Creating Change 2010

Personal Rules for the Creating Change Conference

At dinner the other night a good friend and mentor of mine said “When you come to Creating Change you can leave either so exhausted from a weekend of packing learning and networking into every minute that you go home and veg out for a month, or you can leave energized and ready to go home and get to work with all your new ideas. Which do you want?” Of course we all agreed we’d like the first option very much, thank you! Easier said than done. For my friend he needs to set a rule for himself that if he needs to take time away and either see the city he’s visiting or sleep an afternoon away in his room, that he does it. He listens to his body. He takes care of himself. This friend of mine has been coming to this conference for years. It’s sage advice. What rules are you setting for yourself so you can leave energized and take care of yourself?

Creating Change 2010

Welcome to Creating Change!

Let’s get this party started! This is my second year at Creating Change, a fantastic conference the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force organizes each year. I’m really excited to be here working with the LGBT Tobacco Network! We’re here to learn, network & build a better movment– and 2010 is going to be a fantastic year to be doing this work. I’ve only been here about 24 hours and already feel like I could fill up 12 blog posts! At conferences like this there is so much going on. So adding sharing my experiences through blogging will be a great way to both share the knowledge and also give me time to reflect while in process. I can tell already it’s going to be an amazing conference!

Creating Change 2010

after lunch plenary session

Enjoyed a great lunch with Toni (from PHX) and her colleagues.  It was interesting to sit in on their meeting as they discussed ideas and  suggestions for their blog.  I mentioned I was doing some blogging for the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network.  It was great to get some great suggestions about blogging.  As I finished my lunch, I hurried off to attend the Plenary Session, which featured the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Rea Carey.  As I entered the packed room, I noticed Kate Clinton was on stage, as the MC.  She is totally awesome.  She sure knows how to get a room going.

I finally had the opportunity to hear the Executive Director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – Rea Carey give a powerful speech.   Her speech gave an overview of some of the progress that has been taking place through out the US.  She also talked about Immigration, which includes the GLBT community members that are undocumented citizens.  She also mentioned about the five States that acknowledge marriage between same sex couples.  I have heard a lot about the events taking place in Uganda and did not really know much about it, but after hearing her speech, I have an idea of what is taking place.  One message that I got out of her speech is:  FREEDOM + JUSTICE=EQUALITY.

A transgender women, Joyce received an award for her leadership in working with LGBTQ Youth in the Boston area.  She gave an amazing speech.  She has been involved in the movement since 1970.  A very amazing lady and I hope to make her acquaintance before the end of the conference.  Her speech almost brought tears to my eyes, since she was speaking from her heart.  It is wonderful to see transgender people get recognized for their hard work.

I am currently manning the booth @ National LGBT Tobacco Control Network.  Meeting some intersting people and sharing some good info with them about smoking.  We have some great FREEBIES to give away to the conference attendees such as luggage tags, chap sticks, sharpies (black and red) and some great information.

Creating Change 2010

Another great day in cold-rainy Dallas!!!

After running to CVS in the cold rain the morning of February 3rd, I attended another day-long institute titled Health Care for All: Health as a Tool for Social & Economic Justice to network and improve on my health advocacy skills.  I was not disappointed in many respects.  One of the many activities was to learn and understand the complex health related vocabulary, which brought me to my work as a librarian.  How do we utilize information and make it into power for communities to take action?  For example, understanding basic acronyms and terms like “transition exclusion” (a clause in healthcare insurance which does not cover transgender needs of transitioning from one gender to the other) is an essential tool for individuals and communities to be a part of the healthcare debate.

Most importantly, I had the opportunity to share in a small group the realities of LGBT people of color and how I usually feel excluded from health-related debate as a Latino man.  I feel like a “cantaleta” (repeating the same thing over and over again) for the last 10 years, when asking about issues and realities among LGBT communities of color in workshops like the one I attended today.  Usually, my point is quickly dismissed, but this time, I had the opportunity to share in a small group my concerns and most importantly, listen to theirs to make it a unified voice.  We believed that inclusion and unity will make a stronger LGBT voice.  Including not only physical representation of LGBTs of color in panels and Boards but incorporating what our language, immigration, acculturation, and other environmental and social realities are in comparison to the mainstream population (aka white gay men).  The passion in my group gave me hope that we won’t have to wait another ten years to have inclusivity and understanding of the needs and realities of LGBT people of color.

Creating Change 2010 · Puerto Rico

A Gay Librarian from Puerto Rico in Dallas, Texas trying to Create Change

I arrived to Dallas in the afternoon of Tuesday, February 2 sponsored by the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network to participate with 2,000 other LGBT folks in this invigorating conference.  Coming to 50 degree weather was not necessarily the best environment for a Puerto Rican that lives just three blocks from the beach, but this is an opportunity that I had to take advantage of.  No doubt the layers of clothing have kept me warm to network, learn, and participate in what I expected to be a growing and development opportunity for someone that works independently as a Consultant.  I am excited to share my experiences and observations as a gay Latino man that sees information as power.  As a Librarian, and via this opportunity to blog, I want to share my interests and perspectives on how to transfer all the knowledge from research, government, and large institutions I will be gathering during this conference to the community level, where the need is the most and where the action is needed to actually make a difference.

It all started with Finding our Kin Folk: People of Color Organizing Institute for New Activists on Wednesday, February 3rd.  At 39 yo, I still considered myself “new” on the role of activism and organizing.  This day-long institute allowed me to explore issues and realities of people of color (refers to African Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Native American/Alaska Natives and other non-white racial/ethnic groups) with other 30 participants, 26 of them, like me, were participating for the first time at Creating Change.  The institute began with individual introductions of participants and expressing the gender they identified with.  Do you prefer male or female pronouns?  It was really clear to me the intersection and realities of LGBT folks.  Pronouns do not define us as LGBT people.  We define the pronoun that we want to be identified with.  From the start that was an eye-opening experience.

We also discussed the recently signed Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made me think of Jorge S. Lopez Mercado, a young man fromPuerto Rico that was recently murdered in the mountain town of Cayey.  If it wasn’t for this newly enacted federal law, the local authorities in the Island would have made us believe that he asked for it for being dressed as a woman.  We saw a video on the realities of welfare, homelessness, and job discrimination issues among the LGBT community of New York City, and another video by Sista II Sista demanding no more violence against women.  Both videos presented the realities of LGBT people of color and the struggles that grassroots’ level groups endure to protect the wellbeing of my community.  At the end of this long-day institute, we merged with another session of intermediate level activists to share our interests and experiences via active scenarios of oppressive moments.  After presenting the live performances, we strategize on ways to interrupt these difficult situations and support the oppressed individual.  The interactions and the discussion made me ponder about my self-defined role as an Activist Librarian.  What does this mean to my work?  How do others perceive my work?  But at the end, a few people reminded me that librarians as a community have always been activists and agenda movers for a long long time.

Creating Change 2010

My 1st impression of Creating Change

I arrived safely in Dallas with much excitement about attending the Creating Change. I received a scholarship from the National LGBT Tobacco Network. As a Native American attending the Conference, I am very pleased to represent the Network and the Native American GLBT community. I attended the plenary opening session and found it fascinating because a Native American Group – First Nations Group opened the conference with a Native American Prayer, which was an Ojibwie song. I was very touched by some of the speakers during the opening plenary. I had the honor of meeting Kate Clinton, who is very funny. I have heard of her in Phoenix, but have never attended any events that she hosted. Sharon Day of the Indigenous Task Force received any honor for her work in HIV/AIDS in the Native American Communities in Minnesota. She gave a powerful speech. Another lady got honored for her work with LGBT Elders. I was fascinated by her speech, as well. The main speaker was a gentlemen from the Mexican Legal and Education Fund. He was very good and gave me things to think about such as Immigration Reform and LGBT individuals. Some powerful speakers. It felt good to see some Native representation at the conference. At first, I thought I was the only Native, but felt relieved after seeing the opening plenary session with some Native representation. Kate mentioned, “There are over 40+ representation from the State of Arkansas. ” Very thankful to the Host Committee for the great information about the State of Texas. I was not aware there was an openly gay mayor, a sheriff and politicians in the State of Texas. This State has made some tremendous progress with LGBT representation. I actaully approached Kate Clinton, on my way back to the hotel, and introduced myself. She was very warm welcoming and funny. I can actually say I met Kate (in person). My 1st evening at Creating Change was awesome. A lot of great people and friendly individuals. I am thrilled there are a lot of Youth representation = our future leaders educating their mind.

Creating Change 2010

I AM NOW A BLOGGER

First, Thanks for reading my blog!

I am here at Creating Change and I have to say LOVING IT! The energy here is amazing…

It is so great to be in a space with so many like minded people, people that are dedicated to ACTION!

As you may already know, The Network has 9 AMAZING scholarship recipients here blogging, tweeting… the whole nine! Stay tuned to our blog to read up on their experience at cc10, post workshop blogs etc.

Action Alerts

Action Alert- Deadline extended to say "Don't leave us out!" of nat'l health equity plan

February 12th update – The website shows the time for submitting comments has been extended to Tuesday Feb. 16th. Please circulate this Action Alert widely for one last push!

The National Partnership for Action has released a draft  proposal on Achieving Health Equity, and wants public comments on the document. Initiated by the Office of Minority Health the National Plan for Action Changing Outcomes lays the foundation for addressing health disparities for affected populations in HHS. Per the plan: “Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social and/or economic obstacles to health and/or a clean environment based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, cognitive, sensory or physical disability, sexual orientation, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.”

Unfortunately, in the 200+ page plan, gender identity is not mentioned at all, and sexual orientation is only mentioned once in the definition above (p.2), and once again in an appendix (p.171). In comparison, other disparity groups are mentioned almost 100 times each.

Please tell them not to make the diverse and rich LGBT communities just a footnote in this major disparity plan!

Comments on the draft plan are being accepted via email until February 12, 2010.

Please take a moment to email and say…

“LGBT health disparities are too important to ignore. Please add LGBT communities into the relevant parts of this key health plan.”

Learn more and comment here.

Please pass the word along! Shortlink is: http://bit.ly/OMH10

Action Alerts

Action Alert- Deadline extended to say "Don't leave us out!" of nat'l health equity plan

February 12th update – The website shows the time for submitting comments has been extended to Tuesday Feb. 16th. Please circulate this Action Alert widely for one last push!

The National Partnership for Action has released a draft  proposal on Achieving Health Equity, and wants public comments on the document. Initiated by the Office of Minority Health the National Plan for Action Changing Outcomes lays the foundation for addressing health disparities for affected populations in HHS. Per the plan: “Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social and/or economic obstacles to health and/or a clean environment based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, cognitive, sensory or physical disability, sexual orientation, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.”

Unfortunately, in the 200+ page plan, gender identity is not mentioned at all, and sexual orientation is only mentioned once in the definition above (p.2), and once again in an appendix (p.171). In comparison, other disparity groups are mentioned almost 100 times each.

Please tell them not to make the diverse and rich LGBT communities just a footnote in this major disparity plan!

Comments on the draft plan are being accepted via email until February 12, 2010.

Please take a moment to email and say…

“LGBT health disparities are too important to ignore. Please add LGBT communities into the relevant parts of this key health plan.”

Learn more and comment here.

Please pass the word along! Shortlink is: http://bit.ly/OMH10

Creating Change 2010

Creating Change 2010 Launches!

Airplanes, buses, and supershuttles are now filling with masses of the most amazing LGBT activists as they all descend on Dallas for NGLTF’s Creating Change 2010 conference. This conference has long been the premier gathering of LGBT local, state and national leaders, and from my perspective, the one place where the person standing next to you is most likely to have an awe inspiring story of how they changed the world for LGBTs in their town or state.

As the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control pushes to bring the trainings to the people who can’t always fly around the country, we wanted to really try to step up the game in making the information from Creating Change accessible to folks not here in Dallas. So, we’ve got 9 people here on scholarships whose goal is to get the information out to you! Bear with us as we get this tech up and running, but we hope this blog page will be our central portal for the blogs, tweets, and videos all these scholarshipians will be creating. So…. watch here for the ground level perspective of whassup at Creating Change! Tonight the folk arrive, tomorrow morning we meet them all to set up their tweet, blog, and youtube accounts. We’ll all be hashtagging with #QNET. But mostly, we wanna blast open the doors of Creating Change and give you a birds eye view of the excitement, wisdom and amazing skills that are being laid out from now through Sunday. So stay tuned, and we hope you enjoy the view.

Yrs,

Scout, Network Director
The Network for LGBT Tobacco Control
A proud Project of The Fenway Institute
Boston, MA