SeanChron | A Celebration of Messengers

Selfie of the Future-ish Dream Team. Dr. Melanie Cheung (left) and Suquamish Elder and Storyteller Barbara Lawrence (center). Barbara made the day extra special with several surprises.

What started out as a lunch to catch up with the amazing individuals that wrote forewords for the second edition of my book, Future-ish, turned into a surprise photoshoot, gifting ceremony, and a day-long (and really fun) celebration of messengers. about a dream team. I cannot thank the two amazing and inspiring people above enough for writing the forewords for the second edition of my bookand for being part of my support circle while I was making the updates to the manuscript and writing the new case studies for the second edition. Thank you, Thank You THANK YOU Barbara and Melanie for making the second edition SO MUCH BETTER in so many ways. I can't wait to see all the amazing things they will be doing in the future (we spent much of the day talking about some of them) and look forward to continuing to change the world and shape the future with them going forward.

Here is how the day (and Barbara's surprises) unfolded...

Melanie was visiting from Aotearoa so we decided to have a lunch and celebrate the publication of the second edition of the book and I brought copies of the book so that we could all co-sign it for gifts to our families and friends. The lunch at Sully's in Suquamish was delicious and catching up with these great friends was as wonderful as we all expected it to be. During lunch, Barbara surprised us with news that another guest wood be joining us after lunch by the Memorial Pole to Barbara's Father, fromer Suquamish Chairperson Charles Lawrence. After lunch, we made our way over to the nearby Memorial Pole. A few moments later a truck drives up and Barbara's son, Nigel, steps out with his professional camera. Barbara had arranged for a photoshoot to capture the that fact that we were all together! Melanie and I have also known Nigel for many years so that in itself made for a fun reunion.

As we were starting to get settled for taking photos Barbara noticed an Eagle flying in our direction from the direction of the nearby dock. It flew right to us down to our eye level and only about 15 feet away, just on the other side of a fence that ran along the one-lane asphalt drive that was infront of the Memorial Pole. Nigel was ready with his camera and snapped several really amazing photos (below).

Images: Nigel Lawrence

After recovering from THAT amazing experience, we had some fun with the first round of photos. Nigel is a great photographer and made the photoshoot a blast.

Here's one of the photos from that first round:

Image: Nigel Lawrence

At one point Nigel suggested we we moved around to the other side of the Memorial Pole so that the water would be in the background. We took a few more photos and then Barbara had another surprise for us. She brought us gifts to mark the occasion!!! I knew from the early stages of the second edition that I would be weaving baskets for Barbara and Melanie as a thank you, but I definitely was not expecting that Barbara would surprise US with gifts to make the occasion. Barbara began by gifing Melanie a beautiful pair of Dentalium shell, Cowry shell, and bead earrings that she made herself...which Melanie decided to wear right away. Then...THEN...Barbara opened a box with a stunning extra long necklace made of dentalium and multicolored glass beads that she also made. Below are some of Nigel's photos of Barbara gifting the earrings and necklace to Melanie.

Images: Nigel Lawrence

With the little boxes that Barbara was carrying around now opened, I thought the gifting was complete and was so happy that Barbara had thought to make the items for Melanie. Not so. Barbara once again proclaimed that we were here to celebrate the completion of the book project and she had a gift for me as well. She proceeded to take the necklace that she was wearing off and gifted it to me. It wasn't just any necklace. It was a necklace with beads from Makah artist John Goodwin. Goodwin's beads and necklaces (strung by Michelle Dowling) are made from new, modern beads but are based on the antique Russian trade beads that used to be traded by Tlingit, Haida, Nuu-chah-nulth, Makah, Quileute and Chinook Peoples. I have seen the beads and necklaces before on Canoe Journey and had actually made a comment about how beautiful Barbara's necklace was during our lunch. Needless to say, I was blown away. I should not have been surprised though, Barbara is one of the most thoughtful, caring, and giving people I know. I and many other people love her for exactly those reasons. Below are some of Nigel's photos of Barbara gifting the necklace to me.

Images: Nigel Lawrence

After Barbara presented the incredible gifts, we decided to head into Poulsbo to try a tasty dessert that Barbara had mentioned was available at one of the restaurants. We had some wonderful desserts and also spent much of the afternoon looking through the shops in Poulsbo for vintage finds and lots of Marimekko items (thanks to Poulsbo's Scandinavian communities). Barbara, always on the lookout to make the world a better place, even noted several opportunities in Poulsbo to improve knowledge and understanding of Suquamish history in the area.

It dawned on me that even in our casual dining, shopping, and visit to one of Poulsbo's museums, that we were being messengers even in these situations. Future-ish, the website, started back in 2006 when Barbara gifted me a wolf blanket when she completed her graduate degree at Bainbridge Graduate Institute and charged me to be a Messenger about the challenges facing Indigenous Peoples around the world and facing our environment. So, celebrating and honoring people and place have been an important part of Future-ish from the very beginning. Barbara is a incredible Storyteller and Activist herself so serves as a couragous Messenger in many and diverse ways. Melanie is also a leading voice in the science and research she leads, especially around the importance of bringn culture understanding and protocols to that work. She recently started working at the forefront of the Indigenous Traditions and Protocol will interface with artificial intelligence (AI) another area in which thoughtful and active communication and complex issues will be incredibly important.

A dream team that just keeps getting dreamier, including Nigel who captured this moment in his amazing photos. My hands are raised high in thanks to Barbara, Melanie, and Nigel for this incredible moment and memory.