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Positively Our Lore

Updated: Jun 21

Join Chase Overholt, Director of Development of Positive Images for a deep dive on our history, where we are today, and our vision for the future.



Transcription:

0:00: Welcome to Positively a podcast by positive images.

0:03: Today, we're going to do the groundwork of talking about who we are, where we came from, where we are right now and where we're going.

0:10: PI Jingle comprised of a kick drum and airy synths.

0:20: Positive images.

0:23: Hi there.

0:24: My name is Chase Overholt.

0:25: I am the director of development for positive images and I'll also be your host guiding you through positively a podcast by positive images.

0:35: I'm so excited y'all are here listening today and I'm really excited to tell y'all a little bit of our lore actually to dive into where we were and where we are and where we're hopefully going.

0:49: So without further ado, let's jump back to 1990 in January.

0:54: Positive images opened doors to Sonoma County's LGBTQIA plus community for the first time, founded as a collaboration between Beverly Laird and Jim Foster. Positive images set out to address community disparities by creating a bridge for connection and community support.

1:11: PI held our very first meeting with five young gay men who were desperate for support, connection and community during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Jim and Beverly understood that the word positive held a deadly connotation and society treated folks with a positive diagnosis as outcasts.

1:28: They decided to create a space where young LGBTQIA plus individuals could see and create positive images of themselves and their community.

1:38: By the second year, the bi monthly Thursday night support meetings expanded into weekly meetings and they continued ever since. Another prong to our multi prong approach to creating a more inclusive Sonoma County,

1:51: Our early leaders realized from the beginning was that we needed to educate for acceptance.

1:57: Our leaders knew that transforming our county into an LGBTQIA plus affirming community required both support and training for future allies.

2:06: In the spring of 1990 positive images began sharing presentations at local high schools and supporting GSA clubs on the ground.

2:12: The effort soon evolved to form LGBT Q I A plus cultural competency trainings.

2:17: These were for organizations, institutions seeking to create safer spaces for queer communities.

2:23: Some of them include Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma State University, high schools, middle schools, social service agencies, churches, community groups, other nonprofits, hospitals, and even government agencies.

2:36: Those first two years were absolutely crucial for our community.

2:41: So in the summer of 1992 positive images began a mentorship program to expand our peer support.

2:47: It trained and supported LGBTQIA plus adults who had the desire and commitment to work with queer youth.

2:53: Volunteers of positive images contributed a vast array of talents in support of our organization including launching fundraising efforts and special events, providing expertise in nonprofit organizational support, giving regular donations or by becoming board members of positive images.

3:10: Let's backtrack a little bit to June of 1990 positive images marched in Sonoma County's first pride parade and later marched alongside Lyric.

3:19: Lyric is based out of San Francisco.

3:21: That's lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center in San Francisco's pride parade.

3:27: We believe that celebration of our visibility is vital to community building.

3:31: As our co-founder, Jim Foster said you can't help but feel good about declaring who you are when marching down the street and carrying the P I banner.

3:39: This is a very powerful act in countering any shame.

3:44: Positive images unveiled our first office in 1994 a tiny room located at 1023 4th street in downtown Santa Rosa by October of that year, we held our first homecoming out dance and later, the first positive image is Valentine's Dance in February 1996.

4:04: From 1998 to 2002.

4:07: We were rallying parent support in the summer of 1998 supportive parent allies, Ray and Jill Tarap and Deb and Robert Lane created the first positive images, parent support group.

4:18: This group focused on providing support and education to parents of LGBT Q I plus youth.

4:24: The group convened parents of queer youth into community building activities and rallied parents to march in the Sonoma County and San Francisco pride parades.

4:32: In 1998 positive images moved into our first full sized space which served as a headquarters for the organization and allowed for growth over the next four years.

4:43: In 1999 Nancy Vogel joined positive images and created a unique co executive directorship with Jim Foster.

4:50: The organization continued to grow and evolve until it became apparent that more space was desperately needed, which brings us to the Chinn Street House.

4:59: In 2003, positive images seized a timely opportunity to move into a house on Chinn Street.

5:04: This location would be positive images home for many years to come.

5:08: It's fondly remembered as our home base for generations of positive images, communities.

5:13: But with more members and programs than ever, we eventually outgrew that spot too.

5:18: In 2015, after 25 years of service, our co-founder Jim Foster was ready to retire from positive images and invite a new era of leadership.

5:29: After working as the community outreach coordinator for several years, Javi Cabrera Rosales accepted the role of director of programs with excitement and a vision toward the future.

5:39: Javi navigated positive images through new and exciting challenges including securing critical funding and key partnerships.

5:46: Javi's skills, charisma, intelligence, drive and joy, continue to inspire us.

5:51: Keep us laughing and model impeccable leadership to our community.

5:57: In 2017, Javi was ready for their next professional opportunity and led the effort to find positive images.

6:03: Our next leader, positive images was excited to bring on our current director of programs, Jessica Carroll, who joined the team in November 2017, raised in Roseland.

6:13: Jess came to the organization with the skills, knowledge and experience to serve the local LGBTQIA plus community and the understanding of the unique cultures, communities and landscapes of Sonoma County just led the organization and staff with positivity, warmth, excitement, helping to position positive images and its most significant cultural evolution and expansion to date.

6:37: In 2016, a determined board of directors found positive images, a new home across the street from our long time Chinn Street location, we were able to grow from a small house to an entire LGBTQIA plus community center located at 200 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa California.

6:55: Recognizing that our need for support did not expire at a certain age.

6:58: After 28 years of offering support groups to only youth and young adults.

7:02: We launched an LGBTQIA plus Adult support group.

7:06: In 2018, our LGBTQIA plus community center was then able to host youth support groups 12 to 18.

7:14: A youth leadership development program, adult support groups and provide a meeting space for many local community groups which brings us to today.

7:24: We're currently in one of the largest growth phases we have ever been in as part of this huge growth phase.

7:33: We were able to bring on our newest leader, Kimi Barbosa in 2023.

7:39: The Positive images board and staff led the search for a new executive director.

7:43: In the summer of 2023 we invited Kimi to lead us toward a new future.

7:47: Here's some words from Kimi, LGBTQIA plus Services have historically lacked an approach that is intersectional and accessible.

7:55: We have set out to change that we're committed to the creation of a space that promotes the values we hold centering diverse communities, voices and working towards collective liberation while supporting the needs of our community.

8:08: For the first time in our history, positive images has developed a new infrastructure for Multilingual and multicultural support for Latine and QTBIPOC communities living in Sonoma County by hosting new bilingual programming exclusively for QTBIPOC individuals and expanding our bilingual and bicultural staff.

8:25: We are lighting the way for the future we can all thrive in.

8:28: We know that a liberated future for LGBTQIA plus communities requires a commitment to centering QTBIPOC and immigrant experiences and ending white supremacy and other systems of oppression that harm our communities.

8:40: So how are we doing that?

8:43: Well, this team of 13 is absolutely incredible.

8:47: This is my favorite part of the podcast where I get to go off a off script a little bit, you know, and really talk to you about where we are right now.

8:55: We've got a beautifully built out bilingual and bicultural team led by the incredible Laura LeCave and staffed by both Ronimar and Alex.

9:06: These three are incredible advocates for their community showing up in a every avenue that they can.

9:13: In fact, Lau has been working on developing a relationship with organizations in more rural communities that are primarily monolingual Spanish speakers.

9:22: By doing this, Lau has been able to educate folks that have not had the opportunity to learn about the LGBTQIA community and help them become advocates for their own queer kiddos.

9:33: This work is not in a vacuum though we're also working to build support in every aspect of the queer individual in Sonoma County's life.

9:43: As we mentioned earlier, the LGBTQIA cultural competency training is led by our incredible Drew Crawford and staffed by some other amazing staff like Vanessa and Joy.

9:55: The training's arm is out in schools every single week.

10:00: I'm not kidding.

10:01: Every single week we have folks out in schools talking to students, talking to teachers, talking to administrators, making sure that Sonoma County is upholding safe and equitable spaces for our most vulnerable.

10:17: This work is absolutely crucial for this vision that we hold for the future of Sonoma County.

10:23: Speaking of our vision for the future of Sonoma County, we the executive team, Kimi Barbosa, myself and Jess Carroll are working in tandem with staff board and equity first consulting to draft our five year strategic plan.

10:38: And with that comes putting into writing all of these things we hold as hopes and desires for the future.

10:45: So here's our drafted vision statement in North Bay where LGBTQIA2S plus people, especially folks living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities have equitable access to resources.

10:58: Feel a sense of safety and belonging rooted in communities of care and can live authentic, thriving interconnected lives.

11:06: I don't know about you, but that is certainly a future that I want to live in.

11:10: So we have our feet on the ground running, trying to make that a possibility by living into our commitments and living into our values.

11:20: In fact, we as a team drafted all of our values together to create a beautiful list of exactly who we are and what we stand for.

11:30: Our values are accessibility, accountability, community, creativity, equity, and anti-racism, intersectionality and liberation.

11:42: And you might be wondering, it's nice to put down those words, but how are you living into them?

11:47: Well, one example is a regular presentation led by one of our incredible staff members, Roni from our bilingual and bicultural team.

11:55: They're presenting regularly on disrupting whiteness in the workplace.

11:59: They've built a beautiful presentation full of sources and information that we can reference in order to knock down some of these things that we all bring into workspaces from conditioning over many years in different spaces.

12:15: But today we work at positive images and we work for community by community and in community so we get to live into these values every single day.

12:25: We also have a practice of accountability in our space.

12:27: Anytime anybody on any position has attention, they're welcomed and encouraged to bring it up so that we can talk it out as a team and get through it and build stronger connection.

12:40: In fact, we utilize a flattened hierarchy of positive images, while just Kimi, Jess and I hold director level titles.

12:47: It doesn't mean that we're calling all the shots we're bringing in all of our employees to make big decisions all the time.

12:53: In fact, our value statement was actually drafted in tandem with our whole team.

13:00: Another exciting venture that we're reaching out towards right now is building our board.

13:05: So we've brought on a few new amazing board members that we're so excited for you all to meet the future of positive images is looking bright and we hope that you'll join us along our journey.

13:17: You can check out our website posimages.org, that's posimages.org and see our community calendar for fun things coming up in community and opportunities to join our peer support groups.

13:30: You can also drop into the center any time from noon to five Tuesday through Friday and noon to three on Saturdays.

13:37: We would love to see you there.

13:39: Don't forget to follow us on Instagram @positiveimages to stay up to date with the absolute latest.

13:45: Until next time I have been Chase Overholt, director of development for positive images and this has been positively positive images.

13:53: PI Jingle comprised of a kick drum and airy synths.

14:04: What you're still here, that must mean that you really love us.

14:08: If you are willing and able, you can always support positive images by making a donation.

14:14: Did you know that by making a donation of only $5 a month, you help us out immensely.

14:20: We're using this money to continue to support the LGBT QIA2S plus community right here in Sonoma County.

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