This week we’re thrilled to share CSCCE’s Community Participation Guidelines with our community. These guidelines are the result of several months of careful consideration, and were co-created by members of our community of practice in a dedicated working group.
In this post, we, the members of that working group, outline our process. Over the coming weeks, we’ll also share additional blog posts in which we reflect on some of the nuances of preparing community participation guidelines. We are doing this for two reasons: We want you to know how we ended up here, and we want our experience to assist you as you develop similar guidelines for your community.
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why community participation guidelines?
For members of a community to feel safe, valued, and empowered, it is imperative to have in place a set of guidelines that frame expectations and norms, and also provide an avenue for members to report incidents where these norms are ignored or violated.
Also, we know that community members themselves should be involved in the creation of their own community participation guidelines to ensure buy-in and representation. As an organization, CSCCE has previously co-created such guidelines with both Community Engagement Fellowship Program cohorts.
And so, Lou formed a working group in the Spring of 2020 to work together to create a set of guidelines for the CSCCE community of practice.
The working group
From its inception, this working group has been known as the “code of conduct” working group, but ultimately we decided a code of conduct was not exactly what we needed (see a future post for more on this). Naming notwithstanding, the members of this working group are (in alphabetical order):
- Arne Bakker
- Arielle Bennett-Lovell
- Chiara Bertipaglia
- Alycia Crall
- Emily Lescak
- Katie Pratt
- Tracy Teal
- Steve van Tuyl
- Lou Woodley
We met semi-monthly via Zoom, and worked collaboratively via Google docs, communicating all the while via a private Slack channel in the CSCCE workspace.
Core values statements
Step one in our process was to create and articulate a set of core values for the community. To do this, we used a worksheet created by CSCCE (which you can download and use yourself or hire CSCCE to help you with). The exercise begins with everyone listing the behaviors they want to see, being as specific as possible. Then the behaviors are clustered into themes, and from there you can begin to draft overarching statements that explain the core values that matter to your community.
By the time we completed this activity, we coalesced around five core values:
- We continuously strive to be inclusive
- We empower one another
- We learn and share
- We trust – and hold space for – one another
- We express gratitude and recognition
We shared these, along with short descriptions of each value, with the rest of the community on May’s Community Call, invited verbal feedback, and also shared a Google doc in the #community channel on Slack for anyone to add their thoughts. We also invited participants on the call to brainstorm both welcome and unwelcome behaviors for each value. The example behaviors we would like to see are also listed on the website.
Creating the community participation guidelines
With our values finalized and published, we then set about using them to guide the creation of a set of community participation guidelines that will inform not only the norms in the CSCCE community of practice, but also any events or gatherings hosted by CSCCE. This includes trainings, workshops, and social events, and applies equally to staff and participants.
While this might sound straightforward, we spent several calls going back and forth as to how best to make progress. We consulted a number of other community participation guidelines and codes of conduct, and drew from the wisdom of other successful communities. We ultimately decided to create a set of guidelines that drew heavily from those of Mozilla, Dryad, and Django, but with our core values as the underlying foundation.
These guidelines are also our first version for CSCCE. As we grow as a community and continue to learn from each other, we’re sure to update them along the way. In future posts, we’ll talk more about our underlying ethos, why it’s important to sweat the small stuff, and the intricacies of creating a reporting process that is fair, restorative, and not punitive. For now, we hope that these Community Participation Guidelines will be of value to our CSCCE community and to those of you who are considering creating community participation guidelines for your own community.
– The Members of the CSCCE Code of Conduct Working Group