Lightspeed founder and CEO Dax Dasilva will be bringing his cultural non-profit organization, called Never Apart, to FYF Fest in Los Angeles on August 27–28, in partnership with Montreal non-profit Plus One, to debut their “Colour By Icons” colouring book, featuring LGBT historical icons such as Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde and Josephine Baker.
Dasilva founded Never Apart in 2015, applying the same determination that has made Lightspeed one of the world’s most widely used cloud-based point-of-sale systems, and a cornerstone of Montreal’s technology ecosystem, to also promoting community and inclusivity through arts and culture.
Lightspeed’s Point of Sale and eCommerce tools are now used by more than 38,000 retailers and restaurateurs in more than 100 countries, processing over $14 billion in transactions annually.
Founded in 2005 by Dasilva, Lightspeed is backed by Accel Partners, iNovia Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and Investissement Québec, has raised an investment total of US$126 million including US$61 million last September, and now has offices in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
Never Apart’s headquarters consists of a 12,000 square-foot space in Montreal’s Mile-Ex neighborhood, incorporating a gallery, music production and creative space, with a theatre for screenings, a mezzanine alongside a garden and saltwater pool for gatherings, an archive of 10,000 vinyl records, and both “Sun and Moon Rooms”.
“Never Apart seeks to educate on equality, the environment and conscious living, while celebrating both established and emerging artists,” says their website. “The platform is geared towards igniting positive change and unity through culture — gatherings, music, art exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops and special events. If we can break down the separations in society and on our planet, if we can embrace our oneness, we can start something new.”
The “Colour By Icons” book is 25 pages, bound like a traditional 1980s colouring book, and features queer role models, from Lou Reed to Michelangelo, Freddie Mercury and NASA astronaut Sally Ride.
“Growing up, many of us did not have queer role models. In this cool, collectible art book, we celebrate some of queer history’s most colourful trailblazers: legends and heroic symbols of our struggles, talents, and achievements,” says Never Apart about the project. “The Never Apart LGBT Historic Colouring Book is a fun and retro-kitsch project that also serves as an educational tool. So much of queer history has been erased and is not something we are taught in school.”
Indeed, school is exactly the place where you’d think a person would learn everything they need to reach their full potential and become equipped to contribute joyfully back to society. But as anyone who’s endured the process knows, that’s not really what school is about.
The theory and practice of inclusivity, and opening up both technology and business to a wider class of people than just upper middle class white men, has been the subject of an ongoing conversation in recent years.
British Columbia native Stewart Butterfield has also put his money where his mouth is in terms of trying to dispel the notion that technology, along with the people who make it, is somehow politically neutral, acknowledging that it still needs to meaningfully incorporate a variety of perspectives in order to better reflect the society that it aims to serve.
Dasilva will be bringing the book to Los Angeles and the FYF Fest in partnership with non-profit Plus One, run by Arcade Fire band member Marika Anthony-Shaw.
eCommerce sales of the “Colour By Icons” colouring book will be powered by Lightspeed on NeverApart.com.
The FYF Fest is essentially a music festival with a large cultural component, and will feature a lengthy roster of pop music acts, including Kendrick Lamar headlining on August 27 and the immortal Grace Jones on August 28.