About The Project
We Are Here To Learn, Listen And, Act Together
In collaboration with Allagash Brewing
50 Industrial Way. Portland, ME
I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude first of all to Rob Tod for having believed in this project and for the measures taken to ensure that the project takes place in the best conditions. Rob did not hesitate for a moment to make available to me: Spaces, logistics, equipment, technical team... Thanks to Bob, Sean, Charley, Oly, Sam, Dan, Asa, Salim, Wade, Evrard, Liz, Ben, Mathew, Evrard, Ekhlas, Ken and Ryan for their multifaceted participation in this project. Despite the intensity of their daily work tasks, they always knew how to find the magic formula to give me a technical hand, to have a brief but friendly conversation or simply to exchange a smile. Thanks to the marketing department: Brett, Jill, Jordan, Jenny for their outstanding support in researching, collecting and photocopying the images used in the collage. I was also flattered by the interest they showed in the project during their visit one afternoon in October. Finally, thank you to my external supports: Jason Ryan, Alena, Laura deDoes and Luc Brown for their precious involvement in one phase of the project (I hope I haven't forgotten anyone and if so, it's not out of lack of consideration but simply out of forgetfulness). Above all, please remember that we are here to learn, listen and act together.
Titi de Baccarat
The story of shared values and connections
The collaborative project between Allagash Brewing Company and Titi de Baccarat was born around an ideal of justice, a desire for everyone to live and flourish, to share and to work together for a better world.
"After the assassination of George Floyd, shortly after the riots that shook all of America, I came across a statement by Allagash Brewing in the Amjambo Africa newspaper that completely shook my inner self. Here is the substance of the first sentence of this statement: "Silence has allowed hatred, injustice, institutional violence and centuries of racism to continue".
In a highly capitalist country in which people prefer to remain silent in the face of inequality so as not to lose their privileges, this firm and public statement by Allagash Brewing had both shaken my mind because it made me realize that the racism was maintained by complicit silence. From that moment, this company had become a strong symbol of courage and solidarity with which I wanted to do a community project.
I then contacted my friend Laura deDoes, who was in charge of the distribution of the Amjambo newspaper at the time, to let her know my feelings. After listening to me carefully, she knew exactly what to do. She told her colleague Amy who told her uncle Kevin Mahoney who knew someone at Allagash Brewing. It is therefore thanks to a human chain that I was able to have my first meeting with Emily and Jill Perry (two employees of Allagash). Shortly after, I had a second meeting this time with Rob Tod (the founder and CEO), Jill Perry and also Brett Willis who is one of the main authors of the statement that appeared on the Amjambo Africa newspaper".
Together we can build a better world step by step. I am convinced that with a little common sense, tolerance and compassion, together we can take charge of our future by mutually ensuring the development of each one. It is an honor for me not only as an African artist but as a human being in collaboration with Allagash Brewing to build a bench called "We Are Here To Learn, Listen, And Act Together", where everyone is invited to sit down, share, exchange and improve the world for the well-being of all.
Why the Bench
The Together bench: Object of social bond. I have always been fascinated by the public bench, the essential role it plays in terms of conviviality which promotes dialogue. It opens the door to meetings, it can accommodate 2 to 3 people and can become a space for exchange, sharing, observation, reflection and relaxing from the pressures of everyday life. The “Together” bench symbolizes the dynamics of a collective project of living together.
The Description of the Together bench
The "We Are Here To Learn, Listen, And Act Together" bench also called "Together Bench" has a unique and exceptional design. Aesthetic, authentic and powerful, this bench was made with both a metal frame and resin-covered wood embedding the story of the birth of Allagash Brewing in 1995 and its journey until 2022. Because Allagash is also a river, the bench offers an exceptional wet design that gives the sensation that you are sitting on water.
The metal structures that support the wooden parts of the bench are two magnificent sculptures representing two kneeling bodies holding hands. They symbolize the values of unity, solidarity and sharing. These two kneeling bodies have a QR code on their arms that people can connect to via their smartphone to read people's interviews and inspiring stories and learn about the project as a whole.
The bench seat is diagonal and the backrest tilts slightly backwards for maximum comfort.
The bench is designed with a back slat and two seat slats.
On the front facet of the backrest slat are written: "We Are Here To Learn, Listen, And Act Together" and on the back facet of the backrest slat you can see a large collage highlighting the Allagash community while on the two seat slats are incorporated with photos, newspaper clippings, beer bottle caps, panels... (all covered with resin). The bench also contains two QR codes that give access to several inspiring interviews.
Employees and visitors experience through the "Together bench."
- Allagash Brewing employees are proud to be part of a company that is taking a stand by delivering a powerful visual message of its intention to make meaningful progress on inclusion, equity, justice and diversity.
- We hope that visitors will feel a deep sense of Allagash Brewing's civic commitment to social justice and leave with the knowledge and ultimate respect that its products and services are for all communities without any exclusions.
- Thanks to the comfort provided by the bench once seated on it, its aesthetic design and its QR code giving access to the fascinating stories of the men and women who make up our community, the visitor will have a unique experience.
Some questions to ask yourself while sitting on the bench or to ask the person sitting next to you
- How do we work towards a peaceful equitable world?
-What would a good society look like?
-What are the tools to keep our communities united and supportive?
- If I/you had to choose one superpower to improve lives, what would it be?
-What goal would feel best for us to accomplish as community this year? How can the community be involved in this?
Meet The Team At work
Interview with Laura deDoes by Titi de Baccarat
Laura and I first met during the celebration of the first anniversary of the Amjambo Africa newspapers. We immediately became friends.
I would like to interview you because the bench I am building with the Allagash crew is inspired by photography that Ann Tracy took of you and your sons for The Kneeling Art Photography Project. I know you're surprised to hear that. We are building a bench to call: "We Are Here to Learn, Listen And Act Together".
Titi de Baccarat: What has changed in your life since you built a multicultural family?
Laura deDoes: Since we became a multicultural family I have learned of the importance of teaching all children about race, starting at an early age. I’ve had to learn to see the world through the eyes of my African son and how he experiences life differently. It is important to me to celebrate Bezabeh’s culture, his roots and to asure he feels proud of who he is and where he came from.
Titi de Baccarat: What are the wonderful aspects of having a multicultural family?
Laura deDoes: The connections we have made within the African community and the dear friendships we have made has brought so much joy and enrichment to our lives. We live in a homogenous community, yet our circle of family friends has become very diverse. We are also so blessed to be connected to Bezabeh’s first family in Ethiopia. We celebrate the culture and customs of Ethiopia and host an Ethiopian New Year party every year, a day that has become special to all of us.
Titi de Baccarat: How do your children experience their brotherhood beyond their differences?
Laura deDoes: Though my two sons don’t share DNA and have very different personalities, they are truly brothers and have always treated each other as such. Bezabeh looks up to his older brother Dane and knows that he is there for him and always has his back. Dane recognizes the inherent privilege he has being white in this society and the way Bez will at times be judged solely on the color of his skin.
Titi de Baccarat: What are the tools to keep a multicultural family united and supportive?
Laura deDoes: Our house is a very safe place to talk about race and how it affects each of us. We are there for each other and understand the importance of recognizing the unfair societal advantages we have as white people and to continue the fight for equality.
Titi de Baccarat: How do you see the future of the world in the expression of multiculturalism ?
Laura deDoes: I truly hope that one day our world and our many cultures become so interconnected that the concept of race no longer exists.
Thank you Laura
Evrard Interview by Laura deDoes
Laura deDoes: How do we work towards a peaceful equitable world?
Evrard: The world is so interconnected, especially in this Era of easy travel and technology. I think finding a way of sharing resources in a fair way would be the solution.
Laura deDoes: What can we do as individuals to make that happen?
Evrard: That’s a hard one… we live in a competitive world and this will never change. People are competing for everything ( because resources are always limited).
Imagine , all the kid can’t enroll in the pre-K or after school program at age 3, so competition starts early.
I would suggest not to try to change things, but at least be compassionate with other folks with less ressources than us. Give back as much as we can to the community.
Laura deDoes: What would a good society look like?
Evrard: A good society is where there is no lack of any resources. Where every one has more than he needs.
Sounds utopic, but to be realistic it is where that society would provide for at least the basic needs to keep everyone's dignity : food, shelter, healthcare and work.
Laura deDoes: What are the tools to keep our communities united and supportive?
Evrard: I think finding ways for each community to have an opportunity to know and learn from the other one.
I think cultural events helps a lot. They do happen and they are always instructive but most of time they are attended mostly by people of the same community.
Another big thing is Travel. Nothing equals traveling.
Laura deDoes: If you had to choose one superpower to improve lives, what would it be?
Evrard: I think It would be like SuperMan, being able to help avoid disaster before they happen.
Laura deDoes: How do you see the future of the world in the expression of multiculturalism?
Evrard: I do not know what to think about this really. I think culture is a good thing.
It defines a community, their way of life. (Good or bad but most of the time they agree on that).
Now, if Multiculturalism would lead to having no culture , i think it would not be a good thing, but if it means acquiring the good part of another culture, then I think it can be a good thing.
Thank you Evrard