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Safe Open Space for Dialogue About the "Go Native" party controversy

Friday, March 27, 2009
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Type:
Hillary Violet
Location Details:
Mosswood Park, Oakland (close to MacArthur BART, 1, 1R, 51, and 57 bus lines)
W. MacArthur and Broadway Ave.

We are some of the many people who have witnessed the intensity of discussions regarding the "Go Native" party planned for this Saturday. As one of many who sees the pain being experienced on every side of this issue, I would like to create a SAFE SPACE for a dialogue that is honest, respectful, and gives each of us the opportunity to listen and be heard. If you want to participate, everyone is welcome. Please see the principles of safe space below. I am hoping to co-facilitate this dialogue with another neutral thrid party facilitator. Thank you for your time, your honesty, and for being open.

I feel that an open and safe dialogue is very important and also a beautiful opportunity for each of us to reflect on the complexities of privilege, oppression, and seeking to create a better world. I see these as part of an ever-changing matrix of unique experiences that collectively manifest in intersections such as what we are currently experiencing. It is with love and respect for all people that I come forward with the offer of this safe space. I ask that you review and commit to the below listed principles of safe space so that we may all be totally honest, be deeply heard, and be part of a healing that can only begin with acknowledgement and deep respect.

May our best intentions become a common ground of understand and support.

I look forward to sitting on the Earth in the sunlight with you tomorrow.


Hillary Violet
AmazonHilly [at]

I've shared a document with you called "SAFE SPACE":

for your use, and for you to pass on; the 'copyright' license is a CC one, and basically means, pass it on, and change it, but always give credit where credit is due, and NO PROFIT can derive from it's use :)


a tool for allowing deep and consensual dialogue

“In order for any discussion to be productive, you must create an open and relaxed atmosphere.”

-Anti-Oppression discussion guidelines

You can use this tool creatively, adapting the intensity of the 4 basic principles to different situations, depending on the level of risk being taken in each setting. Some components of these tools may be inappropriate for some settings, and invaluable in others. The more personal risk involved, the more carefully you want to frame the space at the outset, because a secure anchor is the only thing that will enable a process to fly to the heights of its potential.

A few settings I’ve used this tool in are: board meeting, activist/organizational meetings, co-facilitators/teachers meeting, co-op/group house meeting, personal relationship talks, and discussions with persons of authority.

The 4 Principles of a SAFE SPACE

Democratize the Space

confidentiality – share stories and experiences, not names and gossip
step-up/step-down – give space before you take space, and challenge yourself to step out of your pattern

value and encourage risk taking, while maintaining everyone’s right to pass

challenge the idea or the practice, not the person
everyone has equal worth in this discussion, and all knowledges and opinions are equally valid

Check Your Assumptions

no judgments or disclaimers (including self-judgments)

maintain gender neutrality in your language, and inquire about preferred pronouns

treat everyone as an individual and not a representative of any specific group

personalize your knowledge, don’t project it (i.e. use I statements)

believe in our common best intentions

The Right to be Human

we all have the right to be human (i.e. inconsistent, emotional, triggered, etc. )

avoid blaming people for the misinformation taught to them

acknowledge emotions

practice forgiveness

Practice Consensual Dialogue
active listening – attention focused, maintain appropriate eye contact, check your body language, take breaks only when you need to
silence is okay – an unforced pace of dialogue is one into which people can step-up safely
be sincere and consistent, practicing respectful honesty


Added to the calendar on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 7:38PM
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