BOUNTIFUL Pride, created by Ashley T, is a community initiative for Black-identifying folks within Toronto’s Queer and Trans communities ages 30 years and up. There are very few financially accessible community programs supporting anyone over the age of 29 as support is no longer needed after the age of 30. BOUNTIFUL Pride aims to bridge that unnecessary gap. As a recipient of a 2021 Community One Foundation Rainbow Grant, we took a moment to interview founder Ashley T about her recent event – check it out below!
Could you tell us a little about the initiative your 2021 Rainbow Grant has supported?
The Art of Blackness virtual workshop series connected Toronto Black Queer and Trans folks ages 30+ through visual arts, creative writing, and movement workshops by promoting community, healthy expression, destigmatization of mental health needs, and safe(r) spaces, while considering the isolation caused by the pandemic.
This series ran for a total of twelve workshops over a six-week period with two workshops a week from July 7 to August 15, 2021. The workshops took place on Wednesday evenings and midday Sundays. The two days were to make the workshops accessible timewise for as many participants as possible.
There were different guest facilitators leading the workshops and teaching the participants different arts-based techniques to improve mental and physical health. The guest facilitators were Black and members of the Queer and/or Trans communities.
Was there a particular thing that sparked this idea/initiative?
I created BOUNTIFUL Pride in response to turning 30 during the pandemic and being cut off from community projects at a time when I needed them most because of my age. BOUNTIFUL Pride is a community initiative for Black-identifying folks within Toronto’s Queer and Trans communities ages 30 years and up. There are very few financially accessible community programs supporting anyone over the age of 29 as if we no longer need support once we turn 30. I wanted to bridge that unnecessary gap with BOUNTIFUL Pride.
What is your goal with making this initiative happen?
The goal of The Art of Blackness Workshop Series was to connect Black Queer and Trans folks 30 years old and up from across Toronto through visual arts, creative writing, and movement workshops by promoting community, healthy expression, destigmatization of mental health needs, and safe(r) spaces, while considering the isolation caused by the pandemic.
Many organizations have been faced with a set of new challenges, due to COVID-19. How is your team adapting?
The Art of Blackness Workshop Series was held virtually which means that it wasn’t affected by Covid-19 safety restrictions however, the attendance was affected due to Zoom-Fatigue.
How was the response of your initiative within the community, and how do you see this project evolving into 2022?
The Art of Blackness Workshop Series was considered a great success based on the facilitator and participant post-event surveys. I intend to expand the workshops I run through BOUNTIFUL Pride, but of course, depending on future funding since I run this initiative entirely by myself. I do hope to run a workshop series centred around healthy cooking and healthy eating where participants will learn simple cooking techniques, healthy alternatives, and how-to food shop responsibly regardless of income level. As well as continue arts-based workshops.
Stay tuned for more Community One Foundation Success Story interviews coming soon!