Tag Archives: TJFP listening tour

TJFP’s From the Ground to the Sky tour: Tennessee and Mississippi

TJFP is back on our From the Ground to the Sky Tour and this time we’ve been rolling around and talking with Southern activists and organizers. We’re only halfway in, and already we’ve learned so much about what these organizers are fighting against, fighting for, and what brings them life. This past week, we’ve been in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and now we’re on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas.

While in Nashville, Tennessee we had the pleasure of sitting down with Marisa Richmond, from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Sadie SaySoukha with the Tennessee Trans Journey Project (TNTJ) and RJ Robles, who staffs the Vanderbilt Trans Buddy Program. After spending time in Nashville we packed up our car and drove east towards Memphis to meet with long time, local activist Renae Taylor.

We also took a trip out to Short Mountain to get to know Idyll Dandy Arts (IDA), an intentional queer community situated in the middle of the woods in rural Tennessee. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with TJFP applicants and grantees from Work Hard Stay Hard and Daffodil Meadow Collective and learned more about the history of the IDA and how these groups work and live together on the mountain.

Since we were so close to Holly Springs, Mississippi, we took a trip and spent some time with a 2014 TJFP community grant making panelist English Fields, who is also the founder of Bois of the Sippi, a trans-led group that increases the visibility of the LGBTQ community within their local community in rural Mississippi. English is attending Rust College, a historically black liberal arts and Methodist college located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. English shared more about what they are doing on campus and within their local community to make it more trans inclusive and affirming for LGBTQ people.

It’s not difficult to see how powerful and needed Southern, trans justice organizing is. Thank you to all of the folks and communities so far that have generously shared your homes, porches, and experiences with us.  

After five days driving all over Tennessee and Mississippi, we took to the road and headed to Alabama.

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Introducing our new staff member, Marin Watts!

Over the past few years TJFP has been lucky to have worked with some of the greatest hearts and minds committed to trans justice.

Many of you know that our beloved co-founder, Karen Pittelman has been working tirelessly behind the scenes as a full time volunteer staff member since TJFP’s inception, making it what it is today! As Karen thoughtfully steps down from her role as Administrative Coordinator, it is a great honor to introduce Marin Watts as our new Director of Operations and Communications!

Marin has supported TJFP in numerous ways over the past two years and we’re delighted to have his experience, talents and bright spirit on the team. Please join us in celebrating this major transition as Karen passes the torch and we welcome Marin on board!

A few words from Marin:

I am very excited to be joining the Trans Justice Funding Project’s team as the Director of Operations and Communications! I’m a queer/trans/Filipino multimedia artist and educator from the South, and am deeply committed to social justice and supporting the trans community.

Marin WattsI’ve been volunteering as a videographer at TJFP since 2014, documenting the annual community-led grant-making process and the work being done by grantee organizations across the country. I’ve met and conducted interviews with community activists and organizers around the country working towards trans justice, and heard stories and strategies around what trans justice looks like in their local communities. I was later invited to participate in the 2015 Community Funding panel, where we funded over 87 trans led groups across the U.S. Following that, I teamed up with TJFP’s From the Ground to the Sky Tour, and have been a part of building relationships with grantees and conducting interviews with grassroots groups in rural communities.

Before joining TJFP’s team, I co-founded Media Masters Alliance—a media arts and mentorship program for LGBTQ and allied youth, and worked on building communications and community outreach strategies at Artstor—a digital library and archive. I’ve spent the years working with homeless youth, and providing arts education and support to LGBTQ youth.

I am so thrilled to be able to dedicate my time and skills to an organization that I feel passionately about. I’m truly inspired by the community of trans-led grassroots organizers and activists that we support at Trans Justice Funding Project!

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