In her decades-long work as a community builder and performer, artist Karen Young inspires real connection. Her personal story of disenfranchisement compelled her to find her own voice and use it to help others find theirs. Her passion for taiko drumming was ignited the first time she heard it thirty years ago. It is now the center of her work. Turning aspiration into realization, Young’s approach to taiko inspires marginalized populations to reclaim voice, culture, power, and a sense of belonging. Influenced by Japanese-American taiko activists of the 60s, Young is the fire behind The Genki Spark, a multi-generational, pan-Asian women's arts and advocacy organization that uses taiko drumming, personal stories, and creativity to build community, develop leadership, and advocate respect for all.
"Older and Bolder" is an elder voice project designed to engage, empower, and make elders of color visible in Boston. Based at BCYF Grove Hall Senior Center, Older and Bolder utilizes Japanese taiko drumming as a vehicle to command space and attention. Working with Age-Friendly Boston, one of their key achievements was partnering on an event to bring awareness to a dangerous crosswalk where cars would not yield to pedestrians.