We ask that conference attendees use the following agreements as ground rules throughout the season of Institute in both online and in-person spaces. These are offered as tools for participants to hold themselves and each other accountable as we engage in a respectful and challenging educational process.
One Diva, One Mic
Please, in both large and small groups, one person speaks at a time. It can also be useful to ask people to leave space between speakers, for those who need more time to process words or are less comfortable fighting for airtime in a conversation.
No One Knows Everything; Together We Know A Lot
This means we all get to practice being humble because we have something to learn from everyone in the room. It also means we all have a responsibility to share what we know, as well as our questions, so that others may learn from us.
Move Up, Move Up
If you’re someone who tends to not speak a lot, please move up into a role of speaking more. If you tend to speak a lot, please move up into a role of listening more. Listening is often seen as a passive skillset and is often less valued - when you choose to prioritize your listening skills, you help the whole group. This is a twist on the on the more commonly heard “step up, step back.” The “up/up” confirms that in both experiences, growth is happening. (You don’t go “back” by learning to be a better listener.) Saying “move” instead of “step” recognizes that not everyone can step.
Recognize Intent But Prioritize Addressing Impact
We recognize people’s best intentions when unintentionally causing harm. The impact of someone's actions may not have been intended but nonetheless should be addressed.
What’s Said Here Stays Here; What’s Learned Here Leaves Here
Respect confidentiality. Don’t share people’s personal stories outside of a workshop, but do share the lessons that you learn. Also, don’t use what you’ve heard to shape your full conception of a person or an organization.
We Can’t All Be Articulate All of the Time
As much as we’d like, we just can’t. Often, people feel hesitant to participate in a workshop or meeting for fear of “messing up” or stumbling over their words. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating, even if you can’t be as articulate as you’d like, and create a space of learning and dialogue. This helps us move past the barriers of language, class, and institutional education access.
We make better decisions when we approach our problems and challenges with questions (“What if we…?”) and curiosity. Allow space for play, curiosity, and creative thinking.
Expect and Accept a Lack of Closure
The goal of this conference is to be learning new concepts, developing questions, making connections, and beginning ideas. With such a short amount of time and such diverse content, it is an unrealistic goal to expect closure on every topic. Move beyond a ‘fear of missing out’ and embrace the process.
The framing and language for these community agreements were created in partnership with AORTA: Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance. Most of these agreements were not created directly by AORTA and are borrowed from various people’s movements for justice. Get in touch: www.aorta.coop.