There is some disagreement on how effective safer spaces policies are with some arguing that they create a false sense of security and that people agree to these policies without actively doing the work or engaging in the struggle to make meaningful changes to social relations. We invite every participant in the Earth First! gathering to critically engage in this process of transforming social relations, and to see this as an ongoing struggle of total liberation, of ourselves, of others and the planet, and that, rather than leaving it as a moment in a field, it is something that we take back and develop in our communities and personal lives.
In order to understand the complexities of social, economic, cultural dynamics and behaviours that can sometimes lead to oppression we all need to take personal responsibility to ‘unlearn our shit’ and educate ourselves as to how we can overturn these behaviours in order to create the better world ( to paraphrase Durrutti), that we all know is possible.
These behaviours and dynamics do not exist in isolation but intersect in complex and unexpected ways, and that we can often be unaware that we are behaving in ways that are oppressive or unconsidered. That being said, you will be expected to take responsibility for all your isms and phobias at the gathering. Unlearning our shit is something we’re all going through as we struggle to free ourselves from the conditioning that late-capitalist society imposes on us. We see this as a collective process, and feel that we should try and do this as gently and empathically as possible.
There is a mediation working group at the gathering, and they will intervene in the instance of any abusive or oppressive behaviour of either a verbal or physical nature. They are not here to ‘police’ the gathering or anyone in it, and would not want to, but to help facilitate instances of conflict or dysfunction that cannot be settled by the parties involved, to support people to address their needs. They can be contacted via the Welcome tent, and will make themselves known at morning meetings.
We prefer the method of “calling in” rather than “calling out” when an issue arises meaning a member of the mediation team might be sought out to help resolve the issue. We would suggest that any “call outs” should be done in a spirit of solidarity and comradeship rather than ‘policing’ each other which is alienating and usually counter-productive. Everybody makes mistakes, we are all in a collective learning process where the ground is shifting all the time, so please be gentle with each other. Remember, solidarity is the weapon of the people!
If you have any questions or concerns about any of the above we encourage you to contact us on facebook or by email.