[hackerspaces] Safe Space Policies?

Steven Sutton ssutton4455 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 26 23:02:35 CET 2014

To add to what Alan said, we also try to think carefully and inform
ourselves about how to approach these kinds of conversations -

Jonathan Haidt is a Moral Psychologist who has a really good book about
bridging divides between different social groups. It focuses on how we can
think about developing *individuals* in organizations/communities by
developing *individual, unique strengths/opportunities*, but we can better
develop diverse *organizations/communities* by emphasizing *similarity and
common ground*. In other words, he invested a lot of time in researching
how members of social groups think about their own group, other groups, and
their interaction. This also means that having a clear mission/direction
that we're all working towards make it easier for us all to feel like we're
on the same team.

Despite some of the strange tangents and the first half of the book
pivoting on liberal/conservative differences, it still totally changed my
perspective about our space and also about how I communicate about
diversity and personal development.

It also offers a lot of good insight on how to keep these kinds of
conversations focused and positive. Sometimes they can get totally
off-track if people get defensive or over-focus on details instead of
seeking common ground and working from there.


Steven Sutton
President, Freeside Atlanta

On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 8:57 AM, Alan Fay <emptyset at freesideatlanta.org>wrote:

> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 7:31 AM, Brendan Halliday <wodann at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Thoughts/experiences please?
> Freeside has an anti-harassment policy that was not without some
> controversy:
> https://wiki.freesideatlanta.org/fs/Policy_AntiHarassment
> I based it off the sample conference anti-harassment policy on the Geek
> Feminism Wiki:
> http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment/Policy
> There were a few key things that got our members to understand and accept
> the policy.  The first is that our leadership spent a good six months
> correcting any harassing behavior we heard about, in some cases certain
> repeat offender members left, and we made it a point to take lead during
> our Tuesday night open house presenting the leadership as not tolerating
> harassment.  The second is that due to this work, we were able to increase
> our female membership, and so we had women on our member mailing list that
> were able to explain, defend, and augment the leadership position.  Third,
> we approached the subject of having an anti-harassment policy in the
> context of one day growing our space to 150 members, and that diversity was
> valued, and the whole point is to be exposed to different points of view
> and facilitate learning from each other, so when our members bought into
> that vision, an anti-harassment policy makes more sense.
> After all that, we introduced the policy, and the controversy was minimal.
>  We created the environment for acceptance first.
> My advice would be, if your goal is a respectful, diverse hackerspace that
> attracts women and minorities to become members and contribute, then
> cultivate that environment first.  A policy is not going to magically
> create it for you.  This is critical, too: leadership MUST set an example
> in this area.  Be respectful of ALL your members, online and offline - I
> would even go so far as to say as a leader, don't argue with any member on
> a mailing list.  Talk to your members in person.
> Finally, you have to maintain the policy.  Enforce it, warn members, and
> also carefully screen people that seek membership.  We've put the brakes on
> a couple of people that were clearly never going to respect women, and
> shown them the door.
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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