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More than a music venue

Outer Space gives home to marginalized to create

Most towns and cities have a do-it-yourself music venue. Sacramento has the Red Museum, Santa Rosa has the Hendley Hotel and Berkeley has The Gilman. Arcata has Outer Space. However, you can’t simply call Outer Space a music venue. Outer Space has what others do not: the Breakfast All Day Collective.

Breakfast All Day Collective, or B.A.D. Collective, was started by HSU alumni Alex Nordquist and Zev Smith-Danford. Nordquist, who is from the greater Los Angeles area, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Smith-Danford, from the eastern San Francisco Bay Area, was a journalism student that used to write for the Lumberjack. Both have lived in Arcata for eight to nine years and spent the last five growing the collective.

Nordquist said it all started with opening up their homes to underground house shows.

“Arcata has a really long history of having a pretty thriving underground DIY art scene. Arcata has more artists per capita than anywhere else,” she said. “It was a way to lend legitimacy to our booking of bands when we were bringing them into our home.”

“We know that the young college population that comes up here often feels so isolated,” Smith-Danford said. “Having a space in Arcata could potentially be much more long lasting and fulfill the great need that has existed here.”

Although Nordquist and Smith-Danford are officially the project managers, they flatten the power structure in the collective. Ultimately every decision is brought into group discussion. They are 100 percent volunteer run, the youngest being under 10 years old and the oldest over 60. There is no board of directors, only the core collective members made up of those who put in time, energy and interest.

“We know that the young college population that comes up here often feels so isolated,” Smith-Danford said. “Having a space in Arcata could potentially be much more long lasting and fulfill the great need that has existed here.”

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(Photo by Tony Wallin) Left to right: Humboldt State University alumni’s Zev Smith-Danford and Alex Nordquist pose for a photo June 10, 2015 in their community gathering area called Outer Space. Nordquist and Smith-Danford are co-creators and founders of the non-profit organization Breakfast all Day (B.A.D.) Collective and Outer Space.

The collective meets on Wednesday nights at Outer Space. They sit in a circle as they discuss the week’s agenda. The meetings begin with names and preferred pronouns: he, she, they, they’re and them, making sure everyone is addressed correctly. Everyone has an equal voice and the atmosphere is welcoming and all-inclusive.

Carlrey Arroyo, an HSU alumna of environmental studies, has been volunteering since last summer. She has tried to put in as much time as possible while working full time, sometimes doing more and other times less.

“The way I see the space is we’re constantly having to ask for resources or demand respect. Here we actually have a space that facilitates the opportunity for anything. I see it as possibility. A place to create,” Arroyo said.

According to their website “Breakfast All Day Collective attempts to create spaces where everyone can feel safety and freedom from various forms of oppression faced on a daily basis. These include but not limited to: racism, classism, homophobia, ageism, ableism, domestic violence and judgmental fundamentalism.”

Outer Space offers programs like ‘I’m Still Here,’ a mental health support group facilitated by Nordquist on the second and fourth Sunday every month. It also houses other programs such as the Youth AA that meets Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. and the POC (People of Color) support group that meets Saturdays from 3-5 p.m.

“Some people call us a venue, we’re not a venue. We’re a non-profit community space,” Smith-Danford said. “One of the things we do is music events and while those music events are fun and cool and needed in their own right they allow us to have these low cost or free programs that are actually truly needed in this community.”

A sizable portion of the space is dedicated to their community gallery, showcasing local artists that aren’t seen in other galleries.

“One of the fundamental goals is to try and re-center marginalized voices; to amplify and uplift marginalized voices particularly in the context of the arts because if you’ve ever existed in any sub-culture than you’d understand those places just end up replicating the same power structures and inequalities that exist in mainstream society,” Nordquist said. “You can either say that sucks and that’s how the world is or you can try build structures that don’t replicate that, and that’s what we attempt to do.”

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