Corvallis Social Justice: “Asian Misidentification” Advocacy Project, Queer + Punk Corvallis DIY Organizers, Trans Support Network Seeks Volunteers

Julianna Souther, a Corvallis-based multimedia artist and photographer, is currently looking to expand an advocacy project she started in 2021 called  “Asian Misidentification” which uncovers the struggles, harms, and traumas impacting Asian communities in the U.S. as a result of one particular stereotype: “all Asians look the same.” 

The project is a combination of portraits and handwritten notes from the photographed subjects documenting their experiences with anti-Asian racism, microaggressions, stereotyping, and misidentification. Eight models had initially participated in 2021, and Souther recently sent out a call for individuals in the area of Asian, Pacific Islander, or Indigenous descent who would be comfortable modeling for and having their own testimonials featured. 

Souther intended Asian Misidentification to serve as a voice for how stereotyping has historically affected Asian people and communities – especially in the wake of anti-Asian violence and hate crimes that have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Souther noted on her website that “the cultural circumstances of these crimes – current as well as historical” – are what inspired her project, recognizing them as not a new phenomenon, but rooted in centuries of systemic racism, xenophobia, and imperialism. 

“As a person of Asian descent witnessing recent current events, I have felt strongly that the miscommunication which often arises from stereotyping is an important topic to explore,” she wrote. “A project speaking to this dynamic might uncover – and help others to understand – the feelings of loss and hurt, the trauma, and the invisible scars, which can thereby be unwittingly inflicted. Asian Misidentification is a conversation which lays bare stereotyping as the dehumanizing act which it is.” 

Souther’s goal is to add four to eight more portraits before the end of September. For those who would like to participate in this project, fill out the interest form here, or send a message via Souther’s Instagram, Facebook, or email address (juliannasouther@gmail.com).  

Punk AF, Gay AF DIY Organizers: Another gig is coming up in the Corvallis DIY scene this Friday, Aug. 12, at the Avery Park Thompson Shelter. Scheduled to perform are the power pop/emo band Star 99, on tour from San Jose, California; Portland twinkle punk band Swiss Army Wife; and Albany bedroom punk band Happy Front, which also played at a local benefits show to raise funds for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF) on July 4.  

This event, along with other shows and community meet-ups in the local DIY scene, is organized by Bitter Half Booking, which has consistently given precedence to booking bands – local and abroad – made up of women, queer and trans folks, people of color, etc., as well as cultivating safe, accessible, and affirming spaces for historically marginalized community members. It’s run by Caitlin Garets and Indiana Laub, who have been doing this work in Corvallis since 2015 and have over 30 years of combined experience in booking/throwing shows. 

“We book all-ages, donation-based DIY shows for touring bands from pretty much everywhere – we’ve hosted bands from all over the country, plus bands from Japan, Sweden, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and more,” said Garets. “We believe that live music – and especially the DIY scene – should be accessible to everyone, which is why we prioritize booking bands made up of people with marginalized identities and have a safer space policy to ensure that our shows are inclusive and affirming for people who have historically been excluded from or unwelcome in mainstream music scenes, such as LGBTQ+ people, BIPOC, people who aren’t cis men, and people under 21.” 

Throughout their time in DIY organizing, Garets and Laub have always felt it was their responsibility as show organizers and promoters to help create and maintain spaces that are not only safe, but also mutually supportive and rooted in community care.  

“In our experience, creating safer spaces is about more than physical resources – although we do provide show essentials like water, menstrual products in all bathrooms, earplugs, and more recently have started carrying Narcan,” said Garets. “It’s also about fostering an environment where people look out for each other and know that they will be supported by the community if anything bad goes down. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bigoted, creepy, abusive, and violent behavior and make ourselves easily accessible at every show so folks can come to us if anything comes up. We also host meetups for the Corvallis DIY community so people can build relationships with each other outside of shows.” 

With the ongoing pandemic, part of what goes into creating safer spaces beyond physical resources is making sure that able-bodied concertgoers are prioritizing the health and safety of their disabled, chronically ill, and immunocompromised peers. The Friday show was originally scheduled to play at an indoor venue, but was later moved outside to Avery Park for COVID safety. Additionally, attendees are required to wear masks and be fully vaccinated and boosted. 

“The work that goes into making shows accessible and inclusive also makes shows safer – it’s a lot easier to advocate for yourself and others when you feel comfortable in the space and like a valued member of the community,” said Garets. “We get a lot of positive feedback about our shows feeling especially safe and inclusive and are grateful to everyone who comes out and does the work to support each other.” 

The show will begin at 7:00 p.m. Suggested donations for the touring band is anywhere between $7 – 10, but as with every show organized by Bitter Half Booking, it is a NOTAFLOF (No One Turned Away for Lack of Funds) event.  

Regional Trans Support Network Seeking Volunteers: Founded in 2016 by and for gender diverse individuals in the Mid-Valley, the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network is a community-based, 100% volunteer-led grassroots organization committed to providing support, resources, basic needs assistance, advocacy, and safety for local trans, nonbinary, intersex, gender expansive, and gender-nonconforming community members. 

To help ensure that the network can continue to actively invest in the communities it aims to support, volunteer staff are currently looking to fill four key volunteer positions: 

  • Trans Femme Support Group Facilitator – Every month, the network holds individual support groups over Zoom for gender expansive, transmasculine, and nonbinary folks, and is working to bring a transfeminine/trans women support group to the area soon. A group facilitator will help make this possible, and will also be trained to run and schedule other support groups as needed, train backup facilitators, and communicate group needs to the Program Coordinator. 
  • Program Staff – Helps with programming operations and scheduling of volunteers for events; is involved in other committees or task forces as needed. 
  • Program Coordinator – Oversees, supports, and runs meetings with program staff; also works with finance and communications staff. 
  • Social Media and Communications Coordinator – Collaborates with all staff to create and distribute marketing materials; runs the network’s Instagram and Facebook pages; writes and sends thank-you notes to donors, businesses, and community partners. 

Current network staff will conduct interviews with applicants and, once accepted, lead one-on-one training and mentoring with new volunteers so they can help keep the network running and “gain skills for a transformative educational environment utilizing feminist theory.” While volunteer staff positions are currently unpaid, the network is working towards securing enough funding for their organization so that these positions can be paid in the future. 

As we are growing, people’s lives change, and the demand for resources gets higher, we see a need for more volunteer staff,” reads an Instagram post. “We are a staff of disabled, queer activists and we understand that you have other things going on in your life, and do not expect a 40-hr weekly demand in these roles like a paid job would be when we call it a staff position.” 

To apply for a volunteer position, click here. If you would like more information, you can send an email to midwillamettetsn@gmail.com 

Activist, Poet Lady Rose Comes to Town: This weekend, The Poet Lady Rose – a.k.a. La Toya A. Hampton – a queer, Portland-based Black and Indigenous femme educator and spoken word poet, is coming to Corvallis to perform and teach at the Arts Center for its fifth annual Arts Alive! event. 

On night one of the event, taking place on Aug. 12 at 7:00 p.m., Hampton will perform some of her poetry during the artist reception. The next day, from noon to 2:30 p.m., she will be facilitating her “Anatomy of a Poem” creative workshop for both seasoned and novice writers/poets. Participants will delve into one of Hampton’s pieces, discuss the inspiration behind and intentional literary choices for the piece, as well as the technical and artistic tools used to craft it. Then, taking a “build-a-poem” approach, participants will be given time to work on their own poetry by incorporating these techniques. 

With a background in education, mental health, and social work, Hampton has, according to her bio, understood “the ability of words to empower marginalized communities to find and own their voice”  and, whenever possible, “incorporated writing in her professional practices with her students and clients… helping them to explore poetry and use writing as a form of self-care and expression, as well as a tool to uncover and share in common interests and struggle.” Major themes of her work currently include Black Pride, identity, and spirituality. 

Hampton is also currently a featured artist in the “Unceded Kinship: Land, Place and People” art exhibit hosted in the circulation lobby of the University of Oregon Knight Library. On display until Sept. 6, the exhibit seeks to celebrate and honor the past, present, and future of Native and Afro-descendent peoples and their contributions to the movements of Black Liberation and Indigenous Sovereignty – both “compatible technologies of resistance and futurity” – through “holding and regarding kinship, solidarity, and community as sacred”; by “refusing the narratives of erasure, dehumanization, and subjugation”; and by steadfastly remaining the “authors and architects of their liberation.” 

To register and purchase tickets for the Arts Alive! event, click here. To learn more about and purchase admission to a workshop, click here. BIPOC attendees can use the code “NAACP” to receive a complimentary registration for Hampton’s or any Arts Alive! workshop. For accommodations, send an email to Claire@theartscenter.net. 

By Emilie Ratcliff 

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