2017 Winter Retreat Recap

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Darling community,

Here is our latest and greatest from the 2017 Winter Board Retreat. It’s long format, and yet still brief if you can believe it. Get in touch if you want to dive deeper!!


OUT for Sustainability’s Board of Directors gathered on Vashon Island, near Seattle, for bonding, visioning, and assessment on OUT4S’ role as the voice of LGBTQ sustainability, along with planning for 2017 priorities, programming, tactics, and tools.

Our retreat vision was ‘Raising our Voice’, a chance to relook at our overarching strategy in light of the current societal situation and its potentially devastating impact on queer/marginalized people and our shared environment. What came out of our two days of sessions is a fully engaged board with diverse backgrounds and identities, and a solid vision for our goals and tactics for the two years, and beyond.


OUT for Sustainability has historically been a local events host, especially in Seattle and, more recently, in targeted cities nationwide. While we continue to believe that local engagement is key to building a mobilized community, we are going to take more of a facilitation role to put the planning in the hands of local leaders. This is in line with our goal of amplifying our role as a voice of the queer sustainability movement, an opportunity to articulate what’s next for our community as we increasingly claim our collective role and identity as sustainability advocates.

What does it mean to be a voice? We believe that with strategic partners and great minds, we can define and advance what it means to be queer, activated for sustainability progression, and impactful to achieve our vision of a Fabulous Planet.


Much of our discussion centered on vision and the structure and strategies to achieve it. AND, at least half was “just” rich conversation. Here are some highlights:

  • Gay vs Queer vs LGBTQ: How do we acknowledge the baggage of each community descriptor while staying true to each person’s own identity? Is Earth Gay a fun pun, or male dominance inducing? Does Queer reflect all of us, or do negative connotations of this semi-reclaimed term not yet unify? Is LGBTQ too f’ing formal and static, or is the best we have to stay inclusive?
  • Societal Realities: Does the current decimation of progress by the current USA administration overwhelm us or spark us into action? (HINT: it’s the latter #resist). How can we achieve a less polarized society, one where we embrace the overlaps we all have?
  • Speaking to Identity: How can we communicate to identities, which are driven by so many factors beyond rational facts? How can we deconstruct our sense of diversity to see how humanity figures into biological diversity?
  • Practicing, not Perfection: How can we strongly signal that sustainability isn’t about doing everything right all of the time? Sure, systematically let’s get to ideal state. But when it comes to engaging the green curious, can we celebrate incremental improvement rather than harshing their high with judgement that they haven’t started soon enough, gone far enough, been motivated true enough? YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO DO THIS WORK! Remember that darlings. Breath, don’t burn out.
  • Prosperity over “Poverty”: How can we reframe sustainability from denial to delight? What does it mean to show that clean water is a right that reflects a prosperous society? How can we NOT extract from the earth that which we can’t replace as a sign of security because we want everyone to be healthy? How can we have enough pie for everyone (figuratively, and I hope literally)?


Systems drive behavior, and we’re excited at the structure we’ve got in motion to take this vision and make it actionable. Our committees, sub-committees, and planning teams may seem numerous, but so are the opportunities for action! The visualization below also, hopefully, shows how interconnected our structure is. Like our vision of sustainability, with different measurable qualities viewed as intersectional, so too our structure relies on the other teams to flourish. Each committee has a charter to define its vision, processes, working agreements, etc. And each committee is designed to be co-chaired by an OUT4S board member and a non board member to both engage a broader group, and bring in freshness to every part of the organization.


Our actual plans for the next year continue the best of OUT4S history, while driving toward new behaviors and practices. Here is a summary of our plans in motion:

Earth Gay

#EarthGay celebrates the spirit of Earth Day, the queer way, as the LGBTQ community’s most visible form of environmental activism; a chance to get dirty, make friends, and invest in our earth, our communities, and each other. Earth Gays are for the green curious and committed environmentalist alike; of all ages, abilities, classes, genders, orientations, and race/ethnicities.


OUT4S’ Salons acknowledge that the “wisdom is in the room” when we gather LGBTQ folks who are passionate, or green curious, about social and environmental sustainability. These education/networking events delve into intersectional topics that provoke us with collectively derived, actionable insights.

Regional Activation

OUT4S believes that momentum is gained when two or more folks connect with a shared vision. We have gathered the country into regions that focus the energy of local volunteers. Regions organize hyper-local action in cities, towns, and neighborhoods, strengthened by the planning energy of the broader community.

NOTE: Currently activated regions include: Northwest, California, Northeast. The rest of the country is ready for your inspiration!

Fab Planet Summit

#FabPlanet Summit is the foremost LGBTQ space to explore the intersection of identity, society, and environment. The biennial conference is part expert panels, part forum; a gathering space for leading LGBTQ thinkers on sustainability issues to explore and strategize on how to achieve “A Fabulous Planet.”

NOTE: We’re starting to plan the next Fab Planet Summit for May 2018 in New York City. Interested in joining the planning team? Contact Gerod at gerod@out4s.org.

Content Campaigns

As a voice of an emerging movement, OUT4S partners with leading organizations to articulate what LGBTQ sustainability really means, in context with practical application. Content includes articles, stories, and resources on intersectional themes like #EnergyEquality, #NatureissoGay, and #MyGreenerPride.

NOTE: Content doesn’t just live in these seasonal campaigns. Throughout the year we also publish stories, ideas, and emerging thoughts in a variety of formats from text to audio. OK, that’s just two… but we have ambition for video, art, and cross-media publishing to amp up our voice.

Greener Pride

OUT4S believes that the LGBTQ community can be a leader in sustainability. To achieve this, we consult with LGBTQ events like Pride, celebrate individual greener pride, and mobilize for action. Our eventual goal is to build a living best practices toolkit for LGBTQ organizers and participants to plan sustainable events.


To better track our contacts, affording us the chance to make connections, track follow up, onboard new volunteers, communicate opportunities to specific regions, etc… OUT4S is finally getting a CRM upgrade thanks to Salesforce (and Joey, one of our fab new board members).


We had some rich discussion of why it matters to not only respond to interest in the organization and cultivate those enthusiastic relationships, but also to reach out and listen to communities we serve, or would like to serve, in keeping with our vision of a Fabulous Planet. So, to better reflect the dazzling array of our community, we are going to be even more energetic reaching out to populations for potential strategic partners, board members, committee leads and members, planning team volunteers, and participants.

Digital Presence

We operate in an increasingly digital world. While we believe that local activities led by regional energy is key to community, we also understand that the website and social media accounts are the first interaction most have with OUT4S. Toward that, we want to finesse the website and focus our digital presence in the coming months to best reflect our core essence and values.

Capacity Building

OUT4S has spent about $40k over eight years (mostly on food!). A tiny sum considering how much we’ve accomplished: 3,500+ people engaged in 50+ events with thousands of volunteer hours and dozens of speakers with 150+ partners over our history to date. While still only want resources that will be put to good, targeted use, we have so many ideas and activations that require a bit more funding and capacity. So, we’re gonna get right on that.

Speaker Bureau

We have so many opportunities to get involved, both coming to OUT4S and available in the world, that we often don’t have the energy to get engaged with all of them. Toward this, we want to activate our broader community of brilliant minds to get involved on behalf of the organization and, more importantly, the movement we’re a part of.

Lead up to 10 years!

It’s crazy to think (Gerod speaking here) that this idea started cooking in 2008! It’s been an indirect path to get here, but always pivoting to stay true to our original intent: building community and making a difference. We’ve got some ideas on how to celebrate (Gayla anyone?!), and we’re excited to share as we get closer.

Next Steps

It feels like a lot to us, but also within reach when we have the support of our community. How can you get involved? Here are a few ideas:

  • Share your story, idea, thought, resource
  • Join a committee or planning team!
  • Co-lead your region (it’s not hard, for reals)
  • Apply to the summer start for the Board of Directors
  • Contribute to our vision of a Fabulous Planet
  • Forward this onward (yes, to that friend you know you just thought of)
  • Stay engaged through our newsletter and social media:
    • Facebook (for better or worse, the most active)
    • Twitter (for better or worse, we’d love help here!)
    • LinkedIn (ok, we never post here, but we’ll get there)
    • Soundcloud (podcasts galore!)\
    • Instagram/YouTube/Medium (dreams, not yet a reality)

To get involved, fill out our volunteer form

Much love to all you fabulous folks,

Gerod, Judi, Shehreen, Danny, Brendan, Joey, Lindi, and Tamara

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