Safer-Braver Space Policy for the EcoSex Convergence 2017
“Safer-Braver Space” (SBS) is an essential part of community gatherings, places, events, and constellations of intentional relationships and is grounded in exquisite presence and care for all who attend the EcoSex Convergence. The intention is to foster liberation from the reproduction of harmful privileged and oppressive patterns all too encountered within the Empire culture. SBS is about co-created and co-held containers of experience in which authentic, genuine, and whole selves are invited to be involved in complex culture making. The foundation of a SBS is one in which power (rooted in the meaning: “to be able to”) is visibilized and consciously tended as a shared resource. A priority within SBS is to function from a power-with orientation. This means that consent, clear communication, naming harm, self-responsibility, integrity, and accountability are all integral elements.
The EcoSex Convergence chooses to say “Safer-Braver Space” rather than simply “safe space” because we acknowledge that no space is entirely “safe” for everyone in spite of concentrated efforts, and for many reasons. One being, that “safety” is relative and subjective to each person, and another being that sometimes participants who attend are not learned, familiar, able or willing to enact power-with, and anti-oppression engagement, and may need to be called-in to greater understanding and responsibility.
Many people who attend the EcoSex Convergence are also survivors of harm in many different ways, sadly, and through no fault of their own. SBS takes into account that survivors are present in the space, and functions to support them and their well-being by asking everyone to level up in the their trauma-informed engagement. SBS asks all participants to remember that trauma is never a choice, and lives in a person’s biology/body. Cultivating SBS means we collectively take into account that situations and moments arise which necessitate particular kinds of support for trauma survivors.
That being said, safety is also not the same as comfort. Within the container there may be instances in which a participant experiences discomfort with regards to having a philosophy, value, or opinion be challenged by another’s. In addition, the conversations which are necessary to intervene upon and confront someone’s (maybe your) oppressive and nonconsensual behavior, may likely induce discomfort for many involved. In these kinds of situations, we ask for people to bravely engage the discomfort, with or without allyship and other forms of support.
“there is no such thing as a safe space. we exist in a real world and we all carry scars and have caused wounds. this space seeks to turn down the volume of the world outside and amplify the voices that have to fight to be heard elsewhere. this space will not be perfect. it will not always be what we wish it to be, but it will be ours together and we will work on it side by side.” – the sp(a)ce* phx, az
When someone’s inherent experience as a human being is denied, threatened, or attacked, or when their ability to have authorship of their autonomy is ignored, diminished, or erased, that is an issue of physical safety, and will not be tolerated. Protocols for these situations are in place and will be enacted by the Guardians if and when initiated by participants. What will be enacted will be rooted in proportionate response on a case by case situational assessment.
People who have perpetrated inter-personal violence, assault and/or harassment may not be welcome at the event unless they are actively engaged in an accountability/integrity process and are currently in compliance with all the terms and/or demands of that process (according to the facilitators, the survivor, and/or whomever’s been designated to monitor the agreements emerging from the process). Surrender: The EcoSex Convergence retains all authority on registration.
Similarly, law enforcement is not welcome at this event. If you notice any law enforcement activity, please notify the Guardian team so that it can be addressed. This part of the policy is instated in recognition and rejection of broad systems of oppression- such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia and colonialism. We recognize that the law enforcement apparatus of the state is an oppressive force, and we therefore strive to limit our contact with anyone in league with this force. If acts of physical or sexual violence occur during the event that meet the legal definitions of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence or physical assault, and the survivor of these acts wishes to press charges we will contact the police at the survivors’ request to escort the accused person’s off the property. We are making every reasonable attempt we can to avoid these situations from arising.
Support Structure & Policy enactment during the EcoSex Convergence
If you experience harassment, abuse, assault, or any other kind of violation while at the event, or if someone who has engaged in such behavior is adversely affecting your participation, or for any other reason you need support, please come to any member of the Hearts & Hands or Guardian teams ( all of whom will be introduced to you during the opening ceremony of the event). The members of the Hearts & Hands and Guardian teams are trained and experienced advocates whose role is to support people. There will be an on call team available to address these issues from 10am-midnight each day of the event. We strive to be survivor centric and survivor oriented. When a decision needs to be made whether to give ‘benefit of the doubt’ to someone who has engaged in abusive behavior, or support to a survivor, the preference will be to support the survivor.
If you are a survivor and would like to make special provisions for this event beforehand, you can do that when filling out the registration form for Surrender:The EcoSex Convergence. There will be a range of questions for you to choose to respond to or not, including: If you identify as a survivor, do you want to be notified if (name of harm-doer-to be filled in by survivor) also registers for this event? There will be follow up questions designed to help the organizers provide appropriate and focused support for survivors. Likewise there are questions on the registration form which ask participants to confidentially disclose if you have been or currently are in an integrity/accountability process, or have ever received information that you have caused inter-personal harm to another. This information allows the organizers to create conversation space with you for your well being, the well being of other participants, and the event itself. Surrender:The EcoSex Convergence is committed to not reproducing a shaming and punishing orientation in regards to SBS.
As the organizers of Surrender we are especially focused with sexual ethics and etiquette and issues around consent regarding physical touch. We also hold EcoSexual identity to be concerned with embodying and enacting the values of sexual sovereignty/sexual autonomy and wildness. For us EcoSexuality requires constellational thinking, a belief in the sacredness of selves and others and a desire to extend empathy and compassion to others. Consent is essential to SBS. Consent is two (or more) autonomous adults deciding together to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way with each other- whether it is physical, verbal, or sexual. It is the presence of a clear “yes”, not the absence of a “no.”
We are choosing to adopt four principles for evaluating consent as valid given by ethicist Morten Ebbe Juul Nielson (“Safe, Sane and Consensual — Consent and the Ethics of BDSM,” The International Journal of Applied Philosophy 24:2 (2010): 265-288). Nielson asserts that consent draws its moral force from the idea that individual freedom and autonomy is a basic human right and cannot be given to acts that destroy autonomy.
For consent to be valid it must:
- Be Informed, with both (or all), parties fully understanding the activities they are agreeing to perform and their risks;
- Must be whole-hearted and intentional (“enthusiastic”), not being used as a bargaining chip;
- Consent must be voluntary, not compromised by the threat of force or harm;
- Consenting individuals must be competent (not intoxicated, under extreme emotional duress, underage, etc).
For the purposes of Surrender: The EcoSex Convergence, consent must also not be obtained while the persons involved are doing trance work, invoked as deity, in the middle of a ritual process and or already within the boundaries of Lilith’s Forest.
Tips for Creating SBS
- Respect your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual autonomy & 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, or find someone to speak to privately who can help call attention. You may not be the only one who feels that way. Hearts and Hand Team members are especially available to attend to your feelings and give you healing attention.
-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 self-tending whenever possible. Speak to the person you have a concern with and be direct about what behaviors did not work for you. If you need help negotiating a situation, find a Hearts & Hands team person to assist you.
- Respect others’ physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual autonomy & boundaries.
– Always ask for explicit verbal consent before engaging or touching someone. Never assume consent, especially if substances use/magical space is involved. People whose consciousness is altered 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. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to answer a question, share an activity, touch, etc….
– Surrender is an event where everyone should feel empowered to choose their own gender. 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 peoples’ genitals from their gender. We’re born with our genitals but we get to choose our genders. If you happen to screw up, correct yourself.
– Respect the confidentiality of others. You are welcome to share what you learned at Surrender, but do not share names or identifying details of other participants.
- Surrender is a cooperative learning environment:
– We are all here to learn, and we all have something to offer.
– Respect non-hateful diverse opinions, beliefs, and points of view. Share ideas rather than judgments. Use ‘I’ statements as much as possible to state your experiences, and ask questions in order that you may respond, rather than react.
– Everyone (including you) will make unintentional mistakes.
– Be aware of the effects your behavior has on others and accept responsibility for it. Remember, intent is not the same as impact.
– Expect to be called out or in by others if you make a mistake in noticing your privilege or space-taking. Make efforts to step back, listen and learn from those with different experiences from your own. Micro-aggressions and expressions of fragility (tone-policing for example) towards, and entitlement to emotional labor from, members of marginalized or traditionally oppressed groups of people are not acceptable. Be willing to own, apologize, and repair. Guardian team members have protocols of conflict resolution and mediations to share with you in your efforts to responsibly own your behavior
*With gratitude and attribution to saferspacenyc & TWAC Anti-Oppression Policy for supporting language and framing for this policy.
rain crowe 2/8/2017