SPEAK event gives platform to Yampa Valley women; vulnerability is this year’s theme | SteamboatToday.com

SPEAK event gives platform to Yampa Valley women; vulnerability is this year’s theme

Megan Wykhuis plays guitar during the SPEAK 2019 event. (Danielle Zimmerer/Courtesy photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Young Bloods Collective’s annual SPEAK event is returning for the fifth year, and the nonprofit is now accepting submissions for the event that features performances by women across the Yampa Valley in a variety of styles including spoken world, dance, music, stand-up comedy and more. The event explores a different theme each year; this year’s theme is vulnerability.

“Vulnerability and overcoming challenge was huge in 2020,” said SPEAK director Sarah Valentino. “It was a notoriously difficult year, so it seemed like a natural fit for this year’s event.”

While SPEAK typically takes place live in Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Hayden, organizers said this year they envision the event to have a more tangible and relaxed feel that will include discussion and conversation in addition to the performances. And they are hoping to reach even more people through a virtual format.

“Since the beginning, we believed it was important for SPEAK to be accessible to wider Routt County, and thus, we would host performances in Hayden, Oak Creek and Steamboat,” said Young Bloods Collective co-founder Sista Luna. “A virtual performance has the capacity to reach even further. While we miss the magic of in-person performances — that direct connection between audience and creator — a virtual recording is arguably more accessible.”

This is the purpose of SPEAK — to bring local women together to share, support and encourage each other. It was Emily Waldron, a poet and a founding board member of Young Bloods Collective, who came up with the idea for SPEAK after the 2016 election.

“It seemed important to provide support for female creative expression and a platform for women to share their truth and experiences with their community,” Luna explained.

Past themes have included collaboration, building bridges and power and leadership.

Megan Wykhuis, who has performed at SPEAK before, will submit a song for this year’s event.

“To me, as a social worker, it is so clear that vulnerability is a difficult practice that requires strength, courage and integrity,” she said. “It requires you to be wholly and authentically yourself, both good and bad, ugly and pretty. This year, my song will be about the parallels of a toxic relationship and becoming a mother. It’s a song about losing yourself and your identity in someone else and how to find the strength and courage to get real and find yourself again.”

Wykhuis notes that SPEAK gives the opportunity for women to come together with other like-minded women in the Yampa Valley to create something or share an experience, whether positive or negative.

“The process of creation is so important for processing and connecting with our world in a time where disconnection has become the norm,” Wykhuis said. “Young Bloods Collective gives this opportunity with SPEAK and invites those who identify as women to share their stories, songs, poems and performances.”

While the date of this year’s event has yet to be determined — most likely at some point in the spring — the nonprofit is currently accepting submissions on vulnerability on its website. Accepted submissions will be notified by the end of February.

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