safer space policy / community agreements

how we work together

everyone, regardless of social status has equal opportunity of participation, and all members of the steering committee/board and general membership need to ensure that in all processes of working together equal opportunity happens.

inequality exists everywhere (whether we like it or not), even in social justice spaces. gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, dis/abilities, ethnicity/ethnic heritage, race, age, size, class, and citizenship status are some of the more obvious examples of how people can be marginalized.

we also live in a capitalist society that measures our worth by outputs and outcomes, and quantifies our production and productivity. This is an ableist model which we want to move away from by setting our own agenda and do things because we want to and need to, not because we feel pressured to.

members agree to lessen the negative effects of as many of these oppressive ideologies as possible, because they are all interconnected and relevant to our work. this is done through commitment of learning and unlearning through workshops, policy-making, community collaborations, etc. and can be done collectively.

members have the right to a safer space where they feel their contributions have worth and are comfortable to share their needs, assert their boundaries, and develop their agency.

members shall seek meaningful and inclusive mediation to help resolve conflicts within the group. all parties involved must agree with the process. this should be done with a third-party outside the group that has no conflict of interest (unless no options are available, a third-party with experience with conflict resolution reflective of our group constitution and guidelines is highly recommended.)

group members are accountable to each other and the community at large, and are responsible for direct and open communication, transparency, and how we share and distribute power.

how we create, implement, and ensure safer spaces

group guidelines/community agreements/safer space policies will be created by and for group members sharing any given space, i.e. steering committee/board, subcommittees, community gatherings/events.

group guidelines/community agreements will be reviewed at the beginning of meetings each time a new person has joined.

group guidelines/community agreements can be elaborated on with stories for clarity and understanding.

group guidelines/community agreements are working documents in continuous development, and will be reviewed and up for modification every other meeting

suggestions for group guidelines are:

  • platinum rule (treat others the way they want to be treated)
  • always have check-ins
  • API – Assume Positive Intent – not everyone comes in with the same set of experiences and knowledge, so assume that people have good intent. Please have positive intent yourself, and be accountable for the impact of your actions and words as well.
  • confidentiality – share lessons learned; names and identifiers stay
  • don’t yuck my yum” / “don’t giggle my wiggle” -people have different tastes and preferences. avoid statements such as “i hate that” or “eww!”. and we all have different experiences and struggles.
  • no shaming and/or belittling each other and ourselves
  • use “I” statements – speak from your own experiences rather than generalizing
  • self-care: give care to ourselves, however that may be
    • take breaks from meetings/organizing if needed
    • pass on/delegate responsibilities if needed
    • saying yes and no when we mean it
    • asserting healthy boundaries
  • all spaces shared by members (i.e. meetings, events) must be as physically and socially accessible as possible
    • wheelchair accessible entrances, washrooms, seating
    • sign language interpretation and/or live captioning
    • hearing language interpretation
    • childcare available onsite
    • bus tickets
    • scent-free/scent-reduced spaces
    • ongoing reflections of abled, anglophone, middle/upper class and other intersecting privileges and supremacist cultures
    • etc.
  • members will do workshops and/or take trainings related to anti-oppression at least twice a year
  • create an accountability and conflict resolution process via structure
  • create resources for self-care

what self care can look like for our meetings:
pre-meeting:

  • have some food beforehand to avoid the “hanger” that can affect the process in a meeting.
  • do what you need to do to come into the space clear of mind clutter to be fully present.
  • check-in with yourself to see if you have the capacity to attend the meeting. maybe you need a break, and that’s a-ok.
  • take breaks from meetings/organizing if needed.
  • breath. sometimes we’re in a rush to get to meetings. take time to breath, slow down, and ground yourself.
  • try to come prepared. take time to gather supplies and the things you’ll need for the meeting to avoid feeling flustered and stressed while in the meeting. it can be your laptop, water bottle, pen and notepad, notes you’ve made, etc. and if you forget something, that’s ok too. be kind to yourself.
  • repeat: be kind to yourself (because reminders never hurt).

during a meeting:

  • meet your physical needs. if you need to go to the washroom, go right ahead. bring food if you need. there’s access to water as well. stay hydrated!
  • assert healthy boundaries.
    • having the agency to say “yes” or “no” when you mean it.
    • communicate with the group your needs.
    • pass on/delegate tasks and responsibilities if needed. we’re all human and can’t do everything despite our want to. feel free to ask for help.
  • take breaks if you need.
  • if you need to leave the space to take time to yourself, feel free to do so.

post-meeting:

  • go out for food after if you’re hungry, and it can double up as a social event with fellow members
  • make time to care for yourself. sometimes our meetings can be long and draining, do what you need to do to refuel and de-stress yourself.
    • take an energizing walk or exercise
    • take some introverted time, such as reading a book, having a bath, listening to good music
    • have a social activity with friends planned afterwards to look forward to
    • have a nap/go to bed, if it’s an evening meeting
  • sometimes you may feel overwhelmed with action items to do. create a list or plan out how you might be able to make the workload more manageable over time. It might help put your mind at ease and reduce anxiety over the tasks. And again, always feel free to ask for help or pass work on if you need.

** This is not an exhaustive policy and is meant to serve as a sample, suggestion, and/or stepping stone for a more robust, sustainable, and relevant policy developed by any individual, group or organization who wishes to use this as a starting point in developing safer space policies/community agreements/group guidelines which meets their specific needs. **

TO PRINT THIS DOCUMENT: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1J1S07hJLJW1KVn_VYORfwT0QeLGjbSbu93dqWGNYz_E/edit?usp=sharing

another world is possible

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