Monday, July 11, 2011

On Community and Questions Around it

It's a word I hear a lot of. 
Everywhere I go, people talk about how to create a community, what their community is based on and who's in it and what it looks like.
It's definitely a ubiquitous word: I have been hearing theorized, practiced, put into place, questioned, etc, etc.

I belong to many different communities and move through them, to them, for them, out of them and sometimes back to them.

There is a community I recently became apart of and started questioning and talking to people about what was going on. I was shocked to discover a normalized undercurrent of subtle violence that has been taking place for 20 years. 
This made me start asking questions of do I want to be apart of this community?
or if I stay, should I start the steps (with suppourt) of making it better?

Time and time again I have seen harassment that is coercive and an abuse of power and watched people in the community be complicit in this, ignore this and dismiss this.

Yesterday I was late to a friends 1 woman show at the Fringe Festival and was pulled to the centre. I got there and we were doing a meditation on community.
The visual was a lake where water evaporates by the sun to symbolize old members leaving and raindrops added as  new members.

The person leading the meditation then said: just because there is new members does not mean they are good for the community. I also thought old members of a community are not necessarily good for it either. Especially with the context of the instances of harassment coming for an much older man and it being targeted to a certain type of young women that are new to the community.

The questions we meditated on were: 

What community do you belong to?

What are the impacts you have had on your community?

What ripple effects have been created by your movements, actions, words?

I  think about those questions quite frequently as I'm always defining my communities on a macro and micro level. These are questions I think of as well in relation to this community and they are quite similar, but they would bring different answers forth. 

What does it mean to call ourselves a community?

Does it make sense for this individual to have this much authority, when they are abusing it, or using coercion?

How do we recognize the spectrum of subtly in gender violence without silencing it or dismissing it? Or even being complicit in it?
How do we honour and respect when people come forward?
How do we protect members of the community who come forward from violence directed at them as a result? As well as loyalties certain members of the community might feel to the perpetrator?
What kind of community are we when we remain complicit in problematic behaviour?
What are the responsibilities of the leaders in this community defined as?
How do we hold someone accountable who is in a position of leadership/authourity?
How do we remain accountable to all of us? How do we reduce the harm that was caused and further harm that may be caused in all of this?
What are procedures, methods or policies to undertake when such occurrences do take place?
How do we see the humanity of the perpetrator and put them on a path to heal? With realistic expectations and timelines?
How do we take these energies of victim, perpetrator, silencing and complexities and transform them into something else?

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