MEET THE FOUNDERS
Zapoura Newton-Calvert has been teaching writing and community-based learning courses since 2004 and is humbled to work with community partners and students as her job. Her teaching is relational, and she works in the community to support advocacy efforts for anti-racist curriculum and racial equity in schools. She's also a mom to two kids and loves to garden, paint, and read YA fiction. She is a cis-gender woman and was raised as white, experiencing the world with white over-privilege, and she acknowledges that positionality has very real repercussions and impacts in her classroom, parenting, and community work. It is her belief that it's important to the integrity of her core self and work to be an explicitly anti-racist educator and parent.
As part of her family research over the past four years, Zapoura uncovered more information about her maternal roots and found that her great-grandmother attended the Morris Indian Industrial School, a boarding "school" Native American children in the area were forced to attend after being separated from their families. Although her family has always recognized some connection to Indigenous roots, her mother did not inherit cultural traditions or histories, and, thus, was unable to pass down this part of their identity, as family members began to identify as white as soon as they moved from Minnesota to Oregon around 1910. Zapoura is committed to honoring her Indigenous ancestry and her Ojibwe roots with ancestral lineage back to Red River, Manitoba. Identity is complex, and it is something she continues to explore with curiosity and care. This piece of her puzzle is important to her study of racial inequity in the education system as the history of boarding school or residential schools for Native American youth is part of our country's history of genocide, cultural erasure, and school as a tool for assimilation.
Farnell Newton was born in Miami, Florida, and moved to Philadelphia in 1992, where he attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. While in Philadelphia, Newton also studied with his uncles, saxophonist/arranger Conny Murray and Sunny Murray, one of the early avant garde's most inventive and influential drummers.
Newton graduated from the Denver School of the Arts after moving to Denver in 1994 and then moved to Ohio to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. At Oberlin, Newton studied music performance with an emphasis in jazz and was mentored by Wendell Logan and trumpeter Kenny Davis. Newton performed with Aretha Franklin, James Moody, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Hugh Ragin while at Oberlin.
After graduating from Oberlin, Newton moved to Portland, Oregon, where he performed regularly with drummer Mel Brown, percussionist Bobby Torres, Akbar Depriest, and many others. He earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies and Performance from Portland State University in 2008.
After completing his graduate work, Newton toured extensively with three time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Jill Scott and with the Legendary Rhinestone Rockstar Bassist “Bootsy” Collins.
When he is not spending time with his family, leading his funk band (The Othership Connection), or hosting his own jazz radio show at KMHD 89.1fm, he is touring & recording. Over the years Farnell has performed with Jarrod Lawson, Stevie Wonder, Skerik, Lettuce, Slightly Stoopid, Karl Denson, Galactic, Nigel Hall, Mike Phillips, and the Portland Cello Project. Newton also created a jazz social media group called Jam of the Week in 2013 which now features over 70,000 members worldwide.