Flyer posted on storefront window at Busboys and Poets, Tacoma Park, MD. 
Photo taken on December 10, 2016 by Amy Kitchener.
Practicing Cultural Democracy "All Together"

Amy Kitchener, Co-founder and Executive Director, Alliance for California Traditional Arts
As 2016 winds to an end, we share two inspiring features with you about California traditional artists and living cultural heritage. First, longtime friend and collaborator, Josie Talamantez shares a very personal reflection on the passing of Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez, Chicano musician and activist, whose music educated, activated and called people into action through his creative genius, righteous community justice and infectious humor. Lisa Jauchon shares the story of the Sama Sama Cooperative engaging parents, children, grandparents and community members in sharing Filipino and Filipino American culture and history in the San Francisco Bay Area through language immersion, pre-colonial and indigenous arts, and ecology, to nurture a healthy sense of self for youth as a vital part of the Philippine diaspora. Sama Sama means "All Together" in Tagalog.

These two stories mean much to ACTA as we reflect upon the meaning of our mission and work in California today. Here we are on the leading edge of demographic change in which communities of color represent a majority population and where one in four people are foreign born. We are home to the largest number of Native Americans in the country. Our California experiences in which cultural communities continue to practice traditional arts expressions - no matter what - brings us hope. It also is reflective of the collective resilience and cultural leadership that traditional artists have practiced through history. In our work at ACTA, we are witness to the power of traditional arts practice - as a method of gathering, mirroring reciprocity, calling communities into action, claiming space, as a process that fosters healing from trauma and promotes well-being - and that transforms us though the expressions of beauty according to the values and aesthetics of each cultural community.

The principal of cultural democracy in which we recognize and amplify the multiple community narratives and expressions of struggle and resilience will continue to guide us. We are grateful to be working together to support California's culture - By, For, and About the people - Over 200 languages strong. ACTA is here and we are ready to continue to nurture, support, advocate, and gather together with you.

"We gotta educate, not incarcerate, so that humanity will shine.

~ Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez

Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez performing in San Diego in 2014.  Photo by Russell Rodríguez.
Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez (October 30, 1951 - October 28, 2016)

by Josephine S. Talamantez
Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez was my friend. I'm not unique because if you asked anyone who knew him, they would say the same thing. He was a very charismatic individual with a full-of-life ability to educate and entertain you and at the same time keep you laughing and/or crying, depending on the situation.

"Mr. Chunky" Sánchez - as he was lovingly referred to by the public, and "Chunky" by his family and friends - was an elder in the community, a community organizer, and a gang prevention expert, as well as a musician, songwriter/composer, storyteller, comedian, actor, activist, educator and cultural worker. More than anything else, to me, he was a social butterfly playing his music for the masses and for the lone individual, however the situation commanded. In the forthcoming documentary, Rising Souls: Singing Scorpions by filmmaker Paul Espinosa and producer Mark Day, he is quoted saying, "My mission was not to work in Hollywood. My mission was to work in the barrios, in the fields, in the prisons, in the schools. Wherever people needed to hear something inspirational, that's where my mission was, and still is."

Sama Sama campers stand in solidarity for #BlackLivesMatter, 2016. 
Photo: Sama Sama Cooperative.
Knowing Where You Are Headed: Meet the Sama Sama Cooperative

by Lisa Jauchon, Sama Sama Cooperative
A few years back, my 8-year-old son, a voracious reader, asked if there were books he could read about Filipino and Filipino American history. I was secretly thrilled at his request but after searching for age-appropriate materials and looking in our own collection of books, it was disappointing to find there wasn't much out there. Around the same time my 4-year-old daughter began Philippine dance classes. It was inspiring to see young children, mostly 2nd and 3rd generation Filipino Americans, exposed to their cultural heritage through traditional folk dances. I bookmarked these experiences in my head hoping that one day my kids could learn and experience Filipino and Filipino American culture in a nurturing environment with a deeper understanding of their place in the diaspora.

With over 3 million Filipinos in the United States and tens of thousands that migrate each year, Filipinos represent a substantial and ever-growing diaspora in the U.S. Yet, we continue to be invisible to the majority of America. We have little political representation-there has only been one Filipino American elected to the California Legislature, in a state that contains the largest population of Filipinos living in the U.S. Our children's history books are absent of the long and contentious history of American imperialism in the Philippines or the contribution of Filipino farmworkers in the successful fight for farmworker rights in California. Filipinos are seldom represented in popular media or sports. As a survival mechanism, Filipino immigrants have become masters of assimilation at the cost of losing language, culture and history. It is within this context that a group of us came together to envision a different path for our young people.

Eduardo Martínez Arvilla (left) was a master artist in  ACTA's Apprenticeship Program  in 2016 and 2014, with apprentice Alberto López.  The apprenticeships focused on rhythms and musical styles from the Caribbean coast of Colombia .

Help California's Diverse Traditions Thrive!

ACTA's 2016 End of the Year Donor Campaign is off to a marvelous start. After three weeks of actively reaching out, we've already raised 50% of our fundraising goal, for a total of $3,975 from twenty-four donors. Several friends have even stepped up with thousand dollar gifts and pledges! Our immense gratitude to everyone who has contributed to helping keep our Apprenticeship Program vibrant and strong.
Our goal this year is to raise $8000, the cost of funding two full master apprentice contracts ($3000 for the artists and $1000 for ACTA program expenses) for our 2017 Apprenticeship Program. Your gift will be used to support a master artist - someone who is recognized as an exemplary practitioner of a traditional folk art form by his or her community and peers, and an apprentice, who has demonstrated an intention to enhance their skills and cultural understanding of the art form by working with a master. From boat builders and basketmakers, gospel singers to gagaku court musicians - the Apprenticeship Program has ensured that the transmission of leadership and knowledge is passed to the next generation of artists and cultural visionaries.
If you haven't already given, please visit our Crowdrise fundraising page at: We're already halfway there; would you consider giving a little something to help us get to the finish line?

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is the California Arts Council's official partner in serving the state's folk & traditional arts field.
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