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About Dancing Swallows 

Dancing Swallows Big Gay Bird Sanctuary and Memorial Pond LLC is a roadside memorial honoring a lost loved one, Kali, while celebrating the life-saving powers of friendship and community. The private property is not open to the public, however the memorial provides a glimpse of hope and joy visible to approximately 40,000 cars a day passing by on nearby Interstate 5 in the heart of Lewis County, WA. In addition to honoring Kali, the sanctuary's goal is to create a space for queer visibility and free expression in rural communities.

Why "Dancing Swallows Big Gay Bird Sanctuary and Memorial Pond"? 


Kali died in 2019 due to complications from a lifelong struggle with diabetes. About a year later, while swimming deep in my grief, I (Kyle) reached what some call the moment of acceptance. I was outside in a pasture and literally dropped to my knees over it all. There were a bunch of swallows circling above, not giving a flying care about my despair below. Kali loved swallows herself — the way they moved freely and sporadically, yet so confident of themselves and their path even when it changed suddenly. She had a swallow silhouette tattooed on her left forearm. 

That moment of acceptance with those dancing swallows crystalized a portion of my grief and how I would channel it—surely those birds were some sort of cosmic sign to revisit an old promise.

About Kyle & Kali

Kali and I (Kyle) first met in the rural southern California town where I grew up. After a tumultuous upbringing, I left home at an early age in pursuit of personal stability. When I first met Kali one day while sitting on a sidewalk on a break at work, I was 17 and living on my own with a full-time job, having dropped out and gotten my GED years prior to pursue working and independence. I was deeply unhappy with my life circumstances at the time, but that chance meeting led to an impactful, years-long friendship that changed my entire trajectory. 


Kali was one of the first people I eventually came out to, which was quite an undertaking in a rural town in the heat of the debate over Prop 8—California's ban on same-sex marriage. Kali helped guide and support me through a time when I watched a majority of my community openly dehumanize my very existence while I was still grappling with it myself. Eventually, I decided to leave that rural community because of some of those experiences, and in that process, I also had to leave my best friend. We remained as close as friends could without living in the same town anymore. 

When I left long ago, I made Kali a promise that I'd go out and find happiness and one day return to my rural roots, buy a big house, and bring rainbows and visibility and acceptance to let other youngins know it's totally possible to make it through everything us rural queer kids experience and maybe even thrive at the end of that rainbow. We called our silly dream the 'lakefront fruitastic solar rainbow pad' and it was something we joked about until her abrupt passing at the age of 33. 


How the sanctuary started

In 2020, I (Kyle) was in the thick of my grief over Kali, who had passed abruptly a year prior. I was reminiscing about the lakefront fruitastic solar rainbow pad and some of the promises I had made to my now-dead friend. I had returned to my rural roots in a different town without the baggage of the first that made me leave, and I had been an active member of my local community for years, but I had not done much for queer visibility or acceptance beyond that. I had not paid my happiness forward as I had promised. 

At the same time, my local Sheriff participated in a moment of political grandstanding that drew national attention when he equated some of his constituents to livestock while attending a protest supporting a locally famous billboard of bigotry. I was determined to not be made to feel so unwelcome in my own community the same way I had before. I checked the county parcel, noticed a nearby derelict property, and sent a handwritten note to the registered owner asking if they would like to sell it to me—and they did!

From 2020 to 2022, I put up a series of signs and other displays of freedom of expression at the property and helped to gather and connect as many supportive community members as I could find. This snowballed into the eventual formation of what is now the Lewis County Dignity Guild, a placemaking nonprofit for rural marginalized communities. In 2022, when the Dignity Guild was formed, the board discussed the original property, and it was determined that the issues were too complicated for a budding young nonprofit to manage, and it was collectively decided that it would be a project that I (Kyle) would have to continue pursuing as an individual. After that discussion, I fully embraced my personal reasons for why I was doing everything I had been doing and officially began referring to the property as 'Dancing Swallows Big Gay Bird Sanctuary and Memorial Pond LLC' and being more open about my own personal motivations which drove me to build and maintain this particular space of community visibility. 

How the sanctuary is going

Shortly after acquiring the property in 2020 a nearby contractor built multiple encroachments on the sanctuary parcel which have caused everything to progress slowly as these issues are still litigated. A summary judgment hearing is scheduled for May 2024 where there will hopefully be a final resolution to these longstanding issues and clarification of rights and access. With a hopeful prevailing court order in hand I can then remove encroachments, fully restore my access and proceed with development plans and easier maintenance. 

The City of Chehalis is also in the process of reviewing a requested rezone of this parcel after admitted mishandlings in the previous request. The city's consultant has concurred that the history of this particular parcel likely supports the requested rezone originally petitioned for in 2020, but the decision will ultimately be up to the city council once the review and notification process is completed. Should this requested rezone be approved, it would strongly support the ability to apply for reasonable signage to advertise the on-site commercial bird sanctuary and memorial pond which already exist here. 

For now, the sanctuary continues to operate in its current state, holding space, with 11 birdhouses on pillars along the memorial pond in the 11 colors of the progress pride flag. Painted on the bottom of each birdhouse is a single letter, which together collectively spells out K-A-L-I-W-A-S-H-E-R-E. There is also a single flagpole hoisting the progress pride flag above the sanctuary for increased visibility. 

I (Kyle) continue to pursue both the rezone as well as resolution to the encroachment litigation in order to determine the best path forward from there. Please keep an eye on this site or Facebook for future updates.


How you can help

Since I (Kyle) took ownership and without considering litigation costs, the sanctuary maintenance generally costs between $3000 and $4000 annually to operate, which includes taxes, insurance, routine maintenance including gas and machinery transport, and occasional heavy machine work for pond maintenance.

Once litigation is resolved, the sanctuary intends to offer annual "Community Pillar" sponsorships for $250 to interested individuals, groups, or businesses to have their name engraved on a tag and added to one of the 11 birdhouse pillars. I intend to do this annually in April or May. The sanctuary also intends to offer logo stickers on a pay what you can basis to attempt to offset the remaining ~1/3 of annual costs not covered by community pillar sponsorships. If there are additional funds raised in a year those funds will be reported and taxed as self-employment income for my administrative time managing and time spent physically maintaining the sanctuary. 

If you, your group or your business are interested in an annual sponsorship or Dancing Swallows Big Gay Bird Sanctuary and Memorial Pond LLC sticker(s), or you would just like to chat, please feel free to reach out directly to

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