Through the Looking Glass to Last Year’s Muse

Muse-lgbt-queer-arts-retreat-workshopIt’s the beginning of spring and in the mornings the fog lays low and heavy across the redwoods. A group of queer artists are gathered on the dining hall deck, coffee in hand, as Rik Lee demonstrates how to create little plaster trolls from some casts he has brought. Inside, Thor and Joe lead a guided discussion on how to talk about impact as artists, looking glamorous in their wigs and lashes. Some listen and take notes while others take it in while they knit or weave. It’s March 2016 and it’s our second annual Muse, a retreat for queer creatives.

Muse-lgbt-queer-arts-retreat-weavingMuse is our first big event of the year, with more than 60 people attending last year. We created it to build a space for LGBTQ* artists of all types to come together, share art, grow skills, and be inspired. Art has the potential to inspire all of us towards a better world, and we feel by helping queer artists grow stronger we can help them create a larger impact in the world. And, it’s been a smashing success. People leave Muse feeling a renewed excitement for their art, with new ideas brewing, and access to new friends and resources.

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Queer Heroes for Cabin Names Revealed

osh-tischFollowing a month and a half community submission process and some voting, we have chosen the nine queer heroes that our cabins will be renamed after. Each cabin will then get a plaque, telling that person’s story to all of our visitors. We specifically chose queer heroes that are lesser known, so even history buffs are likely to encounter some new names.

We are working with some esteemed queer history experts to create truly accurate herstories to be shared. In the meantime, here are these all too brief descriptions. Most of these heroes were lifelong activists; please take some time to poke around on the internet and learn even more about these inspirational individuals.


~ Paula Gunn Allen, a queer Native American poet, novelist, and lesbian activist who helped draw attention to the powerful and essential role women played in native cultures.

~ Kiyoshi Kuromiya, a queer Japanese American born in a U.S. internment camp who fought for social justice his whole life, including by the side of Martin Luther King, Jr.

~ Marsha P. Johnson, a queer African American and transgender activist who was essential in the start of the Stonewall Riots and continued community organizing all the way through AIDS and ACT UP.

~ Sylvia Rivera,  A queer Latina American and transgender activist who was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and worked alongside Marsha during the Stonewall Riots and in STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

~ Marie Equi, a white American lesbian doctor who became involved with the very early struggles for access to birth control and abortion, as well as labor and anarchist struggles.

~ Osh-Tisch, a Native American warrior, poet, artist, and tribal leader, who was one of the last in a revered position of the Crow Tribe that today might be identified as queer.

~ Domingos Rodrigues, born in 1595 in Lisbon as the son of a black slave  and a white slave owner, Domingos was a slave and a gender variant dancer who was tried and executed by the inquisition.

~ Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua, a queer Latina American who was a prominent scholar on Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, and queer theory.

~ Magnus Hirschfeld, a queer Jewish German physician and sexologist who is considered one of the earliest advocates for gay and transgender rights, the books of his Institute for Sexual Research were the first major book burn by the Nazis.

We honor you all and the many other queer heroes who have helped us come so far. Thank you.

Queer Heroes Cabin Naming Project

Cabins at Groundswell by Kegan MarlingWe have decided to rename our cabins in honor of our dead queer heroes, and we want your help to do it. Our goal is to rename the cabins after lesser-known LGBTQ heroes and share their stories with all those who visit Groundswell (thousands a year). We will take submissions until April 22nd and then Groundswell’s staff and board will rename the cabins and place plaques honoring their story on the outside of the cabin for all to read. You can submit a queer hero to be considered for this project through this quick form.

In addition to renaming our cabins and all that, we also will be sharing some of these herstories online through our website and social media. There are a lot of important LGBTQ heroes who have helped our community get this far, and a lot of them are not well know. We want to help share their important stories with our community.

Marsha P JohnsonWe have already been getting some truly fabulous heroes shared with us. One of them is Marsha P. Johnson, renowned transgender activist and revolutionary drag queen. Born in 1945, Marsha became one of the most famed drag queens in New York City. Her and fellow revolutionary Sylvia Rivera started STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and are widely credited with being the first to confront the police brutality facing the queer community, helping start the Stonewall Riots and then leading community action. Marsha was well known for her generosity and helped many young drag queens get food, clothing, and shelter. She was also part of Hot Peaches, a radical drag troupe that has been compared to the Cockettes. Her work as an organizer and activist continued into the 1980’s as a marshall for ACT UP. Sadly, Marsha’s life was ended abruptly in 1992 by an apparent homicide. Her fierceness remains a beacon of inspiration to all queer people. We honor you Marsha.

Marie_Equi_(1872-1952)Marie Equi, born in 1872, was a lesbian medical doctor who was devoted to the care of the poor, provided access to birth control at a time when it was illegal, and was involved with the labor and anarchist movements. As a doctor, Marie had the varied career of both being awarded a medal by the army for her service as a volunteer during the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco fire and of providing illegal abortions (though she, unlike many of her colleagues, got to keep her medical license). In romantic relationships with other women since high school, Marie would go on to raise a child with her partner Harriett Speckart in an early example of same-sex families, and had numerous other lesbian relationships throughout the years. During a protest of work conditions at a cannery with mostly women workers, Marie was beaten by a police officer after protesting the violent treatment of a pregnant woman. The event radicalized her and she worked for socialist and anarchist movements until her death at 80 years of age. A fellow activist friend described Marie as “a woman of passion and conviction (and) a real friend of the have-nots of this world.” We honor you Marie.

Help us share the stories of more important queer heroes of our past. All it takes is 5 minutes of time with this simple form. Thank you.

We’re getting hot tubs – thanks to you!

A huge thanks to everybody who donated over the last month to make our hot tub fundraising campaign such a smashing success! With your help we were able to soar past our initial fundraising goal of $8,000 and raise a total of $12,171 through the support of 96 donors. That extra money is going to help us get even better hot tubs and make the overall complex a beautiful, relaxing space to be. Our donors weren’t the only supporters who helped make this campaign such a success. Many friends supported us by spreading the word. This included a super sexy and silly video created by Kegan Marling, and starring himself, Ross, Sasha, Maureen, and Hrayr. It’s simply fabulous, and if you haven’t check it out yet, here it is for your enjoyment!

Help Groundswell get hot tubs!

Groundswell retreat center hot tub campaignWe need your help to get hot tubs!

To better serve our ever expanding community and allow us to host events year-round, we are building a hot tub complex at Groundswell’s retreat center. This will be an important move in our transformation of the facilities into a beautiful and relaxing space for the LGBTQ and allied communities.

We need our community’s help to make this happen. Because we are such a new non-profit, we don’t have the capital to invest in the hot tubs. The Groundswell ecovillage has pledged to cover the installation and decking costs. We need your support to purchase the hot tubs.

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A look back to the West Coast Communities Conference

Cassandra gives the opening presentation for the conference

Cassandra gives the opening presentation for the conference

We will be working up a series of posts reflecting back on our first year of programs and gatherings here at Groundswell. We decided that we would start not at the beginning, but rather at the end of the year, with our most recent original program, the West Coast Communities Conference. This gathering was unique for us, in that it was both more workshop focused and also our only program not focused on the LGBTQ community (though plenty of the community was there). Read more

Completion of the Poultry Palace


There’s a fierce new gang at Groundswell – the chickens have arrived and are laying up a storm. We recently completed our mobile chicken coop, nicknamed the poultry palace, and wasted no time in filling it up with clucking friends. It took about two months and many skilled hands to finish our beautiful avian abode, but now she is sitting proud in the soccer field (the site of our future farm). Twenty six fowl joined us in total. They were previously being raised at Green Faerie Farm, the current home of our member DoubleSnake. Jim Montgomery, or DoubleSnake, is our main livestock maven at Groundswell and has been responsible for bringing us many of our new critters. He was the visionary and designer behind the poultry palace, and will be moving out to Groundswell full time in June.  Read more

Work Party Weekends Begin with our New Mobile Chicken Coop

Sexy men screwing at Groundswell ecovillage and retreat centerJanuary has seen a burst of activity at Groundswell. We wanted to hit the ground running and we sure have, holding two work parties in January alone. Our focus has been on building our new mobile chicken coop, which resembles a small house built on top of a trailer. Over a dozen folks came out between the two weekends to help our with the carpentry and some other tasks around the land, such as pruning our apple trees and demolishing a dangerously ramshackle shed. In between bursts of work we took time to hike around the land, play with the animals, and, of course, enjoy mimosas.

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