Poet Laureate Ashley McBunch returns to Step and helps us all find our inner poet January 2022

City of Olympia’s Poet Laureate Ashly McBunch joined STEP in June 2021 to read her poetry about intersectionality and share her process of writing poetry. They returned to STEP in January with an amazing workshop that helped us gather our words about Belonging. Ashly walked through a scenario of being in a room of unknown people and waiting for a friend that was arriving late.She had us visualize the smells, the view, the feeling and even the colors. We moved these thoughts into words and read them to each other.

I came here and instantly
Felt like I belonged.
The warm colors and dim lights
helped me feel cozy.
The quiet conversation
Helped me feel warm and peaceful as I waited.
The service and presence of others
guided me to stay comfortable.
It’s about the little things.
I belong. KT

it felt like I belonged.
I took a deep breath and it
smelled fresh with a perfumed flower scent.
As I look around I see there are a couple people in this space.
They look up at me and crinkle their eyes
to indicate a smile is beneath their mask.
I notice a small buzz of noise as instrumental music
plays in the background.
The room is fairly neutral in design with soft pinks scattered around.
This place overall has a warm comforting atmosphere
that truly makes me feel like I belong. – KR

I’m hesitant in new surroundings. Reserved.
I know this about myself.
I’m meeting a friend at a party of strangers tonight. Hoping to shed my mantle of nerves and reluctance, I stand before the
Here goes.
Panic… I’m here before Joan.
Breathe, you can do this – my mental mantra kicks in.
The ambiance soothes me. The natural light is warm and inviting, beckons me across the room to a large window where I
take in the majesty of Mount Rainier.
The combination; inside/outside appeals to my Libra sense of balance; the yin and the yang.
An overwhelming sense of gaiety permeates the room. A nearly tangible quality that lifts me to remember the flowers
recently gifted to me. I can almost smell them now.
I feel myself relaxing. It feels good here.
I can focus now on the people in the room and begin to accept some smiles and nods directed my way.
Look at me! I am feeling belonging! I did it!
And Joan isn’t even here yet! – PV

Arriving at the hall I gazed the expanse for my friend.
The soft colors of the walls were in stark contrast
to the view of the mountain
highlighted in the large picture window.
several extended hands and the occasional hug assured me
I was welcome there.
The mixture of smells, occasional laughter and
the vibrant conversations soon had me forgetting
my friend was going to be late. AW