Co-creating in non-hierarchical teams
A lot of our work is done by volunteers who come from different backgrounds, many of whom are not “technical” in the conventional sense. We believe that this work is only tangentially technical, and at it’s core, this work is about building community and protecting one another. In our teams, we want to create space for everyone to show up with their own skills, to teach others and to learn from others. We also want to avoid replicating the toxic, oppressive elements of tech culture, such as the side-lining of “soft skills” (among many other things).
Often people who volunteer who feel their skills are primarily “soft” skills think that they have nothing to offer us. This could not be farther from the truth! Tech communities are starved for this influence and we really need people who can provide that leadership. Conversely, “technical” people often volunteer with the assumption that they are terribly useful, when in fact we don’t need most of their specific skills. We have to work proactively to balance this out and have a productive, equitable team. We’ve come up with some guidelines that we thought we’d share with you:
- You are useful: You may not know how you are useful yet, but you are definitely useful and we need you. This work, like all activism, should be holistic. There are many different ways to engage and support and many require no skills beyond being a decent human and being down.
- Take ownership: One of the great assets and failings of anarchy is that everyone owns a piece of everything. Figure out what you want to carry and take responsibility for it. If you don’t know what you can do, reach out about it. If you feel like you don’t know how to take ownership, don’t worry, we’re doing it together. We will learn.
- Don’t be a hero: If you are overwhelmed or slammed with other stuff, it’s ok to not take on very much. It is in fact more accountable, and will help you stick it out in the long run. All movement work relies heavily on the often-invisible work of people who support, rather than “lead”. There are many ways to contribute and many ways to lead. Do what works for you.
In solidarity, ActSecure