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Tempest Solidarity Agreement


Over the course of our first year, the Tempest Collective has intentionally crafted structures and policies that we hope will facilitate a healthy and comradely political culture. It is no secret that the Left can be an unfriendly or even dangerous space. We take as our starting point that conflict will arise. (We are not some perfect group of people immune to the influence of capitalism’s muck.) The question is how we approach that conflict. In the spirit of being as explicit as possible, we developed and voted to adopt a Tempest solidarity agreement that includes a set of expectations for every member. As with all of our rules and policies, this too is subject to revisiting and revision. To this end, we welcome constructive comments and criticism, just as we welcome others to join us and help to strengthen our collective and all of the political spaces in which we work.

Our work as Tempest Collective is important to our members and allies, and to the movements and organizations we participate in. It takes a lot of commitment and energy from each and every one of us. For the sake of Tempest, our movements, and our project of socialism from below, we must co-create a collaborative environment that supports us, inspires us, and sustains solidarity in this critical work.

To that end, we have identified principles of agreement we can make as Tempest Collective to guide our individual behavior. In order to build the Tempest Collective and the broader socialism-from-below network with other comrades that our members want and need, we commit to these principles in our dealings with one another.

Context

We recognize that the society we live in structures the broader relations in which we work. This unequally and differently impacts us. These relations inform our interactions with one another. These differences of gender and gender variance, race, sexuality, immigration and employment status impact our perspectives in ways that aren’t always apparent to ourselves.

We recognize that political ideas are shaped by our histories, experiences, and the ideological frameworks we use to understand how to act in the world. Importantly, ideas change through experience, struggle, and comradely discussion and debate. This is the process through which politics initially held by a minority can gain majority support.

Solidarity Agreement Terms

Our project is collaborative, check your ego, resentment is a destructive force

Capitalism ranks us, but in order for us to fight for our causes and strengthen our unity, we must work collectively. With as much trauma as we face in the world, we commit to not retraumatizing one another. We commit to building a healthy political environment and in so doing commit to acting under the guidance of these principles. We hope that these solidarity principles will become part of our culture. However, as people are imperfect we know that we will make mistakes. We agree to gently remind one another when we see these are not being met.

Respect Each Other’s Contributions, Knowledge, Skills, and Experiences

Each of us brings different knowledge, skills, and experiences. We have each acquired these in a number of different ways, for example, through years of work experience, organizing, or formal and/or informal study. While the society we live in values professional expertise, we as Tempest Collective recognize that those most affected by an issue have unique knowledge that should and must be recognized. It is hard to respect and appreciate what we do not know, so it is important that we listen to one another. Bias (explicit and implicit) is an obstacle to appreciating each other’s contributions. So we must be open to learning about our own biases that prevent us from seeing each other’s contributions.

Appreciate Each Other’s Contributions

Develop the discipline of noticing each person’s contribution, and take the time to acknowledge each other’s work. It is so easy to take each other for granted. Beware of the habit of criticizing others; it is so easy to only notice what is wrong, and leave the many accomplishments unnoticed. Appreciation helps sustain us, fuels our efforts and makes it easier to address difficult conversations when changes are needed.

Be Direct; Talk To, Not About Each Other. Person-to-Person, Group-to-Group – Keep it Collective!

We commit to deal with each other directly, openly and above-board. When we have an issue, we will deal directly with the person involved. We won’t make assumptions or engage in speaking negatively of those who aren’t present in a collective space. We commit to resolve conflicts democratically in meetings and other formalized spaces and communications. We recognize that power often structures who speaks and therefore we commit to use progressive stack in our meetings.

Assume Good Intentions, Communicate Effects, and Be Open

It is helpful to understand the difference between intent and impact. Our intent (what I hoped would happen) and our impact (what actually happened and what effect it had) don’t always match. We almost always assume that “I meant well” (my intent), even if it didn’t turn out right. We often do the opposite with others. If their effect on us was negative, then we assume their intent was likewise bad. This agreement requires that we give each other the same presumption of good intention, and then communicate and attempt to address the problematic effects. In addition, we agree to hear and honor the effects of our actions on one another without defensiveness. We agree to apologize when we make mistakes.

Approach Disagreements as Opportunities

It is normal and inevitable that in a complicated environment like a revolutionary socialist left with each of us having different class, gender and racial backgrounds and vantage points, these differences combined with constantly changing circumstances and ever evolving crises can lead to conflicts. The problem is not conflict, but rather how we handle conflict. It is critical to be open when we have disagreements. It helps to cultivate a spirit of curiosity when we disagree (“I wonder what I am not seeing, or what else I need to take into account, or I need to understand”). It is also important to acknowledge that our concerns are often interdependent. We will organize more effectively if we encourage healthy, respectful internal debate before we unify around a particular decision.

Be Present in Meetings

While we acknowledge our situation as whole human beings, with parenting, work and other aspects of our lives, when we are in a meeting, we agree to be as fully present as possible. We respect that all of our time is valuable. We will work to make our meetings useful and efficient. This requires developing skillful listening, and we acknowledge that this requires each of our full presence. We agree that electronics should be off in meetings, unless we have an exceptional situation, which we will communicate with others in the meeting. Respecting comrades’ time requires our punctuality in meetings, communicating to someone when we are going to be late, and keeping to time limits. We must recognize our lack of focus can be interpreted as judgment or disinterest.

Featured Image Credit: Terence Faircloth, modified by Tempest.

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