Speak About It PALentines 2020
Happy February Speak About It friends and fans!
We are bringing back our Valentine’s tradition for a second year: Speak About It PALentines! Each February we highlight three friends (one individual, one business, and one organization) whom we love. These pals make our own work possible and our community stronger: whether that community is local to our home office in Portland, or the broader field of violence prevention and sex education. Learn more about our 2020 PALentines below and give them some extra love this month!
Our next PALentine is an awesome individual and friend of Speak About It’s, Karlyn Daigle. Karlyn is the director of memebrship/programs and one of the founders of Candy’s. Candy’s is a new queer bar, coffeeshop, event and community space in Portland. It’s also the home to our brand new office!
This fall we were wringing our hands looking for an office space that could accommodate our staff, our stuff, and our budget and were striking out left and right. We were about to give up, when Karlyn mentioned that the attic space upstairs Candy's might be the perfect location for Speak About It HQ. With the coffee shop and community room below, moving into Candy’s has proven to be such a gift! In addition to being a super landlord (you should have seen Karlyn macgyver a door knob for our office), she has also been an amazing friend to us and so many community members and organizations. We love that we get to walk in in and out of our office and say good morning or good night to all the amazing Candy’s staff.
Karlyn’s work on Candy’s has already materialized into vast benefits for Portland. In its first few months of operation, Candy’s has hosted a number of events that serve the queer community and beyond, from craft fairs to vogue nights, Queer Tech Portland meet-ups to Planned Parenthood’s monthly open clinic events. In December, they helped host sex-ed trivia with If/Then: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, which Speak About It co-sponsored alongside students from UMaine Law.
Karlyn’s vision extends beyond simply providing an event space. If you’ve been to Candy’s you know they serve up a creative and cozy cocktail or cappuccino with a side of community. Regulars range from freelancers looking for co-working and coffee, to teens meeting after school, to friends meeting for drinks each Friday night. Candy’s also welcomes folks from the Preble Street Teen Center, and offers a ‘buy-a-coffee-take-a-coffee’ option for anyone who walks in. They are currently building up their free library, which is also free and open to the public.
“I’d say what I value most about my role at Candy’s is the experience of this nucleus-like energy that accompanies designated queer community space,” says Karlyn about watching Candy’s grow. "Every day, we get to see the community engage with the space in really inspiring ways. It’s not always all rainbows. Sometimes that engagement can be really challenging, but it’s genuine. The coming together and the genuineness of the people who are regularly accessing the space is really beautiful.”
Opening Candy’s has been a long journey and a labor of love for Karlyn, Milo, and all the folks who helped make the space a reality. From fundraising, to financing, to finding a physical location, building a network of supporters, defining their vision, building out the space, hiring staff, and more, this first year has brought many challenges, surprises, and memories for Karlyn and the whole team.
“The breakthrough moment that comes to mind, I suppose, is the establishment of the physical space itself. It was hard to make happen. It took a determined community to make happen, and it will continue to take a determined community to keep it going. We’re still very new, and we’re still learning. I’m looking forward to continuing the learning process within such a generous and resilient community.”
We are also looking forward to watching Candy’s grow around us and feel so grateful for the friendship and support Karlyn has shown to Speak About It. Thanks for making our office feel like home, you’re a real pal!
First up, we want to give some PALentine love to one of our fave organizations: Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine.
Speak About It works nationally. Across the country we encounter hard-working local non-profits engaged in ending domestic and sexual violence and supporting survivors in their own communities. The students we work with (and people of all ages) benefit so much from the advocacy, resources, and support that these organizations provide.
We are so lucky to the Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine as part of our Portland community. SARSMM provides advocacy services, including crisis response, hospital and court accompianmnet, and a 24 hr. support hotline, as well as a number of support groups for survivors. Their staff can be on-call at all hours of the day, and they are a vital and necessary resource to the community.
SARSMM partners with Speak About It on various events and programs every year. Each summer, Speak About It educators receive sexual assault response training from SARSSM experts. This training equips our educators with the tools they need to understand the complexities of sexual violence and to respond effectively and safely to disclosures of assault. The skills educators learn are invaluable.
We work most often with SARSSM’s education team, and have worked with a number of SARSSM’s prevention educators throughout the past decade. SARSMM educators facilitate free in-classroom programming for public schools on dating violence, healthy relationships, and abuse prevention, for kids as young as kindergarten all the way through high school.
SARSSM educators and advocates have provided free advocacy services during local Speak About It performances and programs, including at our Portland community shows and for local colleges and high schools such as the Maine College of Art, University of Southern Maine, and more. We have also worked with them on programs at Casco Bay High School, as well as Cape Elizabeth’s SAAFE Day since 2015, and SafeBAE’s Consent Conference in 2019.
We are proud to collaborate with SARSMM as part of the Violence Prevention Network, a coalition of organizations in Southern Maine whose collective missions help create a matrix of support, prevention, advocacy and education services that help build a violence-free community here in Greater Portland.
SARSMM is also a founding partner of Heart of Hospitality, another coalition that runs educational trainings for restaurant and hospitality spaces to build safer, violence-free environments for patrons and staff.
SARSSM is one of Speak About It’s most dear community partners and one of our dearest friends. Thanks PALentine’s for all that you do. We’re sending you a consensual and digital hug from across the internet (and down the street)!
Stay tuned for more PALENtine's coming soon!
Speak About It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with high schools and colleges to educate, entertain, and empower students to create positive change within their communities, advocate for and practice healthy relationship habits, and prevent sexual violence.
Copyright 2016 Speak About It, Inc. Website by Alexandra Valleau