Hello Heartspark friends and family!
We have not been great at updating our blog with news, and that’s because we have been really, really, REALLY busy. Did we mention we’ve been busy? The last 12 months have been bouncing hard, even during the pandemic! Yes, COVID-19 forced us to seriously re-negotiate our planned direction, but it also gave us the opportunity to serve in ways that we never thought would be possible.
So, without further adieu, here is a little (a lot) of what we have been up to since September 2019:
Throughout Fall 2019 and early Winter 2020, we polished and published the world’s first literary collection for trans and non-binary children: 99% Chance of Magic. Over 700 books were shipped in January and February 2020, our largest Kickstarter yet! A huge thanks to copy editor Eyota Wak’ishwit and book producer/co-executive director Luna Merbruja for sealing the deal and pushing us past the finish line! We could not have done it with out you!
Throughout Fall 2019, we had an active community space in downtown Olympia! There, we held 21 community events – mostly “family” dinners and video game nights. It was the first time that we know of (in Olympia herstory) that trans women and AMAB non-binary people had a special, accessible place to just be together, with only each other. While our performances have always been by and for trans women and AMAB non-binary people, they’ve also been open to the public. These community dinners were only open to members of our community (AMAB trans and non-binary people), and it was particularly wonderful to break bread and laugh with one another.
In November 2019 and March 2020, we held two community town halls for trans women and AMAB non-binary people living in Thurston County. Led by Tobi Hill-Meyer and Eyota Wak’ishwit and in collaboration with Pizza Klatch, UNITE Olympia, Gender Justice League, and PacMtn Workforce Development Council, our community came together to share food, talk about feelings, and come up with amazing ways to make lasting change. The data extrapolated from those events eventually led the City of Olympia to make a big commitment to the trans and non-binary community. More on that a little later…
Also in collaboration with Gender Justice League, UNITE Olympia, and Thurston County Food Bank, we opened a food bank delivery service! From April to July 2020, HUGS Food Pantry of Thurston County provided groceries and toiletries to (an average of) 49 trans and non-binary families. We were even able to pay our trans and non-binary community to run it! This was the most difficult programs we led in 2020 because of the number of moving parts during a literal pandemic, but we were really proud to serve our community much needed food during the first wave of the global crisis.
In June 2020, we co-led a three-day long Washington State Virtual Trans Pride (Trans Pride Seattle+) with our friends at Gender Justice League, TRACTION, and the Black Trans Task Force. This was a first for our sweet little organization (co-organizing a pride event), but we absolutely loved working with so many friends, old and new. Trans Pride Seattle+ had three hours of performances by (primarily) BIPOC trans and non-binary people, plus 30 online trans-led workshops. What an amazing experience and experiment it was!
Throughout Summer 2020, we also collaborated with Gender Justice League and the City of Olympia to pass a resolution to help protect BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Trans and Non-Binary People within City Limits. While this project had been in development since November 2019, it really began to take shape after the Black Lives Matter uprising in June 2020. On Tuesday, September 15th, the resolution passed unanimously by Olympia City Council. There is much work to be done to ensure that the promises made by the City will actually happen, but we feel very good about where things are heading. If you’d like to read the text of the resolution, CLICK HERE to learn more.
Lastly, throughout August and September 2020, we’ve been printing and shipping free books to transgender kids everywhere! Thanks to a fundraiser led by co-executive director Amy Heart, Heartspark pals paid $1000 to print a whole lot of books to give to kiddos in need. We’re still shipping books as we speak! If you’d like to get a free book for your trans child, visit our project’s website at www.freebooksfortranskids.com.
And that’s about it for now! There are more projects in the pipeline, including three books by BIPOC trans and non-binary folks that we hope to publish this fall. Also, a big, big thanks to our funders: Pride Foundation, Mary’s Pence, Funds for Trans Generations (Borealis), Trans Justice Funding Project, Resist.org, Social Justice Fund NW, GlobalGiving, and our many donors around the country. None of this work would have been possible without your financial support. Thank you for believing in what trans women and AMAB non-binary people can do for one another.
Until next time, stay tuned! And as always, BLACK TRANS AND NON-BINARY LIVES MATTER.