Here are the minutes from our last worker bee meeting! Keep in mind that we could use more worker bees or other volunteers!
On July 2, the Hive monthly gathering and potluck included a workshop facilitated by Mel and Calvin on non-coercive community-based responses to tough situations. The goal was to explore the harm done by interaction with oppressive systems; personal experiences/stories of interaction with police and other coercive systems such as DCF or crisis teams; creative, community-based options for tough situations; and our capacity, our limits, how to stretch them, and where we can go from here.
About 45 participants engaged in brainstorming, self-reflection, discussion, and visioning. We started by generating a list of damages, losses, or negative impacts of interaction with police and related emergency/crisis agencies. Participants paired up to discuss their own experiences, and then listed the impacts as a large group. We quickly filled a page.
We then took some time to reflect on our own and together about instances when we have chosen not to or don’t imagine ourselves calling police, and what we did or would do instead. We also thought about times we have called or think we would call, and what it would take to shift that response away from relying on law enforcement. The reflection questions were inspired by the blog Imagine Alternatives (which also lists many additional resources.)
(Here is the worksheet we used for both self-reflection and group discussion.)
For the majority of the time remaining, we split into small groups to share alternatives we know about and to imagine the supports we wish we had. Small groups reported back about their conversations, which touched on the importance of relationship building, existing community-based emergency response alternatives like street medics, transformative justice practices to support sexual assault survivors and work with perpetrators, and pages and pages of other ideas which we hope to compile and share at some point.
In closing, everyone was given some sticky notes and invited to share one or more answers to the question “What’s your alternative?” and add them to the wall. Participants were prompted to think as big or small as they liked, as immediate or as far-reaching. Answers included “Talk to my housemates” “Providing witness, escort, or other support to those at risk of violence,” “Decolonization,” and “DIY crisis teams.”
A slightly shorter version of this workshop was included as part of Creative Maladjustment Day a week later. About 20 participants added to the list of damages/losses resulting from police encounters, including loss of employment, voting status, and human rights. Reflecting on the recent murders of two more black people by police in the US, we added loss of life to the list.
A few people shared their stories of calling 911, describing their use of harm reduction to mitigate the potential damages caused by police presence in mental health crisis situations. We answered the question “Why do we call police?” in order to recognize that existing systems fill a need that can’t always be met another way. Answers included “Personal/property safety,” “Lack of knowledge/training,” and “Lack of authority.”
In our discussion of alternatives, we agreed it was important to replace the need for law enforcement in our communities without becoming cops ourselves. We talked about ways to draw on the existing resources and skills in our neighborhoods and social circles.
A few relevant resources were shared on the Facebook event page. If you have additional resources, send them to email@example.com to be added to this list!
August 6th, 5-8 pm: Supporting Someone Addicted to Alcohol/Drugs (with or without the system)
September 3rd, 5-7 pm: Beliefs, Delusions, Stories: What’s the Difference and How Do They Serve Us?
October 1, 5-7 pm: Pornography: A Roundtable Discussion
Join us for a special event on Saturday, July 9th! The Hive will be participating in Creative Maladjustment Week, an international celebratation of MAD PRIDE, through a day of free workshops! The day will end with a concert at Headroom stages at 7 pm in collaboration with The Future Collective.
Workshops are taking place 12 Flat St, the former Monsters and Heroes retail space, across the street from the Boys & Girls Club.
Topics and schedule as follows:
10:00 Maladjusted to Racism- speak out and action planning
11:15 Alternatives to Calling Police – a summary of last weekend’s Hive potluck/workshop with an interactive brainstorm/sharing
1:00 Fight Like Hell And Live: Strategies for Surviving Suicidality and Supporting Friends in Crisis Without Utilizing Psychiatric Services or Police
2:15 Cultural Diversity and Madness: What boats did YOUR people come over on? With respect to issues of race and ethnicity, which wave of emigration folded your family/ancestors into the U.S. melting pot makes a difference in how you express yourself, respond to conflict, manage crisis. This workshop explores those differences. Come prepared to move your body, within a safe container negotiated by the workshop participants.
3:30 Fat Pride: In what ways do the valuation or devaluation of size harm people? How does pathologizing survival harm people? What are the unspoken holistic harms of an oppressive system of sizism? What are some paradigms, tactics and resources for surviving and thriving as a fat person in this cultural context, despite the best intentions of the diet industrial complex? People of all sizes welcome.
Our weird and wonderful lineup in the evening at Headroom Stages (17 Elliot St) 7-11 pm includes:
Pay what/if you can.
Free ice cream will be served courtesy of the Future!
Hey all: check out our wish list for the new space in downtown Brattleboro. Do you have any of these items to loan or donate? Please share this list far and wide. Contact us if you want us to take your stuff!
Cleaning supplies, unscented soap for bathroom
Pillows and blankets
Tea kettle and tea
chalkboard or marker board
At our May meeting, we talked about plans for drop-in hours at the new space (which still needs a name!), Creative Maladjustment Week in July, and lots more.
Listen to Calvin and Malaika talk about the Hive with Chris Lenois on WKVT as part of the Green Mountain Mornings show! Here’s the recording.
Highlights of these minutes from April include the fact that we are now working on furnishing our awesome new space!!!! So exciting. Be in touch if you can help out!
In mid-January, the Hive organized a facilitation skillshare–a chance for people with a range and variety of skills and experiences in facilitating groups to learn from each other and increase our knowledge and confidence. We focused on facilitation skills for use in non-hierarchical groups whose aim is mutual support or learning.
Malaika and Calvin facilitated the skillshare, and 16 participants from Brattleboro and neighboring communities (including Northampton!) showed up to share their wisdom and questions.
Part of the skillshare included a group brainstorm around facilitation tools that participants had used or heard about. Here’s what we came up with:
Have a backup plan
Create a signal for attention
Allow for silence (intentionally)
Check in with group
One-on-one support from one member/facilitator
Structure time sharing w/hourglass
Temperature checks w/thumbs
Fist of five
Create different formats/sizes for inclusivity
Space for non-verbal ways to participate
Prioritize space for survivors
Ask about accessibility 1st]
At the end, we took some time to debrief, and facilitators asked for feedback: in the left column, what worked well (+), and in the right column (delta), what could have been different.
Started a conversation
Open to feedback
Worked well together
Reached an awesome audience
Dry erase markers
More specific focus
Florescent lights/lights darker
Ask about accessibility first
We hope to have a followup event in the spring in order to build on the conversation and allow for other facilitators to step up. Please be in touch if you’re interested in facilitating or participating in future skillshares.
Thanks to the Root Social Justice Center for hosting!