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An Open Letter About The She Shreds Show at Topaz Farm on July 22, 2021

July 16, 2021
Written by
She Shreds

Dear Shredders,

In light of sharing that 100% of the proceeds made by Topaz Farm will be donated to Black Oregon Land Trust, we believe it is important for us to be transparent about the events that led to this radical outcome.

When we planned She Shreds Presents at Topaz Farm, we were excited to invite people to a beautiful place on the original land of the Multnomah Tribe of the Chinook people. After a year and a half of solitude, transitions, and renewal we envisioned an event that was about bringing joy, sanctuary, and power to our collective well-being. We were beyond grateful when our community responded by quickly selling out the 600-person event. A live show is something that we all create together—the artists, the venue, the vendors, the staff, and everyone attending. It is a moment in time, a collective experience, and each of us has a role to play to create a safe and memorable event.

Last week, we heard from a few people who were concerned that one member of the family that owns and operates Topaz Farm is a former police officer, something we were not previously aware of. We immediately wondered if our vision for the event as a place for healing and celebration was still possible. Would people feel comfortable at the farm? 

Without hesitation we began preparing to do everything in our power to relocate and reached out to the booker who invited us to curate the event at Topaz Farm. She heard our concerns as we discussed three possible paths forward:

  1. Relocate the show.

  2. Cancel the show.

  3. Topaz Farm donates a percentage of their profit from the night to Black and/or Indigenous-led organizations chosen and distributed by us. 

We were not sure how Topaz Farm would handle this and were surprised and heartened when they came back and said they were committed to the event and our community and would donate 100% of the profits from the night. We asked them to share more about why they were doing this, and you can read their answers below.

This was a big demand from our team but we believed it is what our community deserves. And this was the first time we have ever heard of a venue willing to give 100% of their profits for the people and to the people. This is a situation in which the owner of the venue chose to listen, understand, and attempt to make it better. This felt like a huge win, but we still wanted to make sure that this is what the artists, vendors, and attendees felt good moving forward with.

What holds more power and longevity? Taking up space, cultivating relationships, inspiring new expression, while creating life changing experiences in a space that we deserve to be in together? (And in this case, re-routing funds for BIPOC organizations to thrive and grow in Portland, Oregon.) Or making a statement by cancelling the show? We thought really hard about these questions. We asked every artist, vendor, trusted organizer, creator, and longtime She Shreds audience members. In the world, there are so many spaces and obstacles built that are created and owned for the purpose of keeping us out and from each other. How do we recognize our power as a collective and speak up to say something about it? To require change?

After engaging in lots of deep conversations, we found there was consensus to move forward with the event at Topaz Farm because they made a meaningful commitment to make the attendees, artists, and vendors feel welcome. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we want to make sure that each of you also has a chance to make your own decision about the event. We hope that our community and current ticket holders will choose to join us in conducting the most radical act of all: supporting one another and allowing yourself to experience pure joy.

Moving forward, we hope this conversation will continue. The She Shreds community has already powerfully shifted the music industry, and we believe in our collective power for transformation. How can we ensure that venues on tour, festivals, and brands are committed to uplifting our communities? What does that look like for artists, bookers, venues, and ticket holders? We don’t have all the answers yet, but we think the change we need requires risk, demands, and participation on all levels. 

For any further questions on this please email —— at —— [email protected]

Questions to Topaz Farm

What does it mean to the team at Topaz Farm to donate 100% of profits for the show?

To us, Topaz Farm is a place of healing. We work to make sure that people have the chance to share in that with our family. We want people to feel like they belong here from the moment they step foot on the farm. It is very important that while we are custodians of this farm we do all we can to take care of the land and to celebrate and share it with others who may not have had access to spaces like Topaz Farm.

We know that we can be part of ensuring that people who have traditionally been excluded from places like the farm have opportunities to gather here and share in rich and meaningful community building experiences.

We are very proud to co-present with She Shreds and invite their artists and friends out to enjoy the farm. The past year and a half has been incredibly difficult for many of us, and we know that coming together in community after such a long time in isolation is needed for us to heal from the many traumas caused by the pandemic. This is the kind of healing that we believe Topaz Farm is so good at.

To take our commitment further, we are working with the She Shreds team to donate 100% of our proceeds from the night to organizations that are doing work to improve the lived experiences of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. This means that after the artists, farm employees, and vendors are paid, any proceeds from the tickets, food, or beverages sold will be donated to organizations chosen by the artists.

We are so proud of this work and hope that Topaz Farm can make a difference in the lives of every attendee and the many people who will be supported from the proceeds of this sold-out show.

How else will you make the farm a safe space for BIPOC people moving forward?

Our mantra is: A working family farm – for every family. We are actively working to build a space where every family feels safe and welcome. We believe that people have needed – more than ever – a place to come and recharge. Creating this space has been at the heart of our mission at Topaz Farm since we bought it in January 2020. This is very important to us. 

Right now, we do this by not charging for anything except food and drink (and now concerts), so people can enjoy the land without financial barriers.

When we first started, we donated three acres to the Sauvie Island Center including office space, internet, electricity and so on, so that they could fulfill their mission, including working to build a food forest on the farm with the Wisdom of the Elders, a Native American-led organization that records, preserves, and shares oral history, cultural arts, language concepts, and traditional ecological knowledge of exemplary Native American elders, storytellers, and scientists. We also donate space for other nonprofits to hold events. 

Outside of our immediate birth-family, our entire leadership team on farm operations, the farm-to-table series, and the music series are people of color. We work to highlight BIPOC vendors in our farm store. We make sure our staff know our values around antiracism. We embrace the idea that no matter how hard we try, we have more work to do. We invite you, our guests, to provide feedback and are open to making changes. Topaz Farm grows as we do.

How will the farm make a safe space the night of the show?

As we build shows at the farm, we have been working to make the experience comfortable and fun. This process has pushed us to reexamine our operations, and more mindfully think about how to create an inclusive, safe space. We are working with our farm staff to create clear plans for logistics, operations, and security, so that visitors to the farm are safe and have the chance to enjoy fresh, healthy, local food and drinks while they enjoy the show.

We are grateful for the chance to welcome the She Shreds community to the farm, so more people are included in what we are building here. 

Is Jim ok with putting together a statement on why this event is important to him?

Yes, here is Jim’s message: “While nearly all of my energy goes into organic and regenerative farming now, when I first moved to Portland in the early 80s, I played in multiple punk and alternative bands at Satyricon and other local clubs. I know the power of music and community – for me it was about freedom of expression – especially about political, religious and individuals’ freedoms.  

“I’m not in a band anymore, but I’m no less passionate about music and what it means to people. Of all shows this year, this is the one I’m most excited about because of the community the performers and attendees are building together. I can’t wait to share this farm with the She Shreds community and I can’t wait for She Shreds to rock the farm.

“I have had an unusual career path. I worked for alternative weeklies for the bulk of my professional life. I founded and was the CEO of a software company that helped alt weeklies get online. During that time, I was able to volunteer for organizations like Street Roots, where I eventually became a board member and chair. After a while, I experienced burnout and wanted to refocus. I took the unusual step of joining the police force, to create change inside the system and keep the community safe through DUII work.

“I know that being able to buy a farm on Sauvie Island is an immense privilege. I appreciate the chance to work together to create an open place where all people feel valued and included.”

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