Living Treasures Celebration January 27, 2006

The designation of Living Treasure is to honor those who made a difference to pluralism in our community. They serve as models and mentors, providing inspiration with their purpose, heart, and wisdom. They are the folk heroes who live amongst us. This special distinction is our gift to a beloved “elder” as well as an expression of gratitude for all they have done.

The Living Treasures Celebration serves an important symbolic purpose in inculcating pluralism into the embedded values of our college. It gives recognition to those who may not receive the traditional awards of the college because they make waves, because they force us to confront the institutional racism that is, sadly, as pervasive as the rain. It means a tremendous amount that everyone treats this as a family event, both in bringing their families and in the overwhelming feeling of family when we gather.

As important as it is, the Living Treasures Celebration continues to be mounted entirely on volunteer effort. We thank Jennifer Gordon (center) and Amy MacNeill (left) who did the lion's share of the work in making it the most magical and warm evening. Thanks also to Kim Burns and Lucy Macneil who rounded out the planning committee. They are white women allies who stepped up and set the bar higher than ever.

The celebration started with the burning of sage, one of the four sacred herbs of American Indians to cleanse the spirit. Jesse Lucas, drum bearer for the Snoqualmie Tribe, drummed and sang. Phil Lucas performed a smudging for all those who wanted to participate and is pictured here with LT invitation designer, Kiku Hayashi. The smell of sage is mystical and it does an incredible job of creating the spirit of our celebration.





Ed Biggers showed his formidable skills as MC for the evening. He kept the program moving and in order. Ed continues to break through barriers of class at BCC by providing leadership and facilitating Courageous Conversations. His son (who's grown tremendously over the year) shared in the duties.

It is our tradition to have a Living Treasure introduce the new Living Treasures and Scott Bessho, one of our pioneers in teaching white privilege, did an excellent job of commending Sayumi Irey on her accomplishments. Sayumi, our first Diversity Caucus co-chair, is a dynamo. She currently leads the Ethnic and Cultural Studies Program which has grown to 10 courses and over 400% in enrollment. Articulation agreements have been signed with the UW Bothell and Seattle with more to come. She is Chair of the Tenure Review Committee and is actively (and on her personal time) involved with the Multicultural Student Leadership along with doing graduate work. Her influence on the Professional Development and BCC Reads! Committees were felt in diversity training and diversity curriculum. She is universally admired and respected.


Ron Leatherbarrow, a Living Treasure who has not missed one of our celebrations, did the honors for Myra Van Vactor. Myra played a pivotal role in our pluralism efforts by getting a key grant from the Washington State Library three years ago. This grant funded our first Beyond Diversity Workshop with Glenn Singleton which was a turning point in pluralism at BCC. She also is an exceptionally gracious host, making the library a vibrant center for pluralism (despite the huge disruption) with events like Frank Wu and Vi Hulbert which brought overflowing crowds of up to 200 students. The library also hosted the Employee Pluralism's film series that welcomed students, faculty and staff alike to share films like "The Wedding Banquet."  You need only look at the compositional diversity of the library staff to know how much Myra supports pluralism and how comfortable a home she has made the Library Media Center for all students, staff, and faculty.


Lucy Macneil spoke on behalf of Jean Floten in honoring Ruthann Kurose, who has been on our Board of Trustees for 13 years. Ruthann has been untiring in her support of pluralism at BCC and she pushes us to achieve more. She has attended Beyond Diversity workshops and is a loyal participant at all our events including the American Indian Film Festival. She has made countless introductions to key people in the community.

Kae Hutchison was honored for her early work on pluralism and white privilege. Lucy Macneil acknowledged Kae for being early as a white administrator in identifying white privilege as a barrier to eliminating racism. Kae commended us on Courageous Conversations and the great strides we have made.


Retiring Living Treasure, Tika Esler, will be moving to be near her daughter and her new granddaughter who will be arriving this spring. Tika will be missed for her formidable administrative skills and the passion she brings to providing the best services and support for all our students.

Owuor Arunga is a native of Kisumu Kenya and the son of BCC faculty Marcia Arunga--more evidence of the amazing talent in the BCC family. As a graduate of the New School University, he has played with the beacons of jazz (Charlie Persip, Candido Camero, Billy Bang, The Cadillacs, Robert Glasper, Louis Reyes Rivera) and apprenticed with masters Olu Dara, Jimmy Owens, and Chico Freeman. The "Young Lions" dazzled the crowd with their exceptional playing and had us all up and dancing. Nothing lights up a crowd more than the genius of the coming generation.




It's unanimous that the food at the Living Treasures Celebration is the best you can get anywhere. The food is truly a gift of the heart and we appreciate the care, time and love that went into making this feast. Kudos to the gourmet cooking talents of Cora Nixon, Diana Hagen, Scott Bessho, Sharon Felton, Sharon Foster, Jack Surendranath, Judy Woo, Judith Paquette, Juan Ulloa, Louis Watanabe, Vicki Wheeler, Jennifer Gordon, Nora Lance, Donna Meek, Matthew Groshong, Akemi Matsumoto, Lucy Macneil, Kathy Colasurdo, Tom Pritchard, Beverly White, Cheryl Vermilya, Jenny Laveglia, Denise Johnson, Ed Biggers; Scott Irey, Amy MacNeill, and Janice Grayson.


Thanks to Scott Irey, our photographer and photo editor who spent hours creating these great pictures.
On becoming a Living Treasure: This work is a labor of love. I do it for the people I work with and for the unbelievable learning that I receive. I don't understand why people don't want to be engaged in this way. It takes so much energy to leave a large part of yourself at the door. It also takes an incredible amount of energy to suppress seeing others in their full multicultural complexity and glory. Take Phil Lucas (who had a good time roasting me).   I could follow him around all day and wonder why he isn't mobbed by faculty and students anxious to learn what he has to teach. There are many problems to solve and we don’t have a commonality of heritage to fall back on when we disagree. Our only way out is to grow together.