It’s hard to believe it’s already April of 2016, yet here we are – and we’re more than halfway through.
I’ve been trying to write this post at various moments since January, and each time I’ve sat down to type it out, I’ve lost the words. It’s been a hard year for the Stories Project Team, and the personal crises and hardships we’ve all endured in recent months have kept our attention from the project and the website. But we are undeterred. We can only move forward from where we are, and we accept that we needed this time the past couple of months to focus on the living members of our community and ourselves.
With that said, we’re at the end of April and it’s almost May, which means our 5th annual Week of Action is right around the corner! In the upcoming two weeks, we’re going to be posting a bunch of information about what we’ll be doing, and what you can do if you choose to take the challenge with us. Though we could have tried to do something grand for the five-year anniversary, we’ll actually be doing the opposite, in the spirit of the very first WoA we ever ran: a small, low-key event for personal growth and reflection. It will run May 9 – May 15.
So much has changed since the last time I updated the blog! The new year has brought with it a new theme, new team, new opportunities, and more. We changed our URL to “the-stories-project.org” last October to reflect the shifting focus of our work, and after a lot of thought and careful consideration of our options, we ultimately decided to switch to a more modern, more mature site theme. We additionally revamped the about pages and the layout so everything is easier to locate and access. The stories we’ve archived are no longer under “About the Stories Project” – they have their own tab where you can read all of them.
The team of women working behind the scenes on these endeavors has grown from two to four. Joining Alice and myself are Taliyah, our new social media coordinator who has years of experience fighting state violence, and Maya, our new outreach coordinator whose background in queer theory makes for oodles of fascinating conversations. We introduced them on the Facebook page a bit prematurely a few months back – they will start to really make themselves known during the Week of Action this year!
If you take a look around the site, you may also notice that we’ve added a few projects, including our collaboration with an incarcerated LGBT artist named Kery who specializes in the creation of beaded jewelry and leather goods, and the Stories Project Emergency Fund, which we’ve talked about doing in various forms over the years. Our portion of the funds we receive through our collaboration with Kery will be put into the fund, which we plan to award to members of the LGBT community experiencing emergency situations and financial need as we have the resources. Our first gift in the amount of $1500, paid for by the team and our generous families and friends, was given this past January to Aurora J., a lesbian, genderfluid artist, poet, and photographer, to help her leave a situation which is becoming increasingly abusive and dangerous.
In spite of the fact that we’ve been quiet these past few months, we’ve actually had quite a few opportunities to spread the word about the projects and connect with others doing similar work! We’ve been focusing our energies on becoming more established as an organization and networking, and we definitely feel like it’s paying off. I’m amazed and humbled by all of the creative, dedicated individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with over the past year through speaking engagements, LGBT film festivals, and events large and small. Because of the encouragement of a few of these people, TSP has a “gig” this June – we will have our own booth in a local Pride festival, and it will be our first. Additionally, because the LGBT film festivals have proven time and time again to be such a rich ground for genuine connection between like-minded people, I’ve signed up to be on the film selection committee for one near me this summer. I’m looking forward to being involved with this group, and I’m looking forward to the new heights we hope to take our own projects to in the near future.
The last thing of note I have to report is that, depending on our financial and work situations next summer, Alice and I are talking about taking a group of people back to Michaux State Forest and camping there. Though I said in 2014 I wasn’t sure I would ever go back, after I returned from that trip, a number of lesbian and bi women expressed that they never would have thought to do that on their own, but now they’d be interested in going too if I ever went back.
So you know what? Let’s go back, together.