StickerGiant Chats with Mardi Moore About Her Role, The History of, and Everything Out Boulder County Does for the Community
In this Stickers on the Mic episode, Megan sits down with Mardi Moore, the Executive Director of Out Boulder County to chat about her background, and everything Out Boulder County does for the LGBTQ community in Boulder County.
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[00:00:08] Announcer: Welcome to the Stickers on the Mic Podcast, brought to you by stickergiant.com, where we talk with our customers about how they started their business, how they're marketing their brand and how they're growing their company. If you're joining us for the first time, welcome and if you're a regular listener, thank you for your continued support.
Without further ado, it's time for the Stickers on the Mic Podcast from StickerGiant. Let's get on with the show.
[00:00:39] Megan: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Stickers on the Mic Podcast. I'm Megan and I'm going to be your host today. I'm on the marketing team with the rest of our podcast crew and today I am very lucky to be talking with Mardi Moore, the Executive Director of Out Boulder County.
[00:00:54] Mardi Moore: Good Morning Megan. My name is Mardi and my gender pronouns are she, her and hers. I have been the Executive Director for Out Boulder County for about five and a half years or so.
In that time, Out Boulder has really-- We started as Out Boulder and now we're Out Boulder County in my tenure. Background about me, I grew up in a little town in Southeastern Colorado, where I'd never met an LGBT person and thought there was something wrong with me and got messages that, “Yes, there was something wrong with me.” Didn't have any words for anything going on with me, which is one of the things that you'll see, if you look at statistics about LGBT youth in the state of Colorado, the suicide rate, the harm rate, the bullying rates are much higher than there are straight and cisgender peers. That was my experience all those many years ago.
Then when I got to DU, I met people like me. I went to the University of Denver back in the early 80s and my mom still thinks that DU made me gay so that's kind of a funny story, but funny, ha-ha, not really, but yes. Then finally figured out who I was and became a much happier person in the world.
Coming out in the early 80s was during the beginning and then the onslaught of AIDS so my coming out in 83, 84, we were all pretty scared because nobody knew anything about AIDS at that point.
[00:02:31] Megan: It was definitely a tough time and lots of fear because of the unknown so breaking down some of those barriers and educating the world, I'm sure, it's made a big difference.
You are the Executive Director of Out Boulder County, what do you do for that organization? I know there's a lot of volunteer work and everyone has an important role but a little bit about what you do.
[00:02:57] Mardi: I take out the trash and recycling, I make sure somebody gets the compost. When I started in 2013, there was about two and a quarter staff members. Sarah Connell, who no longer works for Out Boulder but who worked for us very hard and did all kinds of things. She and I were kind of it at one point, we had a very small youth program. Over that time, we have grown and this year in 2019, is that we were at already?
[00:03:28] Megan: Already.
[00:03:29] Mardi: Already. I think we have five full-time employees and a couple of part-time employees. We've really grown as far as staff so I don't do as much as I used to have to do. Out Boulder County, if you look at our mission, which we're in the process of reviewing because it's action, it's not the larger picture of what we do, but we provide programs and services. We do education and trainings, and we do a lot of advocacy work. In my role, I do a lot of the advocacy work.
You might've seen in the month of June in the city of Boulder, rainbows everywhere and the rainbows over Pearl, that was working with city council people, with the downtown partnership, Boulder partnership and others to-- you have to work with institutions and so one of the things that was so special about that for me is hearkening back to my previous comments around the importance of letting youth see themselves.
I can just imagine a kid walking down the street on Pearl Street and seeing rainbow flags everywhere and seeing the courthouse lit up in rainbow colors and seeing themselves in our city that we want to be inclusive.
[00:04:53] Megan: Knowing that they're not alone, perhaps in how they're feeling, just knowing that they have a community.
[00:05:00] Mardi: That's a lot of what Out Boulder County does, is build community. Three years ago, the month of June, we opened a Longmont office and that's when we switched from Out Boulder to Out Boulder County. Our mission is to serve LGBTQ people in Boulder County. With just one little office next to Lucile's in Boulder, people from Longmont Boulder is like, "I'm not going to Boulder." Boulder people are like, "I'm not going to Longmont." We opened an office because of anonymous donor, we were able to open an office in Longmont. Now we run support groups, we rent our space to AA groups and NA groups.
[00:05:42] Megan: Very nice.
[00:05:42] Mardi: Just about every night of the week, there's something going on at both of our locations.
[00:05:47] Megan: It sounds like you're probably able to reach a lot of different age groups by being able to offer so much more and in two different cities in the county.
[00:05:56] Mardi: We are, but you've touched on something which is as we started looking at the demographic information of who we're serving, we're really not serving people of my age, the 50-year-old or more. We received a grant from the Next 50 Initiative about a year ago to start looking at and doing focus groups to figure out what programming we need to do.
We're in the process of building out what we're going to call a thriving community because right now, when you come to Out Boulder, you come to Out Boulder because you're in need. There's support groups and we run five different youth groups. Here in Longmont, we have a youth group that runs once a week that pulls youth from Frederick and Firestone and Niwot. In fact, we're doing our first LGBT summer camp this year which we're very excited about. That will happen in the month of July.
[00:06:47] Megan: That is exciting, getting to offer new programs and I know in addition to the support programs, there's also a lot of other events that Out Boulder is participating in and helping to run. We've got Pride Fest in Longmont coming up and I know you also do that as well in Boulder.
[00:07:05] Mardi: We're pride year-round. This year, it's the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and so 50 years ago, this month, people at the Stonewall bar, trans people, trans black people, trans folks, everybody finally had enough of the police raiding the bars because we had nowhere to be, it was illegal to be gay and so that started the modern day LGBT movement. We're honoring that this year. In Longmont Pride which is happening in June, we will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary, but we do events. We did our Gayla and we had Paula Poundstone come to the St. Julien and we had this great, really fun Gayla, was our first Gayla ever. G-A-Y-L-A, Gayla, and that was great.
Then we do a garden party, we just did that a couple of weeks ago and we were able to honor District Attorney Michael Dougherty with the Clela A. Rorex Allies In Action Award, Amy Zuckerman with the Jack and Gene Hodges, big hearts award and Nicholas Bell with our inspire and ignite youth award. We had like 250 people, it was a great day, the rain stayed away, because it's an outside party. Then we do Longmont Pride and then we're also doing Boulder Pride and this year it's on September 8th in Boulder.
We have those two big events, but also in the month of July, we rent out the Sunset Pool and we're having a big pool party. I think it's July 8th. I'm going to have to check that, I don't have my notes in front of me, but it's a Saturday and we rent out Sunset Pool and this year, we're going to be honoring all of our volunteers and doing a cookout, some special things there and I just bought two gigantic unicorn floats so the pool will be full of unicorns and rainbows.
That sounds amazing. I am such a fan of unicorns and rainbows, honestly, coworkers save the unicorn stickers for me [laughs] because they're just my favorite. That sounds like it's going to be a really fun, amazing day and what a great way to honor your volunteers who are, I'm sure putting in a lot of hard work to help gather and organize all of these events because that's not easy to have an event. Sounds like almost every other month but--
[00:09:28] Mardi: Yes, it's a lot. Juan Moreno, who's our corporate sponsorship and special events manager does a fantastic job. He's been with us-- Gosh, I've lost track of time, maybe four years now, but Juan does a great job and brings great entertainment. One event that I forgot to mention is that in July, we also do SOFFA so S-O-F-F-A Significant Others Friends and Family and Allies of Trans folks.
[00:09:59] Megan: Okay
[00:10:00] Mardi: A big barbeque for the trans community in this year. We have a trans steering committee that guides me in advocacy and language and ideas. We've just built out a QTPOC steering committee, queer and trans people of color. That committee is up and new, the officers were just put into place. We have some upcoming meetings. Those two steering committees of communities are joining together to do a summer barbeque in July also. We're about inter-sectional work and about building communities to connect with other communities.
[00:10:39] Megan: Exactly. That just strengthens the bond and builds more awareness as you keep spreading through every community.
[00:10:44] Mardi: It makes for a better place to live. Longmont and Boulder are great, Boulder County is great. We do all we can to make it better.
[00:10:53] Megan: Yes. It is a really great area. I think we're very fortunate that we can even have organizations like Out Boulder that are out there really helping to keep it growing in that greatness.
[00:11:03] Mardi: It's our 25th anniversary. This year is our 25th anniversary. In 1994, the organization was formalized. It was formalized after, in 1992 in the state of Colorado, there was an amendment that was passed, Amendment Two that made it so there couldn't be any protection for gay, lesbians, and bisexual people. That case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The case called Romer v. Evans, which was argued by amazing people in Boulder, Jean Dubofsky being the lead attorney, and Jeanne Winer. They argued and we won. That case, Romer v. Evans, is where a lot of other wins have come at the federal level.
[00:11:47] Megan: Yes, and set a precedent that can then grow into future precedence. That's wonderful. What a great tenacity to be able to have that. 25 years ago, what was the first event?
[00:12:02] Mardi: I think there aren't good notes, but there is a baton, like you twirl in the parade that I have in my office. Ann Noonan, who is one of our longtime supporters and was one of the founders of the organization, said that Baton was carried in the first parade in Boulder, which was a block long.
From that, and from people having all the materials in their trunk, there was no office, they had materials in their trunk. There was a hotline, a gay hotline that somebody managed. From that to staff, I think it looks like Out Boulder in the notes that I've seen, 2008, I think it maybe is when we got space, the Gill Foundation funded the organization. First United Methodist Church is a great partner of ours in Boulder. We wouldn't have an office in Boulder because of the expense of renting in Boulder, if it wasn't for the church.
Right now, there are three groups in the Boulder office that don't fit. If you've ever been in our Boulder office, it's a medium size, at best, living room. There are three groups that don't fit. Right now, we are in the process-- We just launched information on June 2nd, but we are moving. We're going to stay on the same block, but with the Attention Homes-- Attention Homes is one of our great partners. They do sheltering and services for homeless youth. They are building 40 units of housing on the block that we're on in Boulder. As part of that build out, there is place for their administrative office. They're moving from 15th & Spruce into that space, and we're moving from our little house into their bigger office.
We need to take out some walls, we need to raise about $100,000, make it-- not ADA compliant necessarily, it's a historic building, so there is only so much we can do. We have a ramp there, we need to take out some walls. We need to add a kitchen because everything is better with food.
[00:14:06] Megan: Everything is better with food. How exciting, getting to move in to a new space, sounds like getting a little bit more room, that means more continued growth for everything that…
[00:14:17] Mardi: It's not growth for growth sake. It's growth because the need is there. What we have seen in the last two years is tremendous growth in need for services. I don't see that lessening any time soon. The new space will serve us for a while.
[00:14:38] Megan: That's wonderful. I know as part of your events and different things, how are you continuing to build awareness? There is the partnerships with communities, but there is also just building natural awareness and letting people know. Are you putting advertising efforts out there? Or are you really relying more on that word of mouth?
[00:15:01] Mardi: Word of mouth is key, because not everybody is out and they don't know where to find services. We have a very active Facebook page. We have about over 5,000 followers on Facebook. We have a Twitter stream that we don't do a very good job with. We're building out our Instagram. We promote things out that way. We also have a weekly newsletter. It drops Thursday morning about 4:00 AM. When you wake up on Thursday, it's waiting for you. Charlie does a great job of putting that together. We promote out other people's events. It's a real great community resource. If you're signed up for our newsletter list, you're going to know what's going on in Boulder County. Charlie gets a lot of accolades for the work and the time that goes into that. We promote out there.
We also have a partnership with the Boulder Weekly and the Daily Camera/Times-Call. They provide in kind force for our events. We also build into some of our budgets, the need for marketing dollars. We run ads around community safety. We don't run promos just about Out Boulder, but we'll run promos around issues and events.
[00:16:17] Megan: I know at some of those events, we have helped print and stickers for you.
[00:16:21] Mardi: We love StickerGiant.
[00:16:23] Megan: Have also seen that logo and that your designs changed a little bit over the last couple of years. What's inspired that? Just in general, how do you use the stickers?
[00:16:35] Mardi: It's been a busy year. We just did the rebrand this year.
[00:16:40] Megan: That's a lot of work.
[00:16:40] Mardi: Yes. It's brand new. We were lucky, Godot Communications, Beckett and his team did that for us for free. I'm very grateful to Beckett for so many reasons, including the rebrand. The brand had been in place since 2010, things have changed. When we went to Out Boulder County, we did something like, added County, probably not even the right font below what had already existed. This freshens it up, it's a descriptive of everybody, is what we hope. It's not tied to a rainbow, but you'll see some rainbow colors.
You'll also see, one of the flags that we fly is called the Philly flag, which is the rainbow flag with black and brown stripes on it also to represent people of color. You'll see, we have a variety of pieces on our logo. One of them that we use the most frequently has the black and brown piece on that. That's been a lot. We're still young. We just got 'Thank you' notes ordered with the new brand. It's a process. It's like, "Oh, my goodness. We didn't update that."
We also put a new website in place because of a great volunteer, Clark, just over a year ago. We had been stuck on a Drupal site. We didn't hire anybody because they're HTML programmers. Updating anything took longer. It didn't even look right when we were done with it. Clark moved us to Squarespace. Now, we can easily update information and the website is much cleaner.
[00:18:21] Megan: It's a very user-friendly platform that you can also bring other people in the organization into helping with that content and making those updates. When things are changing at a fast pace, or you've got all of these events coming up, getting those updates out there are going to be great. I know we've seen a few of the designs get printed in stickers. Are we coming out with any new ones that people should look for? Or are we going to just want to see that logo come and be at every event?
[00:18:50] Mardi: I think you'll see the logo come. You all printed some really great ones for us. We have the long one, which I have on my computer. I've seen other people have taken it and put on their computers when I go into meetings. Like Boulder Community Health, I met with some the other day, and they flipped their computer over there like, "Look what's on my iPad." Those are getting out everywhere. Then, you also did the round ones. The round ones, really, they mirror a lot of things that are on our website. They are really cool and can be used in other spots. I don't know that we have any new designs coming your way, but when we do, you can guarantee we're going to StickerGiant.
[00:19:30] Megan: We love hearing that. What else has been happening in just the organization, we heard you got to go to the Governor's Ball that you got to go and meet the governor? Was that the first time that you had met him?
[00:19:50] Mardi: Governor Polis was the congressman for the second district. We, prior to Jared becoming governor, he was our congressman and Jared would come with his team to Out Boulder once or twice a year and sit with the community and ask us what we wanted him to do in DC. We had an ongoing relationship with his team at that point. When he was getting ready to run for governor, I'm like, "No." Then he won. Governor Polis has done a fantastic job in so many areas.
In the LGBT area, he signed into law two bills that will have a tremendous, positive impact for the LGBT community. One being Jude's law. I saw Jude last night at the governor's mansion. There was a pride reception, for a Colorado hosted, which is one of our great state partners. Daniel Ramos and his team do fantastic work, but I saw Jude there last night, and Jude, who was a young person has been testifying. The story is since she was nine years old and the law finally got signed into place.
In the past, you could only change your birth certificate, update your IDs based upon a doctor's note, surgery in some cases. It was posting in the newspaper and so Jared signed a law where those barriers have been removed. We also signed into law, an X marker so you go to fill out forms, that'll say “M”, “F”. Now the forms will be updated slowly, but they'll be updated with an X, for our non-binary community. That's only the third state to do that. I could be wrong on that but we're really on the cutting edge with that. Governor Polis, I don't know how he does what he does. I follow his Facebook feed and I'm like, "You're everywhere."
[00:21:57] Megan: He really is.
[00:21:58] Mardi: Yes. He's everywhere. As well as, the First Gentleman Marlon Reis. Marlon has been a great advocate. We were able to honor Marlon at our Gayla in April, with a Changemaker Award. Because Marlon has really changed the world and continues to do so. They were the first out family, in Congress and two little kids and their dog, Jia and they have been trailblazers and they continue to be trailblazers. Last night was really fun going into the-- I had never been to the governor's mansion. It was so great to walk in and see LGBT people and allies everywhere and to be welcomed into that home.
[00:22:39] Megan: That sounds amazing. What a great experience too and also speaks to just the growth of Out Boulder and everything, the organization is doing for Boulder County.
[00:22:51] Mardi: Yes.
[00:22:53] Megan: That's wonderful. Other than moving into a new space, all of the great events that you've got planned. Is there anything new that you have coming up maybe more on the support side or interlinking any of the different things that you do?
[00:23:12] Mardi: There's two projects that we're working on. One that will happen in September at Front Range Community College, which is another one of our great partners, called Civic Discourse in a Volatile Time. Those of us on social media, whether we want to be there or not, see the vitriol.
[00:23:34] Megan: Yes. It's hard to avoid.
[00:23:35] Mardi: It's hard to avoid. Even in, personal interactions. Things have become, for the most part, ugly. We want to address that. Because we know that civil and civic discourse matter and so we'll be working with some community partners to pull that together. We've hired trainers out of Chicago, Mortin Consulting. Mary Mortin and her team are working on curriculum right now. Where there'll be a youth curriculum and an adult curriculum. We'll do two days of training and then I train the trainer model on the third day to make Boulder County the place we want to live in.
[00:24:21] Mardi: Yes. I'll even go on Twitter sometimes on my personal account, not an Out Boulder account. I'm like, "Really Mardi, was that helpful saying that?" I fall prey to that also and so we're working on those. One of the things that you'll see in national numbers and it's true locally is the number of hate incidents climbing. We've experienced that in the LGBT community in Boulder County. We're doing everything we can to keep people safe and to try to change the direction.
[00:24:52] Megan: Be the change that you want to see and help influence others just through your actions.
[00:24:56] Mardi: Yes.
[00:24:57] Megan: That's wonderful. How about where can people find all of these services? I know you've mentioned the new website and the Facebook page for people that are looking for support or to join into the community. How do you recommend they find you? Find Out Boulder County?
[00:25:18] Mardi: Yes. The easiest thing to do is to go to OutBoulder.org and there you'll find the website where you can sign up to volunteer. Which we need lots of volunteers. You can sign up for the newsletter. You can find a doctor. You can find a mental health professional. You can find legal services. You can find a calendar of all the support groups going on, you can find a listing of all of our events and we link to several other groups. Because we partner.
You're a better organization when you're a good partner and we worked very hard to stay in our lane and to work with others and to promote their work, but you can find links to all that on our webpage and then Out Boulder Pride is what the Facebook page is called. Like us on there, follow us on Instagram. We're easy to find. It's out. If you just follow Out Boulder, you'll find us on there. Those are ways to engage with us.
If you have a great idea-- We have a few people who stepped forward. Most recently we started a codependents anonymous group. Somebody reached forward and they're like, "We want the space." It's like, "We'll have the space, we'll make the space. Let's do that." That group recently started. We have this amazing book club. One of our volunteers runs, Sammy, which is fantastic. It has its own Facebook page also. They meet and they do-- It's an amazing book club. I need to get myself there. It happens on Sundays, once a month on Sundays.
If you have a great idea on something you want to get started and you know there's a need, reach out to email@example.com, Michal, who's our program and education manager, and they'll get you set up for that. If you're a business and you want a training on LGBT inclusion, reach out to the same person, Michal. Michal does amazing trainings.
This week, they did trainings around sexual assault. They have trained DA's throughout the state. They have trained the Restorative Justice people. They're working on trainings for our LGBT liaisons and the police force. Because we assume people know language and they necessarily don't and so with those trainings that are coming up, they just trained like growing gardens. We did training of Boulder community health. We do charge for them because time is time but we don't turn anybody away.
[00:27:54] Megan: That's wonderful. Also, sign up for the newsletter from what you said. That's a great way to just see what's happening on a week to week basis and get that information in your inbox once a week.
[00:28:06] Mardi: StickerGiant being one of our great partners here in Boulder County. Another great partner here in Longmont is Seagate. Seagate Technologies, and Seagate is our number one sponsor for Pride. They're very generous with us but we engaged with them because they started an employee resource group for LGBT people and their allies and we work with a lot of employee resource groups. IBM. They call theirs a business resource group. Everybody has their own name.
They're much like a gay-straight alliance in school. They promote policies that are inclusive for people. They come together for community and they'll be leading. They'll be at Longmont Pride and leading that visibility march. Another way to connect with us is if you have an employee resource group. We do lunch and learns about every quarter. The last one we had was at IBM. We've had them at Google. We've had them at Seagate and we're going to do one upcoming for Medtronic. Which is another great organization that works for inclusion so that's another way to engage with us also.
[00:29:14] Megan: That's great. It's fitting into everyone's different schedules. There's something seems like happening at different times of the day, different times of the week. Whoever you are and what you're doing in your daily schedule holds, there's somewhere somehow that we can get you in there.
[00:29:30] Mardi: Yes. You mentioned, when we were talking about the focus groups, the 50 plus boards. We have some really great information out of that. We also did a Boulder County and the city of Boulder funded us to do a community assessment survey in 2018 and so we're releasing those results in July in conversations. Pretty heavy results about areas that we need to continue to work in, but one of the things that we found in both of those is people are lacking community. I grew up in Colorado, but lived in Seattle for a long time and then New York City. One of the things about Boulder County that's hard is people seem to live in silos.
[00:30:10] Megan: They certainly can.
[00:30:11] Mardi: For an example you go to Pride, you go with friends you know, you might see somebody you haven't seen in six months, like, "Hey, let's get some coffee." You leave Pride with the people you came with and then coffee never gets schedule. Community doesn't necessarily get built in the way you want. People are looking for more intimate connections, not sexual, intimate connections. Good friends, somebody to help them build a planter in the yard or somebody to go to the movie with. We're in the process of trying to address that in smaller kind of group meetings. Pride is great, and Pride is a great celebration. What do we do between that to help people find community?
[00:30:52] Megan: It's not all about the big events. There's little things in between that really are the community builders and it gets really shared at the larger events, and you can see it in more open settings. At the same time, I feel like as you said, the true intimate connections that we build tend to be in smaller settings where we're more in a one-on-one conversation or getting to connect with a small group of people and really get to know them and their history.
[00:31:18] Mardi: The CDC just came out with some statistics. George Will of all people actually wrote about this around loneliness. It's not unique to the LGBTQ community, but I think our numbers are probably worse because of all the barriers that we face in society and the stigma that gets ascribed to us. That's one of the things that we are working on addressing.
[00:31:41] Megan: Wonderful. In the spirit of continuing connections and all the great things that you guys are doing do you want to give us one more shout out for all the places that people can find you just to make sure that they have that information?
[00:31:56] Mardi: Follow us on Facebook at Out Boulder Pride. Please sign up for our newsletter at outboulder.org and also sign up to volunteer. We have a pretty fun Instagram page so you can find us there also.
[00:32:10] Megan: Something for everyone. With that Mardi, thank you so much for joining us here today. It's so great learning about your background and Out Boulder County organization and all the great things that everyone is doing to support that connection and that we all need.
[00:32:28] Mardi: I want to say thank you to StickerGiant for sponsoring Longmont Pride and for all that you continue to do for us. I do want to say this is a great studio here at CoSolve. I've only been here once before and what a little gem in the heart of Longmont.
[00:32:40] Megan: I agree. This is such a great place and thank you again to the CoSolve team for helping us out and letting us borrow the studio today. That will wrap up our show for today. My name is Megan from the podcast team Stickers on the Mic here at StickerGiant, hope everyone enjoyed the show today.
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