And The Beat Goes On

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – Get Mom on it. Make that two moms with young daughters, who are determined to make something good out of something bad. Start with a gem of an idea, stir in 15 years of innovative thinking and hardworking community volunteering, and what do you have? A success story, that’s what, in the form of the Salem Multicultural Institute, gearing up for another big festival on the last weekend of this month. What started out as a poster paper sketch in 1997 is now Oregon’s largest multicultural event. It has won numerous awards, engages over a thousand volunteers, welcomes over 33,000 visitors, and continues to grow. Those two moms, Kathleen Fish and Mona Hayes, simply wanted to form a positive response to incidents of racial intolerance in Salem.

The first Festival was held in 1998; a non-profit was formed for its operation. It grew year by year; in 2005 World Beat Dragon Boat Races were added; in 2006 the World Beat Gallery was opened downtown. Add a Performance and Lecture Series in 2007, a Multicultural Ball in 2010, what in the world is next? With a goal of “promoting harmony and understanding through innovative, educational, cultural programs & activities” and the enthusiasm that has been generated over the last 15 years, you can count on new developments evolving. Meanwhile, there’s that exciting Festival coming up June 30 and July 1 you won’t want to miss. Year round, go to the Gallery, join a Dragon Boat Team, make a donation, or volunteer; keep up the beat.

About Salem Multicultural Institute

World Beat Gallery, 189 Liberty St SE, Suite 211B, Reed Opera House, Salem, Oregon, 503-581-2004

World Beat Festival June 30-July 1

The World Beat Festival is a two-day international cultural event where you can learn about other cultures by experiencing their music, dance, stories, art, and foods. The Festival is organized into five World Villages representing different regions of the world; there are nine performance venues, three parades, and Dragon Boat Races all day Sunday.

Saturday 10 am to 11 pm with Dances of Fire and Light beginning at Dusk

Sunday 10 am to 6 pm with Dragon Boat Races beginning at 9 am

Join the World Beat Dragon Boat Paddling Club

This exciting sport, now one of the fastest growing in the US, has attracted visiting teams from throughout the Northwest to Salem for the World Beat Race. The number of participating teams has grown to our current maximum of 30. Salem teams include the Angry Unicorns, a year-round team. If you are interested in starting your own team or joining an existing team, contact 503-581-2004.

Another “worldly” example of turning “bad into good” is there to see every day in Riverfront Park in the form of the Eco-Earth Globe. In 1986 when the City of Salem purchased the property from Boise Cascade that was to become Riverfront Park, one of the items remaining was a 25-foot asphalt-covered stainless steel ball. This “acid ball” was used by the paper company as a pressure vessel for the processing of wood pulp into paper. A citizens group proposed using the steel ball for an art project, and thus the idea for the globe was born. Today the ball is mounted very close to where it was used in the old factory and is a beautiful piece of art – a mosaic comprised of over 86,000 ceramic tiles reflecting the various biomes of the planet, along with representations of the flora and fauna of Earth, and many of the world’s natural and man-made wonders. It took volunteers five years to complete the project. Walk the pathway riverside to the southern portion of the park to see.