‘Love Notes’ project combines support, education with ‘Affirming Voices’ event | AspenTimes.com
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‘Love Notes’ project combines support, education with ‘Affirming Voices’ event

Community contributed 900+ messages supporting local LGBTQ+ youth

The “Love Notes” project collected more than 900 messages of affirmation for LGBTQIA+ youth throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
Brijetta Waller/Courtesy photo

When Brijetta Waller and a team of local artists launched the “Love Notes” project earlier this year, Waller said she hoped to collect upward of 1,000 messages of affirmation for LGBTQIA+ youth in the Roaring Fork Valley.

At the time, it seemed like a “real reach,” Waller said in a March 6 interview. The “piles and piles of messages” contributed from Feb. 12-20 proved otherwise.

In nine days in February, the student-designed boxes stationed at 16 locations collected more than 900 notes, ranging from the “adorable” scribbles of 3-year-olds to “long, heartfelt messages” from contributors who wrote of “how they came through stronger for all the things they faced,” Waller said.



Waller said she was “blown away” by the response to the project and believes that the final product — a mosaic featuring 163 of those submissions — will be “overwhelming” in the depth and breadth of support that it depicts. Starting Monday, vinyl banners of the mosaic will stand at nine schools between Aspen and New Castle, plus four local libraries and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, according to Waller.

“This is people of all ages saying essentially the same positive, hopeful message in different ways,” Waller said. “And it’s just — when I went through reading them, I’d choke up sometimes because in this time, we really need messages of hope and positivity, and I think the fact that each one is written by a different person makes it really powerful to see them all together.”




IF YOU GO…

What: Affirming Voices: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Youth in the Roaring Fork Valley

When: Monday at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Zoom (registration is required at bit.ly/3rO3zNW) with live viewings at the Pitkin County Library in Aspen, the Basalt Regional Library and the Glenwood Springs Branch Library.

More information: lovenotesrfv.com

The “Love Notes” project is about education as much as affirmation; a community event is slated for 6:30 p.m. Monday on Zoom with live viewing events at the Pitkin County Library in Aspen, the Basalt Regional Library and the Glenwood Springs Branch Library.

“Affirming Voices: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Youth in the Roaring Fork Valley” will feature a panel of local youth and leaders and a presentation by Lillian Rivera, who has spent more than two decades working to support LGBTQIA+ youth. Live translation into Spanish will be available.

Rivera currently serves as the family programming director for Gender Spectrum, an organization focused on creating a more gender-inclusive world. She’ll offer a primer on gender and sexuality with a focus on the needs of youth in the Roaring Fork Valley and also will join the panel of local youth and leaders moderated by Steven Moreno from the Carbondale-based mentorship nonprofit Stepping Stones.

Moreno grew up in Glenwood Springs and now serves as a sponsor for the Carbondale Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) club. He said he believes the “Love Notes” project could have a “domino effect” of affirmation for LGBTQIA+ youth who are now facing a daunting world while working to make it a better one.

“I think that they are feeling like they’re having to navigate a world that was not made for them. … But they’re also very empowered, I think,” Moreno said. “I think they’re aware of the kind of change that they can do in their community, which is really beautiful to see.”

The project’s educational component can also foster a lasting sense of support and solidarity, according to Kat Dressman, a youth services coordinator at the Carbondale Branch Library who is nonbinary.

Dressman and Moreno both worked with students on the design of the Love Notes boxes earlier this year.

Dressman also helped coordinate the event logistics for the “Affirming Voices” event and said they appreciate that libraries — which “support every single member of the community from all walks of thought” — are partners in the project.

“I felt so warm that this was happening, because I’ve only lived in places where there’s not much awareness. … And I love that it’s being done for the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth,” Dressman said. “And that means a lot to me, just because LGBTQ youth go through a lot in high school, just finding identity and finding community and trying to understand what they’re going through, but then also maybe (facing) some different social pressures.”

So often, Dressman said, people with questions or assumptions about the LGBTQ community don’t know who they can ask or even if they should ask someone for answers.

“Affirming Voices” creates a space where those questions are welcome and encouraged: “Yes, you can (ask); come with all those questions, and we’ve got you,” Dressman said.

“Love Notes” on Display

The public can view the mosaic from March 14-25 at the Pitkin County Library in Aspen, the Basalt Regional Library, the Carbondale Branch Library, the Glenwood Springs Branch Library and Anderson Ranch. The project team also will post a Love Note on the project’s Instagram account (@lovenotesrfv) every day through the end of the year to ensure “as many messages get to be seen as possible,” Waller said.

A large-scale “Love Notes” installation by artists Ether Macy Nooner and Zakriya Rabani also is on display on the lawn outside the Red Brick Arts Center in Aspen; visitors can view the installation and leave a Love Note for youth in the lobby near the Red Brick offices through the end of March.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com


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