The following statement was written by a small group of people present at the ‘Safer Spaces’ workshop on Friday morning and put prominently on the wall. It was done to communicate the results of the workshop to new people arriving later in the weekend.
WELCOME TO THE GATHERING!
We’re trying to make this space as safe and welcoming as possible.
We had lots of discussion on Friday about what we mean by “safer spaces” – you can read the notes we took [nearby on the walls] – but this discussion is ongoing…
The process of changing ourselves and our scenes involves reflecting, and recognising the ways in which our attitudes/actions sometimes affect others. The classism / racism / sexiam / ageism etc of the dominant culture is something we all need to dismantle and unlearn.
We need to be open to challenging ourselves, and each other, and changing our behaviour if it’s causing people to feel unsafe or making our spaces less inclusive than we’d like them to be.
A rough guide to what we mean by “safer space” creation – a few suggestions we thought we could try out here, and in the rest of our lives…
DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS about your audience. About individuals’ backgrounds, experiences, situations, life-choices, gender, sexuality, politics, diet, health, abilities, needs, beliefs…
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, don’t let you knee-jerk reactions rule.
LISTEN TO PEOPLE & LEARN, don’t dominate the space / conversation. Encourage everyone to voice their thoughts. Enjoy silence.
SPEAK UP & DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES – stifling your opinions in order to be polite / “nice” / safe isn’t always helpful. Especially if we’re trying to have honest, open dialogue.
BE AWARE OF YOUR PRIVILEGES AND POWER. Recognise that our society is inherently oppressive in many ways, and we are products of our society. Unless we recognise – and work on – the prejudices and privileges that we’ve inherited, we are part of the problem.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOU ACTIONS and how your behaviour / your speech affects other people.
CHALLENGE OPPRESSIVE BEHAVIOURS. We can all challenge fucked up behaviour when it occurs. It’s easier to do this when you know how other people around you think about the issue – so it’s worth talking about all this in advance and establishing clear, open guidelines and communicating them.
DEFENSIVENESS ISN’T CONSTRUCTIVE, neither is guilt. Try to really listen to what people are pointing out to you and take some time to reflect on that.
CLIQUEYNESS ISN’T HEALTHY. Make the effort to talk to more people, invite people to join your group or conversation, catch them up on what’s been discussed, explain slang & in-jokes if necessary.