WE NEED YOUR HELP TO PLANT MULTIPLE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY CENTERS IN GREATER AUSTIN
We have the nation’s third-largest LGBTQIA+ population (5.9%) – only San Francisco and Portland have more LGBTQIA+ people per capita. Multiple LGBTQIA+ community centers around the Austin area will make sure that every LGBTQIA+ resident has convenient access to services, resources, guidance, and a chosen family.
LGBTQIA+ Community In YOUR Neighborhood
QWELL works to ENGAGE every LGBTQIA+ resident, CONNECT each with resources they can use to improve their wellbeing, and SUPPORT local organizations rather than duplicate their work.
- If we can engage every LGBTQIA+ and Ally resident, we build a larger base of donors and volunteers to support the growth of all local LGBTQIA+ organizations.
- If we can connect each LGBTQIA+ resident with the affirming resources they need, we improve LGBTQIA+ health, wealth, and happiness.
- If we support local organizations, we increase access to care and strengthen relationships among all of us working for LGBTQIA+ wellbeing, equality, and liberation, forming a cohesive movement instead of siloed efforts.
Since December 2015, hundreds of local LGBTQIA+ community members have participated in a process to develop this QWELL strategy.
More than 6,000 local residents have participated in QWELL Community Foundation’s LGBTQIA+ Wellbeing Study, conducted in collaboration with UT Austin and Dell Medical School’s Population Health Department.
Our community engagement and formal research reveal a few major barriers that the QWELL Strategy intends to overcome:
- Many of our LGBTQIA+ siblings in Greater Austin feel a pervasive disconnection from meaningful relationships and community connections. This loneliness and isolation negatively impacts their mental, physical, and sexual health and exacerbates alcohol and substance use;
- Because of a lack of community and communications infrastructure, navigating life in the Austin area is a challenge for many LGBTQIA+ residents. For example, they have difficulty finding affirming workplaces, social groups, resources, and competent healthcare providers;
- Although Austin has a strong system of LGBTQIA+ organizations serving our populations (most of which have participated in planning the QWELL strategy), those organizations are also hampered by the first two problems. Residents’ lack of community connections and infrastructure limits those organizations’ ability to engage LGBTQIA+ clients, volunteers, and donors.
A network of remarkable Austin-area LGBTQIA+ community centers is a key element of our plans to solve those problems.
Greater Austin needs LGBTQIA+ community centers that work for us.
What does “works for us” mean?
Nobody wants to waste hours traveling in Austin traffic to get the community and wellbeing resources they need. We need proximity and ease of access.
Some LGBTQIA+ people feel well-integrated into Austin life and culture, but the strength of that feeling varies widely depending on your location, age, race, gender, culture, and income. We want every member of our community to feel at home in Austin.
We must meet LGBTQIA+ residents’ need for community connections. More than half of the more than 2,250 participants in QWELL’s 2019 research study did not feel like part of the community. We will make it easy to build strong, healthy chosen families.
PRIDE IN AUSTIN
We need centers so extraordinary and uniquely “Austin” that every LGBTQIA+ and Ally person will want to visit often, participate in programming, and brag about it to their friends.
Our plan helps all local organizations serving LGBTQIA+ residents. Austin has vibrant organizations serving various segments of our community. We need to help them grow by connecting them with more funding, volunteers, and clients.
Through community engagement and formal research since 2015, Greater Austin’s LGBTQIA+ community has come up with a solution:
Develop multiple community-building centers so every LGBTQIA+ resident has convenient access to safe, sober spaces to find resources and grow their chosen family.
QWELL has spent years collecting data to answer these initial questions:
- Where are there concentrations of LGBTQIA+ residents, so that we can locate permanent community-building centers nearby? (freeprideflag.com)
- How do LGBTQIA+ residents’ demographics and needs vary from neighborhood to neighborhood? (qwellbeing.org)
- Can we identify enough committed donors and volunteers to sustain multiple LGBTQIA+ community-building centers? (DONATE)
- Are there gaps in programming and resource availability, how can those gaps most effectively be filled, and by whom?
Each center will be focused on meeting our LGBTQIA+ residents’ needs for community relationships, life navigation support, and fun, friendly, sober spaces to socialize.
The plan is for each center to be built in a new, mixed-use development that also includes affordable housing, restaurant, retail, office, and event space so that we have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Our plan will improve life for everyone in Greater Austin by increasing housing density, walkability, affordability, and neighborhood character.
The QWELL strategy:
- Requires no money from the City of Austin;
- Creates many jobs; and,
- Generates income QWELL can reinvest to improve LGBTQIA+ quality of life.
Other charities that offer key services for youth, mental health, and sexual health have expressed interest in co-locating with QWELL’s Austin Outpost centers.
YOU CAN HELP!
Please become a monthly donor at any level. We need to prove to major donors that the community supports our plan to improve LGBTQIA+ health, wealth, and happiness. We need thousands of people to give $10/month or more.
Share our plans with your friends.
Provide opportunities for LGBTQIA+ people to grow their chosen family and find affirming resources.
Celebrate the diversity of LGBTQIA+ cultures, ethnicities, genders, and experiences.
Be a visible, integral part of each neighborhood.
Act as an innovative force for good in civic and neighborhood life that cultivates a healthy living environment for all.
Thrive as actualized LGBTQIA+ individuals in community with each other.
Partner with other organizations to deliver services rather than duplicating work.
Pop-Up Center Design Competition Winner “Dynamic Paths”
by James Garza and Rick Sanchez
As construction begins on the mixed-use developments that include Austin Outpost centers, QWELL will open a Pop-Up Austin Outpost LGBTQIA+ Community Center in the neighborhood. In 2019, we held a contest to design how those temporary spaces might look.
Dynamic Paths envisions a Pop-Up Austin Outpost LGBTQIA+ Community Center within a vacant tenant space in a typical retail strip center like you see in all parts of the city. In addition to activating a vacant space, this approach also keeps construction costs down as much as possible by utilizing existing plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems.
When you enter the pop-up Austin Outpost, you walk into a large public area. This multi-functional space, complete with a self-service coffee counter, resembles a creative office/coworking space where community members can come get work done or make new friends. This cafe becomes the social hub of the Austin Outpost.
The rainbow ribbon provides colorful, dynamic lines that run throughout the space and reach to the floor in two spots, much like a real rainbow. These lines represent the dynamic and unique backgrounds of the community members who will use this space. The rainbow ribbon starts outside of the space, visually pulling the community inside.
The winning pop-up design was chosen by a panel of judges:
Five teams of volunteer architects, designers, and community members created options for an Austin Outpost pop-up. The jury chose the winning design in August 2019 based on community input and how well the designs met the project goals.
Former Austin City Council Member
Out Youth, LGBTQ+ Quality of Life Commission
Lévy Kohlhaas Architects
Asst. City Manager
Artist, African-American Quality of Life Commission