PEAU: Uniting Cultures Through Education at the DIY Festival
Activism, Outreach and Education
With nearly 50,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) residing in Utah, Salt Lake City has a larger overall proportion of NHPIs than any other city in the continental U.S. Despite this fact, Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, Co-founder of Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources (PIK2AR), says many NHPI community members face negative stereotypes and perpetual, harmful cycles.
All of this factored into the founding of PIK2AR in 2015 to help combat violence, create an economic impact and preserve culture in Utah’s NHPI communities. Years later, after an experience that Feltch-Malohifo’ou says helped her realize many Pacific Island artists “didn’t know any of the mainstream art resources,” the PEAU (Pasifika Enriching Arts of Utah) was formed as a subsidiary organization of PIK2AR. It assists artists of all media types—including both traditional and modern styles—in achieving their goals and provides them with development opportunities. Additionally, PEAU hosts the Utah Pacific Island Film Series and PEAU Literary to highlight the written word; it’s also exploring fashion and music opportunities.
“We are naturally dancers, singers, guitarists.”
“We are naturally dancers, singers, guitarists,” Feltch-Malohifo’ou says. “It was much more positive than trying to be an NFL player or gang member and all of these negative stereotypes, so [PEAU is] really to ground ourselves and our community and our future to something positive in being Pacific Islander.”
Now, during Utah’s Pacific Island Heritage Month, PEAU has partnered with Craft Lake City for its 13th Annual DIY Festival. Amy Stocks, Craft Lake City’s Community Inclusion Coordinator, says the two organizations worked together to recruit “artisans, makers, performers and foodies” from the NHPI community for a Pacific Island Heritage Day (Sat. August 14). Festival-goers will be able to participate in cultural stations—including performing artists, traditional food and other arts and crafts/DIY projects—that represent 10–12 cultures from Salt Lake’s diverse NHPI community.
“Pasifika Enriching Arts of Utah and Craft Lake City have been wanting to work together to highlight creatives within the robust Pacific Islander community in Salt Lake for years,” Stocks says. “This year, [we were] able to come together through many brainstorming sessions and creative solutions from both organizations. As Craft Lake City grows its diversity and inclusion efforts, they wanted to include more representation from different communities in SLC. August is Pacific Island Heritage Month, so this collaboration made perfect sense and everyone was on board!”
Feltch-Malohifo’ou added that it provides an opportunity to educate Salt Lake City’s non-NHPI community members about the Pacific Islands’ different regional cultures—including Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia—all of which are present in Utah. She goes on to say that she believes education will help unite people and reduce issues related to racism, and the DIY Festival was the best place to do it. “When we find commonality in art and music or anything in crafts, then our differences melt away, and that’s really been our [goal]—let’s find these commonalities and let’s build on those and bring our communities together and get to this humanity together.”
“When we find commonality in art and music or anything in crafts, then our differences melt away, and that’s really been our [goal].”
And for Craft Lake City, this collaboration with PEAU is part of a larger goal to better represent all cultures within the city. “It is important for arts organizations like Craft Lake City to be diverse, inclusive and accessible to all communities that make up Salt Lake City,” Stocks says. “By collaborating with organizations who represent specific cultures, Craft Lake City is able to reach creatives and community members that they might not otherwise.”
Feltch-Malohifo’ou says she knows the partnership will continue to grow in the future, and as it does, it will only become a better tool in uniting people. “We want to take you back to finding these commonalities, to reduce the race issues we have, so there are multi-level reasons that we wanted to participate [in the DIY Festival] and why this is a good fit,” she says.
For more information about the Pacific Islander Heritage Day at the DIY Festival, please visit craftlakecity.com/diy-festival.