All events have a particular goal. Whether it’s to celebrate, to commemorate or to send a message to a target audience, all event owners look for some type of return for their investment.
The Grand Opening of the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) over the weekend was no exception. With a spectacular opening adorned by cultural performances both traditional and contemporary, there was something for everyone to marvel and take part in.
From the ukulele workshop to the taualuga of the taupou (traditional Samoan dance), over 5000 people from all over Southern California gathered in this space, united by the intention of owning a piece of PIEAM.; a piece of what the kids are calling ‘The Rock’ in Long Beach.
From my Samoan indigenous reference, the Grand Opening was akin to a fa’alavelave an interruption in our daily living which called for the gathering of kin, the collective strength lifting in unison to attend to an event of the utmost importance to a family. It was a sight to see. Impressed in my memory are the hundreds of young people sporting their white ‘volunteer’ t-shirts and taking authority of a small space in the middle of urban America.Community engagement could not be defined any clearer than what took place this weekend. With over 50 performance groups, vendors and Pacific Islander organizations involved at different levels on three consecutive days of programming. Hundreds of volunteers came with an individual purpose and a community goal.
While PIEAM had many hands involved in the Grand Opening, the stewardship of a new partner organization behind-the-scenes called PacBiz, orchestrated community engagement with much precision and tact. PacBiz, The Association of Pacific Islander Businesses and Professionals, can be linked to the backend operations of the Help Samoa Disaster Relief Coalition (www.helpsamoa.com
) exactly one year ago raising over $65,000 and shipping 10 containers to the 2 Samoas within 3 weeks of the tsunami disaster.
The PIEAM opening is another testament of an intentional business model which understands the needs of its community and works with it in tangent with the new generation. Any model that connects any individual to their community is a successful one on many levels.
The PIEAM Grand Opening will go down in history as the event that lodged the coming of age of a new generation of Pacific Islanders. An intelligent generation that demands involvement at a deeper level of engagement. A generation that measures success, not by the return of its investment, but by the return to their community and their family.
This is the indigenous Pacific way recaptured for an urban Pacific community. This is universal law of unconditional giving that binds the urban with the traditional; the new with the old. Many over the weekend shared their joy and shed their tears. Fathers brought their sons and babies strolled in numbers. They all had a certain twinkle in their eyes which spoke volumes of dreams both possible and realized in this grand new space. PIEAM is indeed a special place and its opened outstretched arms to the community filled its Grand Opening to capacity. Many came to be a part of history. Many have stories to tell their children and grandchildren. In this sense, the Grand Opening of PIEAM was an unforgettable experience with immeasurable success.
Many islands, many stories, One Museum.
For more information on the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, visit www.pieam.org