Unsettle Portland Collective November 25, 2011

This document expresses one of the unifying intentions held amongst the initial conveners of the Unsettle Portland Collective. That intention is to articulate our accessible and transparent structure and process for entrance into the collective (Guidelines for Membraneship), as well as how we shall choose be with ourselves and each other inside of the container (Beingness Agreements).

Guidelines for Membership Eligibility:

We wholeheartedly invite persons to join who:
  • Have previous organizing experience(s) that will lend to this project.
  • Have experience with direct democracy and facilitated meeting spaces.
  • Have experience with noticing and addressing power dynamics within groups.
  • Are committed to an anti-oppression framework and the value of self-determination.
  • Are familiar with and committed to being in a healthy relationship with the theory and practice of security culture.
  • Are able and willing to create and sustain healthy working interpersonal relationships within and without the collective.
  • Are willing to vouch for the integrity of others that they might bring to or into the group and to be responsible for that vouch.
  • Will consent to the Agreements for Intra-Collective Relations as a standard mode of interacting within the collective.

Process for Joining the Collective:

1. Join a working group as a participant
2. Every working group has at least one consensed collective member on it
3. Let a consensed member know that you’re interested in joining the collective
4. They will talk to you about what your interests and availability are for being part of this work
5. If it feels to them like a good fit, they’ll either ask you for vouches or vouch for you if they already know you
6. If the vouches check out, they will email the rest of the collective for feedback on your membership
7. If it continues to feel appropriate to the group, you’ll be invited to a closed Monday night spokescouncil
8. If no one raises an objection within 24 hours after the spokescouncil, you will be a collective member.

Agreements for Intra-collective Relations:

Personal Agreements:

  • Self facilitation. I commit to being present to, and supportive of, the social-political work of our organizing by practicing mindful awareness of the following:
    - How I am holding and using my power in the group.
    - How I communicate my availability or lack of availability for participation.
    - How I name and enact my intentions in the group.
    - How I am occupying or not occupying time and space in the group.
  • Honesty. I commit to being honest, even in moments of discomfort or conflict
  • Self-care. I commit to taking care of myself, including asking for what I may need from others
  • Respect. I commit to being respectful in every form of my communication: verbal, non verbal, energetic, written, interpersonal, etc…
  • Evolution. I commit to giving and to receiving the gift of feedback:
    - Giving – timely and clear, specific to what can be changed, offered at a time and in a setting that’s mutually agreed upon, engaged with an intention to enrich our collective work, and phrased in the first person (i.e. “I have noticed,” “I would like to offer…”, etc.).
    - Receiving – being receptive to hearing what is being offered from a non-defensive posture, openness to taking steps to change behaviors and attitudes that others may find problematic, taking in and sitting with feedback even if it seems wildly inaccurate or politically unprincipled (this doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily make every change that’s being requested of you, rather it means you’ll commit to understanding the feedback that’s being offered)
  • Accountability. I commit to being held accountable to my commitments, and to maintaining collective accountability through grounded, direct communication with other members of the group.
  • Conflict Engagement. I commit to participate in the agreed upon conflict engagement and exploration protocol. (below)

Process Agreements:

We are aware that everyone is coming from their own experiences of process and meeting cultures. We invite members to foster a culture of respect and efficacy by committing to following:

  • I commit to coming to this social-political work as grounded as possible and to acting from that place on phone calls, emails and in person.
  • I commit to honoring any agreed-upon in-person and email consensus process protocols.
  • I commit to creating and supporting a collective culture of anti-oppression, consent and allyship.
  • I commit to a practice of “Inquiry before Advocacy”. This means that when entering a space, whether it’s a meeting or the broader organization, I will endeavor to understand and respect the context of the ongoing conversation instead of immediately advocating for my position.
  • I commit to both responding in a timely manner to proposals, processes and discussions, and in defining what “timely” means for proposals, processes and discussions that I bring.

Conflict Engagement and Exploration:

I commit to holding that conflict is inevitable in groups and that when it arises, I will choose to move through it, or support others in moving through it, in some semblance of the following ways:
  1. Check in with yourself first. Is this an issue that needs to be addressed for your own or the collective’s well-being, or is it just a moment’s irritation? Do you need the voice of the person you’re having difficulty with to resolve it, or can you look within yourself to understand and defuse the situation?
  2. Check in with the other person next. If your conflict involves another person, or people, have you addressed it directly with them? Their voice would often be the first you seek for resolution. Are you ready to talk to them in a way that permits both of you to be heard, or are you still in the throes of emotion about the conflict? Take time, take a breath, take a walk if you need to.
  3. Check in with your immediate circle next. Is there a comrade with whom you can discuss the conflict to give you some additional perspective? (Remember the difference between venting – perfectly fine – and receiving another viewpoint: be ready in the second case to hear that you might have contributed to the situation in some way. Ask for the space you need from someone you trust.) Is there a person for whom both parties trust to ground the interaction, who can help both people to hear each other calmly (another member of the organizing)? That person can be there to simply watch emotional energy, or to structure the conversation more closely, or whatever you can imagine. Is there a format for collective engagement that you would prefer for conflict exploration? Which voices would best be involved?
  4. If a conflict cannot be resolved via the means above, or for any other reason, if a formal proposal is made requesting that a member leave the collective, and that proposal receives the support of more than 50% of the current consensed members of the collective, that person will no longer be a part of the collective.