Engaging the Senses Foundation (ETSF) works with literary organizations, art councils, universities, and other cultural institutions and non-profits to support the arts — with a focus on educational outreach — in order to help awaken greater compassion and raise both awareness and a sense of efficacy concerning the environment, racial justice and equality, and the rights of women. Recent and historical initiatives have included:

Poetry & the Senses

An ongoing partnership with UC Berkeley’s Arts Research Center (ARC) entitled Poetry and the Senses that brings together faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and community poets to create meaningful opportunities for education on the connection between poetic expression and the value of engaging the senses as an act of care, mindfulness, and resistance.

In this capacity, ARC serves as the facilitator and connector between the campus and flourishing regional poetry communities, creating opportunities for Poetry and the Senses fellows and local and visiting poets to engage in public presentations and readings both in person and online; visiting writer workshops; the creation of chapbooks related to each year’s theme; and community poetry events and festivals.

Each year’s program begins with a focus on a concept which is researched and expressed through the universal language of poetry — emergency, co-existence and reclamation have been timely major themes — which then creates a broad ripple effect into the community.

The 2023 expansion of the current model will explore poetry and the politics of language in a wider framework by creating a trans-Indigenous conversation, with juxtapositions that decenter European thought and begin to translate an oceanic-to-desert-to-river-to-forest poetic imaginary.

Poetry Fellowship applications for the 2023 year are now open, ongoing until November 10, 2022!

Lost & Found

A long-term and expanding partnership with Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative of The City University of New York Graduate Center, which publishes unexpected, genre-bending works by important 20th century writers, which are unearthed from personal and institutional archives in the United States and abroad, edited by doctoral students at the CUNY Graduate Center and published by the Center for the Humanities.

Focused on provoking new research and connections and effecting increased societal awareness, Lost & Found is currently collaborating with ETSF on a showing of The Story of Everything film at CUNY of NY’s LaGuardia campus, one of 25 CUNY colleges spread across New York City’s five boroughs, in October 2023.

Lost & Found and ETSF will also host teaching modules during May of 2023 in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, with creator of The Story of Everything, Hawai‘i poet Kealoha, engaging with students from the CUNY campuses, younger children in a variety of school programs, and the community, to promote awareness of science, the environment, and the power of the arts to awaken consciousness.

Gathering of California Poets Laureate

A day-long gathering of California regional and state poets laureate in October of 2018 sponsored by ETSF in partnership with the California Arts Council and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs/McGroarty Arts Center, and conceived by then California State Poet Laureate Dana Gioia.

In addition to readings that were open to the public, the poets shared best practices and lessons in intensive breakout sessions during which they explored educational endeavors past and future as representatives of literacy appointed by their cities, counties, regions, and the state.

ETSF has created a portal to all the readings from event, accessible by place representation,  poet names, and the categorical themes of the poets’ works, including Family, Education, Immigration, Mindfulness, and Ethnicity. 

ETSF also supports the creation of an ongoing initiative with California Arts Council entitled DREAM magazine, an annual publication that features voices and stories from across the state, sharing the enduring cultural and educational impact of art initiatives and creative endeavors throughout California.

The Deep Meaning of Voyaging

ETSF is an active participant in the support of our partner Polynesian Voyaging Society’s educational storytelling and content for a digital platform that will follow PVS on the upcoming Moananuiākea Voyage.

Over the next five years, the Voyage will plot a course for the future by circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean, covering 41,000 miles, 345 ports, 46 countries and archipelagoes, and 100 indigenous territories, with the goal of inspiring, educating, and elevating a generation of 10 million young people who will learn to to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world with the mindset, preparation, and resilience to face the coming storms.

ETSF and PVS are currently working on co-production of a filmed conversation between Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a Pwo navigator who has dedicated his life to exploring the deep meaning of voyaging; ethnographer, writer, photographer, filmmaker, and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, Wade Davis; and Hawai’i Poet Laureate Kealoha, creator of The Story of Everything, engaged in an in-depth discussion on the impacts of the arts and education.

The Learning of Everything

ETSF is also currently partnering with Mālama Honua Public Charter School on the development of a cross-cultural educational curriculum entitled The Learning of Everything, utilizing ETSF’s The Story of Everything (TSOE), a multimedia film that illuminates the intersection between science, the environment, the arts, and mindfulness through the storytelling of Hawai’i’s first Poet Laureate, Kealoha.

The Story of Everything explores humanity’s rich and diverse explanations for the origins of life, and presents powerful solutions for the continued health of the planet at a time when we’re confronting the most severe crisis the earth has ever faced. The film premieres at the Hawai’i International Film Festival as a HIFF 2022 Official Selection, and shows throughout November 2022 on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, and Kaua’i. The film will be in special previews to schools throughout Hawai’i and will then be hosted by and with ETSF’s other educational partners throughout the U.S. as well as in festivals world-wide.

The Learning of Everything curriculum dovetails with Mālama Honua PCS’s project-based learning to infuse students with the ‘mind of the navigator.’

In preparation for curriculum development, the cast and creators of The Story of Everything — who represent a spectrum of expertise in the musical, movement, visual ,and written arts, and education— were gathered to engage in an intensive talk story (circle) that explored and offered foundational ideas for the creation of educational modules based on the various sciences and modalities expressed through the blend of western and indigenous visual art, music, dance, chanting, singing, and poetry in TSOE.

The program will serve as a stewardship model centering and honoring the power of indigenous world views, protocols, methodologies, and technologies specific to place, globally.  The final shared curriculum will be offered on the ETSF site and in person as a flexible lesson plan adaptable to all ages, all schools, and to community study groups. Based on the scientific, environmental, holistic, and Indigenous-centered messages contained within the film, the lesson plan will emphasize a growing world-wide knowledge that we must embrace ancient and yet newly relevant educational, societal, economic, and emotional systems for sustaining and protecting the earth that is our world.