Accessibility and Care
Working group to discuss issues of care and accessibility in CoTech and in the co-operative sector more generally. Some issues we could consider as we go forward are:
- Evaluating the accessibility of Wortley Hall
- Supporting people of colour in CoTech
- Supporting gender diversity in CoTech
- Promoting the co-operative movement in underrepresented communities
- Encouraging participation for folks who face financial hardship
- Promoting SolidFund as a fund those in need of support
- Promoting unions within co-operative sector
- Fostering a culture of care within CoTech
- Writing a code of conduct for CoTech online and physical spaces
- Facilitate the attendance of parents/carers
Code of Conduct
A Code of Conduct is a mutual agreement between the community to adhere to certain standards of behaviour towards each other in both our physical and online spaces. It is a good thing to have because it makes explicit what is required to treat each other with care so we build our movement with principles of inclusiveness and solidarity. There are some good tech related documents already out there under copyleft licensees and we can use one of them as a basis. Checkout the Code of Conduct page for more info.
Wortley Hall seems to be a relatively accessible venue which we will potentially be using going forward. We can add potential issues and experiences below. Currently these are mostly from Wortley Hall 2017.
- Acoustic issues in Unite Hall. Difficult to hear anyone who struggles to project their voice.
- Food not always clearly labelled with both a description and ingredients for dietary requirements.
- Social events based around alcohol.
- Generally intense social situation with large group of people.
- Potentially a sensory overload for people on the Autism spectrum.
- Lack of formal structure was causing some people anxiety.
- No gender neutral toilets.
- No training on using people's preferred gender pronouns
- Not sure what parts of the space are wheelchair accessible
- Is there any care or activities for any children who attend?
CoTech is doing relatively well when it comes to gender diversity compared to the wider tech sector but we should consider how we make physical spaces more welcoming to transgender and non binary peoples. We should also consider how help women and trans people to build up the confidence in order to contribute in group discussions and make space for people who struggle to speak up. We also recognise that "diversity" is not an ideal term in these contexts but couldn't think of a better one.
Despite a rich history of co-operative ventures in many cultures, the co-operative sector in the UK has struggled to reach communities and businesses run by people of colour. In CoTech, we should consider how we can improve this situation which is particularly bad in the tech sector more generally. Again the term "diversity" for this objective is not ideal in the context structural oppressions in society and we should be wary that these structures are potentially replicated in our community.
Tech can be a great way for people to get themselves better financial conditions as tech labour is so sought after in both the current capitalist and co-operative economies. We should think of tech co-operatives and generally learning technical/digital skills as a good strategy for working class people to improve their conditions and autonomy under capitalism. CoTech was able to get funding from our friends at SolidFund for Wortley Hall 2017 at the very last minute to offer some supported places. One person was able to utilise this who wouldn't have been able to afford to come otherwise.
It is possible we may be able to apply to different funds that can be used to help bring people into the CoTech community. This obviously intersects with other objectives as there are many varied barriers that stop people from accessing the co-operative economy.
Culture of Care
Working in the tech sector can be extremely draining for many reasons which co-operatives tend some issues but also still struggle in others. CoTech will necessarily include a lot on unpaid and underappreciated labour and it is important to try and recognise all contributions as even a small contribution can be difficult depending on people's capacity. However, we should be very careful in adding extra labour to our lives when many of us work extremely hard already. Rest and relaxation are very important so that we don't get burnt out.
Often our work is done in a decentralised and networked fashion. This means it is sometimes difficult to "unplug" and the line between work and leisure is blurred. It is important we create space for people to enjoy leisure without work responsibilities.