There’s a new organization in town — and around the country.
Founded by local philanthropist Mark Bloome, TAP-America — Tolerance, Americanism, Patriotism — inspires tolerance and economic viability.
Calling it “spiritual,” not political, Mark says TAP grew out of many years of his own spiritual work. Specific inspiration came last year when he participated in Call to Conscience, a celebration of African-American history and culture in Tacoma last year. As a speaker, and the first white person to co-chair the event, “the issue of tolerance certainly became clear,” he says.
Mark felt strongly that tolerance and patriotism had to be linked, something “all of America had to be engaged in.” Patriotism, he notes, has been used too often by extremist groups “to bash minorities.”
“We’re the first organization where tolerance and patriotism are equated,” he says. “A country divided cannot stand.”
Effective videos at the TAP website (www.tapamerica.org, Facebook and Twitter) show young people around the country stating why they love America and declaring, “I’m made in America!” In a public relations coup, TAP-America’s message is running hourly on CBS’ Times Square “Jumbo Tron” reader board through the beginning of July and TAP’s website will feature public reaction to it.
A second, more somber message from the organization is to “buy American” to revitalize our economy.
“From an economic point of view we are being hollowed out by the deliberate policies of the Chinese government through currency manipulation, through stealing our intellectual ideas, through [Chinese] regulations about doing business in China,” Mark says.
Although inexpensive Chinese products have created a vicious circle of affordability for many consumers, Mark says research shows “if consumers spend an extra dollar a day on things made in the USA…we can save a million jobs.”
A grassroots “buy local” movement is already in place, but “our ‘buy local’ says [local is] between the Atlantic and the Pacific,” Mark says. These efforts help businesses and also generate local tax revenue for police, education and programs for the poor.
Mark was a founder of Safe Washington, a partnership of local Jewish organizations that prepares our communities for all kinds of emergencies whether natural disaster or terrorist attack. He is also working with the Federation to oppose the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
This grandfather of six, and an avid biker and skier, says his priorities are first local and then “my American community,” which has given him and his family so much, but freedom in particular.
“Whether it’s the Jewish people in the United States or the American people,” he says, “deep in my heart I want to preserve freedom. That’s one of the greatest gifts God can give us besides our health.”
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Bernard Hazen jumps and juggles at a Teatro Zinzanni performance. (Photo by Alison Hazen)
If you’re going to Teatro ZinZanni any time soon — Seattle’s cabaret theater on lower Queen Anne Hill — pay close attention to the character Sheikh Zabier. French-born Israeli Bernard Hazen has the role in which he not only juggles, but performs Rolo Bolo, a balancing act involving numerous cylinders and boards stacked up almost to the top of the tent.
Bernard, 30, was entranced by circus programs he saw on TV growing up in Ashdod.
“When I saw [the shows],” he says, “I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
Active in an after-school youth movement, he started juggling at 15 and quickly turned to performing and teaching other kids. (He continues his love of teaching as an instructor in ZinZanni’s summer camps.)
Before leaving for his required military service as an IDF paratrooper, he tried to study with a Russian émigré circus performer, who continually rejected him. This stepped up the challenge for Bernard, who kept on improving his skills. Admittedly handy, “I would build props and practice downstairs” at home,” he says. “It’s one of the biggest reasons I got good, because he said it was crap.”
After his military service they finally worked together until his teacher declared him ready for Europe.
Europe and Russia take the circus much more seriously than Americans or Israelis do. Bernard constantly heard the complaint, “‘What are you, a clown? …Go be a lawyer or something,’” he says.
After studying intensely in France, including with famed juggler Italo Medini, and performing around the world, he entered an international competition where only 26 out of thousands are chosen to perform. He made it, and Teatro Zinzanni snapped him up right after.
He’s been performing here in Seattle and at the theater’s San Francisco tent since 2005. He and his wife Alison, a former waitress at the show, and their daughter Naomi live in Seattle.