The Sumac Centre aims to be a place where everyone can feel welcome and respected. Because the centre does not exist in a vacuum, it is affected by the values, behaviours and cultural norms of wider society; many of which are hierarchical, oppressive and abusive. It is the ongoing responsibility of everyone who uses this centre to minimise the effects of oppression and abuse on this space and everyone who uses it.
Creating a positive and inclusive space requires a collective effort from everyone involved. We ask everyone who enters this space to actively challenge any negative action or behaviour that might prevent people from wanting to be involved with our space, and to be aware of the effects of their own language and behaviour on others.
We define unsafe, or harmful behaviour as anything which involves the use of power in a way that is detrimental to the well being of any individual or group, whether physically or psychologically. Power is not fixed or static, but is derived from wider social norms regarding race, age, gender, sexuality, social class and mental and physical health among many other factors. We cannot choose our place within these existing power structures, but we can make a conscious effort to oppose the harm they cause.
If problems arise due to abuses of power then a clear process and a collective effort will be needed to resolve them. Any process with which we respond to harmful or abusive behaviour should be governed by the needs and wishes of the victim or victims of that behaviour.
Please keep the following in mind:
Respect everyone’s physical and emotional boundaries. Ask first before touching anyone, listen to what people say and be aware of their reactions; above all be willing to change your behaviour if someone lets you know that you are making them uncomfortable. Be aware that discussion of certain topics can be upsetting (eg. violence, sexual abuse, encounters with police) and make sure people around you are comfortable with it before you talk about any of these issues.
Be aware of the language you use around people from religions and cultures other than your own. Remember that people’s relationships to religion can often cause them to be marginalised.
Respect the names and pronouns people choose for themselves. Do not allow your assumptions about anyone’s gender, sexuality, their health or their personal or social background to affect the way you treat them. Remember that everyone has differing opinions, beliefs and experiences. Differences of opinion should not be a cause for conflict.
Remember that this space is not secure. Please do not bring any illegal or banned materials into the space, as doing so could put the Sumac Centre at risk.
Be aware that children regularly use the Sumac Centre, and that the space is animal-friendly. Please take extra care to avoid leaving anything harmful in the Centre. For reasons of confidentiality and the protection of vulnerable people, some sessions and events at the Sumac are private. We ask people who are not involved in these sessions not to enter the space during these times.
Ultimately we ask everyone at the Sumac Centre to be aware that their actions affect others, often in ways that weren’t intended. We expect everyone to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and to play an active role in taking care of those around them.