The ace (short for ‘asexual spectrum’) community as we know it has been around for approximately 15 years, and it has had some major accomplishments. As a community, we have incredible potential, but there is one key issue holding our movement back.
That key issue is our lack of connection.
At the moment, there are around 30 local community groups across the United States and Canada, and each one is doing incredible work locally. Unfortunately, they’re doing that work largely in isolation.
Because there are few mechanisms for community groups to share resources and knowledge with one another, an incredible amount of work and effort is spent developing materials that others have already created and solving problems that others have already solved. As many of these groups start up and grow, they run into the continual barrier of having to create their own advocacy resources.
But what if things were different? What if community groups could draw advocacy materials from a central pool of resources instead of spending 10 hours creating their own 101 flyers? What if they could use existing materials and spend those 10 hours presenting at a local high school, hosting a support circle for aces struggling with their identities, or partnering with a local LGBT community center?
This goes beyond printable materials: what if these 30 local community groups began to continually share their knowledge about group organizing, about what events and advocacy methods they’ve found effective, and about what they wish they had known when starting their own group? What if the incredible collective knowledge of our broader community was organized to support new community groups that are starting up, to help existing groups become stronger and more effective, and to allow for collaborative projects and advocacy campaigns that extend beyond city limits and across and state lines?
Until now, there hasn’t been an overarching organization tying these communities together to build this network of shared knowledge and resources. That is where we at Asexual Outreach come in.
Our strategic plan for 2017 gives us four concrete steps toward establishing a national advocacy movement:
1. Touching base with every community to establish relationships
Asexual Outreach currently works with nearly a dozen local community groups, but there are a couple dozen more that we need to reach. Throughout November, we will be working to establish relationships with each local community organization and campus group across the United States and Canada to get a clearer picture on where our movement is today, and the potential it has to grow through 2017.
2. Launching a landscape study to determine key factors to group success and sustainability
In December, we will be kicking off a national landscape study with three goals in mind:
- To determine what makes community groups successful, sustainable, and effective (and what success means to those groups);
- To determine the easiest and most effective path new community groups should take to build up a local community;
- To determine what effective advocacy looks like in a local context, and to determine key steps to establishing those advocacy efforts.
3. Bringing leaders from each community group together for a national conference
In Boston next August, Asexual Outreach will bring together at least one key organizer from each community group across the United States and Canada for a national conference. This conference is established under one primary premise: that no single community group has a perfect understanding of what it takes to build an effective and successful community, but when the collective knowledge of communities across the country is shared, we might just have a chance at getting closer to that understanding.
The core of this event will be based on the findings from our landscape research study to give all of our attendees a solid evidence-based framework to build from. However, this event will extend far beyond this framework, into the following three key goals:
- To foster meaningful discussions about what effective organizing looks like in order to create stronger local organizing within our movement;
- To establish a solid, deeply connected network among each of the community groups across the United States and Canada that will continue to grow and strengthen for years to come;
- To build the foundation for future collaborations between local community groups.
4. Strengthening our network to ensure ongoing growth
The most essential part of this plan is ensuring our network continues to grow and strengthen after everyone leaves the conference. Throughout the following months and years, this network will be expanded to include new community groups and organizations as they emerge. This will take an ongoing, concerted effort, but we’re more than up for the job.
This national network of local community groups will provide us with five incredibly impactful benefits. With this network, we will be able to:
- Provide continually updated materials to every group, helping them with their local advocacy efforts, and reducing the effort they need to spend in creating their own materials;
- Offer an evidence-based, easy to follow start up guide for individuals who are looking to start new groups, as well as guides for different events, activities, and advocacy efforts that existing groups can follow;
- Mobilize aces across the country to build more strategic advocacy campaigns that can have a larger impact than any one local community group could on its own;
- Support more rural communities that do not have the population to establish support systems and advocacy efforts on their own;
- Provide resources and support to youth and schools across the country, regardless of the size of the group that exists there.
This strategic plan is about more than a single conference or a single large-scale project. This is about building the infrastructure we’ll need to depend on 10 years from now, and about building a culture of sharing and collaboration that needs to start today.
You can support this effort! Here’s how:
The only thing holding Asexual Outreach from launching all of these four steps right now is a lack of funding. Our conference in Boston alone will cost close to $25,000 (as we will need to support individuals who could not afford to attend on their own), and the rest of this plan will have significant costs along the way. With printing and shipping costs for the materials that we send to local community groups, with the same costs to provide high schools with comprehensive resources to help them build ace inclusive spaces, and with the ongoing costs of infrastructure that we need to keep all of this running, we need your help.
Our goal this year is to gather enough monthly donations to support our programs and infrastructure throughout 2017. In total, we need $4,000 a month to ensure all of the above can happen. Whether you’re able to give $60 each month or $6, every bit helps. And whether or not you’re able to give, sharing this campaign on your social networks and with friends and family is an enormous help as well.
We’re building this movement together, and it starts with you.