PRACTICING ACCOUNTABILITY AT PAF

PAF aspires to be a space where intersectional, anti-racist and feminist analysis inform practice. PAF does not tolerate any form of sexism, racism, classism, LGBTQI+phobia, ableism, ageism or any other form of discrimination. If you experience any aggression, harassment or harm during your time at PAF, know that PAF will listen to you and offer support. Hereunder you can find guidelines about what to do and/or who to talk to.

PAF invokes a practice of accountability; a shared responsibility with whomever is temporarily shaping the residency. PAF does not apply selection procedures and its doors are literally open: everyone who is in the space at any given time is therefore responsible for the wellbeing of everyone else. Accountability is a way of addressing each other as responsible for our acts and encouraging openness toward potentially changing our behavior.

In order to make this into a practice, a 4th rule has been introduced at PAF to further the functioning of the already existing 3 rules:

- Mind asymmetries

PAF is made of asymmetries. People come from different places, inhabit different bodies, have different experiences, are situated differently in power structures and have different boundaries. Take this into account, challenge your own position and let it be challenged, while respecting other people’s boundaries.

Everybody, to a certain extent, partakes in multiple systems of inequality by inhabiting different positions, roles and narratives. PAF wants to be a space where this can be actively addressed, and where learning and change can happen.

Blind spots and biases are real. The fact that one does not see them doesn’t mean they do not affect or harm others. Everyone is accountable for their lack of awareness as much as for their conscious acts, and thus is responsible to educate themselves, especially when their unawareness is made visible to them.

In creating a culture of awareness, listening and speaking up, the hope is to destroy the grounds on which violence, abuse or harm can happen. This means that listening, offering support and holding people to account in a compassionate way is favored over shunning people without offering resources to learn and change.

This said, if you engage in any form of sexual assault or harassment, abuse of power or discriminatory acts, know that you can be asked to leave.

GUIDELINES

1. IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED UNWANTED BEHAVIOR

If you experience discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, offensive or abusive treatment, please reach out to an available accountability volunteer at PAF. The names and contacts of the volunteers are published on the entrance board. During larger meetings these names will also be announced at dinners and welcoming speeches. Together with an accountability volunteer (or on your own, if you feel you have the capacity and you feel safe) you may want to:

- directly address the individual who committed the aggression. You can inform that person that their behavior is disagreeable or unwanted. Reaching out to a person to let them know that they have crossed your boundaries, starting a dialogue about the reasons why they have done that and reminding them to be mindful about their behavior, might be the only necessary intervention.

- send an email, if you don’t want to confront the person directly but still want to address the situation yourself. Make sure to keep a copy of your exchanges.

- ask the responsible accountability volunteer to address the situation for or with you. If you don’t want to confront the person directly, you can ask one of the volunteers (or someone else whom you trust and chose) to mediate a conversation with the person, or to intervene on your behalf.

2. IF YOU WITNESS HARMFUL BEHAVIOR

If you are witnessing physical, sexual or psychological violence, please intervene!
If the aggression or harassment is a more veiled one or you are unsure about what the situation is, find a sensitive and discrete way to check in with the person you perceive as being harmed to see if they are ok with the situation or if they need support.

3. GUIDELINES FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY VOLUNTEERS

As PAF has (almost) no staff and people’s presence in the building varies constantly, the role of accountability volunteer is taken on by different people. As of now, there is a group of regular PAF users who have been working on this document and can take on the role. Yet this role can and should be taken on by more people, thus we publish hereunder the general guidelines which we outlined and are currently following. Anyone who is willing to invest time to educate themselves and follow these guidelines can become a volunteer. If you are interested in taking on this role while you are at PAF, please check with the people who are already listed as volunteers.
(Note that these guidelines are a constant work in process. Experience and exchange will be needed to improve them)

WHEN SOMEONE COMES TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED TO THEM:

- provide immediate safety

- prioritize their needs. Ask literally: how can I support you? Try to provide for their needs but be communicative about your own limits (avoid the savior-role)

- don’t judge their experience nor contest their position. It is not your role to investigate the situation.

- be a committed listener, be a listening ear and not just an ear (in order to enable the person to talk about something uncomfortable)

- be ready to give them all the time needed

- listen and ask questions with patience. The aim is to understand their needs rather than to judge who is right and who is wrong

- offer options of dealing with the situation: this could be a mediated conversation between them and the person who caused harm, a conversation between a third person and the one who caused harm, a group conversation, or something else that the person who is affected needs. If it seems hard to make any decision on the spot, decide together to meet again soon (in a few hours, tomorrow, …) in order to decide on the appropriate response. Keep in mind that the needs and wishes of the person affected are at the center. They might not want to speak to the person whose behavior harmed them or might not want this to be a group conversation. Respect their needs always and foremost

- don't share any information you have been told without the consent of the person who was affected. This breaking of the trust could create even more distress

- avoid a quick fix. It’s not about efficiency

- if the experience they share with you triggers your own trauma, check with yourself whether you are capable of giving care to this person. If you are not, help them find somebody else.

- refrain from talking about the incident even in roundabout ways with others. If this is the wish of the person concerned. Their needs are more important than notions of transparency

- don’t pressure them into doing anything they do not feel comfortable with (whether this is a conversation, a statement in the group, or a confrontation with the person that harmed them). Even if they just want to let you know about an issue and don’t want any consequences for the person who’s causing harm: respect this, validate them and offer to be there if they change their mind.

HOW TO TALK TO A PERSON WHO HAS CAUSED HARM:
(How this conversation will happen, if it happens, depends on what has been agreed with the person affected - yet these here are general indications that might be useful when raising any issue with someone)

- if you don’t know the person, give your name and ask theirs first

- be clear and refer to specific situations, don’t generalize, don’t identify the person with their behavior. e.g. “What you said at the dinner table was …” instead try to ask questions about their awareness about the situation in question (e.g.” Are you aware of how that comment was perceived?”)

- be warm and open to the confusion or embarrassment someone may feel as a result of this chat. Yet hold your ground in communicating what you need to

- don't assume that what is meant by "sexist", “racist” (or whatever term you use) means the same for both. This could be the beginning of a conversation - or not, depending on your willingness to engage in one

- the person who caused harm might want to justify their behavior. Remind them you are not there to judge, but rather to let them know someone has been harmed (and whatever else might need to be said)

- remind the person who has caused harm to try to perceive this as an opportunity for learning. Also give them a list of other people who are available to continue the conversation with them if needed, or if for whatever reason they feel uncomfortable to have this conversation with you and would rather talk to another volunteer. Check first with the affected person if they are also ok with it.

- be explicit about the confidentiality of this conversation. Make it clear to them that not everybody involved with accountability at PAF is necessarily informed about the incident nor the conversation, so that the person can review their own behavior without feeling that they are already marked or judged by people. If you have the resources and willingness it might also be good to check in with the person that has caused harm after a day or two if they are still at PAF

RESOURCES & LINKS

DIY Space for London accountability handbook:
https://diyspaceforlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/DSFL-Accountabi...
In this handbook you can find a lot of practical tools for talking to someone who has experienced harm, different options of actions to take, and talking to someone who has done harm.

Whistle While You Work:
www.whistlewhileyouwork.art
Their zine: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZnIa1EVpGEm_Vn4RUvsJQADaPCxCxigN
See also their online list of resources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BzuGiTN-dWq1ucxzYuLCl0LJqC8lShODoRdF...

Engagement
http://engagementarts.be/en
Terminology: https://blog.kunsten.be/sexism-sexual-harassment-and-abuse-of-power-in-t...
Guidelines for writing out testimonies: https://blog.kunsten.be/engagement-archiving-project-5cf0c0876c20

Intersectionality
(Short) Kimberlé Crenshaw: “What is Intersectionality?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViDtnfQ9FHc
(Longer) Kimberlé Crenshaw – “On Intersectionality”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DW4HLgYPlA

Undoing Patriarchy - A Syllabus
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Gu5fBokqfsL411V06cKVbEQpNYJxqIJ8QZMh...

Podcast series:
(some basics on understanding racism as a white person and some info on ‘patriarchy’)

Seeing White
https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/

MEN
https://www.sceneonradio.org/men/

This is a work in progress, and we learn together as we go. If you have any resources, or references to add, please do so by emailing contactpaf@gmail.com