The Partnership, a little history

The Partnership, a little history

Mayor Paul Tauer’s initial goal in 1989 was to learn more about the fast-growing APA community within Aurora, especially the Korean business community along the Colfax corridor.  The Partnership quickly grew to include the area’s Thai, Vietnamese and Filipino communities, as well as other smaller populations, and its business emphasis expanded, emphasizing cultural awareness and education.  From the beginning, Aurora’s First Lady and Founding Member Kate Tauer became a valuable asset to the Partnership and remains on the Steering Committee to date.  Both Paul and Kate emphasize the enduring friendships they have made over the years within the APA communities.

Paul and Kate were recognized as Honorary Chairs of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in 2014 for their support as ‘Pan-Asians’ to the AAPI communities.  Kate Tauer was presented with the “Ally Award” at the 2017 Asian American Heroes of Colorado event.

The Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership (the Partnership) has initiated a variety of projects and events that have been consistent with its mission–providing business assistance, cultural awareness programs and educational services, with a goal to improve communication with all Aurora’s citizens while promoting the City’s diverse cultural interests.  For the past three years, 2014-2016, the Partnership’s Asian Co-Chairs have worked with Global Fest on the international fashion show.  The Partnership sponsored an exhibit at the Aurora History Museum, August – November of 2012, called “An Epic Journey:  Aurora’s Asian/Pacific Communities”.  The following are some highlights of the museum exhibit:

  • Twelve programs attended by over 4,000 people, with over 30 performers or performing groups from a dozen Asian/Pacific cultures;
  • Thanks to the museum and Aurora 8 professional staff, the creation of a video of Asian Pacific American leaders; the theme is how Asian/Pacific culture is kept alive in modern America;
  • Business After Hours on August 15th:
      • Sponsored by the National Unification Advisory Council, Colorado Chapter;
      • City of Aurora dignitaries were honored guests, as well as members from the Asian Chamber, the Aurora Chamber and the Havana Business Improvement District;
      • Keynote address given by Consul General Jeong Gwan Lee of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco, on the topic of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement;
      • Entertainment from Korea’s Siloam Blind Orchestra.
  • Opening Reception on August 18th
      • Included a Vietnamese Lion Dance, Bobby Seigetsu Avstreih on the Sui-Zen Shakuhachi, music of Bali with Gamelan Tunas Mekar, Junko Shigeta on the Japanese koto, Burmese Mon dancers, traditional Hmong instruments with Chong Moua Thao on the two-stringed ‘xim-xau’ and Bob Yang on the ‘qeej’ flute, Mudra Dance Studio (classical and contemporary Indian dance) and more…
  • Asian/Pacific Discovery Lecture and Film Series:
    • Documentaries:
      “The Flute Player”, featuring Arn Chorn-Pond (b. 1966), musician and activist of Cambodia, who escaped from the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s and recipient of many human rights awards;
      “Seoul Train”, about multinational activists who create an Underground Railroad for refugees of North Korea (sponsored by the National Unification Advisory Council, Colorado Chapter); and
      “Free China: the Courage to Believe” — Falun Gong practitioners are imprisoned in slave labor camps for practicing their faith outlawd by the Chinese goverment (sponsored by the Chinese Divine Culture Assn
    • Lectures:
      “Raising a Father: the journey of a single dad in Aurora, Colorado” with author and public relations consultant Arjun Sen (http://raisingafather.com);
      “From Hiroshima to Larimer Street to Boston and Back”, the story of a physician scientist’s family with Glenn T. Furuta, M.D., of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, National Jewish Health andthe Children’s Hospital Colorado (intestinal allergic diseases); and
      “Changing China — Cities, Places and Transportation”, a photographic slide presentation by Huiliang Liu, Transportation Planner with the city of Aurora
  • Asian/Pacific Fashion Show on Sept. 30th
    • diverse fashion with thanks to the Aurora Museum Foundation and the beautiful Asian/Pacific volunteer models
  • Escape to the Pacific Islands on Oct. 13th:
    • Included PASCO’s Parol Lantern-making workshop and various other hands-on crafts; Philippine music and dance; Polynesia Fia Fia (Samoan music and dance); a Balinese shadow puppet play with dalang I Made Lasmawan of Bali and a Denver-based gender wayang ensemble, Catur Eka Santi; music of Hawaii by Phillip Swain, the Kahaunaele Swain Ohana Band, and Mark Kahalekulu
  • Asian/Pacific Arts Fair on Nov. 3rd
    • Including ikebana, origami, the Korean Jikji metal-type print demonstration, Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu, the Korean Academy of Taekwondo and Bahad Zubu, Filipino martial art
  • Closing Reception on Nov. 4th
    • the Aurora History Museum’s thank  you to the Asian/Pacific communities’ participation and support

Aurora Asian Film Festival
The Partnership collaborated with the Denver Film Society and the City of Aurora for ten years (1998-2007) on its signature project called the Aurora Asian Film Festival. Not only did the festival highlight Asian cinema, but it also allowed attendees to experience music, dance and cuisine from local Asian and Pacific Islander communities.  The festival offered a cinematic journey to Asia and the Pacific Islands, allowing for the filmmakers’ perspectives on the rich and diverse cultures of Asian, Pacific Islander and Asian Pacific American peoples.   The festival’s home was the Aurora Fox Arts Center over four days each year, complete with outdoor receptions and entertainment at nearby Fletcher Plaza on East Colfax Avenue in what is now Aurora’s Cultural Arts District.

Aurora Asian Education Awards
Focusing on the importance of family and education, the Aurora Asian Education Awards highlighted the achievements of Aurora’s Asian American students. Between 2000 and 2007, over 100 elementary, middle, and high school students received recognition for outstanding achievement, leadership, and community involvement.  Education remains a top priority for the Partnership and this exhibit is just one of several ways the Partnership shows a commitment to this mission.

The broader Aurora population had the opportunity to meet the Partnership through nine award-winning floats and entries during the past Gateway to the Rockies Parade. The Partnership’s involvement with the parade, 1995 – 2005, contributed to the growth and success of the vibrant and diverse communities found throughout Aurora.

The Partnership has served as a role model for working toward pan-Asian events and bringing together many diverse cultures to discuss common issues.  In the early years, the issues related to how the police interact with the community and learning about the Asian immigrants starting up businesses on Colfax.  Today, some of the same issues exist, but with different ethnicities (e.g., Korean and Thai in the ’80s; Burmese and Nepalese refugees today), the spread of the population to other areas of the city (e.g., Havana and Parker), and a more sophisticated understanding of how to help and integrate the populations.

Kate and Paul Tauer at the 9th Aurora Asian Film Festival (2006)

Kate and Paul Tauer at the 9th Aurora Asian Film Festival (2006)

The Partnership continues as a networking resource to Aurora’s Asian/Pacific communities and beyond.