Citizens Project launched an awareness campaign this week that simultaneously highlights the strides made in the areas of diversity, equality, religious freedom, and civic engagement and invites participation in creating a more inclusive community.
The awareness campaign is designed to be aspirational: shifting the conversation about the Colorado Springs community to highlight its successes rather than call attention to its deficits.
The campaign includes billboards, social media, print, and online ads, and was made possible through the generosity of Lunchbucket Creative, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, the Colorado Springs Independent, and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.
The 2014 Creating Community Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, June 5th from 7:30 – 8:30 am at the Double Tree. And we need YOU to help out by volunteering to be a Table Captain!
There will be two Table Captain Kickoffs held at the CP Office on March 19th and 25th, both at 5 pm. Contact Anya if you are interested in being a 2014 Table Captain to let her know which kickoff you would like to attend!
We’re excited to have your marvelous help!
By Kristy Milligan
A few weeks ago, I shared lunch with a close friend, who also happens to be a Citizens Project donor, volunteer, committee member, and former board member.
When it was my turn to give a work update, I droned on for several minutes on about our organizational priorities and calendar for the next few months. My friend paused, considered and asked the most simple, profound question.
“What does all that actually mean?”
Most cultures, ranging from ethnic to geographic to professional specialty, adopt a particular vernacular to describe the world around them. That specialized vernacular appears in the form of acronyms, jargon, and hollow, reverberating axioms that are utterly devoid of meaning outside of the shared cultural understanding.
We at Citizens Project are guilty.
It can be easy to speak and write without giving much thought to language, falling into familiar patterns, familiar vocabulary. But sometimes, our language can be limiting or limited, especially when there’s not a shared meaning between the speaker and the listener. Because we at Citizens Project strive to create shared understanding in all we do, this essay is a first step toward that lofty goal of inspiring, impactful language.
Words matter. Intention matters. I hope you’ll join us in this conversation by sharing your own words and your own meanings.
LGBT: This stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and is intended to be an all-encompassing representation of a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities. Although it has crept into our everyday vernacular with little fanfare, it’s one of our most interesting acronyms from a historical standpoint and it continues to evolve. Over the last decade or so, individuals who do not feel the standard acronym represents their unique identity have advocated for the integration of additional letters. An alternative, more comprehensive (though not exhaustive) acronym is LGBTQQIP2SAA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous, and asexual. Occasionally, we’ll see a third a for ally, and sometimes it’s preceded by an s for straight ally. At Citizens Project, we aspire to include all people. For us, it’s not about using the perfect acronym, but it is about using language that implies respect for all people.
PPEC: This stands for the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition, the primary local collaboration between equality-loving organizations in the Pikes Peak region. Citizens Project has been a member since its inception in 2006.
GOTV: This stands for Get-Out-The-Vote and represents any activity aimed at galvanizing a group of people to vote. Some of Citizens Project’s GOTV efforts include: phone calls, door-knocking (personal visits), and postcards.
RLA: This stands for Religious Liberty Amendment. Is it a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would decriminalize discrimination against groups of people if that discrimination is rooted in theology (think of the recent flap with the bakery that refused service to a civil union couple). It also usually includes a provision that allows nonprofit organizations that discriminate on religious grounds to still be eligible for federal and state funding. Legislation of this ilk has been floated at the State Capitol for the last several years, and each year it is withdrawn. It’s characterized by alluring, deceptive language that makes it sound like it protects religious liberty, but its intended impact is anything but liberty-inducing.
CRFI: This is shorthand for our annual Citizens’ Religious Freedom Institute, a day-long symposium for educators and administrators on how to protect religious freedom in the schools.
Citizens Project Terminology-
When I’m introducing someone to Citizens Project for the first time, I often say the same thing: “We educate and empower people to promote and protect diversity, equality, religious freedom and civic engagement.” I’ve been using this particular turn of phrase for so long that I know that I can’t *only* say this. I have to continue on to clarify what this all means. For you longtime supporters, this may be superfluous, but I include it anyway, for our new friends.
Educate: When Citizens Project talks about education, we mean that we provide information and programs designed to illuminate key issues facing our community. Sometimes this education takes the form of an instructional article on our website (like this one), sometimes it manifests in interactive programs like our Citizens’ Religious Freedom Institute, and sometimes we educate through production of voter guides and forums, to give potential voters comprehensive information about candidates and ballot measures.
Empower: When Citizens Project says we empower people, we usually mean we provide people with information and tools to take action. One way we do this is through electronic Action Alerts, which alert subscribers to opportunities to get involved in decision-making. Sometimes the focus of these action alerts is on proposed legislation (with information about how to learn more and contact legislators), and other times the focus is on civic opportunities such as rallies, community-building events and more. Our GOTV work also falls into this category, as we strive to provide potential voters with the motivation and means to vote.
Diversity: The simplest definition of diversity is difference. Because they are comprised of individuals, our communities necessarily include people with differences in views, differences in habit and preference, and differences in ways of being and moving in the world. At Citizens Project, we honor each of these differences and we believe they contribute to a richness of life and society.
Equality: Equality is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.” Equality does not mean that we’re not different: it simply means that all people are born with, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, “certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Religious Freedom: For Citizens Project, this means freedom of religion. The prerogative of anyone to exercise their individual religious rights without government interference provided their religious practices neither compel others to participate nor hinder anyone else’s individual freedoms.
Civic Engagement: Literally, engagement in the community. This could look like voting, participating in programs that create community, contact with legislators, or any activity that involves human beings with a desire to make a positive impact.
Social Justice: Social justice involves creating a more fair and equitable society by addressing injustice of any kind and valuing diversity. Organizations that self-identify as social justice organizations can address one or many of a broad range of social issues in which inequality exists: focus can range from criminal justice to employment to housing to education.
Discriminate: The literal meaning of discriminate is to make a distinction in favor or against something or someone. In the social justice arena, however, to discriminate usually means to deny someone an opportunity on the basis of their real or perceived group or individual demographic status: this could include race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, political affiliation, and more.
Enumeration: Enumeration refers to the comprehensive listing of demographic identifiers, usually in an anti-discrimination policy (to identify vulnerable, and therefore protected, classes). A fully enumerated policy might look like this: “Bullying means any gesture or written, verbal or physical act that takes place on school property, bus or off-site location where school activities are taking place, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory handicap, or by any other distinguishing characteristic…” Studies show that enumeration matters, in terms of a policy’s impact.
Advocacy: For Citizens Project, advocacy almost always involves a recommendation for or against a cause or proposal. Our advocacy is frequently aimed at representing or elevating voices that are traditionally overlooked in policy-setting arenas. Advocacy is an action. It’s standing up. It’s involving. It’s raising voices and awareness in support of underrepresented views.
Pluralism: Defined by Merriam-Webster as: a situation in which people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests. Pluralism is distinct from the American concept of the “melting pot,” in which differences and traditions dissipate in the greater society, because pluralism is predicated on the retention of those unique traditions. At Citizens Project, we celebrate pluralism as a superior alternative to the dissolution of diversity.
Inclusive/Affirming: This language describes a space that is friendly toward all types of people. Historically synonymous with “tolerant,” this language gained traction with individuals and communities who felt merely “tolerating” other ways of being was an inadequate approach to building real community. Citizens Project strives to create an inclusive and affirming community for all people.
Privilege: Merriam Webster defines privilege as “a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others.” Personal characteristics, including age, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, economic status, ability status, immigration status, and others can influence access and opportunity, sometimes without the beneficiary even knowing the cause of his or her privilege. In a recent TED talk, Justin Ford describes privilege as “access to or enjoying rights or advantages simply by membership or belonging to a certain group or identity.”
Queer: For centuries, this term was a synonym for “odd,” until the 20th century, when it was first used as a pejorative term for gay. Still an offensive term for many, queer has recently been “reclaimed” by the academic community and young people who find “LGBT” to be too rigid and binary to encompass their sexual orientation and gender identity. When in doubt about someone’s preferred self-identification, we always ask.
Gender binary: The traditional division of genders into male or female. This term can also be extended to sexuality when describing one’s attraction as either same-sex or opposite-sex attraction. Many find that the presenting of only two options is not only limiting, but antagonistic to the fluidity of the human experience.
While researching, I googled “nonprofit jargon” and came up with this incredible tool for developing absolutely nonsensical phrases using buzz language from the sector. There’s an abundance of official-sounding nonprofit vernacular out there, and Citizens Project uses a few key “buzz phrases” to define who we are and what we do.
501 (c) 3: An IRS designation for a particular kind of nonprofit with an “exempt purpose.” 501 (c) 3 organizations are characterized by their social impact (versus profit) focus, and are tax exempt. Citizens Project is a 501 (c) 3, and as a result, we must remain nonpartisan in all our activities and adhere to IRS reporting regulations.
Nonpartisan: Most simply, this means unbiased, or not supporting or opposing any political party (or candidate) over another. Citizens Project goes to great lengths to remain nonpartisan in all our activities, and especially in our voter education programs.
All this language can be enough to leave you reeling. But the bottom line is this:
At Citizens Project, we have our sleeves rolled up and are creating (we think!) a better world. You are welcome here. We want to hear and understand your language, too! Always let us know if we are speaking in jargon, with acronyms…or in any way that makes our message less strong. We want you to hear. We want the world to hear. And we want to hear you! Please help us create a vocabulary that rings loudly and clearly from peak to shining peak.
If you love Colorado Springs (and we know you do) join Citizens Project and the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition to spread the love today in our city:
- Follow the action on Twitter and use #IHeartCOS to share your own reasons for loving this city
- Change your own profile picture to the image at the right
- Take a selfie and share with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers why you ♥ Colorado Springs
- Finally check out this Buzzfeed article to see why others love Colorado Springs and maybe get some inspiration yourself!
We believe in the transformative power of language. By changing the conversation about our community, we can change our community. Help us as we shift the conversation from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
Last night 125 community members gathered at Citizens Project’s Divine Award Celebration on February 11 to honor the 2014 Divine Award recipient, June Waller, and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Recipient, Judy Noyes. Rosemary Harris Lytle, 2012 Divine Award recipient, emceed the evening and 2009 Divine Award recipient Richard Skorman presented Judy Noyes’s award to her husband, Dick Noyes, after delivering a beautiful speech about both of their amazing contributions to the Colorado Springs community. Then, following a powerful “Top Ten Reasons June Waller is Divine” Presentation, past award recipients presented Ms Waller with the 2014 Award..
Photos courtesy of Achini Wijesinghe, with more to come!
The Divine Award is given annually to a person whose commitment to diversity, equality and religious freedom has impacted the community in positive and lasting ways. The award simultaneously recognizes the accomplishments of its recipient and honors the legacy of Amy Divine, the founder of Citizens Project, who dedicated her energy to championing traditional American values of equal rights, individual freedoms, separation of church and state, civic engagement and respect for diversity.
This year, our annual Divine Award will be held Tuesday, February 11th from 5:00-7:00 pm at Stargazers Theater
This year, we have two honorees: June Waller and Judy Noyes!
June Waller, 2014 Divine Award recipient:
Most people know of June C. Waller as an essential part of our Colorado Springs community. Her involvement and commitment to the vitality of the community is unparalleled. June, a long-time resident of Colorado Springs is the proud mother of three daughters, six grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.
June received her Bachelor’s degree in business from UCCS and acquired additional education at the University of Northern Colorado in the field of communications. She is an alumnus of Leadership Pikes Peak and has attended the Center for Creative Leadership twice in two different decades.
June’s career has centered on management of affordable housing within Housing Authorities and private-owned housing for over 35 years. Now a retiree, her responsibilities included strategic planning, personnel training, staff and residents counseling on sustainable quality of life improvements, research and composed presentations to community groups both military and non-military on housing environments.
June’s expertise has been recognized in her appointment by Governor Lamm to the Nominating Commission for the selection of District and County judges. The first female to sit on the District Court came during her tenure. Currently she sits on the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB) as an appointee by City Council to represent the new City Council District #4. Additionally, her knowledge is requested and welcomed amongst all types of local community groups.
June’s current community involvement includes participation in League of Women Voters, Administration Team; Colorado Prince Hall Foundation, Vice-Chair. She sits as a member of; District 11 Foundation, Savvy Seniors, NAACP Executive Committee, Citizens Transportation Advisory Board, Black/Hispanic Coalition, and the Police Chief Citizen’s Advisory Board. As of September she created at the Hillside Community Center and the Savvy Senior’s office a service to the community, Southside Community Resource Services as a means to distribute community information to seniors and families.
Judy Noyes, 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient:
Judy Noyes, born in Connecticut in 1931, moved to Colorado Springs with her family in 1959 to open the Chinook Bookshop. Judy’s contribution to the community expanded far beyond this beloved bookstore, however.
Judy graduated from Vassar College in 1953, and with her academic and journalism training was well poised to make an impact in Colorado Springs. In addition to running the bookstore with her husband, Dick, from 1959-2004, Judy believed in and contributed to the vitality of Colorado Springs and the downtown community in many ways. She was an avid supporter of the arts and intellectual life as well as a supporter of gay rights and civic freedoms.
In 1992, Judy co-chaired the committee that produced the Downtown Action Plan, in 2000 she began her service on the Colorado Springs City Council for three years, was also a member of the city’s Urban Renewal Authority, and also served on the Charter Review Commission. Additionally, Judy served with organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Pikes Peak Library District Foundation, Fine Arts Center, Downtown Partnership and Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.
A big thank you to everyone who came to Trinity Brewing on Friday night for Growlers to Give! The event was a great success and we had a lot of fun!
Here is a link to the video we had playing in the back!
Dear friends of Inside/Out,
Immediately following the fire that engulfed our Inside/Out home earlier this year, so many of you stepped forward to help. We were inspired and humbled to see our community standing in solidarity with our incredible youth, and I can’t begin to thank you enough for your generosity of time, talent, and treasure.
Because of you, Inside/Out Youth Services:
- Raised more than $90,000 at our recent Ally Up! Breakfast event, ensuring our fiscal health and ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances;
- Has a temporary home at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media, allowing the 512 young people we serve annually to be themselves in a safe environment;
- Continues to offer youth programs three times a week with the help of more than 27 dedicated volunteers;
- Has secured a safe space for drop-ins once a week Friday between 11am – 5pm at 322 N. Tejon Street, Suite 225 to enable us to provide services to youth in crisis; and
- Will continue to convene the Pikes Peak Safe @ School Coalition 3rd Tuesday of the month at 3480 Centennial Blvd. and present trainings to local educators on how to protect LGBTQ students in their classrooms and beyond.
But of course, Inside/Out still has many needs, and I write today to invite you to help us move forward into a brighter future for the young people we serve. Five specific needs we have are:
- We are assembling a “Street Team” to help us identify, visit and select a permanent home. If you have leads on spaces, practical knowledge of the local real estate market or just the time and interest to help us research and find the perfect space, please contact [email protected]
- Board games, puzzles, activities and snacks for our youth programs. Clean out that game closet or your pantry, because we need items to keep our young people fulfilled, intellectually and nutritionally. If you have items you wish to donate, or you have questions about which items we need most, contact [email protected].
- We are currently recruiting visionary leaders for our board of directors. Through governance work, board members have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the future of Inside/Out. Interested? Know someone we should talk to? Email [email protected] for more details.
- Inside/Out will need volunteer help over the next few months with data entry, mailings, errands, and more. If you can donate a few hours on an as-needed basis to support our ongoing operations, please let [email protected] know.
- If you were unable to attend the Ally Up! event and wish to make a financial contribution to Inside/Out, we invite you to do so at: http://www.insideoutys.org/donate/
Thank you again for all you’ve made possible for our incredible and resilient Inside/Out youth. Your generosity gives me – and the young people we serve – confidence that tomorrow will be brighter than we can imagine.
Amy, Board Chair at Inside/Out