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Meet Joni and Tycho from Breaking Boundaires

Tue 20 Oct 2015 In: People View at Wayback View at NDHA

Breaking boundaries is a relatively new kid on the block, a not-for-profit support service and online platform with endless creative energy, we chat to Co-founders Joni Nelson and Tycho Vandenburg about online communities, creative critical discourse and progressive grassroots queer organisations.   A Film and English student at the University of Auckland who’s passionate about writing, particularly poetry and theatre. Joni believes in making art with a social conscience and that these mediums have the power to create social change. Tycho is about to finish their honours degree in Critical Psychology at the University of Auckland and is interested in the field of mental health, in particular that of marginalised communities. Breaking Boundaries first came to life in 2013 when Tycho first pitched the idea of starting a queer support forum to Joni. Having already set up a few gaming community websites Tycho wanted to combine those skills with their interests in supporting people of marginalised genders and sexualities. “We saw a gap in terms of the services offered to queer people, especially those in rural areas, or those who weren’t ready to ‘come out’ yet,” says Joni. “For a lot of people, getting to a physical support group isn’t possible or safe for their current situation and having a service like Breaking Boundaries can bridge these gaps and make sure that they don’t feel isolated and alone.” A self reflective and creative support platform, Breaking Boundaries aims to encourage critical thinking, especially in regards to sexual and gender diverse communit(ies). Not your average queer support service Joni stresses the kaupapa of Breaking Boundaries and says; “We’re definitely not interested in being apolitical, even though this can cause some controversy. Being queer is in itself inherently political thing, and we believe that the continuation of intersectional dialogues when exploring our queerness is incredibly important.” Breaking Boundaries is much more than a traditional online service, the work of fresh and emerging poets, storytellers and artists sits alongside a community forum and resource page. “We’re particularly interested in boosting the voices of those who are often the most marginalised in our communities,” explains Joni. “We’re always eager to connect and network with organisations that are engaging in critical and progressive work. We also hope that through QueerAesthetic we can publish voices that may otherwise go unheard, creating an accessible platform for others to hear and learn things they might not have understood before.” Tycho says limited funding and working within the neo-liberal New Zealand context can present its challenges, following in the footsteps of overseas grassroots organisations they say limiting reliance of external funding is key to the values and objectives of Breaking Boundaries. Carving out a space Self identified as a progressive, queer grassroots organisation Breaking boundaries are interested in challenging the norm. “Our mainstream organisations are pushed more and more to become apolitical, especially for funding purposes and I think that accounts for a lot of the grassroots organisations that have popped up in the last few years with more critical and progressive values,” says Joni. “Non profits can start to have a monopoly over a community, and that’s not always a good thing. No matter how hard an organisation tries, there will always be people who have a negative experience within their services, and many of them can retract from the community as a whole.  People need support sometimes, and it doesn’t matter where they get it as long as they do. We need to have options, and I think people are starting to realise that these options are around and are starting to seek them out.” Exciting times ahead As the name suggests, prone to breaking boundaries and not ones to be tied down, the organisation although primarily located online is interested in committing to more physical projects and collaborating with other organisations. “We’re hoping to host (or co-host) a few events next year. In particular, we want to do something for gender diverse and trans* people; we’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline, but we want to consult with members of the community before going ahead with anything.” Hoping to expand their volunteer network Joni says they are looking for inspiration leaders to help manage the organisation, as well as people to fill more specialised positions. Daily News staff - 20th October 2015

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 20th October 2015 - 3:01pm

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