2021 Summer: Re-emergence

As our communities emerge to negotiate a world changed, we at Unit Souzou are continuing to shift and flow in our work. We have been very active, pivoting our projects and seeding new explorations.

First we are thrilled to share some exciting news. Our Co-Director Michelle Fujii is one of two recipients of the prestigious Lilla Jewel Award, which recognizes Oregon-based artists who advance a social change message through their work. We are grateful to Seeding Justice (formerly MRG Foundation) and the award committee for this honor.

Our major project, Constant State of Otherness, continues to evolve. Three years of community engagement and creative development had originally been scheduled to culminate in a series of theatrical performances across the country in May 2020. The pandemic spurred us to reimagine and reground the work in response to the many timely and relevant happenings in our world. The resulting work includes a new series of Otherness Video Diaries, ongoing content development, and the debut of this theatrical production in Spring 2022. We’ve been honored to secure numerous grants for this work, most recently from noteworthy performing arts funders MAP Fund and are National Theatre Project grant finalists. What is the rhythm of our safety? This question is at the heart of Unit Souzou’s newest project, RHYTHM: Walking to the Heartbeat of our Community, which explores pedestrian safety in East Portland. RHYTHM was originally scheduled for early 2021, but was put on pause due to COVID-19 shutdowns. With the rise of Anti-Asian violence, the impacts of COVID, and historic disinvestment in East Portland, safety in public is urgent and multilayered. We are eager to begin collaborating with community members and organizations to devise creative experiences. Here are two opportunities to get involved:

We would like to hear YOUR stories and experiences!

East Portland Neighborhood Cohort We are seeking eight community members with strong connections to East Portland to form a Neighborhood Cohort, which will work together over the course of three months, August – October 2021, over Zoom (with the possibility of gathering in-person at a physically distanced outdoor space) to document this unique time and explore how our communities are experiencing and imagining safety. Unit Souzou will facilitate cohort activities and conversations that spark remembrance, observation, and investigation. Guest facilitators will also be invited to provide tools in bystander intervention, processing trauma, and self-defense. 

Cohort member stories will also be collected and organized into an atlas, documenting experiences of safety/lack of safety over the past year and ideas for the future. 

Apply to participate by filling out this short form by Wed, Aug 4th.

Community Interviews We will also be interviewing community members who have a strong current or past connection to the Jade District in East Portland including those who have lived, worked or gone to school in the neighborhood now or in the past. Interviews will be recorded and to create a quilt of voices, faces and stories, which will be featured in a public event in fall 2021.

Interviews are 45 – 60 minute by Zoom or phone with Unit Souzou and a compensation of a $40 gift certificate to a Jade District business will be provided.

Interview Interest Form

We are so grateful for your continued support and interest in our work. Stay tuned as we continue to evolve!