Conflict Resolution - Diversity, Safer Space, and Individuals trying to volunteer

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Conflict Resolutions - Diversity, Safer Space, and Individuals trying to Volunteer

Thank you for coming, this workshop is meant to explore the idea that as we grow and diversify, our understanding of our agreements such as a safer space, or mission statement, also diversify. How do we navigate this change? How do we ensure that we're all on the same page, that we're all here for the same cause, and understand how to try to hold a safer space.

I also want to examine the question, who might we be excluding with our definition of safer space.

My name is Momoko, I volunteer at a collective called Bike Farm in portland Oregon. I use she and her pronouns. There's a lot of people here, so I'm not going to ask you all to say your name, but I will ask for volunteers in a moment, if you speak, please say your name and where you come from. If you feel comfortable telling us your pronouns, please do.


How many of your collectives have been around 10 years or longer, 5? 2? less than 2? A very mixed group, a little from every time line, about 25 attendees.

How many have a mission statement? about 80% had one

How many have a safer space agreement? about 40%

What’s a Safer Space? A safer space is the idea that we can create a place where traditionally marginalized groups are safe from the prosecutions they experience in the world. T he agreement is a statement of the ideals we hold collectively, and how we intend to hold that space. Bike Farm's safer Space reads: "Bike Farm is a cooperative space that is accepting and inclusive of every race, economic class, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, etc." And you saw an example of a safer space from the introduction meeting for BikeBike!


Please think of a conflict that has happened at your shop. If you have a safer space, did it help resolve the conflict? If you don't have one, would a safer space had helped?

Are there any volunteers who would like to speak?

Erika - she’s hoping to develop a safer space agreement, they have been working on it for years, but they haven’t been able to nail anything down. Paul - he’s collective has a safer space, but over the years, it’s harder and harder to uphold. It seems like an issue of people not remembering, or not being engaged. Kyle - You can put it more in their face by putting it on the wall, he finds this works with some of the more basic agreements like, don’t be drunk, and don’t say racist things. He has also experienced the difficultly of upholding their safer space agreement. Asha - // I can’t remember what she said, I’m sorry Jeremy - he talked about adding a clause on the computer sign in to initial that you agree to uphold the safer space agreement. He also wonder if having a w&t night is effective. Lauren - she talked about a lot of good stuff,


Let’s divide into two groups: There seems to be two groups, there’s step one, creating a safer space agreement, and step two, keeping on the same page about it. Step one is really important, because it’s like setting a rock down in an immense ocean, once we can agree that we want to have a safer space, and we can collectively agree on what words describe that space. And step two is inevitable, because once we set that rock down in the ocean, we all start to look at it from different angles, and what one person sees as the safer space agreement, someone else might see from a completely different point of view.

Group 1: Building a Safer Space Agreement safer space agreements are super important!

Does it have to be documented or written down? No, not necessarily, but it helps. We often start collectives with a loose social agreement that is understood among friends. People who not only speak the same language, but also, the same social language. While it’s easy when we’re a small group who know each other to say, “don’t be an asshole” and we all understand what that means. As we grow and diversify, we loose that social language. If we have it written down, it’s easier to point to.

But it’s more than just writing it down, you have to teach what the words mean too.

Is it better to write something together from scratch or just borrow someone else’s?

It’s my (Momoko’s) belief that it’s easier to start with someone else's safer space agreement. Or start with something super basic and true. Then as you discuss it more, people ask questions, or you see that something isn’t very clear, so you can modify it. Having a blank page is daunting.

We went around and read the bikebike safer space agreement, and picked out our favorite lines, and said why.

I like how it’s positive, there’s nothing saying you’re bad for not doing this. I like how is says we’re all responsible, it makes me feel less stressed like I don’t have to uphold this all by my self, I like how it’s simple and positive. I like how it talks about inclusive learning spaces. Sometimes I think the language of these agreements are elitist and classist. That’s very true, when crafting your safer space agreement you have to be very aware of the language you use. It should be simple and easy to read and understand. Write it in multiple languages! Draw it in pictures! When teaching it, act out examples.

How do you get people to be on board with the idea of a safer space agreement? Generally, if you can start with something very positive and fairly universally agreed on, it helps.


In Espanol, when we try to create language that is inclusive, people say that it’s changing tradition. We get a lot of push back about not having sexist language. We get a lot of push back generally about seeing something as sexist. How do we convince them that we need to change?

Try to get allies, people who agree with you and want to see the changes you are hoping for. Speak from your experiences. Have them come to BikeBike and attend a workshop about safer spaces! Act out skits and tell stories.

Sometimes it’s so hard, you feel like you’re constantly fighting. How do you keep trying?

That sucks, I’m sorry. It is hard. You are trying to change a society. It’s a difficult thing to do. But you can make friends, come to bikebike and talk with people who don’t think you’re crazy. You can just try to find allies.

Do you guys have a list of resources for creating safer spaces and safer space agreements?

Let’s work on this!!!

Second Group: Changing Definitions of Safer Space

Mostly people posed quandaries from their experience (many of which are shared) and commiserated over their seeming intractability. Collectives with conflicts caused by ways that folks from historically marginalized communities can contribute to each others' oppression.

Example(s): Gender non-conforming shop employee reacting aggressively(/oppressively?) toward poor shop users of color who don't have a vocabulary or analysis (/ can be insensitive and cruel depending on your perspective). 13-year old boy tugging a woman organizer's pit hair and asking why she doesn't shave. she asked if he shaves his pit hair. he says he doesn’t have any.

Solution? "shop's closed" approach ~ sometimes when you come to the shop the door is locked & the lights are off. If you aren't WTF, that's the case "broken record" approach - did you know that this shop is just for___? -if yes and I am___, then welcome -if yes but I am not ___, then here's a flyer with our hours if no, then explain & maybe welcome or here's flyer if "huh?" then here's flyer