Introducing
A new kind of LGBTQ+ community center for Santa Barbara and the 805

Since 2016, Color Bloq has found its place in a specific role for queer & trans people of color. We’ve amplified hundreds of voices in our archive of essays & articles; partnered with dozens of organizations to bring our programs to life;  brought thousands into our community spaces all across California and in our virtual programs; and reached hundreds-of-thousands of people through our publication and in academic citations that demonstrate the weight of our nonfiction stories.

Through social determinants of identity and narrative change, we’ve lived and proved our tagline, “We are more than our trauma, we dare to joy.”

And now something new and close to home is emerging in our work.  The 805 is the real life home of Chief Esparza the queer, nonbinary, Mexican founder and executive director of Color Bloq, born and raised in the 805. Color Bloq has always been dedicated to our community of queer & trans people of color. And our work continues in this next form for Santa Barbara and the rest of California’s Central Coast.

Why do we need this work now?

If you were to take a snapshot of conditions on the ground for queer & trans BIPOC in Santa Barbara and the broader 805, you would see four major indicators of a fractured, exclusive community. These represent the vital signs of the broader experiences of LGBTQ+ people here. And instead of simply acquiescing to ongoing harm, we have chosen to push back, empower our people, and create something new, lasting, and enduring — a true sense of community.

Lack of Community

There is no actual LGBTQ+ community, less for queer & trans BIPOC. We have no traditions, shared memory, or community pillars & practices.

No Affirming Structures

Support networks & affirming structures are non-existent, leading to a population-hole among queer people ages 25-45.

Racial
Exclusion

LGBTQ+ work is organized around white queer experiences. Existing services, events, and organizations are not culturally inclusive.

Institutional Exclusion

Broad social and institutional exclusion & neglect. Various sectors — even by non-queer people of color — stoke LGBTQ+ stigma & isolation.

What is Couches & Blueprints?

A New Kind of LGBTQ+ Community Center

Couches & Blueprints is a network of partnerships and programs that will create lasting structures of community and serve the mental health and wellbeing of queer & trans people of color on California’s Central Coast.

About the Name

Couches is connected to our community events as “the kickbacks,” created to be safe, familiar, and culturally affirming spaces in a living room atmosphere with discourse woven into them. Blueprints is directly related to the community-building processes of this new kind of community center.

Toward the “Operationalizing Love” Model

Success is measured, in part, when our community can answer these questions in the affirmative:
Do you feel listened to?
Do you feel encouraged?
Do you feel free?

Three Phases of Work

Seeds of Community

Finding Voice, Finding Connection: Entry to engagement, connection, & traditions.

• Meetups: Cafecitos, Sunday Dinners, Movie Screenings (monthly / bimonthly)
• Art Projects: Voices of Queerness (audio), Queer Joy (photography)
• Online History Archive & Everyday Stories of the Past
• Freelance Journalism & Online News Stories of LGBTQ+ Advocacy
• Transit Support for Safe Access to Events and Medical Support
• Online LGBTQ-friendly Housing / Rental List
• Food Sourcing & Cooking Classes (culturally affirming dishes)
• Panel Talks & Educational Workshops
• Storytelling & Narrative Change Project
• Support Groups for Specific Experiences
• Nature Walks & Meditation
• Annual “State of Our Community” Panel Conversation & Townhall
• Community “LGBTQ-friendly” Survey of Businesses w/ “Ally” Stickers

Nurturing Community

Healing & Institutions: Expanding resources, capacities, & practices.

• Expanded Event and Program Frequency
• Expanded Geographic Coverage Throughout The 805
• Transit Safety, Options, and Regional Mobility Support
• “Reimagine” Workshops: Masculinity, Shame & Stigma, Gender, etc.
• Peer Support Practices (daily mental health support between peers)
• Public Health Campaigns: Advertising, Care Bags, Event Tabling
• Groundwork: Public Health Data and LGBTQ+ Wellbeing Surveys
• Groundwork: Permanent LGBTQ+ Programs, Funding, & Services
• Groundwork: Government Office of LGBTQ Affairs

Sustaining Community

Fixtures in the Landscape: Traditions, institutions, spaces, and systems.

• Physical Spaces for Social Gathering & Celebration
• Permanent Institutional Commitments
• Annual LGBTQ+ Wellbeing Report
• Funded Online Media Outlet
• History & Culture Space
• Public Markers/Designation of Queer History and Assembly
• Sexual & Gender Health Clinic
• Housing for Youth, Elders, Trans, HIV+ populations
• Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs (County / City)
• Widespread Community Care / Peer Support Practices
• Community Ownership / Structures
• Broadly Accepted as an LGBTQ+ Travel Destination

Introducing
A new kind of LGBTQ+ community center for Santa Barbara and the 805

Since 2016, Color Bloq has found its place in a specific role for queer & trans people of color. We’ve amplified hundreds of voices in our archive of essays & articles; partnered with dozens of organizations to bring our programs to life;  brought thousands into our community spaces all across California and in our virtual programs; and reached hundreds-of-thousands of people through our publication and in academic citations that demonstrate the weight of our nonfiction stories.

Through social determinants of identity and narrative change, we’ve lived and proved our tagline, “We are more than our trauma, we dare to joy.”

And now something new and close to home is emerging in our work.  The 805 is the real life home of Chief Esparza the queer, nonbinary, Mexican founder and executive director of Color Bloq, born and raised in the 805. Color Bloq has always been dedicated to our community of queer & trans people of color. And our work continues in this next form for Santa Barbara and the rest of California’s Central Coast.

Why do we need this work now?

If you were to take a snapshot of conditions on the ground for queer & trans BIPOC in Santa Barbara and the broader 805, you would see four major indicators of a fractured, exclusive community. These represent the vital signs of the broader experiences of LGBTQ+ people here. And instead of simply acquiescing to ongoing harm, we have chosen to push back, empower our people, and create something new, lasting, and enduring — a true sense of community.

Lack of Community

There is no actual LGBTQ+ community, less for queer & trans BIPOC. We have no traditions, shared memory, or community pillars & practices.

No Affirming Structures

Support networks & affirming structures are non-existent, leading to a population-hole among queer people ages 25-45.

Racial Exclusion

LGBTQ+ work is organized around white queer experiences. Existing services, events, and organizations are not culturally inclusive.

Institutional Exclusion

Broad social and institutional exclusion & neglect. Various sectors — even by non-queer people of color — stoke LGBTQ+ stigma & isolation.

What is Couches & Blueprints?

A New Kind of LGBTQ+ Community Center

Couches & Blueprints is a network of partnerships and programs that will create lasting structures of community and serve the mental health and wellbeing of queer & trans people of color on California’s Central Coast.

About the Name

Couches is connected to our community events as “the kickbacks,” created to be safe, familiar, and culturally affirming spaces in a living room atmosphere with discourse woven into them. Blueprints is directly related to the community-building processes of this new kind of community center.

Toward the “Operationalizing Love” Model

Success is measured, in part, when our community can answer these questions in the affirmative:
Do you feel listened to?
Do you feel encouraged?
Do you feel free?

Three Phases of Work

Seeds of Community

Finding Voice, Finding Connection: Entry to engagement, connection, & traditions.

• Meetups: Cafecitos, Sunday Dinners, Movie Screenings (monthly / bimonthly)
• Art Projects: Voices of Queerness (audio), Queer Joy (photography)
• Online History Archive & Everyday Stories of the Past
• Freelance Journalism & Online News Stories of LGBTQ+ Advocacy
• Transit Support for Safe Access to Events and Medical Support
• Online LGBTQ-friendly Housing / Rental List
• Food Sourcing & Cooking Classes (culturally affirming dishes)
• Panel Talks & Educational Workshops
• Storytelling & Narrative Change Project
• Support Groups for Specific Experiences
• Nature Walks & Meditation
• Annual “State of Our Community” Panel Conversation & Townhall
• Community “LGBTQ-friendly” Survey of Businesses w/ “Ally” Stickers

Nurturing Community

Healing & Institutions: Expanding resources, capacities, & practices.

• Expanded Event and Program Frequency
• Expanded Geographic Coverage Throughout The 805
• Transit Safety, Options, and Regional Mobility Support
• “Reimagine” Workshops: Masculinity, Shame & Stigma, Gender, etc.
• Peer Support Practices (daily mental health support between peers)
• Public Health Campaigns: Advertising, Care Bags, Event Tabling
• Groundwork: Public Health Data and LGBTQ+ Wellbeing Surveys
• Groundwork: Permanent LGBTQ+ Programs, Funding, & Services
• Groundwork: Government Office of LGBTQ Affairs

Sustaining Community

Fixtures in the Landscape: Traditions, institutions, spaces, and systems.

• Physical Spaces for Social Gathering & Celebration
• Permanent Institutional Commitments
• Annual LGBTQ+ Wellbeing Report
• Funded Online Media Outlet
• History & Culture Space
• Public Markers/Designation of Queer History and Assembly
• Sexual & Gender Health Clinic
• Housing for Youth, Elders, Trans, HIV+ populations
• Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs (County / City)
• Widespread Community Care / Peer Support Practices
• Community Ownership / Structures
• Broadly Accepted as an LGBTQ+ Travel Destination