Checklist for making safe space

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"A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person's self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others." - Advocates for Youth

Digital: easy to walk away online. Or to push your own agenda.
there are established patterns already: spaces that use conflict resolution, guidelines, codes
what would be more useful for us now?

after making many many postit notes about safe spaces, we organized and found three main themes:

  1. Making safe space
  2. acting/being in safe space
  3. when things go wrong

talking through these, we began making a list of questions for organizers and participants to ask, framing as questions for consideration (awareness) rather than a checklist

Making Safe Space

When intentionally creating safe space, you should be able to explicitly answer the following questions. This will help you create and hold safe space.

  1. Who is this space for?
  2. How will they find it (if you want to be found)? engineering for serendipity is hard. Advocacy/permeability, etc.
  3. How long does it last? Not only resolving current concerns, but also altering the main space to prevent future similar issues
  4. What are the expectations of this space, and how do people indicate their commitment to adhering to those expectations? (see also: Codes of Conduct)
  5. What is "safety" in the context of this space?
  6. Who is or is not represented in your group? (Is this intentional or not?)
  7. What aspects of this space are negotiable or not?
  8. Has everyone that is included chosen to be included?
  9. How does someone enter/exit this safe space? If someone "gets it" after messing up, can they rejoin? How do we prevent cliques in that?
  10. How does the creation of this space impact the safety of those outside it?
  11. Setting access controls. Exhibiting commitment or understanding of a cause - also used by gangs and violence, so consider carefully.
  12. What cultural context is in play?

Acting/Being In

  1. What kinds of work do I need to do with myself to participate?
  2. By what channels does communication happen?
  3. How do you communicate experiences within this spaces?
  4. How do you raise qeustions about the process?
  5. What behaviors are useful within this space?
  6. What kinds of disagreement/debate are constructive within this space?
  7. How do you signal what kind of communication you want?
  8. What kinds of failure modes are the channels of this space likely to fall into (both intentional and unintentional)?

Questions to ask during breakdowns?

  1. what is the response if a member feels unsafe?
  2. what are the options/opportunities for support?
  3. what are the options/opportunities for existing the space?
  4. are there specific threats to the safety of this space?

(From the other room, discussion of breakdowns and specific what/how... Toxic individuals, for example.) individuals harming the community... fold into the above, especially in "during breakdowns" section: Physical Spaces influcenced by Internets

Additional resources

What does safe really look like in a digital age?