In the past I’ve written about the difficulty of constructing safe(r) spaces in the context of an organization, discussion group, or other communal setting. I’m currently taking part in a community class on workshop design + facilitation where we’ve talked about the difficulties and tribulations of crafting ‘community agreements’ for the duration of a workshop or evan course.
The concerns, at least in the group of people I’ve talked with, differ for a community space or discussion, a place of attempted refugee, from that of a learning space where the goal is inpart or facilitate new understandings and knowledges from the group people. The view is that people have to be pushed, sometimes and some people, to parse new information such as anti-oppressive principles or thought.
In thinking about the different concerns fellow students had for a workshop space agreement I began to wonder how to distinguish the different goals of a community space. My initial distinction, as in the title, was as learning space and safe space. These words reveal my own tension with the idea that learning spaces can’t be safer spaces, or at least, that safer learning spaces are distinct from safer spaces of refugee Of course, who a refugee is for and who is taking shelter vary greatly and can be lost at any moment. However in these spaces of shelter is there not also learning, even if of a less goal oriented kind? Thus, I know I need to seek different words for these nuances. Although must harsh or challenging spaces be encouraged in order for everyone in the space to learn, even at the cost of hurting others? Is this part of learning how to have accountable community? Continue reading
In a course I took over the past term, we spent much time problematizing notions of diversity, particularly diversity within the academy and in canadian multiculturalism as assisted by Ahmed’s On Being Included Coming out of the course, I took home a few key points(amongst many) on the word: 1) Diversity is a veiled way to reference tokenistic inclusion of different bodies, particularly those of varying race, 2) the use of diversity as a de-political, less radical way to fight oppression (tolerance, not acceptance or change), and 3)diversity still frames the white, able, cis, straight, english speaking, thin, male (etc) body as the normal, difference from this (particularly along racial lines) is the creation of diversity in an institution, in an organization, or workplace. Within this brief summary, there is much to analyze and discuss (can the term diversity be used radically?), but I want to hone in briefly on a an experience and discussion I had. Continue reading
In the queer group I’m involved with we recently revised our safer space guidelines and community agreements.
One of the guidelines originally was provide a name/pseudonym and preferred pronouns, and the new guideline is a name and preferred pronoun set.
We wanted to encourage naming of the actual pronoun(s) instead of masculine/feminine/gender-neutral as adjectives ascribed to specific sets (i.e. feminine is she, masculine is he etc). This was not without some conflict and confusion.
For some folks, their him is very firmly masculine to the point of being unable to deccouple the pronoun from the gender expression. Continue reading