Fran speaking at PICA

These Ground Rules are to be reviewed and actively consented to at the beginning of each PICA meeting by all participants. Participants who continually violate these rules and create an unsafe space will be separated from PICA.

PICA is a “safe space”.

What happens in PICA, stays in PICA.

Be aware of power dynamics in the room.

Share the air.

Consider: whose viewpoints are being excluded?

Lean into discomfort.

Respect the pronouns of others.

Use “both/and” rather than “either/or” thinking.

Recognize that intent ≠ impact.

Speak to your own experience.

Discuss the message, not the messenger.

Be aware of intersectionality.

Use the oops/ouch framework.

PICA Ground Rules: Explained

This is a “safe space”. PICA exists to provide a space where members of historically marginalized groups and their allies may come together to educate and support each other about issues surrounding diversity in both astronomy and the world, and work to create change in our community. Members of historically marginalized groups will not face marginalization and mainstream standard stereotypes in this space. Some safe spaces do not include all participants, and those being excluded from specific events will respect the decision to exclude them, even if they disagree.

What happens in PICA, stays in PICA. PICA members will not share the personal narratives and opinions of others without first obtaining explicit permission. This allows us to share useful information while respecting an individual’s right to privacy.

Be aware of power dynamics in the room. PICA aims to be a space where historically marginalized participants feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences and opinions, regardless of status within the APS Department or elsewhere. In many group settings, members of historically overrepresented groups and those already with power often dominate the discussion. While we cannot totally protect our space from all outside power dynamics, we strive to put all participants (and especially those from historically marginalized groups) on equal footing.

Share the air. Participants will not dominate the discussion or participate disproportionately, and will let others speak their opinions and participate. All participants, not just meeting shepherds, will monitor the discussion and make sure all voices are being included, especially those from historically marginalized groups.

Whose viewpoints are being excluded? Is anyone being ignored? Who is being left out of the conversation, both in and out of the room? PICA’s discussions and actions aim to address issues for all historically marginalized groups, not just those identities that are represented by the present PICA members.

Lean into discomfort. Discussions about racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, etc. often require us to examine issues that we do not want to talk about. However, the most progress is often made by leaning into our own discomfort so that we are able to address what needs to be addressed.

Respect the pronouns of others. If a PICA member does not know someone’s pronoun, it’s frequently much better to ask than to assume they know and wind up misgendering someone.

Use “both/and” rather than “either/or” thinking. There is rarely only one way to solve a problem. When confronting complex issues, the use of "either/or" thinking often oversimplifies situations and makes it more difficult to resolve conflicts when there are multiple viable routes forward. In contrast, "both/and" thinking allows us to recognize that truths are multifaceted and to come up with more options, which are frequently better than any one person’s idea.

Recognize that intent ≠ impact. PICA members enter into this space with good intentions. However, sometimes we end up saying or doing something that is hurtful even when we have good intentions. Good intentions do not excuse hurtful behavior, so we will think about how our words will be received before we open our mouth.

Speak to your own experience. Using “I” or “we” statements often helps with avoiding generalizations and also the dynamic of explaining back to someone about their own oppressions they face. Tread cautiously when explaining or commenting on experiences distinct from your own.

Discuss the message, not the messenger. PICA members will focus discussion and commentary on what is being spoken, not who is speaking. For example, they will identify a statement as racist, rather than labeling the person making the statement. They will avoid tone policing and listen to what has been said, rather than the way in which it was said. Frequently, our first instinct to respond to an opposing view is often to be defensive and hear things more as a personal attack than intended, no matter what is said, so take a breath and give your non-instinctual brain a second to kick in and decide how best to respond.

Be aware of intersectionality. The most common practice in astronomy diversity efforts is to focus on a single dimension of identity. This approach leaves behind, for example, women of color who are impacted by the intersection of racism and sexism. Instead, it is better to take a multidimensional approach and recognize that each person has a unique matrix of identities and experiences. Members of historically marginalized groups do not share an identical set of experiences, so do not assume they do.

Oops/ouch framework. Members of PICA will mess up while having these conversations; it is inevitable. When someone says something hurtful or problematic, members can say “ouch” which serves as a marker that there is something that needs to be addressed and discussed further. Members who say something that is harmful or problematic and then realize it should say “oops” to acknowledge it and then try again.