[hackerspaces] Safe Space Policies?

Lokkju Brennr lokkju at gmail.com
Tue Jan 28 00:34:55 CET 2014

I've dealt with the issue both at HacDC, and at BrainSilo.

BrainSilo, which I founded back in 2010, was created with the express
intent of being radically inclusive through radical tolerance - aka, say
what you want, and have really thick skin.  This has definitely caused some
people to not want to be associated with the space; it's also locally
driven the start of an expressly feminist hackerspace - which though I
disagree with the concept of, I'm happy to have for those who want it.
 We've never had someone suggest a SSP at BrainSilo, and I don't expect it
to happen - if someone is annoying you, tell them, suck it up, annoy them
back, or ask for the members to censure the problem individual.

While living in DC last year, I was involved in the HacDC Anti-Harassment
policy fiasco - some might say I helped cause it, as I was a primary
objector to the initial draft.  An AHP was proposed with almost no
discussion, and *lots* of problems in it's wording - one of those
exceptionally badly wirtten and subjective ones that are prone to abuse.  A
few people objected on the members mailing list (which was the proper forum
for discussion of proposals), and a the ensuing thread had a massive amount
of triggers in it, causing some other members to claim they were being
harassed just by virtue of the discussion taking place.  This led to a
member of staff taking unilateral action to silence the discussion, and you
can probably imagine how well that went over - essentially, it was a comedy
of errors that wasn't funny at all; eventually, the proposal was voted in
after modifications.

As you've already got your SPP through, congratulations - especially since
it seems a majority of your members either approved of it, didn't care
about it, or didn't understand it.  For others who are considering putting
in either a AHP or SSP, I strongly suggest taking it slow; having
conversations about it take place in a dedicated forum/mailing list that
people have to opt-in for; having trigger warnings everywhere; and having
some people with *really* thick skin acting as moderators.

~ Loki // BrainSilo.org

Just as a nit-picky note, it's normally considered exceedingly reasonable
for a members to ask for the exact resolution/policy to be read before the
vote.  This is referred to as "Stating the Question" and/or "Putting the
Question" in the parlance of RROR, depending on the stage of the
proceedings at which it is done.  While electronic distribution and
discussion of proposals before a vote is wonderful, it's all to easy for
"small things" to get changed between the version that is sent out, and the
version that is adopted/voted on; reading the exact statement/policy that
is to be voted on helps prevent this.

As a further nit-pick, almost by definition a "Safe Space Policy" promotes
and enforces what I'd term inequality; it artificially empowers those who
are willing to appear vulnerable/disadvantaged/non-privileged.  If your
goal, as you state, is founded on a base of equality, perhaps your
definition of equality differs greatly from mine.  I'm curious - when you
say equality, do you mean "affirmative equality"; or do you mean
"blind/neutral equality"?

RROR: http://www.robertsrules.org/rror-01.htm - see (6) and (9)

On Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM, Brendan Halliday <wodann at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thank you to everyone who has contributed constructively to this thread to
> provide your experiences with Safe Space Policies. Especially those who
> gave helpful suggestions on how to make sure the culture of the space
> matches its goals closely. (Mine is founded on a base of equality under the
> hackerspace's roof, and a Safe Space Policy helps to demonstrate and
> enforce that. Yours may not be so YMMV. :))
> Just for future context, only one member out of the 20 at the meeting
> voted against it and that's because he was upset that the group wouldn't
> let him read the policy then and there - we expect people to read and
> understand agenda items before the meeting and provide digital versions a
> week beforehand and printouts on the day.
> It's interesting also to notice the amount of white (I'm going to assume
> cis male) men on this mailing list dictating there is not a problem with a
> 'hackerspaces' culture, when there's many examples of how many problems
> there are with very closely related events and groups regularily in the
> news and on this mailing list. (I hate to pick on Noisebridge but they're a
> very prime example.)
> Again, thank you to the constructive, helpful repliers. I hope the rest
> can eventually hack their attitude to be the former!
> On Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 5:23 AM, Cecilia Tanaka <cecilia.tanaka at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Dear Michel,
>> I hear that. And I understand.
>> I just don't care.
>> Hugs from Brazil!
>> (Sorry, I am too far to participate in your hackerspace, Mark! :-)
>> Ceci
>> On Jan 27, 2014 4:07 PM, "Michel Gallant" <sfxman at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> You hear that, women? You can participate, but you have to do what this
>>> man says first.
>>> On Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 1:06 AM, Mark Janssen <dreamingforward at gmail.com
>>> > wrote:
>>>> Okay foo(l)s.  Here's the thing.  The hackerspace meme and world has
>>>> not "matured" sufficiently to be handling ideologies.  Everyone just
>>>> back the f*k off, so that these good people can get things done and
>>>> end the banter that they don't have the means to control.
>>>> I strongly suggest, no more questions regarding policy-making,
>>>> policies, governance, funding, and such until the meme comes back
>>>> together.  Women you're more than welcome to participate, please just
>>>> come over here first.
>>>> markj
>>>> _______________________________________________
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