The Wendybird is still forming as an organisation and we have a dedicated group of LGBTIQ community members who are working hard behind the scene to create a sustainable organisation that fills a need in the LGBTI community – that being to create spaces and opportunities for meaningful connection for LGBTI, Queer, same-sex attracted and gender diverse people in Brisbane.
We are very aware that this is not a very good environment to be starting a new organisation – organisations cost money to run and funding in scarce to say the least. Certainly there is very little financial investment in LGBTI organisations, with no state-based funding that targets the LGBTI community currently available with the funded LGBTI organisaitons in Queensland (QuAC, Open Doors and GLWA) all receiving federal funding to deliver their services to the community.
Much funding comes with a lot of strings attached dictating very specifically what you can do, how you have to do and for which target group which are guided by what is in flavour with the funder. This means that many things that are needed don’t get funding and many groups of people who really need support but who aren’t identified as important by governments miss out. It is also quite short term solution, with many programs having to shut down just after they are starting to have some impact. Personally I have seen this happen time and time again – and it can be so frustrating!
To fill the gap there are a raft of other volunteer run LGBTI groups that operate purely on donations and fundraising, but given the limited financial capacity of many in the LGBTI and broader community, it can be very difficult to raise enough funds to deliver services that are needed.
So with this in mind, Wendybird will be established as a social enterprise. Social enterprises are a commercially viable business that exist primarily to benefit the community rather than shareholders or their owners by reinvesting their profits into the community.
This week, Chantel and I travelled to Melbourne to attend a workshop facilitated by the Social Traders about social enterprises Day one ran through the nuts and bolts of the Social Enterprise, how they operate, and how they can be beneficial the community and contribute to beneficial change in a financially sustainable and independent way. Day two was a tour of successful businesses in the Melbourne area including The Social Studio, Abbortsford Convent, Bendigo Bank and Dear Gladys. Other great examples include Thankyou Water and Who Gives a Crap toilet paper and you can buy from social enterprises on this new website Good Spender http://www.goodspender.com.au/.
This was tremendously helpful to focus our ideas and to make this goal more of a reality. We are still exploring what is the best option for a viable business that will both compliment and financially support our activities in a sustainable way, so if you have any ideas we would love to hear them.
In the meantime we are auspiced by the Community Initiatives Resource Association and will be will be looking for some small grants from philanthropic foundations that can help kick start Wendybird into a viable and sustainable not-for-profit organisation. On that note, we are excited to announce that we have received $2000 from the Kal Collins Memorial Fund that we will use to purchase some equipment that we will use to facilitate our events.
Wendybird can’t exist without a community of people working hard to do things differently and we will are committed to bringing you all along with us on the journey from a small volunteer run group to a successful thriving business!
Until then, keep connecting!
Wendybird has been created to provides spaces and places for LGBTI people to connect in more meaningful ways and to actively create a community that we want to live in. We are determined to do things differently. But many people may be wondering why the Wendybird is called the Wendybird. I admit that it is quite an abstract name and not one that people would connect with an LGBTI community group, but it'sa name that has very significant meaning and we hope that as more people connect with what we do that this name will also gain meaning.
Wendy was my younger sister, who somewhere along the way gained the nickname Wendybird. I’m not really sure where this came from, but it certainly was fitting because like a bird, Wendy had a sense of freedom that I certainly admired and never felt I had.
However, more than my sister, she was my lil’ queer sis’ - because like me, she was gay. Having a gay sister was an awesome experience. From feeling so very alone in the realisations of my own sexuality and having significant anxiety about not fitting in or following expectations, I was suddenly not the only one in my family who was different. Together we became friends, we supported each other, explored the LGBTI community together, even living together on and off over the years.
It’s unfortunate that the story of Wendy doesn’t have a happy ending, but if am to tell it right, I also have to be honest about the parts that aren’t so happy to recall. Wendy, although so vivacious, also experienced extreme sadness and depression and never bounced back after arelationship break-up and became quite disconnected from the things that are important to us all, and she lost her sense of belonging and feeling that she was important in the world. With this clouding her life she attempted suicide twice before dying by suicide a few weeks before her 25th birthday in 2007.
Wendybird wasn’t created to be a shrine or a memorial of Wendy, but is an honouring of this person who existed in our community who felt the way that many of us who are LGBTI do – disconnected, lonely and alone without a place to belong. But rather than let the mental health statistics win, we want to do things differently. Wendybird is creating something new and is reaching out and inviting people to connect, in a deliberate and intentional way to actively create, build and participate in community. To build a community where we all can belong, no matter our identities, labels or experiences of our gender or sexuality, everyone is welcome.
Wendybird has now becoming a word that is synonymous with warmth, acceptance, inclusion, safety and most of all belonging. We hope that you can find a little Wendybird in your life as well.