Have Out of This World Fun at This Year’s Virtual Pizza Klatch Gayla

Big Freedia, PK 2021 Virtual Gayla Headliner

Thanks to ThurstonTalk for this write up of our upcoming Gayla on April 10 (read the full article here)!:

Our annual Gayla is one of our most anticipated events of the year,” says Jay Banks, executive director for Pizza Klatch. “It is a space where we can celebrate and come together with the community. Our youth get to be in a space where they can share their talents and the impact that Pizza Klatch has made on them. Adults in the community and business owners get to show their support for Pizza Klatch and the youth we serve…”

“Have Out of This World Fun at This Year’s Virtual Pizza Klatch Gayla,” ThurstonTalk.com, 3/23/21

More Than Comfort Food

Check out this amazing write up of Pizza Klatch, but one of our OHS PK students for their school paper online (read the full article here):

Kira Wildman, senior at OHS, has been attending Pizza Klatch ever since they were a sophomore and they only speak highly about it. “It’s the only place I know that is judge free and provides resources for anyone that walks in regardless of what their gender or sexuality is.” They talk about how everyone in the group can have an equal turn, sharing preferred names, pronouns, and how their week is going. But anyone can simply pass on and hear from others instead. “You don’t have to share anything you are not comfortable talking about.” One of the goals Wildman would like to see happen is the Klatches themselves being integrated into middle schools as well as high schools, seeing how it could greatly benefit the students there as well…”

“More Than Comfort Food,” by Jillian Johnson, The Olympus

Armed Militias Are Not Welcome in Olympia

Photo Courtesy of New Moon Cafe, Olympia, WA

To Our Dear Olympia Community,

In the wake of mass movements across the country which aim to dismantle systemic racism, even our small city has a role to play. As Olympia strives toward a safe, peaceful, and just world for all, we have found ourselves embedded in turmoil over how this better world can become reality.

In recent weeks, armed militias which have identified themselves with groups including American Wolf, Proud Boys, and Three-Percenters have appointed themselves as a paramilitary force to control Black Lives Matter protests. Rather than keeping us safe, these groups are bringing a large armory of guns (some of them carrying at least four per person) and other weapons into our downtown core as well as the commercial west side. These groups belong to the conservative far-right/“alt-right” and are not aligned with our town’s commitment to diversity and equality. They are using their guns and military aesthetics to intimidate Olympia into silence.
The more we find out about these militias, the more we realize that they are crafting a narrative that allows them to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement to meet their own goals of harnessing power. We in Olympia are proud to be a community of creative, critical thinkers who won’t be fooled by this right-wing trap. We know that peace and justice cannot be achieved by parading guns and threatening those who are brave enough to speak out against systemic racism.

We as a community are signing this letter in support of transformative justice and a peaceful world. We do not want armed militias patrolling our streets. We are strong enough without them. We are honored to rise to the challenge of healing the wounds of the world together.

With hearts wide open,

The Wayside Cafe
Orca Books
The Crypt
New Moon Cooperative Cafe
Dumpster Values Collective
115 Legion
Sound Audio Repair
Airbound Arts
Lengua Rica
Helsing Junction Farm
Gallery Boom
Desuetude
Pizza Klatch
Ravengrass
Leafbloom Organics
Pressing On Fitness
Last Word Books
Deschutes River Cyclery
Quality Burrito
OlyKraut
Pearl & Ink
Three Magnets Brewing
Octapas Cafe
Danger Room Comics
Rogue Teas
Olympia Gear Exchange
Stellar Juices
Tōdai Yoga
Swing Wine Bar
The Lucky Lunchbox
Ossa Skinworks
The Brotherhood Lounge
Rainy Day Records
Eastside Big Tom
Interfaith Works
Rhythm and Rye
Noping The Shop
Stonewall Youth
Radiance Herbs & Massage
The Vintage Peacock
Magic Kombucha
Phloxus Farms
Body Olympia
Burial Grounds Coffee Collective
New Traditions Fair Trade
Business Services Cooperative
Our Table
Chicory
The Painted Plate
Chinese Movement and Healing Arts
Capitol Florist
Blue Heron Bakery
Lark
Ho-Ho-Hobos
W7BSD
King Solomon’s Reef
KXXO Mixx96.1
POWER
Rainbow Health Center
Partners in Prevention Education (PiPE)
Build A Bus Home
Psychic Sister
San Francisco Street Bakery
Schwartz’s
SafePlace
Old School Pizzeria
The Staff Collective of the Olympia Food Coop
Community Sustaining Fund

A Letter From Our New Executive Director

Jay Banks

June 30th, 2020

Dear community members, colleagues and grantors,

My name is Jay Banks (they/them), and I have accepted the position of Executive Director at Pizza Klatch. I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and give you an idea of the direction Pizza Klatch is headed. We find ourselves in a time of fear due to COVID-19 and the simultaneous uprising in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement finally getting the attention it deserves. This moment has seen many organizations and companies begin to take a hard look at where their values and policies land regarding access and accountability to BIPOC. Pizza Klatch has to do the same.

I moved to Olympia, Washington from Washington, DC after teaching Preschool and Elementary age students for 3 years. I came here specifically to work with the youth in this city and use my lived experiences to uplift and care for students who could see themselves represented in me. I received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies with an LGBTQ+ focus from George Mason University. During my time there, I helped create and run a student group called TQ Mason that still exists to this day. Supporting Trans and Queer students and community members has always been important work to me. I received my Masters in Early Childhood Education from Trinity Washington University and the Inspired Teachers Certification Program. I was blessed to work with young children for the time that I did and will always have a love for education. I’ve brought my passion for education to training and workshops that I’ve done for Pizza Klatch as a Facilitator/Advocate for the past two years. I am currently finishing up the Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy to help support my second role as the Replication Manager for Pizza Klatch. In August I will be receiving an Ivy League Certificate from University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and National Arts Strategies.

Since I have been employed at Pizza Klatch I have seen lots of opportunities in regards to how we can show up for BIPOC and the trans community in a more respectful and intentional way. The shift I have seen from an organization that was all white, to the representation we now have for students is vitally important. We still have a lot of work to do, though, and I hope that we can further represent all students and meet their needs. I am proud to be a part of these developments and create these changes along with my coworkers. Moving forward, we plan to restructure the way we do our work to be more equitable, anti-racist, and to uplift the voices of the most marginalized. We will continue to support students during the summer and advocate for rights and justice for all. Through this unprecedented time, we are continuing to work with the schools to ensure LGBTQ+ students receive resources and support they deserve. We would love your continued support as we embark on this collective journey.

Sincerely and with support from PK Staff ,
Jay A. Banks

Statement of support for Black Lives and Defunding the Police

 

 

 

 

 

Preface: We acknowledge the following statement is coming late during a time when
genuine solidarity and swift action are vital. We apologize for the harm our silence may
have caused.

Historically, Pizza Klatch has failed its Black community across the board, from
the staff to the youth we serve. Current events have seen continued violence against
Black people globally with an uprising in support of defunding the police. The deaths of
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Elijah McClain are all stories that
have been circulating social media in recent weeks. They lost their lives to police
brutality and white supremacy. Nina Pop, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and Tony
McDade are Black Transgender people who have also lost their lives recently, and
these stories have historically gained less attention. The violence enacted against them,
whether through police brutality or another means, is transphobia and transmisogynoir
in action. Both are white supremacy and therefore should concern the well-being of the
LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Between the parades, the parties, and the corporate sponsorship, it is sometimes
difficult to remember that we owe Pride to the strength and direct action of the LGBTQ+
community, especially trans women of color, in rising up against oppressive forces,
particularly the police. The Cooper Donuts Riot of 1959, Compton Cafeteria Riot of
1966, Black Cat Riot of 1967, and of course the most famous Stonewall Riots of 1969,
are all testaments to this. It is impossible, and a huge disservice to our community, to
celebrate Pride without acknowledging that all of our rights stem directly from fighting
racism and the police state. We can not separate LGBTQ struggles from the struggles
of Black and Brown POC–they are not separate issues. Not only do so many people
share these intersecting identities, but they also share the same root of white
supremacy and colonization. This year, Pride is not canceled: Pride is being celebrated
in the same way it began.

Pizza Klatch is celebrating Pride this year by rethinking the ways in which we
uphold white supremacy in our work and our workplace through decision making,
unequal placement of value on labor, and how we would like to move through rebuilding
the organization with anti-racism at the core. We stand in staunch solidarity with the
protestors both locally and worldwide who have given momentum to the movement of
Black Lives Matter and the initiatives to defund the police. Standing up for one’s self and
rising in solidarity for your community are both invaluable virtues we wish to instill in the
youth we work with. Separating the values and culture we would like to see for our own
workplace from the work we do and the spaces we hold for our youth is disingenuous at
best, and completely ineffective at worst. It’s a reality we must work together to change.
Our efforts thus far to counter racism have been lackluster in that they never
moved beyond the training room. Anti-racism isn’t a concept that’s been fully adhered to
within our workspace, and it has hurt our staff of color. White supremacy is a poison that
must be challenged deliberately with vigorous intention and consistency. If not careful, it
seeps into every facet of what we do. We’ve been doing a disservice to our youth of
color by not holding klatches as explicitly anti-racist spaces. This will continue no longer.
It’s time we step up and defend our values through clear boundaries and mutual
agreements between staff, board members, volunteers, youth, and the community at
large. Discussions around intentional anti-racism within klatches will be essential, and
resources created specifically to the benefit of our youth of color will be in order. We
acknowledge that more efficient training and workshops are important but don’t ensure
an anti-racist culture. We must ingrain our values into policy, daily behaviors, attitudes,
and actions if we are to be successful with our intentions.

We are currently not living in the world we want for our youth, so we must do
everything we can to fulfill our commitment to them. This includes centering our work
around their well-being and enrichment in ways we have never before done. While
holding space for youth to be themselves and encouraging them to find their voices, we
need to make sure that no youth has to battle white supremacy alone. This means
facilitating anti-racism among our facilitators and youth in a way that prioritizes the
safety and well-being of POC will be key. Too often spaces meant for LGBTQ+ people
are unsafe for POC. BIPOC voices and needs will be centered.
For Black/Brown/Indigenous People of Color, as well as trans, disabled, and
queer folx, protest is and has always been Pride in action. The Movement for Black
Lives, like Stonewall, is an assertion of the right to dignity, the right to belonging, and
the right to safety.

Signed by the Staff of Pizza Klatch
Jay, El, Sofia, Eyota, Never, dylan

Pizza Klatch COVID-19 Response

Due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, as of March 9, 2020, Pizza Klatch and its satellite groups are closed to in-person, face-to-face gatherings of youth until further notice. Pizza Klatch now has online groups available for LGBTQ+ youth. Check out our COVID-19 Response page located under both ‘Resources’ and ‘News/Events’ on our menu for information regarding our ongoing youth advocacy efforts and resources to aid and support LGBTQ+ communities during the COVID-19 crisis. If you are a student and or the parent of a student and you or your student are in need of one on one support or group support in our online klatches, our COVID-19 Response page has contact information on each of our staff, all of whom work as facilitators within our schools. If you need a picture rather than a name to recall the staff member assigned to your school, you can check out our ‘Meet Our Staff‘ page for photos along with bios of each staff member. You can also contact our general email, info@pizzaklatch.org for any questions or concerns.

Pizza Klatch Serves Up to 440 Students in 2019!

Pizza Klatch is serving on average, 440 LGBTQ+ students and their allies weekly across twenty-eight (28) support groups in all fourteen (14) public high schools and one (1) middle school in Thurston County.  All youth are welcome, including allies, the only key to participation is to be respectful and validating of the unique experiences and concerns of LGBTQ+ students.

We are still working on compiling Student Survey results for this school year. However, a look at our most recent survey reveals:

  • 91% of participants report feeling more supported and listened to since attending Pizza Klatch
  • 44% report an increased ability to speak up when they hear anti-LGBTQ+ statements
  • 47% report an increased willingness to stand up against LGBTQ+ bullying
  • 56% report decreased incidents of thoughts of self-harm
  • 67% report reduced attempts of suicide