Queer Youth Space has been recommended to receive nearly $100,000 from the City of Seattle to help create a cultural center on Capitol Hill. The Three Wings Project is documented on threewings.org
A small number of dedicated QYS volunteers drew up a proposal for a youth-led queer cultural space that would operate as a non-profit of Queer Youth Space called Three Wings. The plan reflects and responds to the voices and concerns we heard at the Queer Youth Mutiny in February as well as the many young people we are connected with through various organizations and peer networks.
This spring, CHS talked to Queer Youth Space organizers about their goals and strategy. “We need a space for people to feel comfortable in,” spokesperson Hanna King told CHS in April. “Safe space encourages self-expression, and the physical nature allows youth to really invest in it.”
Seattle Gay News reports that the group is already in talks for an undisclosed Capitol Hill location for the center. SGN also reports the group is targeting fall to open the center.
The money to build the space will come from a grant provided by the Department of Neighborhood’s Large Projects Fund. The matching fund program, which requires awarded groups to match the grant value with volunteer work, funded work at the Hill’s Polish Home last year.
Three Wings is envisioned to feature three components:
WING 1: Cultural Activism Lab builds queer peer support networks, positive youth identities, and community pride by providing a space where queer youth can socialize, work, and create together—in community. The Cultural Activism Lab will include a café, arts and cultural gallery, performance/class space, and community organizing spaces. Open and free to the general public, the lab will serve as the face of THREE WINGS and as the primary function of its physical space where young people can utilize the open format to make media, socialize, and get engaged with local activism.
WING 2: Wellness Collaborative provides critical education and mental health services to address the disparities for health and well-being
experienced by queer youth. The Wellness Collaborative will address disparities in the quality of life of queer people, and other compounding factors, through holistic counseling, coaching and goal-attainment partnerships, peer mediation, health/legal information and referral, academic support, classes/groups aimed at personal healing and community wellness. THREE WINGS offers these services in a non-confrontational and confidential way. Through a youth-led steering committee, Wing 2 will work to inspire a culture of wellness that is holistic, person-centered, and strengths-based. Prevention and wellness services are vital to our community because as queer youth, “we focus so much on just surviving in our environments, and keeping ourselves mentally afloat, that our well-being is often neglected.” Grounded in the belief that queer youth should have equal access to health/wellness information as their heterosexual peers, we intend this wing to be a platform of comfort and self-advocacy, community support, and source of information and referrals.
WING 3 | Research & Education Institute works to positively impact the policies and cultural practices that negatively impact our community by developing a “think tank” that builds leadership and promotes policy and community change through research, education, and advocacy. The Institute produces alternative media and web resources, research-based resources, and educational materials. It provides technical assistance and consultation to schools and agencies.
Queer Youth Space has made a rapid ascension from grassroots youth group to potential creator and operator of a Capitol Hill cultural facility. It has harnessed social media — its Facebook fan page now stands at more than 2,000 “likes” – and low-cost promotions like utility pole flyers to spread its message while weathering — and benefiting from the attention from — criticism from some of the older set of Seattle GLBT activism.
It is not clear how far the city grant will take the Three Wings Project and what the budget plans are to keep the new center open. We’ll follow up with QYS to learn more about their plans now that they have good news about the start of their mission.