UP YOURS Fest 2014:: All the Details

1509840_746677812026863_1164788360_nOur fabulous intern, Stephanie, attends SUNY Purchase and is throwing this amazing feminist music fest on February 22nd with FORTH (Feminists Organizing for Real Transformation Here) at The Stood in Purchase, NY from 5pm-midnight. We are SO excited to be presenting a short workshop on feminist organizing and communication, as well as tabling with our distro and networking with rad Purchase feminists:

“FORTH will put on a festival… that will utilize ART, MUSIC, WORKSHOPS, COMMUNICATION, and FUN to CELEBRATE female identifying // non cis male identifying folks. We strive for more inclusive, intersectional, and safer environments, and feel the use of ART, MUSIC, WORKSHOPS, and COLLABORATION will help to foster these safer environments, free of structural inequity and oppression.”

UP YOURS will feature music from:
Aye Nako
Downtown Boys
Nine of Swords
Tomboy
Evil Sword
Parasol
Whatever, Dad
Jawbreaker Reunion
Vanessa Grasing

Workshops and/or Tabling from:
For The Birds Collective
Asbury Park Feminist Collective
Complexuality
The Alt Clinic
Boy Tears
Willie May Rock Camp for Girls
Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic
and more!

We love that this is a Safer Space event; here is their policy, adapted from Ladyfest Philly:

-Be mindful of your speech and actions and the effect they may have on others.
-Do not make assumptions about people’s identities in terms of gender, race, sexuality, abilities, class, or background.
-Respect people’s boundaries and always interact with others’ consent, be it physically, emotionally, or verbally.
-Carry these guidelines through all forms of communication, physical and non-physical: in person, by telephone, and on the Internet.

Get more details and music previews in their promotional video.  See you there!

Making Safer Spaces for Survivors: SAAM and Beyond

As we are nearing the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), I have been thinking about the organization and implementation of sexual violence activism.  From large-scale demonstrations like Take Back the Night, to small coalition meetings, it is crucial to keep the experience of sexual violence central to activism in SAAM and throughout the year.

There is no doubt that we live in a culture that permits and excuses sexual violence and perpetuates the suffering associated with victimization (“rape culture”).  While it’s helpful to point out the problems associated with “rape culture,” it is so very important to think about how we, as activists, inhabit spaces dedicated to combating “rape culture” to make these spaces fully supportive for survivors of violence.  Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of ways to improve activist events to ensure they can be productive in combating “rape culture” while providing support for those who have experienced sexual violence.

1.       Ground Rules: Lay out some ground rules, write them down, talk about them, and make them visible. Ground rules will look different for various events/groups and should be based on a discussion with all participants.  Come up with them organically with your group. Covering ground rules first will help “break the ice” and to form a group consensus about how the event/meeting will proceed.

2.       Safety and Accessibility:  Make sure to plan ahead and think of ways to make the space more accessible and safe.  Think about the place the event will be held in. Is it accessible to everyone? Are the exits marked? How is the room set up? Is the event private? One of the most common feelings after experiencing trauma is being hyper-aware of the space around you. Make your space as physically comfortable and safe as possible for everyone.

3.       Be present:  It is really important to be present in discussions about sexual violence. Think about what being “not present” might look like (i.e. texting or using other devices throughout the meeting, drinking alcohol, getting up to do something non-essential, etc). Try your best to be present and look present out of respect for the sensitivity of the subject matter and to honor the courage it takes to talk about it. When talking about something sensitive like sexual violence it is totally okay to want to dissociate, or “space out,” and you probably aren’t the only person feeling that way.  However, be mindful of what your dissociation may look like to someone else.  Don’t let it be mistaken for apathy. And if you need step out for a bit to process what you are feeling, go for it.

4.       Check your privilege:  Think about what is informing your knowledge of sexual violence.  While your experiences may have directed your knowledge of sexual violence, it is important to understand that not everyone had those same experiences, and others may have different ones.  Use this time to learn from others about how dynamic of a problem sexual violence is.

5.       Speaking: Is everyone being heard? While everyone may not want to speak at your event, if someone does choose to speak, make sure their voice is heard. If someone says something that you believe is not appropriate, speak up if you feel comfortable enough to do so (chances are you are not alone in how you are feeling!).

6.     Process: Depending on the event (large scale event vs. small scale meeting / public vs. private) consider reflecting on the event with your fellow organizers and participants.  Use this opportunity to think of ways to improve and incorporate new ideas.

7.     Make support available: If there are advocates with experience working with sexual violence survivors at your event that would like to volunteer their support, let everyone know! Introduce them and explain their background and training. If possible, designate a place where the advocate can be available to talk. Also, try to find some local and national advocacy groups to share with the group. Here are some great resources:

NYC

National

What is essential to sexual violence activism is to create a space where survivors of violence can feel like they can participate and be in a safe place.  For many survivors who have suffered the trauma of sexual violence, engaging in activism may prove difficult. By making these spaces more supportive, survivors’ agency will be fostered, and these voices, which are so important to this activism, will be heard.

A statement about safer spaces policies

We at For The Birds have been aware of recent discussions surrounding whether or not the Anarchist Book Fair would have a Safer Spaces policy, and how that would be enforced. As a group that has tabled at that event in the past, and been a part of that extended community, we wanted to express our concern for and awareness of the initial avoidance of stating a Safer Space policy and working towards community accountability. Across the board, For The Birds encourages and supports having Safer Spaces policies whenever possible.

We believe that sexual assault and abuse, within feminist and radical circles especially, are issues that need to be acknowledged and addressed head-on. We believe in doing more than stating that oppressive behaviors will not be tolerated and in having structures in place to help participants understand what that means and how those expectations will be addressed should an issue arise. Through our events and advocacy, we aim to create spaces that support active listening, respect, and a commitment to intersectional feminism that does not rely on state-sponsored institutions or the police-state. We understand that these goals are no small feat, but we are confident that through awareness, dialogue, and action it is possible to foster and organize events that are safer and respectful for all who choose to attend.

The Coalition for Safer Spaces has more information on these issues on their website, which can be found here.

“WINGING IT” AT C.L.I.T. FEST

FOR THE BIRDS is excited to announce that we will be presenting a workshop titled ”Winging It: Nurturing Authentic Communication in Feminist Organizing” at this weekend’s Combating Latent Inequality Together Fest, being held in Highland Park / New Brunswick, NJ.

SUNDAY, JULY 15
11AM-12:15PM

@ Reformed Church of Highland Park
19 S. 2nd Ave. Highland Park, New Jersey

Winging It: Nurturing Authentic Communication in Feminist Organizing

In this workshop, For the Birds (a New York-based feminist collective and distro) will guide a community discussion about internal and external struggles in feminist cultural and social justice organizing, creating feminist spaces, and coalition building. The Collective maintains that it is imperative to communicate authentically in order to bridge gaps, and to grow, both interpersonally and between groups. The workshop will discuss commonalities, such as the way that the efforts of many marginalized groups coalesce around issues like safer spaces, grassroots modes of organizing, and artistic and political visibility. For the Birds invites questions about their own processes, and seeks to find out how other feminists work through these issues and towards similar goals in their own groups and communities. This is a participatory workshop.

For additional C.L.I.T. Fest details visit their website. The entire schedule is posted here. I (Kate) am also curating a zine reading Friday night and speaking on a panel entitled “Art Labor: A Discussion of Art Practice, Presence, Preservation and Perseverance,” but I wrote a fairly lengthy blog post about that on my personal blog. For the Birds will be tabling Sunday as well.

To pump you up for the Fest, listen to this “once-in-a-lifetime” podcast with the C.L.I.T. Fest organizers, in which they discuss their process planning the Fest, their own experiences in activism and D.I.Y. communities, and why conversations like these are so vital.

And, while you’re at it, check out these C.L.I.T. Fest mixes!

COMBATING LATENT INEQUALITY TOGETHER FEST PT. 1 from devalina on 8tracks.

COMBATING LATENT INEQUALITY TOGETHER FEST PT 2 from devalina on 8tracks.

Can’t wait to see you there! Please do come say hi.