Located in Coquitlam, BC
Connection to Fraser Valley: I've been Executive Director of the Matsqui-Abbotsford Impact Society in Abbotsford (and working across the Fraser Salish region, from Burnaby to Boston Bar) since 2009. In my role I have overseen the transformation of the organization from being mostly a "consequence" for young people caught involved with substance use at local schools, to an organization that views and promotes the view that substance use is a need that may be more insistent and persistent the less resilience a person can summon. And rather than looking at resilience as the trait of special people, we look at it through an evidence-informed lens that says, with the right external factors, nearly anyone can embody remarkable resilience. Over my 13+ years with the organization, we have also supported and championed the self-advocacy of the street community of Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack... importantly shouldering the risk of bringing together folks from the youth and street communities in ways that break stigma and build community in surprising and challenging ways... to meet the surprising and challenging times.
I grew up in Los Angeles, as far as I know the first out (and later expelled) high school student body president… in the day-glow 80s AIDS crisis. I landed in a ‘73 Cadillac Seville, dressed in tube dresses on the streets of Hollywood, playing my guitar songs in street protests with Harry Hay and his Radical Faeries. I ended the 80s in Paris, learning French (to read Rimbaud untranslated) mostly by osmosis in a daze of beds, bars.
Throughout the 90s I performed amid the queer collective of Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, taught creative arts at LGBTQ alternative high schools and a Hollywood drop-in centre for street youth, composed hours of music for modern dance companies, and staged a sold out musical play that the Los Angeles Times said “expertly walks the line between raunchy and tasteless.”
In the 2000s, because my Indonesian partner’s US student visa expired and we couldn’t get married, we applied (awaiting an answer in Jakarta) to immigrate to Canada. Settling in Metro Vancouver’s suburbs, rather than in another gay ghetto, my decade-long involvement in the “recovery” community got complex amid the gender-separate conventions of “mainstream” 12-step programs, and as I came in contact with British Columbia’s progressive harm reduction approaches.
Since the 2010s I’ve worked in what many call BC’s Bible Belt as executive director of a non-profit organization that brings marginalized youth together with the city’s drug using/street community to do beautiful, surprising things (with funding from Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, and the local Health Authority).
I’ve written well-reviewed, sold-out musical plays, composed for multiple modern dance companies, was lead singer of a signed goth band, and have recorded songs and instrumentals that stretch from 1984 to the present, spanning 35 albums and 12 Singles/EPs recorded on portable tape decks, 4-tracks and now Logic Pro. While my artistic output might be said to take a backseat to my social justice/change work, the vulnerable, complex humanity from which my art has never strayed, I think, has given permission to many I work with to express their humanity too.