It’s almost that time of year again!
Yes folks, it’s time to pull out your (bow) ties, corsets, dresses, and dappery so that we can all sparkle together at CORUSCATE! Dyke March’s 2013 fundraising gala.
Funds raised at this year’s event will benefit Groundswell Community Justice Trust Fund.
We need social, political, and economic change. We need a groundswell from the grassroots.
Groundswell, like the Dyke Marches of yester-year, is a grassroots centered collective. Groundswell exists to address the reality that critical social justice projects fail more often than they succeed because of the harsh realities of market capitalism. (That is to say, if your “brand” of organizing is not palatable to most folks, then your chances of staying afloat in a sea of vested interests are less than stellar.) Sustainable, unconditional funding is hard to come by, particularly in our current political climate. Charitable status is often refused to many a social justice initiative by governments convinced that all such efforts fall under the banner of lobbying. And of course, lobbying should only be the prerogative of corporations–corporations who have bought into the continued prosperity of a financial system that reinforces existing inequalities… But I digress. Corporate grants are not the only, nor necessarily the better way to create sustainable social change. Groundswell collects its funds solely from individual donors; thus, the fund it operates is a manifestation of collective political will and not simply the whims of a CEO or a few board members.
Much discussion among our team members this year has centered on the march’s return to its grassroots beginnings. Such a return insists on its existence as a political strategy intended to address queer, trans, and queer of colour marginalization within the gay mainstream, and of course, within society more generally. While the Dyke march is a dyke centered space, it is also a commentary on the prominence of some bodies and the erasure of others due to systemic oppression created by the legacy of colonialism. (Systemic oppression you say? I say, racism, ableism, classism, and (cis)sexism to name but a few.) Dykes began this march as a protest, not a parade, and initiatives like groundswell provide the means for such protests (and other challenges to dominant structures and institutions) to continue even when faced with the increasing “corporatization” of gay spaces. From the Groundswell website:
Every day we are seeing the global austerity agenda being carried out on the backs of poor and migrant people, on Indigenous peoples, on racialized communities, and on other marginalized groups of people. Rising inequality and environmental degradation in Ontario are direct consequences of past and current government decisions and actions designed to benefit wealthy corporations and individuals at the expense of everyone else. People who live with the conditions created by these actions, who are coming together to organize resistance to this agenda, need supports and resources that build their organizational capacity to respond effectively now, and in the future.
Groups that actively challenge the status quo to create meaningful, systemic change face great difficulty finding funding in the current climate, where advocacy and political action are forbidden as a condition of government and corporate funding and charitable status. There is a growing need for resources that are directed specifically to social, economic and political change organizing and advocacy, led by those most affected; that builds communities’ power and capacity to resist abuse, exploitation, criminalization, and other oppressive conditions.
It is worth noting, too, that advocacy and political action are often written out of the constitution of many a non-profit in order to gain charitable status in the first. This creates a chicken (minus the)egg situation whereby non-profits must sign away their political intent in order to come into being as legal entities. Thus, we have the chicken that no can no longer lay its eggs. But what if those eggs were not foreclosed on in the interest of the chicken’s continued survival? What if the chicken could lay its eggs and keep them? Of course, this is precisely what Groundswell suggests: chickens that get to see their young to maturity. (And no this author is not foisting a hidden agenda of veganism on you.) Following the best queer tradition, we the dyke march team proudly present Groundswell as a means of getting around that nasty imperative of biological reproduction. Er, well, you know, nasty to some. In groundswell’s model, individuals come together to feed and house the chicken and its young over the long term. This is queer kinship at its very best: the chosen family.
But leaving aside the chicken and egg for the moment.
Groundswell also intends to provide sustainable financial support for its fund recipients. To this end, 80% of its yearly grants are allocated to past recipients, while the remaining 20% supports new projects. Of its aggregated funds, only half are donated every year with the remainder held back to generate further capital for the coming year. It’s a simple model really, predicated on an (obviously) prominent desire for change among many individuals. I encourage you to visit their FAQ page for more information and answers to any burning questions you may have about the fund and its mission. And really, if a drop in their bucket leads to a well, then with your help our contributions on June 20th ought to fill a reservoir!
See you all there!
(On behalf of The Dyke March Team)