Annual Retreat

 
Top L-R: Daniel Pak, Brian Myers, Carrie Siahpush, Krista Welch, Jon Stone, Amr Awwad, Wendy Simmons, Thaddeus Turner, Mirabai Kukathas. Bottom L-R: April Nishimura, Matt Sablan, Barbara Mitchell, Zoser Dunbar, Shawna Angelou, Paul Laughlin.

Top L-R: Daniel Pak, Brian Myers, Carrie Siahpush, Krista Welch, Jon Stone, Amr Awwad, Wendy Simmons, Thaddeus Turner, Mirabai Kukathas. Bottom L-R: April Nishimura, Matt Sablan, Barbara Mitchell, Zoser Dunbar, Shawna Angelou, Paul Laughlin.

By Daniel Pak

On Sunday, March 31 our board, staff, and interns took over a conference room at The Collective, a dope social club, workspace, and “urban basecamp” in the heart of South Lake Union for our annual retreat. Rainier Valley Corps Director of Capacity Building April Nishimura started it off with a comprehensive assessment of Totem Star based on an organization-wide survey. Here’s a quick summary of the results:

Top Strengths
- Our staff does their job well and work as a team.
- Our work is strongly informed by diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- We have a strong board, deeply invested in our mission, values, and strategic planning.

Top Needs
- Space! We’ve outgrown our 225 square foot space and recently launched a New HQ Task Force.
- Fundraising with a specific emphasis on individual donors.
- More staff members to support our work and life balance.

Thanks for the presentation April! Board President Jon Stone then led us on an amazing ride up a bell curve of strategic planning. We dug deep into who we are (value proposition), the ecosystem in which we exist (industry structure map), variables that affect our organization (context map), and some aspirational goals (five bold steps). So much to dive into, and thanks to an amazing lunch from Marination, we made it!

Totem Star is currently in a phase of growth, but no matter how much we grow as a community and as an organization, we will always be a family. It brought so much fulfillment and joy to see our deeply engaged board of directors, our caring and hard-working staff, and our inquisitive and inspired young interns all in the same room together, planning the future of Totem Star.

L-R: Deputy Director Paul Laughlin, Amr “ZAG” Awwad, Teaching Artist and Program Coordinator Matt Sablan, Zoser Dunbar (cheesing), Mirabai Kukathas

L-R: Deputy Director Paul Laughlin, Amr “ZAG” Awwad, Teaching Artist and Program Coordinator Matt Sablan, Zoser Dunbar (cheesing), Mirabai Kukathas

It’s a blessing to be working with such loving folks, and to close I want to share a quote by a high school history teacher who recently brought his class to Totem Star to interview our artists for their project on race in 21st century America. Later in the evening after the visit he wrote me and said, “Still reflecting on our conversation. You have a good group of people you get to spend time with - people who seem filled with purpose and joy. I aspire to the same.”

Amr “ZAG” Awwad. Photo by Daniel Pak.

Amr “ZAG” Awwad. Photo by Daniel Pak.

Zoser Dunbar. Photo by Daniel Pak.

Zoser Dunbar. Photo by Daniel Pak.

Mirabai Kukathas. Photo by Daniel Pak.

Mirabai Kukathas. Photo by Daniel Pak.