Community event connects people and place

Twenty regional contributors attract over 400 people to Town Hall in Seattle

An eclectic mix of artists, journalists and activists attracted a diverse audience to Town Hall last night for the first-ever Ampersand Goes Totally Live. The event, hosted by the regional sustainability organization, Forterra, featured 20 individual, unrehearsed acts speaking to the important connection between people and place.

Among the acts at Ampersand Goes Totally Live were Seattle rappers, Prometheus Brown (Blues Scholars) and Thig Nat (The Physics); The Onlies, a Garfield High School bluegrass trio; Adam Sedgley with locally based public radio program, BirdNote; solo performance artist, Stokely Towles; journalists Knute Berger (, Seattle Magazine) and Charles Mudede (The Stranger); and international award-winning owl photographer, Paul Bannick.

Produced by journalist Florangela Davila, the event was an outgrowth of the conversation begun by Forterra’s debut magazine, Ampersand, released in October and likewise shepherded by Davila. In under five minutes, each contributor presented a unique point of view on why place matters and inspired the audience to maintain and continue to nourish our Pacific Northwest.

Berger and Mudede participated in the “Density Game Show,” answering questions like which city they feel is tackling density in the right way and how they would make sure Seattle isn’t just a city for rich white people.

Seth Grizzle, co-founder of Graypants talked about using conscientious design, local materials and responsible production to create diverse products, architecture and artwork. “Dream. Scribble. Make. That’s our process for creation,” Grizzle said.

Standing next to the dress she created using mussel shells from Shelton, artist Terra Holcomb described her work crafting ingenious dresses out of natural materials found locally. “Everything could possibly be a dress including moss, pine cones, even berries,” she said.

TEAGUE designer, Roger Jackson, described the process of developing the award-winning bike designed for Seattleites – “The Denny” and mused, “Today is our opportunity to design a new and better world.”

Native American storyteller of the Lower Elwha Band of S’Klallam Indians, Roger Fernandes, spoke of our connection to the natural world and shared the Salish story of blackberry and wolf.

“There was something for everyone tonight, from the ultimate urbanista to the nature lover. A sustainable region needs to be the work of all of us and all of us must feel welcome doing it,” reflected Gene Duvernoy, president of Forterra. “But to me the most beautiful thing about the evening was the common thread of why place matters to each of these contributors.”

“We all care about this place we call home and connect to it in different ways. When it comes to inspiring people, I can’t imagine a better team of contributors – creative, intelligent, passionate folks who remind us of just how cool this place is,“ said Davila about producing both the magazine and the event.

Forterra plans to follow up on the success of this community event with its next issue of Ampersand in spring 2015.