Meet the MayDay Council
HOBT and Free Black Dirt are thrilled to announce the inaugural MayDay Council (MDC). HOBT received more than 40 community nominations, representing a wealth of passion, skill, and energy for the work of creating a more equitable and accessible MayDay. Through a robust community nomination and selection process, 16 artists and community leaders have been invited to serve on the first MayDay Council.
The MDC will partner with HOBT in designing a new approach to the planning and production of future MayDay events based on principles of equity, justice, and collaboration.
We're thrilled to introduce you to the inaugural MayDay Council members!
Louis Alemayehu is a writer, educator, activist, poet and mentor of younger artists and activist. His writing has appeared in national and international publications. Much of his current role today has been influenced by his connection to both the Black Arts and American Indian Movements. He collaborated with Lakota/Ojibway elder and activist, Juanita Espinosa in founding the Native Arts Circle in the late 1980’s. Alemayehu has intimate connections to the people of and cultures of Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. He was mentored for 7 years by Dakota spiritual elder Amos Owen of Prairie Island Minnesota. Alemayehu is a founding member of the seminal, award winning poetry/jazz ensemble, Ancestor Energy, strongly influence by Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Ashley Bradford Events and Office Coordinator for the Powderhorn Neighborhood Association with over 5 years of event and community building experience. By working at the neighborhood association she has had the opportunity to meet and work with local artists and engage diverse community members of all kinds. Her skills/expertise are in running large scale events in the powderhorn neighborhood like the Powderhorn Art Fair, and Powderhorn Porchfest. She has also brought new ideas and attraction to these events in the hope to draw larger crowds and continue on the path of intentional community engagement.
Allison Bross-White is the owner of b. resale and a proud Southside resident. Her business pairs fashion with sustainability and social justice and has become an eclectic hub for artist pop-ups, events and community building. Having attended the festival for over 10 years, May Day has become Allison's favorite day of the year, even more so now that she gets to share it with her two small sons & husband. A festival dedicated to celebrating diversity, inclusion & Mama Earth must always be afforded space in this community. Ensuring its longevity is a top priority for Allison & she can't wait to get to work!
Naomi Campion after immigrating from New Zealand in 2014, MayDay was Naomi's first stop. She worked with Penumbra and Park Square Theatre before joining HOBT in 2015. Naomi's background is in experimental, physical theatre influenced by her time as an actor, project manager, and producer with Free Theatre Christchurch (NZ). Naomi project managed a large scale procession of puppets through Christchurch City center, a ritualized reclaiming of the city after earthquakes destroyed it in 2011. Naomi personally witnessed how puppetry can act as a vehicle for resistance, transformation, and healing in the community. While a post-graduate student, Naomi tutored the Puppetry, Animation, and Body in Performance programs at the University of Canterbury. As HOBT's General Manager, Naomi is excited to bring her love of program design and administrative systems to support the MayDay Council in their important work!
Susana De León is a community organizer, cultural activist, and nationally recognized immigration attorney. Susana co-founded in Minnesota the movement of Aztec Dance that primarily focuses on youth and their families. In addition to her cultural and artistic work, Susana practices law exclusively in the area of immigration, focusing on relief for victims of crime such U visas, asylum, and deportation defense. She teaches seminars on U visas and prioritizes the representation of crime victims, women who are victims of physical and sexual violence, children, and cases of urgent humanitarian need.
Asher Edes believes in art that brings community together. Living in south Minneapolis for 11 years, Asher finds a sense of time and place through the annual cycles of MayDay and BareBones Puppets. Asher coordinates volunteers for Don’t You Feel It Too? (DYFIT), and explores intersections of art, healing, and activism in DYFIT’s intensive learning group, Supporting Emerging Embodied Discoveries (SEED). By working with Mixed Precipitation, Asher witnessed intimate relationships between performance and environment. Asher is excited to bring experiences with groups including Queertopia, One Voice Mixed Chorus, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Patrick’s Cabaret to support the MayDay Council's transformative work.
Jovita Morales My name is Jovita Morales, I’m an indigena immigrant from Mexico, I am a mother of two beautiful young adults. I was raised by my native Mazahuas grandmother and great grandmother back and forth with my parents. I grew up around [email protected] and natural herbals community where we use herbs as medicine. My hobby paint, farm, futbol, and boxing.
I got involved in activism in 2003. I am the founder of a group called The Minnesota Immigrant Movement. I’ve been fighting for immigrant’s rights on drivers licenses for all for many years now. I helped to pass the municipal Id in Minneapolis. I have been involved in many other issues for immigrants. Recently I have been working at a nonprofit organization as food shelf coordinator.
Candida Gonzalez A queer Puerto Rican native of South Minneapolis, Candida Gonzalez studied Latin American Art and History at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and went on to get their M.Ed. at The University of Minnesota in 2003. They are passionate about education, community engagement through the arts and equitable arts access. They approach their work by centering at the intersection of art, activism, healing and personal/community empowerment.They are deeply invested in the concept of using art and community design as tools to wage love and healing. Gonzalez facilitates nationwide the Making it Public workshop series for Forecast Public Art and creates jewelry under the name Las Ranas Jewelry.
L. Kling uses they/them/theirs pronouns and is an FTW of color. They have been living in Powderhorn for 8 years, and attending the MayDay Parade and Festival for 15 years. They are passionate about organizing community for safer spaces, and have invested in making transportation, food, and small business ownership more accessible for Femme, Trans, Two-Spirit, Non-Binary, Women (FTW) and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Honoring the stolen and occupied Dakota and Anishinaabe land Minneapolis exists on and centering Queer, Trans, BIPOC voices across class and immigration status are central to their work. They have years of experience organizing safer spaces, working large community-driven street festivals, mentorship, owning a small business, and facilitating spaces. They are eager to contribute to the MayDay Community. (Grease Rag Ride & Wrench, FOR US, Support Local Hustle, Open Streets, Pickle Witch, Midtown Farmers Market)
Denise Mayotte is a longtime south Minneapolis resident. She has been in almost every MayDay parade for the last thirty-five years, marching as a HOBT board member, in the add-on section with KFAI, as a parent supporting a MayDay kid and for the last five years, as a member of the Tree of Life Crew. She has worked as a community organizer, in community radio, and for the last twenty years, in philanthropy focused on art, community, public policy, and children and youth. Denise is a social justice advocate, aconnector, and a proud parent and grandparent.
Kallie Melvin is a Twin Cities-based performing artist and puppeteer, who has been working professionally for the past 20 years in the Twin Cities. She has performed theatrically with companies including the Guthrie, Mixed Blood, and Pangea World Theater. She discovered her passion for puppetry three years ago through the Monkey Bear Harmolodic workshop and has gone on to create her own puppet shows, including collaborations and performances with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, Weisman Art Museum, Minnesota Museum of American art, Barebones Puppets, Z Puppets Rosenschnoz, Puppets and People, the annual MayDay Festival and more. This past summer, Kallie was elected and is currently serving as the acting regional director of the Great Plains Region of Puppeteers of America. Kallie was adopted from Kolkata, India, and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her art typically centers on subjects and themes that are close to her heart, such as home, transracial intercontinental adoption, home, and finding identity and voice, and experiences around growing up and existing as an IBPOC artist.
Felicia Perry is an ARTreprenuer based in Minneapolis specializing in fashion, design, performance art, and curating spaces. Dedication to community guides her work as Program Manager with the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, transforming vacant space activation into a vehicle of economic/social development. Using Art as a catalyst to create a vibrant business corridor, she manages projects such as the 3-day FLOW Northside Arts Crawl and Open Streets West Broadway. She is an on air host of “DesignHER Life” at KRSM Community Radio station, where she interviews women and non-binary ARTreprenuers about designing and creating their unique life and career paths.
Andrea Pierre is a mother, radio host, creative and producer based in Minneapolis of Afro-Caribbean descent. She has been the founder and host of “The Discourse” on KRSM, a radio program that discusses relationships, current events and Issues that impact the Twin Cities and Hip-Hop culture. She has been a consultant for MIA, FLOW Nonfiction, Hennepin County Public Libraries and countless other institutions big and small. She is passionate about issues such as motherhood, community based-arts, Coparenting, politics, books, occupational therapy and health. She lives in Minneapolis with her daughters.
Rosa Raarup (she/her/hers) was born in northern Minnesota surrounded by art, nature, and a community of creative thinkers. Currently, she works at the Walker Art Center as the Visitor Services Specialist for Performing Arts. She will be completing her final year of the Arts and Cultural Leadership Masters of Professional Studies, with a minor in Museum Studies, at the University of Minnesota in May 2020. Rosa joined the HOBT board of directors in February 2019 and is honored to be apart of a group with so many innovative and imaginative thinkers.
Yordanose Solomone (Yordi) is a Minneapolis transplant from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with Environmental Science Management and Policy focusing on sustainability and outreach of marginalized populations. She currently works at Metro Blooms on stormwater management and equitable engagement of underserved populations in water and climate change efforts. While she is from Ethiopia, she grew up in Minneapolis since high school. She is quite familiar with the physical and social landscape of the state. She has attended most of the Mayday Parade since she has moved to Minnesota. She is really passionate about how to meaningfully understand the multiple benefits and opportunities that environmental and art initiatives provide when equity, empowerment and/or social justice lens is used to meaningfully involve vulnerable and underserved populations in our city.
Andrew Young is a multidisciplinary artist based in Minneapolis whose artistic focuses are teaching, puppets, visual arts, music, and building. A part of MayDay for the past few years, Andrew cares deeply about community engagement and wants to build stronger relationships and deeply listen to the community members and organizations that are the heart of the parade. Andrew is interested in the ways art can create community and be created by the community, and is feeling cautious but hopeful in this time of transition. He wants to honor the history of the parade and those that built it while visioning where it could go.
More about the MayDay Council
The MDC will partner with HOBT in designing a new approach to the planning and production of future MayDay events based on principles of equity, justice, and collaboration. The MDC will be facilitated by Free Black Dirt, Junauda Petrus and Erin Sharkey, together with collaborator Lisa Marie Brimmer. You can read more about Junauda, Erin, and Lisa here.
The MDC & HOBT will be working together to chart a new, more collaborative and inclusive way forward for the MayDay Celebration in 2021. They will also be offering community art engagement that will happen throughout 2020. The MDC will officially convene in early January and will invite the community to attend Tea & Treats sessions every 2nd and last Friday of the month beginning February 28th, to be the first to hear updates and share input with the MayDay Council.
Meet the MayDay Council Facilitators
The MayDay Council has been designed and will be facilitated by Free Black Dirt, Junauda Petrus and Erin Sharkey, together with collaborator Lisa Marie Brimmer.
Free Black Dirt is an artistic partnership formed by Minneapolis based collaborators Junauda Petrus and Erin Sharkey. Committed to creating original theatre and performance, hosting innovative events, organizing local artists, and promoting and supporting the emerging artists’ community in the Twin Cities, Free Black Dirt seeks to spark and engage in critical conversations
Lisa Marie Brimmer They/Them/Theirs Lisa Marie Brimmer is an interdisciplinary artist living on Dakota and Anishinaabe lands. They are in ever-evolving relation with nature, ritual, and connection to their ancestors. Lisa Marie currently teaches at Century College, co-edited Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride (MHS Press 2019), and is co-curator with Sherrie Fernandez Williams of the “Queer Voices Reading and Performance Series” presented in collaboration with Quatrefoil Library and Hennepin County Library. They also consult with Family Tree Clinic on an MSAB funded project, “Where Does Your Healing Come From?” which integrates art into the client experience at a sexual health clinic. Lisa Marie is a former Interim Executive Co-Director of The Cedar Cultural Center (2018), and held multiple roles at Intermedia Arts (2014-17). In their time with Intermedia, they worked with Creative Leadership and Artistic Development programs in coordination and managerial roles.
Junauda Petrus-Nasah She/Her/Hers Junauda Petrus-Nasah is a writer, pleasure activist, filmmaker and performance artist of Black-Caribbean descent, born on Dakota land. Her work centers around wildness, queerness, Black-diasporic-futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, shimmer and liberation. She is the co-founder with Erin Sharkey of Free Black Dirt, an experimental arts production company. She is the writer and director of "Sweetness of Wild" a poetic-episodic film series themed around Blackness, queerness, biking, resistance, love and coming of age in Minneapolis. Her first YA novel, The Stars and The Blackness Between Them is out on Dutton Children’s. She lives in Minneapolis with her wife, child, and family.
Erin Sharkey She/Her/Hers Erin Sharkey is a writer and cultural producer based in Minneapolis. She is the co-founder, with Junauda Petrus, of an experimental arts production company called Free Black Dirt. Erin was a Bell Museum Artist-in-Residence, Loft Mentor Series mentee, VONA fellow, Jerome Travel and Study grantee, and Givens Foundation fellow. Her work as appeared in Brooklyn Quarterly, Paper Darts and Walker Sightlines and Primer Magazines and is editing a forthcoming publication on Milkweed Editions. In 2019, She was awarded the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant, and is currently producing, Sweetness of Wild, an episodic web film project, and teaching with Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop and Metro State University. Erin worked as the MayDay Parade and Ceremony Production Manager in 2016 and 2017 and was a consultant to the Parade Celebration in 2018.