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Conditions of Membership & Crisis Response Policy

How and when it is appropriate to decide that a member must leave the community.

Summary

At Chaortica, we value support, and we try our best to help each other through triumphs and hardships. Sometimes, there are situations through which community members, as individuals and/or as a collective, are unable or unwilling to support other community members.

This document outlines two separate processes. First, an emergency procedure for time-sensitive incidents. Second, a process for removing people who “aren’t a good fit” when the issue is not time-sensitive.

Transparency

How and when to include the member-in-question in the discussion is a sensitive issue. In all cases the community should default to including that member immediately in all offboarding conversations. Here are some cases where it may be appropriate to not include them:

  • there has been actual or threatened violence
  • the member is in a state where they cannot advocate for themselves reasonably
  • the member cannot be reached in person, on Slack, or by phone and the decision cannot wait for them to return
  • the member has been notified of the situation and has been included by other means, but the community has decided it needs a private forum in which to discuss honestly (the member should be informed that this is happening)
  • other

We recognize that excluding the member-in-question will always feel easier to the rest of the community. We also recognize that what is easiest may not also be the most just. It will not always be clear how much inclusion is correct and we must trust in each other’s good intentions. Generally, in non-emergencies, the process should be completely transparent.

Caveats

All procedures outlined here are to be considered a worst-case scenario. It is only acceptable as a last resort or in emergency situations.

This is not a means to handle interpersonal conflicts that could otherwise be resolved through mediation. “Offboarding” should never be used as a threat.

Chaortica is non-hierarchical, but to the extent that power dynamics do exist in the house they should not play a role in the offboarding procedure.

This document defines a distinction between “emergency” and “non-emergency” procedures. In practice the boundary may not be so clear. While it is important to have clear guidelines, it is also important to have some flexibility while dealing with complicated situations. These are guidelines that the community may deviate from when necessary.

Emergency Procedure

Definitions

An “emergency” is a situation where a community member feels their own physical, mental or emotional safety is being threatened by another member.

“Consensus” requires that everyone in the meeting (except the member-in-question) consent to the group decision. It does not require that every member personally agree with the decision so long as they agree to respect it for the sake of the community. All members have the right to block consensus if they feel strongly that a decision will hurt the community. Anyone not at the meeting must consent to the decision being made in their absence.

Examples of Emergency Situations

  • physical threats or violence
  • sexual harassment or assault
  • acute mental health conditions
  • addiction
  • severe physical injury
  • other

While we sincerely hope that none of us ever have to experience such challenges, we must be prepared should they arise. The procedure follows:

1. Initiate the Conversation

If any housemate feels personally challenged by another member in a way that meets the definition of emergency above then they (and only they) are responsible for initiating the offboarding process:

  1. Create a private Slack channel that excludes the member-in-question. The purpose of the channel is to:

    1. announce and summarize the emergency
    2. coordinate any immediate actions that need to be taken
    3. schedule an in-person meeting
    4. ONLY discuss and share to the extent that is absolutely necessary; i.e. NO gossip, speculation, editorializing, etc.
  2. Other members who feel personally at risk from the member-in-question should identify themselves as “Stakeholders” who:

    1. may request that they be informed, or give explicit permission, before the member-in-question returns to the property
    2. may share other specific concerns that require special attention and awareness from the community
    3. ONLY may identify themselves: no member of the community may name another member as a Stakeholder

2. Take Immediate Action

Once the emergency has been raised, the assumption is that steps are taken to immediately remove the member-in-question from the property.

  1. The member-in-question is asked to leave for seven nights.

    1. if they need to return to the house for a reasonable cause, they must first notify or get permission from any Stakeholders who have requested this
  2. A public Slack channel is created that includes the member-in-question and

    1. is used to make and grant (or deny) requests to visit the property
    2. is limited to logistical questions and updates, and will not include subjective or emotional discussions
    3. the member-in-question may nominate someone to post in the Slack channel on their behalf if this medium is not available to them (the nominee may decline or step down at any time)

3. Final Decision

There will be a meeting with the full community within one week of the initiation. The outcome of the meeting will be a decision whether the member-in-question will be told to leave permanently. A secondary goal of the meeting is to offer that member a space to share their feelings. Note that it is mandatory that the member-in-question be present for the meeting except in extreme circumstances where this is unsafe or impractical. If possible a mediator from outside the house should be present. The meeting structure is as follows:

  1. 20 minutes for the member-in-question to present their perspective of the emergency

  2. 45 minutes for other community members to share their feelings and perspective

  3. 60 minutes with the member-in-question not present for the community to reach a consensus (see definition) decision on the member-in-question, whether:

    1. they may return to the community immediately
    2. they may return to the community after more time has passed or a condition is met
    3. they must leave the community permanently either within thirty days if appropriate or immediately (to the extent allowed by law)
  4. 25 minutes to present the decision to the member-in-question and member-in-question to ask questions about step 3

Non-Emergency Procedure

Definitions

A “non-emergency” is an offboarding process where several members feel the community is weakened by the presence of another member.

Examples of Non-Emergency Situations

A pattern of at least one of the following:

  • poor communication
  • frequent and prolonged absences
  • not attending meetings and other community-organized events
  • not contributing to simple chores such as garbage, dishes, sweeping, etc.
  • other housemates not enjoying their interactions with the member-in-question

The procedure follows:

1. Discuss the Issue with the Person in Question

At Chaortica we solve our problems through open and honest communication. It is only when the person-in-question withdraws from conversation or an impasse is reached that it is appropriate to move to the next step. It should never be the case that the person-in-question first learns there is a problem when this process is initiated. It is a requirement that at least one member have a direct conversation with the person-in-question before moving forward.

2. Contact the Community Steward

The Community Steward is a friend of the community who has volunteered to be an impartial point of contact when a member wants to initiate the offboarding process.

  1. Send an email to _______________________________ or text ____________________ with the subject “Stewarding Request”. Note that stewardship is not a lifelong appointment and the contact info may change. The message should include:

    1. the name of the member-in-question
    2. a brief summary of your reasons (this would be shared with the community later, so choose your words carefully)
    3. how you or the community has tried and failed to resolve the situation through other means (this would not be shared)
  2. If a single housemate is named by three or more housemates independently, the steward will contact the house at ____________________________________.

    1. the steward will first email the person-in-question along with a summary of the reasons (anonymized), to give them notice that they will be emailing the larger community
    2. the steward will email the community and inform them that three people (anonymous) have named the person-in-question, along with a summary of their reasons
    3. the steward will instruct the community to arrange a meeting in the next week
  3. Schedule an all-community meeting.

    1. finding a mediator from outside the community is strongly encouraged
    2. a temporary, public Slack channel may optionally be created to discuss logistics related to the meeting only

3. Decision

There will be a meeting with the full community within one week of the initiation. The outcome of the meeting will be a decision whether the member-in-question will be told to leave permanently. A secondary goal of the meeting is to offer that member a space to share their feelings. It is mandatory that the member-in-question be present. A mediator from outside the house should be present. The meeting structure is as follows:

  1. 20 minutes for the member-in-question to present their perspective

  2. 45 minutes for other community members to share their feelings and perspective

  3. 60 minutes with the member-in-question not present for the community to reach a consensus decision on the member-in-question, whether

    1. they may remain in the community, and we have agreed on a plan to resolve the conflict between the Stakeholders and the member-in-question
    2. the decision will be revisited again in one month with an identical meeting
    3. they must leave the community permanently within the next 60 days, rounded down to the nearest 1st or 15th day of the month
  4. 25 minutes to present the decision to the member-in-question and member-in-question to ask questions about step 3

New Member Two Month Review

New members will be given a 60 day trial period beginning the day they move in. Within two weeks of the 60 day mark, a meeting will be called with the following format:

  1. 20 minutes for the new member to check in, share their perspective of living here, including what has been going well or not well

  2. 20 minutes for other community members to share their feelings and perspective

  3. 60 minutes with the new member not present for the community to reach a consensus (see definition) decision on the new member, whether

    1. they will become a permanent member
    2. they must leave the community permanently within the next 60 days, rounded down to the nearest 1st or 15th day of the month
  4. 25 minutes to present the decision to the new member and new member to ask questions about step 3

Agreement

By signing this document, you are agreeing to the following:

  1. You have read this document in full.

  2. You will adhere to this policy, in the case that you or another community member is uncomfortable with another housemate's behavior to the point of being concerned about your/their physical, mental or emotional safety and well-being.

  3. You will adhere to this policy if your behavior causes another community to instigate this process:

    1. We may contact your emergency contact listed below to communicate details and request that they escort you from the property and/or provide you with housing for 7 nights.
    2. You will not return to Chaortica without permission before 7 nights have passed from the point of contacting your emergency contact.
    3. Should you need to return, you will communicate with other housemates via Slack or a specified house representative, and wait until you receive permission.
    4. You will agree with the decision the community makes regarding your permanent residency in Chaortica.

Name: ______________________________________Date: ____________________

Signature: __________________________________

My emergency contact is ________________________________________. I have notified them that they are my emergency contact for Chaortica, and they have agreed that should I need a place to stay, they can help me find housing for seven nights. In case of some emergency that involves needing to remove me from the community for a short period of time, you can contact them at _______ - _________ - ___________

You may use the space below to request special instructions. These are not legally binding and may not override any other agreements in the membership or offboarding documents.