by Mary Noesen and Rachel Newcombe
Special to the Sounder
It began as an ordinary early morning walk in the woods along the bumpy root laden paths around Mountain Lake. Michell Marshall, local business owner of the Office Cupboard, finished her three-year term as President of the Orcas Chamber of Commerce during which she helped create the Shakespeare Festival and BirdFest, as ways for the Chamber to produce events that bring tourists to the island during the off season.
As a woman of action and energy, Michell always has ideas churning. On her walk, thoughts focused on living with and in the beauty of this small island we call home. As a black woman, Michell reflected on the predominantly homogeneous environment on Orcas and she wondered how the faces and ideas of the island could reflect the broader world that we actually live in.
A spark of an idea began forming as she considered what she could do to help stimulate and engage curiosity and imagination, through a multi-cultural lens. As a lover of the arts, she envisioned an organization that would embrace and present cultural inquiry and conversation by inviting to the island performance artists with diverse ethnic and cultural perspectives. By the time she finished her walk and got to her car, Michell’s vision crystalized: Woman in The Woods Productions. Then, the clincher, as she was unlocking her car door she realized, “Oh, my maiden name is Woods.”
There is a beauty in the randomness of how people join together. With her infectious enthusiasm and chance encounters, Michell’s board was easily formed. Norm Stamper, retired Police Chief of Seattle, author, speaker, and fellow lover of the arts is the President of WIWP. Rachel Newcombe, local psychoanalyst and educator is Vice President. Doug Marshall, former attorney and co-owner of the Office Cupboard is Secretary/Treasurer. Eric Stordahl, owner of Robert Leonard Spa and Salon in Seattle and Mary Noesen, writer and artist, fill out the rest of the board. All are impassioned travelers in these multifaceted conversational woods. The board shares a desire to enhance the interconnectedness of islanders so that together, we can understand our inevitable blind spots as we search for the nourishment required to live, as educational philosopher Paulo Friere envisions, in “a larger way.”
The inaugural production of Woman in The Woods Productions will be a one woman show presented by Seattle performance artist, Sara Porkalob, who states that “community is full of narratives that deserve a full voice.” Her work shows an interest in “cultural place making.” Sara identifies as Asian Pacific Islander and fervent intersectional feminist. The performance is entitled “Dragon Lady.” There will be two performances offered; October 14th and October 15th at Random Howse. Details are forthcoming.
For more information about Woman in the Woods Productions contact: Michell Marshall.