History

Madrona Arts is an Oregon-based nonprofit dedicated to ecological awareness through art. It was founded in 2008 by Diana Hartel with a group of artists participating in a community multi-arts project called Inner Geography that began in 2004. That project addressed the social ecological issue of the outsider/outcast. Excluding, rejecting and casting out is the basis of discrimination, disenfranchisement, and is the root of genocide. How can we address issues of human population and environment when we create such division among and within ourselves? Read more about the Inner Geography program.

Since then our attention has been on the environmental crises of watersheds in our region and around the country. Recognizing the growing need to focus on the environment, Madrona Arts was formed. The name comes from the species of arbutus unique to the Pacific regions. Madrona or madrone as it is sometimes called is a broadleaf evergreen, important to forest and watershed, a source of food for wildlife. Our first watershed awareness arts program is called “Freeing the Waters” and it began with the Klamath River Watershed. We have extended Freeing the Waters to river systems throughout Oregon. The second watershed program is “Over the River” an oral history project. See the Over the River Program for more on this.

Madrona Arts is the Pacific Northwest incarnation of the NY-based Bronx Community Works, a social, environmental, and cultural organization founded by Diana Hartel in New York in 1993. That non-profit was dissolved in 2006 and its programs are now self-run within partner organizations. Community Works focused on urban park eco-restoration, community gardens, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, fiber arts, and spoken word arts. Its most successful program was Planet Hot Plate—cooking and nutrition groups that used music, poetry, prose stories, and mindfulness training to raise awareness for change in food choices and preparation.