everyone. By accessible, I mean it can be enjoyed both as a spectator and a participant. Even further, it is emotionally appealing to the masses and, with respect to the APIA community, has been a vessel for increasing our visibility in the mainstream. The more Asian faces I see on the screen, the more I remember and am self-affirmed: we exist!


Art offers a new avenue to express yourself.  There are times when pictures, photographs, dance, paintings/murals, music, and poetry/spoken word hold the attention of an audience longer than a regular conversation.  We can utilize that time to talk about politics, world issues, life or whatever else.  In the APIA community, and any community for that matter, art is utilized as a way to bring issues that are affecting us into the forefront of the mainstream conversation.

Our “MERGING MICS” show is tomorrow! Bring a friend or ten, and RSVP here. See you soon!

Photo: ForWord on stage at our June 2011 show. Credit: Scott Chan

  1. jbayani reblogged this from forwordcollective
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  4. forwordcollective reblogged this from commongroundoc and added:
    YES! We will be here tomorrow! See YOU there? Please? =).
  5. commongroundoc posted this