To the Root is an collective dedicated to facilitating anti-oppressive community discussions in the hope of reducing violence and supporting victims.
What underlies these discussions is a collective intention to care for ourselves and one another, and to remain committed to anti-oppressive practice. The facilitator is not positioned as a authoritative expert, but each member of the community is considered an expert on their own lived experience. Although it could be argued that not everyone has engaged in a process of reflection that would warrant them being considered an expert on their own lived experience, that process of reflection is a significant part of the process of engaging in anti-oppressive community discussions.
It comes down to creating time and space to intentionally address a specific topic.
What are the responsibilities of anti-oppressive community discussions?
Anti-oppressive community discussion facilitators will often create an outline consisting of questions and any researched facts or information that may be helpful to the participants of the discussion, should someone else not bring them up.
Facilitators will also often research and provide resources that are applicable to the discussion. The content of these outlines, as created by the facilitator, is usually derived from conversations with community members and sometimes other people engaged in anti-oppression work who may bring up interesting, applicable, and useful points about the topic of discussion. However, part of the job of the facilitator is also to gauge interest during conversation and to assist in moving the conversation forward or asking any other questions that may provoke applicable discussion. Ideally, other people in the community will then use their skills and lived experience to facilitate participation in the community discussion. Another important responsibility of facilitators is to work towards maintaining the relative safety of the space.
Why Anti-oppressive community discussions?
Whether people are conscious of it or not, everyone has been affected by violence, either directly or indirectly. Violence is not a random phenomenon, and it is not an inherent byproduct of humanity. It is a byproduct of a system of structured power built off of privileging people of some subject positions (identities), and oppressing others who do not uphold this dominant structuring of power. This oppression manifests itself through violent means including physical assault, emotional abuse, bullying, poverty, erasure, exclusion, silencing, sexual violence, the denial of human rights, and much more. It is a manifestation of paradigms built around these structures of power that breed forms of oppression such as sexism, cissexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, sizeism, and classism, to name a few.
Community outreach education can be helpful in preventing violence, as well as providing support for survivors or victims of violence and abuse through anti- oppressive community discussions that take into consideration the importance of both individual healing and accountability, as well as community care and accountability. This dual focus is important because violence occurs according to systemic factors, so the system must be revolutionized in order to reduce the violence it permeates. This can begin to happen through building communities that take care of one another and focus on anti-oppressive practice. However, in order for caring, anti-oppressive communities to be formed, individuals must go through their own processes of healing and accountability.
How do anti-oppressive community discussions reduce violence?
Those who are unfamiliar with participating in anti-oppressive community discussions are often confused as to how they are capable of creating change. What it comes down to is the sharing of knowledge based on lived experiences where the voices of those who are traditionally silenced by oppression are prioritized. This begins on an individual level where individuals work on their own healing process as well as being accountable for their subject position within the greater systemic context of their existence. Then, these paradigms begin to extend to a small community of people, especially when anti-oppressive community discussions are happening within that community. Eventually, this community extends outward.
How safe are anti-oppressive community discussions?
An important quality of anti-oppressive community discussions is that they work towards being safer spaces. A safer space is a space that makes people feel as safe as possible by working towards creating an anti-oppressive environment, where advocacy, truth, confidentiality, the ability to be one’s self, the ability to take care of one’s needs, and being non-judgmental are priorities. It is important to recognize that no space can be indefinitely safe for everyone, as peoples’ needs are so diverse, and because the process of creating a safer space is never ending. The social world is continuously changing, and so are peoples’ positions in it as individuals. However, working towards creating a safer space is important for anti- oppressive community discussions.
How much are people charged to participate in anti-oppressive community discussions?
Anti-oppressive community discussions should be as available as possible to as many people as possible. For this reason, participants are asked to donate on a “pay what you can” basis. It is the responsibility of the organization initiating the discussions to pay the fee for the discussion. Prices below are for organizations that initiate these discussions, not the cost to individual participants.
If the organization responsible for initiating the discussion needs to raise a certain amount of money to cover the cost of the discussions, recommended amounts can be suggested. To the Root is also open to assisting organizations in raising the money to afford community discussions, and is willing to work within organizations’ budgets.
What discussion topics are available for facilitation from To the Root?
** Note: The prices as they appear below are not the price individual participants are to be charged, but the overall price for an organization who initiates community discussions.
This community discussion aims to engage people in discussion regarding the topic of oppression and how to actively dismantle it in our daily lives. This is an incredibly complex and dynamic topic, so this discussion aims simply to be a starting point. That being said, this discussion can always be used as a way to brush up on the foundation of anti-oppressive practice. Specific topics that will be discussed include: what oppression is, different types of oppression, why “reverse racism” isn’t really a thing, ways that oppression manifests itself, internalized oppression, and how to put these theories into practice.
Length: 2 hours Cost: $300.00
*** This community discussion is an important primer for the rest of the discussionslisted below. If an organization is interested in booking a series of discussions, the cost of Anti-Oppression 101 is reduced to $200.00.
A Discussion on Consent
This community discussion aims to engage participants in conversation about what consent means, and how to incorporate consensual practices into their lives. Some of the specific topics that will be discussed include: feeling obligated, active participation, sobriety and consent, consent regarding sex with people with disabilities, consent and kinky sex, and expectations regarding sex, among other things.
Length: 2 hours Cost: $300.00
A Discussion on Working Towards Creating Safer Spaces
Often, spaces become designated “safe spaces” where people are encouraged to be conscious of how they may infringe on others’ safety. However, designated “safe spaces” can be problematic. They often reproduce potentially oppressive power dynamics, even when that is not anyone’s intention. This community discussion aims to engage people in considering how people can work together to create safer spaces, rather than just designating “safe spaces”. Some specific topics that will be discussed include: what makes people feel safe, what a safer space is, why working towards safer spaces is useful, whether it is possible to create safe spaces, the danger of reproducing the power dynamics involved in creating oppression, trigger warnings, consent, confrontation, and closed spaces.
Length: 2 hours Cost: $300.00
Guidelines for Providing Trauma-Related Trigger Support
This discussion, which can also be facilitated more as a training session, depending on the participants and the needs of specific communities, aims to discuss ways to provide support to people who have, may, or are currently experiencing trauma-related triggers. This discussion includes information about what triggers are, how to know when someone may be feeling triggered, and what to do when someone is feeling triggered.
Length: 1 hour Cost: $200.00
A Discussion on Accountability and Restorative Justice
This community discussion will focus on the topic of accountability. How does violence permeate our communities, and our lives? How do we address it? What does it mean to be accountable? How can we begin to be accountable to ourselves and our communities? And most importantly, how can we better support survivors of abuse in our lives? People are encouraged to participate (or sit back and listen) in this discussion with the intention to move towards a survivor-centred, support-based model of accountability that functions through autonomy, community, and an ethic of care.
Length: 2 hours Cost: $400.00
A Discussion on Non-Binary Gender
This community discussion will focus on the topic of non-binary gender. What is non-binary gender? Which individual identities fall under the realm of non-binary gender identity? Are non-binary gender identities transgender identities, or something different entirely? What language is being used to talk about non-binary gender and trans(*)gender identities? How do non-binary people cope in a gendered society? This community discussion aims to provide people with information regarding non-binary gender, and to talk about how to exist outside of dominant gender binaries in a very gendered society. This community discussion has the ability to act more as an information session, or more as a support group, depending on the participants.
Length: 2 hours Cost: $300
Other projects from To the Root:
To the Root is also available to facilitate support groups on the topics of chronic pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm, and non-binary gender.
If there is a discussion topic pertaining to anti-oppressive practice, violence reduction, or victim/survivor support that an organization that is not offered currently by To the Root, please contact us and we will work with you to come up with something that suits your needs.