Safety, Love, & Comfort
Dearest Literary Community Near and Far,
Casa Libre is paying attention. It is always the right time to discuss and work toward safer, inclusive, and harassment-free spaces in our literary and arts communities. But particularly now, when in literary circles across the country allegations of harassment and sexual violence have surfaced, and some of the brightest and most sensitive community leaders are responding with thorough reform. Tucson is, of course, no different from Oakland or Brooklyn when it comes to its susceptibility to misconduct. Learning as much as we can from our peers, Casa Libre is making sure that we hold a safe space. Since our inception over 11 years ago, we have worked hard to be a safe and inclusive space for everyone--all genders, all ages, all races, all sexual orientations, all people. We are taking steps in this new understanding to increase the clarity of complaint procedures and we are installing an anti-harassment policy.
My motivation for founding Casa Libre, all those years ago, was to create a space that was an extension of the home I grew up in. I was raised with extreme privilege. I'm not talking about socioeconomic privilege; I mean the privilege of acceptance and unconditional love. My family has always encouraged me, a queer woman, to be exactly who I am. They love me, they believe in me, they support me, and they raised me up in the world with a sense of abundance. I grew up learning that we had enough to share (food, love, safety, comfort) which meant we had more than enough. Ensuring a space that is full of love, safety, and comfort is one of the founding principles of Casa Libre.
Casa Libre has worked to be inclusive and proactive particularly around the advancement of women's and LGBTQ rights and visibility. Among the more than 1,100 programs we've organized and hosted, we are uniquely proud of:
- A (self-identified) women-only portion of Trickhouse Live, guided by Sarah Gonzales, featuring a participatory healing piece around sexual violence.
- Our Edge Reading Series, where curator Melissa Buckheit has organized over 70 readings that (from her curator's statement) are supportive of a writing community which self-generates, remains true, open, and creates community, visibility, and voice for emerging and younger writers
- The Reading Ethnic Studies event we held with Arizona Writers for Justice to address the political rhetoric surrounding the banning of TUSD’s ethnic studies program.
Casa Libre cares about creating a safe and inclusive space that celebrates diversity in all of its manifestations. But we are always for looking for more and more ways to create support and safety for our community. At our recent Board of Directors meeting, our board and staff decided to move forward with the following actions to specifically address issues of harassment and safety:
- Our Governance Committee is drafting an Anti-Harassment Policy, as well as a complaint response procedure. We plan to vote in this new policy at our next board of directors meeting.
- We plan to include our commitment to safety and inclusion in introductory remarks and signage at all reading and events. Staff and board members on hand will be available to address any concerns.
- Our Programming Committee is in the process of reviewing and revising all of our event contracts before renewing them. Our new contracts will require all of our program curators to abide by our Anti-Harassment Policy.
We will be meeting with all of our program curators in the Spring to discuss how to enforce these new policies, get feedback from curators, and sign new contracts as the current contracts expire. If you have any questions regarding any of the actions Casa Libre is taking as an organization, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. If there is any information you would like to share with Casa Libre that can help inform these conversations and reviews, I would be happy to receive them and share them with the Board of Directors.
The mission of Casa Libre en la Solana is to cultivate and enrich a vibrant community of writers and artists through the invention, presentation, and appreciation of creative work. We will continue to serve this mission, and we welcome you to come and join us.
Executive Director and Founder of Casa Libre en la Solana
on behalf of Casa Libre's board and staff:
TC Tolbert, Assistant Director
Elizabeth Frankie Rollins, Board President
Hannah Ensor, Board Vice President
Sara Wolfe Vaughn, Acting Secretary
Jenna Orzel, Treasurer
Lisa O'Neill, Workshop Coordinator
Brian Blanchfield, Board Member
Jill Brammer, Board Member
Danny Clifford, Board Member
Kimi Eisele, Board Member
Read an archive of past newsletters here
What's the Word?
Make a secure online donation to Casa Libre through Network for Good
2/21 Quiet as Creative Force: dismantling the language of writer's block and the materiality of composition, a lecture & writing workshop w/Ocean Vuong
2/20-2/22 My Own Small Self: writing childhood from multiple sources a writing workshop w/ Kristen Stone
4/13-5/18 Penning the Nasty (the tender, the sweet): An Exploration into Writing Sexuality
a writing workshop w/ Kati Standefer
4/24-4/26 Poetry in the Grocery List a poetry workshop w/ Stephanie Balzer & Sommer Browning
12/10 Edge Reading w/Javetta Laster, Farzana Marie, & Anton Smith
12/12 Trickhouse Live
w/ Tom Cho, Stephanie Jo Brunson, & Sam Ace
Please note that Casa Libre will be closed from 12/15/14-1/15/15
1/23 Trickhouse Live
w/ Susan Briante & Malachi Black
1/28 Edge Reading
w/Leilani Clark, Liza Porter, & Erin Zweiner
2/1 Lamplight Reading Series
Trickhouse Live: An Integrative Arts and Performance Series