Safety Guidelines for Pacific NW Social Forum

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Portland, OR – Prior to hosting the first ever Pacific Northwest Social Forum in Portland the United States Social Forum planning committee made up of anchor organizations including Community to Community, Right to Survive, Move to Amend, and Hip Hop Congress met for bi-weekly conference calls and at two of the four preceding People’s Movement Assemblies to discuss the Pacific Northwest Social Forum.

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This was not the first time that the anchor organziations had attempted to host a regional social forum. Before the first US Social Forum in Atlanta, Georgia there was an effort to host a Pacific Northwest Social Forum, but the organizers decided that it would be better to wait to build stronger community support. Two US Social Forums later and on the eve of a third poli-centric US Social Forum to take place simultaneously in Jackson, Philadelphia and San Jose the first official Pacific Northwest Social Forum is taking place in Portland, Oregon.

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This democratic process would not be possible without the difficult work of setting safety guidelines and community ground rules against oppression.

These guidelines, which came out of a democratic process within the Pacific Northwest Social Forum organizing committee are a first attempt at self-governance to ensure plans, events and social movements are based in solidarity against oppressions and listening deeply to one another to build authentic relationships.

The guidelines adopted for the 2014 Pacific Northwest Social Forum are:

  1. We will provide gender neutral bathrooms
  2. We will provide free, safe childcare so that parents and guardians can participate and their children have a really great day.
  3. We will all start from the historical understanding that the system of white male supremacy based in class control and exploitation is a root cause of all oppressions. All cultures, groups, systems and institutions are negatively impacted, and many are devastated by this exploitative system. Real social, climate & class justice cannot exist until these systems, in all of their manifestations, are eradicated. Accordingly, we pledge to interact in a manner that acknowledges the existence of white male supremacy and that moves us towards its elimination.
  4. We acknowledge that we are all in different places in our understanding of racism, classism, and other forms of oppressions. Therefore, we agree to listen to folks who are impacted by oppression. We will continue to work hard to eliminate our own oppressive beliefs and behaviors, and we will be loving when challenging the beliefs and behaviors of others.
  5. We will agree that while everyone is doing amazing work with the intention of moving toward more just systems, we must work together to build a unified platform, which will support our work all together. This means that we will think about the impact of our actions, our work, choices and tactics on the lives and communities of others and especially those who are still most targeted. We will work hard to be aware of impact over intention and not place our agendas ahead of the awareness and intersectionality and the need to end all oppressions.
  6. One person talks and everyone listens. Please do not interrupt the person speaking or interject comments.
  7. Keep a person’s information confidential if asked to.
  8. Raise your hand and wait to be recognized by the facilitator. The facilitator will keep a “stack” (a list of folks who would like to speak). The facilitator can ask for help in keeping the stack.
  9. Say what you need to say without humiliating anyone.
  10. Use “I” statements and be non-judgemental.
  11. Check out assumptions. Ask for clarification.
  12. Step up – find your voice.
  13. Step back – make room for all to have a say. The facilitator may not call on people in the stack in the order that they raised their hands. They may bump those who have not spoken as much to the front of the stack.
  14. Everyone is responsible to make sure that these meeting agreements are followed. If you feel a meeting agreement is not being followed, please ask the facilitator for a process check to discuss with the group how to keep the meeting as safe and fair as possible. Please do so without humiliating individuals. Ex. “I feel we are not following the meeting guideline of listening without interrupting and I ask us to recommit to that so that we can hear each other” versus “(name of person) won’t stop interrupting.”

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