Our Purpose

Three Chairs for Refugees is a Seattle-based community arts initiative that uses "participatory" communications strategies to shine a light on the challenges associated with forced migration. Their personal stories become powerful tools that refugees can themselves deploy to effectively advocate for their interests and rights. Our mission encompasses three major objectives: 


REFLECTION: Our participatory media production environment gives refugee youth and elders the opportunity to explore their own individual histories, and to make sense of their personal journeys through the creative process of crafting a story about their lived experience, gathering visual images and audio that supports their personal narrative, and then combining the story elements into a short, two to three minute video.

As any good brain scientist will tell you, becoming the narrator of your own personal life story contributes directly to neural integration and mental well-being.


 FRIENDS &  MENTORS: The intimate nature of our storytelling workshops tends to make friendships blossom, as participants share details about their personal histories, and discover commonalities across their unique experiences. 

We are particularly keen on helping refugee storytellers extend their social networks beyond the refugee community. When peer mentors from local universities support refugee teens in their creation and sharing of digital stories, the warm relationships forged can extend well beyond the event. We believe these bonds of friendship can be pivotal in breaking down social barriers to entry into our local community.


CIVIL SOCIETY:  We partner primarily with community-based organizations that provide human services for the diverse refugee population in our region, and with educational institutions that support multicultural learning and global education.  

Empathetic audience responses to the personal video-narratives created by local refugee teens give credence to the adage that a story is the shortest distance between people. Our storytellers routinely lead the effort to raise awareness about the experiences and challenges they face in transitioning into their new homeland.  Besides traditional community screenings, we have sponsored global virtual conversations between Seattle-based refugees and young people at listening posts located throughout the globe.