What is ableism?
Here is a short introduction to ableism: “Five things you should know about ableism”
We define ableism as any discrimination against someone because of their differing physical, mental, or psychological status. This could include physical limitations, such as being in a wheelchair, mental limitations such as ‘autism,’ and psychological limitations such as any mental health concern, diagnosed or not.
How can this blog be a safe space but have triggering content? I thought safe spaces are places where people will not get triggered?
We see how this can be confusing, and perhaps we may be incorrect, but a safe space cannot guarantee that all triggers will be eliminated, especially since people will be asking some very real and genuine questions which may upset some folks.
We are operating on this definition of safe spaces:
Safe spaces may require trigger warnings and restrict content that might hurt people who have strong reactions to depictions of abuse or harm or mental health triggers.
We can guarantee that potentially triggering questions will be hidden behind a break and a trigger warning. This is how we create a safe space here.
We have some basic agreements to ensure inclusion, safety, and open dialogue:
= We “listen like allies.” We respect a wide diversity of choices and perspectives, even when we disagree, and we don’t judge or invalidate other people’s experiences. We try not to interrupt. When it’s our turn to speak, we can ask others for feedback and advice, or just have people listen without responding. All responses are in a positive spirit of support and respect.
= We also practice “step up, step back.” People who are quiet are encouraged to speak, and those who talk a lot are encouraged to give others a chance. We invite new people to get involved if they want. And silence is also always ok.
= As a community, we try to use “owl vision,” the ability to listen closely to the speaker while also having a feeling for the needs of everyone. Keep in mind that others might be wanting to speak, or when we all might need to take a break.
= We recognize that overcoming oppression helps everyone’s liberation; it is the group’s responsibility to challenge ableism, racism, classism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and other forms of prejudice. We educate each other in the spirit of solidarity, and hold others accountable for their behavior without criticizing who they are as people.
= We respect spiritual beliefs, altered states of consciousness, and definitions of reality that fall outside the mainstream material view.
= In order to be as clear as possible, we try to use “I” statements when speaking to the group. This helps us avoid misunderstandings, and invokes trust and sensitivity.
This is a work in progress. We need everyone’s feedback and ideas of how to improve our efforts and strengthen this tumblr.
Key elements of listening & safe spaces
= Don’t rush through or go too fast. Create a calm, quiet space without interruptions or distractions.
= Allow periods of silence while we find what to say.
= Let the person decide when they are done. Don’t take it upon yourself to say when a conversation is over. A conversation is a two-way street.
= Don’t react or speak up automatically. Watch how your reactions to what others say reflect your own experience, not the person speaking. Give yourself time to respond from a deeper place.
= When someone responds to you or gives advice, allow yourself to take what is helpful from options presented, and leave the rest, rather than defending yourself if you disagree.
= Listen as a receiver, not as a critic. Imagine different perspectives and experiences, rather than assuming they’re just like yours.
= Consider using “I” statements when speaking, such as “I feel” and “I want,” to stay focused on your own feelings and needs. Talking about other people or gossiping takes focus away from your own experience.
= Reflect upon the political dimension of personal problems, and reframe problems within a framework of a dysfunctional society instead of blaming the person suffering.
= Hold people accountable for behaviors but don’t criticize who they are as people.
= Focus on the things we can control and let go of things we can’t, but don’t give up on visions of change and revolution!
= Keep an experimental attitude and a willingness to explore new perspectives and options.
= Learn what triggers you and how to cope with them. Recognize the buildup, escalations and de-escalations in crisis periods.
= Remember that the group is not a promise that problems will be solved, but a space to address problems safely.