Safe Space Offline
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How can we create a safe space offline ? What are the different types and formats a physical safe space can take?
How can I set up a safe space offline?
The difficulties in defining what a "safe space" should look like are inherent in the fact that you are bringing a diversity of people together, who might be considered to be part of the same community but all have different histories, contexts and needs. What one person might find politically, socially or personally threatening, might mean very little to another. And everyone will of course also come with different experiences and levels of knowledge and skills in technology.
We need to remind ourselves then that whenever we create a space, even a safe space, it will never be experienced in the same way by the people involved. It is important to be aware that, in struggling to perfect a feminist safe space, one always runs the risk of creating, instead, yet another form of social control and pressure to conform to a particular image of what a woman, queer or trans* identified person is.
So, overall, the most important thing to remember is that everyone is different, with their own set of experiences, history, context and needs. There is always risk and vulnerability in opening yourself to new experiences. The more diverse the environment, the more emotional risk we open ourselves to as ideas and ways of being may be fundamentally challenged. So we are not aiming for the avoidance of any kind of conflict or emotional risk but, instead, to provide buffers, understanding, reciprocation, support, love, and care for each other and for our shared endeavour. We must take every possible step to ensure that practical needs are met (protecting anonymity, respecting diversity, dealing with harassment, providing appropriate living space, etc.), and focus on collaboration, facilitation and mediation.