A friend recently asked me for some advice about starting a safety committee for their contra dance. This got me pulling together some resources, so I thought I'd share them here as well.

Overall, I think safety committees can be positive, but there are also a lot of ways you can accidentally make things worse. For example, in BIDA's case, when we first started we did not do a very good job laying out what people could expect from us. A group of amateur volunteers is, for example, not generally going to be able to get to the bottom of disputes, and by leading people to expect service beyond what we could provide we let them down. Which is quite bad: sharing traumatic details is generally painful, and you really don't want to leave someone wishing they had never come to you.

I think the current version of our "How We Can Help" page does pretty well here, but earlier versions didn't, and we also didn't do a good job in conversations with people reporting issues. I wrote some about this re-evaluation at the time.

Other resources, for people who are thinking of starting doing this kind of work:

If anyone else has resources to recommend, please share!

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A group of amateur volunteers is, for example, not generally going to be able to get to the bottom of disputes, and by leading people to expect service beyond what we could provide we let them down. Which is quite bad: sharing traumatic details is generally painful, and you really don't want to leave someone wishing they had never come to you.

This was also a problem with I think both REACH and ACDC. I think this is a much harder job than people acknowledge.

This stuff is super hard.

I'd recommend (with reservations) Consent Academy, who do a lot of training on incident response, accountability processes, etc. They're good folks who have figured out a lot of really useful things about doing this kind of work.

Their classes can sometimes get pretty rambling and theoretical, but I've learned a lot from them.

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