Seattle Foundation Blog

N2N Spotlight: UTOPIA Seattle

Working to strengthen the Pacific Islander LGBTQ community


March 15, 2018

By Elaine Chu, Philanthropic Advisor

When we think of a utopia, we imagine a near perfect community flowing with equality in economics, government and justice. One of our winter 2018 Neighbor to Neighbor grantees, UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders’ Alliance) Seattle, is a nonprofit organization of queer and transgender people  working to bridge gaps between communities and strengthen the identities of queer and trans Pacific Islanders. Many of these community members face challenges including transphobia, racism and job discrimination.

UTOPIA’s mission is to provide safe, welcoming spaces to support the community and help address basic needs, share career opportunities, and strengthen the wellness of the Pacific Islander LGBTQ community. Through community organizing, political engagement and cultural stewardship, they are working together to create a resilient community and advocate for social justice.

The organization launched its New Possibilities Project in 2017 to provide direct support for transgender teens and young adults transitioning out of the sex industry. That effort includes advocacy at the state and local levels to combat racism and trans/homophobia. Through outreach efforts and follow-up support, UTOPIA Seattle is working to provide educational and employment opportunities and resources to connect participants with a fresh start.

In addition, they provide regular community forums called “Talanoa,” to provide a safe space in which community members can express themselves, identify concerns and share new ideas for positive impact. With the N2N grant, they hope over the course of a year to hold four Talanoa sessions, which can cover a wide range of topics, including climate change, gender roles, economic issues and the political climate.

"Neighbor to Neighbor funding will help provide UTOPIA an opportunity to build stronger partnerships and relationships within and among communities through our Talanoa sessions,” said Taffy Maene, executive director of the organization. “By bringing together LGBTQ Pacific Islanders with other members of the community, we can work to build a shared understanding on topics important to all of us."

Some of UTOPIA’s other accomplishments include participating in area forums to educate the public about the issues facing LGBTQ Pacific Islanders, sponsoring a food and hygiene backpack drive for homeless people and mobilizing the Pacific Islander and transgender communities to participate in a lobbying day in Olympia.

For more information regarding UTOPIA, please contact Executive Director Taffy Maene at taffy@utopiaseattlewa.org.

 

Seattle Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) program supports grassroots efforts in South Seattle, White Center and Kent that increase engagement, power and influence of community members affected by poverty and racial disparities. 

 

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