2018 Summer Rondy
Anti Oppression and Consent Policy (Inspired by our friends in TWAC)In order to foster this kind of temporary community space, people must respect others and actively look out for the wellbeing of all those attending this camp. Participants have different communication styles, personalities and opinions, and come from diverse gender, racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Supporting members of our community who experience economic/political/social inequity is one of our goals. This is why we define safe(r) space as a space that is encouraging for people who have been made uncomfortable at other events due to racism, sexism, physical and sexual assault, etc. Most people have been on the “wrong” side of at least one type of power imbalance. This shouldn’t be about rooting out the baddies, but simply about improving our ability to work together productively.
Consent is essential to Safe(r) Space. Consent is two (or more) people deciding together to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way with each other- whether it’s physical, verbal, or sexual. It is the presence of a “yes”, not the absence of a “no.” For the duration of the Summer Rondy, consent is defined as a clearly asked question followed by a clearly stated “yes.”
Tips for Creating Safe(r) Space at the Rondy
1. Respect your own physical, mental and emotional boundaries.
– Stay attuned to your own needs
– Feel free to leave workshops at any time, for any reason
– If something doesn’t feel right to you, please speak up. You may not be the only one who feels that way.
-If you don’t want to talk or answer a question, say so. Don’t wait for someone to “get the hint.” Try to vocalize what you need.
– Be assertive if possible. Speak to the person you have a concern with and be direct. If you need help negotiating a situation, find a Conflict Support Team member to assist you.
- Respect others’ physical, mental and emotional boundaries.
– Always ask for explicit verbal consent before engaging or touching someone. Never assume consent, especially if drug/alcohol use is involved. Highly intoxicated people are always considered non-consenting.
– Don’t assume the race, sexuality, gender, history with violence etc. of others. Instead, ask if someone is open to engaging in dialogue about identity. Be respectful if someone is unwilling to have the conversation. If you feel the conversation is critical you can always ask to schedule it for another time or ask to have the conversation mediated, but please don’t force people to engage.
– This Camp is a place where everyone should feel empowered to define their own gender to others. If at all possible, find out what pronouns people prefer or use neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘zie’. It is also important to separate terms for people’s’ genitals from their gender. We’re born with our genitals but we get to choose our genders. If you screw up, correct yourself.
- The Rondy is a cooperative learning environment
– We are all here to learn, and we all have something to offer
– Clarifying questions are encouraged
– Respect diverse opinions, beliefs, and points of view. Share ideas rather than judgments. Use ‘I’ statements as much as possible to state your reactions or your experiences.
– There is no such thing as totally Safe Space. In attending the Summer Rondy you are taking a risk in order to learn. You may find yourself outside your comfort zone.
– Assume positive intent.
– Everyone (including you) will make unintentional mistakes.
– Be aware of the effects your behavior has on others and accept responsibility for it.
– Expect to be confronted by others if you make a mistake, make efforts to step back, listen and learn from those with different experiences from your own.
Creating Safe(r) Space requires active community feedback. Gathering feedback and putting it into action allows us to continue to improve as Safe(r) Space providers. Please feel free to talk with Appalachia Resist! organizers about anything concerning Safe(r) Space.
Cultural appropriation is not ok at this camp or elsewhere. There are too many examples of cultural appropriation to mention and put into context here. If you are engaged in a conversation (or rant) about a “style” or practice, please do your best to listen carefully and consider responding positively.
Notes on indigenous solidarity and decolonization:
Native American is not a style. Many of the clothes, jewelry and especially feathers that native people wear have cultural significance. It is not appropriate to use or wear/carry items of cultural significance without permission, or as a style. When in doubt, do research to find out what it means and if it would be inappropriate to wear/carry such a thing.
Native people were outlawed from having their ceremonies and spirituality in the US until 1978. Conducting or mimicking of native ceremonies by settlers is not respectful. On the contrary, it is deeply painful for those who have fought for their right to be indigenous and have indigenous communities, with the religious freedoms supposedly afforded by the Constitution. On top of that, due to colonization, and cultural assimilation, many indigenous youth are not raised with access to their traditional teachings. To this day, native languages are at risk, lacking enough fluent speakers to carry them on. In spite of this history, these languages are still spoken, these ceremonies are still practiced, and native people still fight for justice, land, air, and water. Out of respect for these realities, we insist that settler folk not pretend at native spirituality at this camp, and discourage settlers in general from initiating themselves into native ceremonies, or engaging in native spirituality without freely offered native leadership.
AR!’s Anti-Colonial Stance
In Appalachia Resist! we recognize that the struggle for justice is fought on many fronts, and that in our fight against fracking and associated infrastructure in SE Ohio we must stand in practical solidarity with all struggles for justice. With that in mind we want to approach the Earth First! Summer Rondy with an anti-colonial stance.
Here in present day so called Southeast Ohio, we are situated on territory that at the time of colonial contact was shared territory between the Seneca, the Shawnee, and Tsalagi, among others. The best research I can find indicates that Appalachian Ohio, between the Muskingum and Hocking Rivers was shared hunting territory, and that near present day Portsmouth, was a salt spring shared as a necessary aspect of food preservation. Keep in mind that this is a chaotic snapshot of the history of this region, and that the effects of colonization and the theft of land, home and freedom involved in the establishment of the first 13 colonies had sent refugees from those lands streaming west, south and north, seeking a new home, and carrying with them new diseases from the Europeans. The upheavals of colonization moved ahead of the colonizers. Things were pretty shook up, when those indigenous to this territory first encountered European colonists. Due to this, and the fact that the histories I have access to about this territory were written by colonizers, this is the best approximation I can come up with as to whose territory this is.
In 1795, following decades of battles between the indigenous people of this territory, and the US, the Treaty of Greenville was signed by representatives of the Miami, Chippewa, Ottawa, Wyandot, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Delaware, Wea, Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia, and Eel River tribes, under duress, and threat of annihilation. The treaty was for peace, for which the US required the cession of land from the tribes. The treaty of Greenville ceded most of present day Ohio to the US, along with the areas now known as Detroit, and Chicago, and other strategic ports and trading posts. Under the Treaty present day Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, along with part of Minnesota was said to be “Indian Lands”, forever. In Article 6 of the Treaty it is stated:
“If any citizen of the United States, or any other white person or persons, shall presume to settle upon the lands now relinquished by the United States, such citizen or other person shall be out of the protection of the United States; and the Indian tribe, on whose land the settlement shall be made, may drive off the settler, or punish him in such manner as they shall think fit; and because such settlements, made without the consent of the United States, will be injurious to them as well as to the Indians, the United States shall be at liberty to break them up, and remove and punish the settlers as they shall think proper, and so effect that protection of the Indian lands herein before stipulated.”
It is widely noted and agreed upon that the tribes upheld their end of the treaty, and that settlement continued to move into Indian Territory, with no meaningful response from the US. Thus was the Treaty of Greenville broken, and the westward expansion of colonization continued.
It is clear that the United States never had any intention of upholding Article 6 of this treaty. It is clear that the US expected settlers to move ever onward into designated Indian lands. It is clear that settlers had the tacit approval of the US to force out Indigenous communities until military action was again “justified”. This is the role of white settlers in a colonizer state. To take up land, water, resources, and to cry for help from the state power whenever the indigenous fight back. Their role is to claim ignorance as they take, to feign innocence when called to account for their crimes, and at every step to feel entitled to more.
I cannot document here all the devastation caused by colonization, but the colonization of what is now called the United States of America was done through forced relocation, disease, war, massacre, attacking and outlawing native spirituality, and finally breaking up families, through boarding schools, which looked more like kidnapping, neglect and abuse.
No federally recognized tribe holds sovereign land in the state of Ohio.
This is all history. We can’t change what has happened here. Guilt does no one any good.
This is Now. The US Government continues to deny Tribal sovereignty, Indian Boarding schools still exist because enough schools have not been furnished, the US has broken and continues to break treaty after treaty, reservations and sacred sites are treated as sacrifice zones for resource extraction and transportation, and the disenfranchisement of native peoples across the US continues. We can change this. Settlers don’t have to be accomplices and bystanders to the predatory colonial state. It’s time that settlers become accomplices to the people who are of these lands, to the people who, against the most powerful nation in the world, have maintained their resistance to genocide and cultural assimilation.
For too long the settler environmental movement has reached out to indigenous people only when it suits them, used them as a strategy to save land for the american public. Public lands are stolen lands. The treaties that underpin the legitimacy of the US have been broken by the US. The covenant between the US and the “public” over public land has been violated. The US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management have no legitimate right to these lands. Let’s continue to stand together, indigenous and settler, and fight for the land. And let’s call it what it is, stolen land, occupied by a government whose claim to the land is based on lies, treachery and genocide.
Native peoples are on the front lines of environmental fights all over the world, not just Standing Rock. There are too many such fights to list here. Do some research, and get inspired.
Conflict at the Rondy and in our Lives
Conflict is inevitable and necessary for growth and change. In the dominant culture, conflict is most often dealt with through coercion or avoidance. Neither of these allows us to harvest the wisdom or change brought by that conflict. Both coercion and avoidance leave power structures left untouched, and pain unseen. Many of us who have come to the EF! Rendezvous want to co-create a world where humans can have respectful relationships with each other, the earth, and all of life. That’s pretty different from what we have now in the industrial-techno-capitalist nightmare, and may require doing things differently than in mainstream society, including how we face our conflicts.
Conflict at Rondies and in movements in general can be especially volatile and painful. Some reasons for that include our deep desire for our movements to be a respite from dominant culture and our ultimate disappointment when the same racist/classist/sexist/etc systemic crap happens. It may also be that many of us have disaster fatigue and deep sadness from watching the earth be destroyed despite our efforts, and little tolerance for further harm and conflict from each other. Or, perhaps we unintentionally re-create dominant culture conflict responses, and the shitty results test our faith that something besides the capitalist shitshow is even possible. Whatever the reasons, many of us have deep anger, sorrow, apathy, guilt, and other painful experiences resulting from conflict and harm in our movements.
There is a team to support people in conflict at the Rondy.
Conflict Support Team
The Conflict Support Team is a group of humans with varying levels of training and experience working with conflict, group process, and individual support and healing. We are offering to support individuals and groups who experience conflict at the Rondy. This support will only be done with consent from those participating, including any agreements or needs around confidentiality.
We are offering, within our capacity:
-To facilitate difficult conversations amongst a group
-To mediate conversations amongst 2 people in conflict
-When needed, to use an array of tools and processes to create space to support making underlying dynamics and issues visible
-To talk with folks individually to support them during conflict, either with the goal of the person feeling empowered to engage on their own, or to decide to utilize further conflict support
-To come up with response strategies specific to individual situations
As a team, we are NOT offering (though as individuals, some of us may be willing and/or able):
-To begin an accountability process
-To do security-related tasks, like removing people from the gathering, asking people to leave, or being police liaisons
-To do long-term conflict support for the movement
A word about capacity: We only have so much energy, time, space, and personal resources to offer support when needed. Ideally our capacity will be enough to meet the needs of the group. In the event that the workload exceeds our resources, we hope that friends and comrades can hold one another with compassion and care as they face the often-painful challenge of having unmet needs in a conflict. We intend to be transparent about what we consider when we decide if we have the capacity to offer support.
How to initiate support:
1)Check in with yourself first.
Is this an issue that needs to be addressed for your own or the community’s well-being, or is it just a moment’s irritation? Do you need the voice of the person you’re having difficulty with to address it, or can you look within yourself to feel settled about the situation? Is this triggering feelings from your past or from an unrelated situation in your life? In what ways do you have agency or choice?
2) Check in with the other person next.
If your conflict involves another person, or people, have you addressed it directly with them? Are you ready to talk to them in a way that permits both of you to be heard, or are you feeling charged in a way that might affect your ability to hold space for someone else? Are you needing to focus your care toward yourself? Consider seeking support from a friend or conflict support team member if you are unsure if you are ready to engage on your own.
3) Check in with your close friends and comrades.
Is there a friend with whom you can discuss the conflict to give you some additional perspective? Do you just need to vent, or are you open to hearing that you might have contributed to the situation in some way? If you know where you are at, communicating that information can help someone support you. Please consider that talking widely about a conflict can cause the conflict to unfold in unpredictable ways, and we encourage intention and self-awareness when you choose to seek support from those close to you.
4) Invite in a conflict support team member.
Here at the 2018 EF! Rendezvous, there is a team of people who are here to support those in conflict. If after checking in with yourself, and/or a close friend, ally, or the other people/person you are in conflict with, you would like additional support, please consider using this resource. You can also talk with a conflict support team member if you just want some support around how to engage on your own. Look for us near the fight tarp!
Questions you may have;
Do you think systemic oppression plays a role in how you give support?
Yes. As long as we are within or recovering from systems that rely on oppression to function, oppression will be intertwined with our lives. Every time this comes up, the situation contains a gift to help us to collectively transform systems that are harmful and oppressive. The Conflict Support Team members all have a lot of awareness of systemic oppression, but even the most conscious people need to be supported and challenged to grow and do their best in this regard.
Power is an important part of conflict, and systemic oppression like racism, ableism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, trans-misogyny, informal social power, and more are often at play during conflict. We imagine this will come up, and we intend to do our best to engage with it and seek support when needed.
Sometimes when people in support roles are almost at or beyond capacity, they fall back on dominant-culture norms, because it can be familiar and easy. That can look like prioritizing support for people with more relative power, like those who experience white privelege, or have more social capital, etc. That is very problematic because it unintentionally reinforces systemic oppression and formal or informal power structures, and that means that transformation of conflict is very unlikely and the same people will be marginalized again and again. As a team, we aim to support one another in having awareness of these patterns, and coming up with solutions to respond differently. That includes doing our best to see that the team itself has the support and resources to act responsibly.
How can I tell if I need outside support or not?
Ultimately, you must decide if you want to ask for support. Here are some questions that may help guide you, but they also may not. Listen deeply to yourself.
Do you feel charged? Can you easily think of things that the person or group with whom you are in conflict could say or do that would be very activating or triggering for you? Are you concerned that something big is at stake for you if the conversation doesn’t go a specific way? Do you feel clear about the other person’s motives even if they didn’t personally tell you? Are you concerned about the other person or peoples’ reactions to the extent that you might not be able to share your whole truth? Do you tend to avoid and appease in order to “keep the peace”? Do you have a history of social power or social prominence that might make it less likely for someone to feel safe being honest with you?
A yes to any of those may indicate that support can be helpful. During conflicts, answering yes to one or more of those questions is quite common and hopefully we can be helpful. During conflicts, answering yes to one or more of those questions is quite common and hopefully we can create a culture that doesn’t shame us for it.
What training do y’all have? What practices are you going to use if I ask for support?
We all have different training and experience including but not limited to; mediation, Restorative Circles, rape crisis advocacy, Transformative mediation, consensus, Convergent Facilitation, peace-making circles, community conferencing, Co-Counseling, Non-Violent Communication, empathic listening, radical witnessing, constellations, trauma-aware conflict engagement, and more. The practices or tools we use will be determined by your needs, our needs, and our collective willingness and resources.
This protocol and information was written by Marz Zaineb Goetia and edited and contributed to by the 2016 RRR Conflict Support Team. The How to Initiate Support steps were inspired by the Free Cascadia Witchcamp 2014 conflict protocol. The credits for that document are; rain crowe and Prince Dmitri, from their work with the Applegate Winter Forestry camp, and additionally from JP Hartsong from the Nomenus Wolf Creek Sanctuary’s conflict engagement approach, and edits by FCWC by the Wellness Working Group 2014.