2022 Bridge Conference Reflections

Conferences are a time to learn, reconnect, and dream a little bigger. At this year’s Bridge Conference, there was an undeniable hum of excitement in the air. We were back together, in-person, after two years of connecting virtually. Youth development leaders, community workers and organizers traveled from across the state and beyond to hear from one another. Lines formed at registration as early as 7:30 AM and groups gathered with their pastries and coffee waiting for the first plenary to begin. Tanaya Winder grounded the crowd of over 530 in intentionality and the hard work of the “heartwork.” From there … [ ]

Celebrating queer youth leadership, every day.

An oasis is defined as a, “peaceful area in the midst of a difficult or hectic place.” For LGBTQ youth in Tacoma,  Oasis Youth Center  is just that.  For more than 36 years it has been a place of joy, community, and understanding. Their mission is to, “transforms the lives of queer youth by creating a safe place to learn, connect, and thrive.”  “Oasis believes that queer youth are amazing leaders that have the ability to change the world,” said Siggy Frank, Program Manager at Oasis Youth Center. Frank was introduced to Oasis at 14 years old  and participated in … [ ]

Graduate Tacoma and the spirit of collaboration.

Graduate Tacoma is a community-wide movement of more than 350 cross-sector partners across the full education ecosystem. The Foundation for Tacoma Students (FFTS) plays a unique role in building and strengthening the community-wide movement to help every child achieve success from cradle to college and career. “The most unique thing we see [in Tacoma] is the spirit of collaboration. How do we make sure that students have access to all of our programs or how do we make sure folks know what kinds of programs we have and fill gaps where we know there aren’t enough programs? That spirit of … [ ]

Erin Jones hosts Fireside Chat at Bridge

What does it look like to embody the past, present, and future? How do we hold our collective learning and embrace with honesty who we are and where we are going? These are the questions we asked with this year’s Bridge Conference theme, “Illuminating Becoming.” It was our hope to bring together a group of imaginative leaders from across Washington state to dive deeper into questions like these and share their learning along the way. The four individuals we are honored to give our stage to include those who are leading with anti-racist practices in education and youth development, taking … [ ]

Joy, Healing and Restoration highlighted at this year’s Bridge Conference.

While we continue to face new and ongoing challenges in Washington state and beyond, our team has held true to our Bridge Conference values of  Equity​, Nourishment​, Leadership​, Change​, Innovation​, Community​, and  Belonging. It is these values that inspired us to meet the needs of our community through carefully chosen workshops. We invite and strongly encourage each person to choose a session that is just for you and what you want and need, whether it is joy or healing or restoration. Here is a list of just some of the sessions we’ll be offering this year. Everyday Mindfulness & Self-Compassion Presenters … [ ]

Developing our Bridge Conference COVID-19 Protocols

As we prepare to return to an in-person Conference for the first time in three years, we are announcing our revised COVID-19 Protocols and Practices for our 2022 Bridge Conference, which will take place in Tacoma October 24-25.   SOWA leadership and the Bridge Planning team recognize the importance of honoring multiple truths, norms, and experiences, especially when deciding about the health and safety of our community. Our Bridge Planning team includes staff from across the state, is primarily people of color, and has a wide array of experiences in the field. Their perspectives and experiences helped shape our decision-making process.   … [ ]