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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Posts tagged "march"


On March 1, 2012, forWord was featured at common ground’s March collaboration show with Tuesday Night Project for an all around night of explosive awesomeness.  The night was filled with a lot of art and a lot of community and a lot of heart on all ends.  It was a little strange for me because I help organize common ground and I was featuring with forWord as well.

Enough about me… on to the show!  It was an exciting show for us because fW loves both cg and TNP and they came together to put on a great show.  It was our second time featuring at common ground. You can read about the first time here!  Mark opened up our set with his Untitled piece about hip hop and then I tagged in with my piece about wanting to kiss someone.  Eddy and Stephanie did their new piece about censorship and we closed out our set with a currently untitled piece we’ve only performed one other time at APAAC about being Asian American.

As for the rest of the show, the co-hosts were Cara from cg and Candace from TNP aka C^2 (but squares they were not!).  They really upped the ante on awkwardness but in a very warm and hilarious way.  It was amazing to share the stage with the other features!  Pratiti brought the house down with her beautiful voice and the harmonium, a very interesting Indian instrument, and it was really cool to see the creator of Tuesday Night Project, traci akemi kato-kiriyama, in front of the scenes collaborating with Sue Jin and Jenny San Angel for a poetry and music extravaganza!  DJ 2-one was cool as a cucumber!

Shout out to my friend Mai-Thi who sang her soul out on her ukulele and Noize who came out to support and who beatboxes his way into our hearts all the time.  One time he chased me down a street in Long Beach after the Definitive Soapbox just to get me to SPIT! That’s love right there! 

Much thanks to common ground (Phi, Cara, Sandy) for the invite to perform (cg/susan: you’re welcome!). It was a beautiful night and we were glad to be a part of it!

common ground will be on hiatus but for updates, check the facebook!  Also, more photos from the night on the facebook! Tuesday Night Project kick starts their show on April 3rd.  Check them out here.

Who took these bomb photos? Kristina Aquino


Photos from our March “Merging Mics” collaboration show with Tuesday Night Project. Thanks to all the features, volunteers, and organizers for making this last show before our hiatus happen. Check us out on Facebook for more updates, and be sure to check out TNP as they kick off their 14th season on April 3!

Credit: The amazing Kristina Aquino.

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

Soulful singer and March 1st feature Pratiti Renee Mehta reflects on the importance that music has played in the communities she is a part of:

When I was seven years old, I convinced a music teacher from school to come home in order to explain to my unyielding mother how much I loved and needed music in my life. Little did he know…! Actually, little did my mother know I even had an interest in singing.

Two decades later, this is by far still my favorite memory. Why? Well, if it hadn’t been for this very moment, I would have never met my soul mate.

Having spent half my life in India and half in the US, I often find myself wondering where my identity truly lies. English replaces Hindi as my day-to-day language, dresses replace saris on (most) special occasions and humongous family Sunday get-togethers are limited to occasional Skype sessions. As the rest of my Indian life slowly says its goodbyes, the music in my soul refuses to leave.

Indian classical music, in particular, has done wonders for my identity pangs. It has provided a platform for generations of Indians, like and unlike myself, to carry on the voice of our people no matter how “Indianized” or “Americanized” we may be or feel.  I am an individual, carrying the voice of millions. If this isn’t community, then I don’t know what is.

This is a voice of my ancestors, of my origin and it reminds me that while the world I live in is nothing like theirs, our “common ground” is the music they have buried so deeply in my soul.

Did you miss her and Andre perform last February? Catch the video of the flooring performance here, or better yet— see her on stage for our March 1st “MERGING MICS” collaboration show! It’s only a week away. How can you stand it?!

Photo credit: Kristina Aquino