MEET THE FOUNDERS

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Zapoura Newton-Calvert
CO-FOUNDER

 

Zapoura Newton-Calvert has been facilitating writing and community-based learning courses focused on social justice in education since 2004 and has been teaching full-time at Portland State University since 2014.  Participating in the practices of emergent strategy (as described in adrienne maree brown’s book of the same name),  her teaching is relational and responsive to political, social, and environmental changes. Her primary work is supporting community in creating anti-racist curriculum.  She has partnered with organizations such as with Books Not Bars, Portland Public Schools, Spreading the Black Joy Project, and the Children’s Book Bank and facilitated workshops in community around anti-racist teaching and learning over the last five years.

 

Newton-Calvert is the descendant of white immigrants who migrated to Turtle Island in the late 1800s from Italy and Sweden, white settler colonist fur traders from France and Scotland, and Lake Superior Ojibwe folx.  In 1900, her great-grandmother and great-aunts were removed from their family and forced to attend the Morris Indian Industrial School, a boarding "school"/concentration camp focused on assimilation to whiteness and Christianity.  This trauma resulted in a break in sharing Indigenous cultural traditions and practices in her family.  Zapoura was raised within predominantly white cultural beliefs and practices and experiences the world as a white-bodied person.  She acknowledges this 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. 

Holding a balance between personal and ancestral responsibility within multiple identities has been an important part of her work as an anti-racist educator. 

Farnell Newton

CO-FOUNDER

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.