Code of Conduct

Amended on 2018-02-02 on Loomio (Change wording, remove harassment)


These agreements established by our community guide all Sassafras spaces (meetings, emails, online chats, Sassy Hour, social events, etc.) The intention of these agreements is to ensure workers respect each other and put anti-oppressive theory into practice when we interact with one another.

Community Agreements

  1. Each person matters. Everyone is welcome to contribute.
    You belong to this community and we want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and productive. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Our team is a community and our actions should reflect building community and making everyone feel welcome to contribute. If you have a resource that might help someone on the team, please share it. If you have a concern, please make it known. Each individual person adds something important to our community. When everyone feels welcome, we benefit from people bringing their whole selves to the work we do and the community we are building.
  2. We can't be articulate all the time.
    Often people feel hesitant to participate in a workshop or meeting for fear of "messing up" or stumbling over their words. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating, even if you can't be as articulate as you'd like.
  3. Move up, move up.
    If you're someone who tends to not speak a lot, please move up into a role of speaking more. If you tend to speak a lot, please move up into a role of listening more and allowing time for those who tend to take longer to prepare their words. This is a twist on the more commonly heard "step up, step back." The "up/up" confirms that in both experiences, growth is happening. (You don't go "back" by learning to be a better listener.) Saying "move" instead of "step" recognizes that not everyone can step.
  4. Acknowledge the difference between intent and impact.
    Often when someone does or says something that causes harm or supports the values of oppressive systems, it is not their intention to do so. But when we use our good intentions to deny (or avoid being accountable for) the harm, more harm is caused. The ask in this community agreement is that we each do the work to acknowledge that our intent and the impact of our actions are two different things, and to take responsibility for any negative impact we have. (This can be as simple as apologizing.)
  5. Be aware of internalized power structures.
    When evaluating and analyzing the words, actions, and credentials of co-workers and applicants, take the time to recognize if any proposed response or action may perpetuate power structures that are in place. Structures such as white supremacy, anti-blackness, ageism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism can all come into play when communicating with and evaluating others, regardless of our intentions, education, or political beliefs. We are each unlearning problematic and oppressive ways of thinking. We each can learn more and educate ourselves about oppression.
  6. Educate yourself.
    Don't rely on people from marginalized groups to educate you about their oppression (especially if someone claims that something you have done or said was hurtful or oppressive). Instead, do some research, consult Sassafras resources, or talk to other people not from that group who you suspect might have some knowledge to share. Do this proactively and regularly, not just when there is an issue. Think about the oppressions listed in the Sassafras vision statement and consider which ones you know the least about and focus on them.
  7. Communicate with compassion.
    We value healthy, nonviolent communication and creating an environment where as many people as possible feel heard and respected. Certain types of communication are not acceptable, including: use of slurs, name-calling, slamming things/doors, throwing things, and yelling/raised voices. These actions may cause others to feel scared, unsafe, triggered, or uncomfortable and are counterproductive to safe space. Harassment and bullying in any form is unacceptable, and further information on harassing and bullying behaviors can be found in the "harassment" and “bullying” sections below.
  8. Embrace curiosity.
    We make better decisions when we approach our problems and challenges with questions (“What if we…?”) and curiosity. Allow space for play, curiosity, and creative thinking.
  9. Use anti-oppressive language.
    While targeted slurs and name-calling are never acceptable, some words, especially slurs referring to marginalized communities, can cause harm even when being discussed in an otherwise appropriate context. We recognize that communities and individuals can have different needs and complex relationships with the language used to describe them and that reclamation, cultural background and re-appropriation can further complicate what language is considered hurtful. In light of this, and in the interest of creating a comfortable space for all, we ask the following:
  1. Before engaging in a discussion on or involving slurs or other potentially harmful language, make sure that participants and bystanders are aware of and consent to being present for that discussion.
  2. Avoid using or mentioning slurs in their uncensored form. In speech, for example, prefer making euphemistic references ("the z word"), or in text replacing letters with symbols (z*******). If you are asked to clarify your meaning, do so privately or give appropriate warnings beforehand.
  3. When someone requests that we not use a particular word or phrase because it is hurtful or triggering, make a sincere effort to accommodate that need.

Being able to name privilege can be an important part of safety and comfort for the marginalized. We recognize that names for privileged groups, such as 'cis' or 'white', while they may cause discomfort, are not oppressive and do not have the same effect as slurs against marginalized groups.

  1. Caring for ourselves and each other is important.
    If you are running low on energy, stressed, must attend to physical needs or otherwise need to take a break, please communicate your needs with teammates and take the time you need. If a teammate communicates a need for time or space, acknowledge and respect those needs, including during meetings.
  2. Make your concerns known.
    While talking about conflict can be hard, we are all expected to bring concerns to light instead of letting them fester. If you have a concern or a conflict, talk to the person directly, or talk about it with the mediator, HR committee member, or someone you trust. Conflict is a normal part of working together. We are all expected to do our best to deal with it. See conflict resolution process.
  3. Ask permission. Respect consent.
    Before posting information online about a teammate or disclosing sensitive information about your teammate(s) outside of a Sassafras space, please request that individual's permission first. Examples of sensitive information may include things like photos, legal names, their personal stories, location, etc.
  4. Harassment and bullying-free workplace
    We are committed to providing a harassment and bullying-free workplace for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment or bullying of community members in any form. Please read our harassment and bullying policy and procedure.

Acknowledgements and Resources

  1. Infiltration: How the values of oppressive systems tend to arise in co-ops (and what we can do about it) by Aorta Collective.
  2. AORTA Resource Zine by AORTA Collective.
  1. Unity Statements by Michigan Women of Color Collective.
  1. "Alternatives to using ableist slurs" by Is This Ableism?
  2. "Ableism/Language" by Lydia Brown
  3. Community Anti-Harassment: Policy by Geek Feminism
  1. "Foundations of NVC" by The Center for Nonviolent Communication
  2. "HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community" by The Ada Initiative
  3. "Code of Conduct evaluations" by Geek Feminism
  4. "TODO Group and Open Source Codes of Conduct" by Nikki Murray


Creative Commons License

Code of Conduct by Sassafras Tech Collective is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.