Convergence Model

Conferences, convergences or camps are one of the most common usages of safer space policies.  Often they are necessary because they bring such large numbers of people together in relatively small places.  Safer space policies are often even more important where there is overnight or sleeping accommodations with the conference or convergence, as there were in many of the Occupations across the U.S.  Below are links to established safer space policies followed by some language that may be used to develop one’s own safer space policy for this type of event.

Camp Betty
Earth First! Round River Rendezvous 2013
IMF Resistance Network
Occupy Bristol
Occupy Columbus
Occupy Dame Street
Occupy London
Occupy Tampa
Occupy Wall Street’s Community Agreement
Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project
Sussex Occupation
Toronto G8/G20 Community Mobilization Network
Trans and Womyn’s Action Camp

The (…) safer space policy is intended to make this convergence a supportive, nonthreatening environment for all who attend.  We would like this space to be welcoming and engaging, and we encourage everyone to be proactive in creating an atmosphere where the safety of others is valued.  In this spirit, we are survivor centric and survivor oriented, and abuse, sexual assault, and discrimination will not be tolerated.

People who have perpetrated inter-personal violence, assault and/or harassment are not welcome at the this convergence, unless they are actively engaged in an accountability process and currently in compliance with all the terms and/or demands of that process (according to the facilitators, the survivor, and/or whomever’s been designated to monitor the agreements emerging from the process).

Everyone entering this space is asked to be aware of their language and behavior, and to think about whether it might be harmful to others. This is no space for violence, for touching people without their consent, for being intolerant of someone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, for being creepy, sleazy, racist, ageist, sexist, hetero-sexist, trans-phobic, able-bodiest, classist, sizist, or for using any other behavior or language that may perpetuate oppression.

Consent Policy

We strive to keep this place safe by following the simple guidelines of consent.  This includes asking, listening to, and respecting others; it does not include coercion, expectations, or assumptions.  Consent is not just the absence of a “no,” but the presence of a “yes.”  It is based on clear communication in an environment where people feel comfortable saying no and yes, and with full trust that their boundaries will be respected.  Consent is not only important in sexual situations but in all of our interactions.  All people entering this space are making an agreement to:

* Respect everyone’s physical and emotional boundaries.  Ask first before touching, and listen and change your behavior if someone tells you that you are making them uncomfortable.

* Get explicit consent on sleeping arrangements.  A crowded space or limited blankets is no excuse to put the moves on someone.  An invitation to sleep somewhere is not an invitation for sex.

* Respect the pronouns and names of everyone.  Do not assume anyone’s gender identity, sexual preference, survivor status, economic status, background, health, etc.

* Respect people’s opinions, beliefs, experiences and differing points of view.

* Be responsible for your own action. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be.

* Be aware of your prejudices and privileges.  Notice if only men are doing the talking, women are cleaning up, or you’re falling into any other fucked-up standard.

* Look out if there are kids and animals.  Try not to leave anything around that could endanger them or other adults.

* Respect the sobriety policy of the space.  If drugs, alcohol, and intoxicated individuals are not welcome, (or are only permitted at certain times), please uphold this decision.

* Remember that this is not a secure space.  Do not bring any illicit or banned materials into it.

* Respect the privacy guidelines of the space/event. Check with the event coordinators and other attendees before using cameras or recording devices.

* Respect the neighbors and the neighborhood.  Be aware of the community you are in, and check how your own privilege may affect the people around you.

* No law enforcement personnel are allowed into the space at any time.  If they come, do not let them in without a warrant.  Keep them outside the space, and do your best to make sure someone can help any non-documented people, people with warrants, underage, runaway or other cop-wary peoples exit through a back entrance quickly and surreptitiously.

There will be (#) on site mediators to help with any conflicts arising from the violation of these agreements.  The individuals staffing the convergence space are empowered to enforce these rules, and to make the final decision on anyone’s expulsion.  Given the short time frame and lack of available personnel we do not have the ability to carry out accountability processes of our own within this artificially constructed and temporary community of protesters.  Please note that any group or individual engaging in violence (including sexual violence and harassment) within this space will be asked to leave immediately.  When a decision needs to be made to give ‘benefit of the doubt’ to someone who has engaged in abusive behavior or to support to a survivor, the preference will be given to the survivor.

This policy is instated in recognition and rejection of rape culture as the status quo.  Rape culture is that in which sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are condoned, excused and even encouraged. Rape culture is part of a broader culture of violence, wherein people are socialized to inhabit different positions in hierarchical relationships, to commodify their fellow human beings, and to relate to each other through violence and coercion.  Rape culture is rooted in broader systems of oppression- such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia, and colonialism- and is not separable from them in how and why it is perpetrated, experienced, and dealt with.

Dealing with Conflict

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while you are here, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us. There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault (at … space/wearing …/noticeable in some other way). People staffing housing and other spaces, as well as medics and antiauthoritarian-minded legal observers should also be able to put you in contact with us.

We can offer you:

* Support, caring, and listening

* Advocacy on your behalf, including the removal of perpetrators of violence

* Emergency housing changes to quiet, safer space housing

* Transport to a rape crisis center

* Medical, herbal, and wellness (massage, acupressure, music therapy) resources

* Resources for further support and/or action

* Support to document sexual abuse by law enforcement

One thought on “Convergence Model

  1. Pingback: what are, and why support, ‘safer’ spaces | Coalition for Safer Spaces

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