Safer Spaces

Safer Spaces

‘Course Culture’ and Safer Spaces Agreement

Permaculture is based around core ethical values of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Shares. These are values that we strive to explicitly reflect within our own practices as facilitators, teachers and course organisers, and also embody into the culture of our courses. We aim to create collaborative, inclusive spaces where everybody’s opinions, ideas, and contributions are valuable, regardless of their ability, knowledge or experience. We also aim to provide positive, safe learning environments where, from the outset, all participants are able to feel valued and respected without fear of discrimination or assumptions due to their race, age, class, gender or gender identity, sexuality, abilities, dietary or lifestyle choices or other beliefs. We are also aware that our own assumptions, privilege and practices as facilitators, teachers and course organizers need to be open to challenge.

At the start of our courses and events we will always spend time as a group co-creating some shared agreements (or ‘ground rules’) around what the group agrees are acceptable behaviours, as well as building the foundations of a ‘Course Culture’ that will ensure that all participants are able to feel safe, and enjoy a positive and inclusive learning experience. In many ways these agreements will often vary in detail from course to course according to the particular mix of the participants and their needs. Participants come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, and while such a range of different identities and ideas always makes for an amazing mix of creative and solutions-based thinking, people can sometimes annoy people or make them feel unsafe unintentionally – and sometimes intentionally. Therefore, in addition to any particular ground rules that might be emergent on any one course or event, we have an expectation that all participants will have read and will agree to abide by our Safer Spaces Agreement below. Please note that this is an evolving document, and we are open to any comments, suggestions or feedback that will enable us to improve it in any way.

Safer Spaces Agreement (Current version November 2017)

The aim of the Safer Spaces Agreement is to:

  • Remind participants that creating safer spaces is people’s own responsibility, as well as the responsibility of the people around you,
  • Remind participants that words, body language, actions, and behavior affect other people and their feelings.
  • Remind people to be aware of other people’s personal boundaries and ensure these are respected.
  • Empower participants to feel safe and supported in ‘calling out’ behaviours by others that they find oppressive or discriminatory.

We ask that all course or event participants will agree to:

  • Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries.
  • Always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone or crossing personal boundaries.
  • Respect people’s opinions, beliefs, differing states of being, and differing points of view.
  • Be responsible for your own actions. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others.
  • If someone is upset or offended by your actions, you need to take personal responsibility for this, regardless of whether the harm was intended.
  • Take responsibility for your own safety, and ask for help if you need it.
  • Be aware that there may be times when children or vulnerable people may be in the space, and that their safety needs to be ensured.
  • Not engage in any behaviour or language that may perpetuate oppression, for example being racist, ageist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, classist, sizeist, or any bigoted behaviour.

If the Agreement is Not Respected:

A space should be inclusive of every individual where possible, but, if certain individuals are making the place unsafe, they are making it less inclusive for others. If you feel that you cannot abide by the Safer Spaces Agreement you should exclude yourself from the space. Individuals who disregard or continually behave in ways that contravene the Safer Spaces Agreement will be challenged about their behavior, and may be asked to leave the course or event without entitlement to any refund of course fees. Any individual or group engaging in violence (including verbal violence or harassment) will be immediately excluded from the course, and will not be entitled to any refund of course fees.

Acknowledgements to QC2012 Safer Spaces Agreement from which parts of the above Safer Spaces Agreement have been adapted.