Author Topic: VanSlam Family Minutes - May 13, 2012  (Read 1069 times)

Son of Mallin

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VanSlam Family Minutes - May 13, 2012
« on: May 19, 2012, 11:16:28 PM »
Dear all,

Attached please find the minutes of this month's VanSlam Family meeting.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. 

I made this a classic Word document, I don't think there should be any problems.  I've copied-and-pasted the text out of its formatting, but you'll find it more legible in the attachment; I included everything. 

In Community,
Kyle Mallinson, one very frazzled notetaker who's off to his delicious, delicious bed


DATE:  May 13, 2012   TIME:  19:00 – 21:30   LOCATION:  “The Foxy House”
Sasha Wiley (Chair)
Brian L’Abbe
Jeremiah Alexander
Lisa B.
Maureen Berger
Jillian Christmas   Abbi Feresten
Chris Gilpin
Kate Gram
Leia Herrera
Dana Kagis
Matt Kagis   Erin Kirsch
Sonya Littlejohn
Jessica Mason-Paull (SlamMaster)
Dana Matthews
Daniel Mark Patterson
Kyle Mallinson (Notetaker)   Julie Peters
Lisa Slater
Duncan Shields
Sara Spilchen
Trevor Spilchen

1.  INTRODUCTIONS & LOGISTICS                                                                                                                                    SASHA WILEY
•   The agenda was approved.

2.  FORMAT FOR THE SUMMER SEASON                                                                                                                        JESSICA MASON-PAULL
•   VanSlam’s summer season currently operates on a 3-minute / 2-minute / 1-minute round structure, to encourage artist growth and prepare poets for IWPS’ more heterogeneous round format.  It has an elimination format, with a 12-poet / 6-poet / 3-poet structure, to ameliorate the length a 3-round slam creates.  Some members of the Rules Committee had deliberated on the prospect of reversing the order of the rounds, such that summer slams would have a 1/2/3 structure.  The primary motive for this change was to create a shorter show, as the 3-round format has historically led to late Slams.  It would also magnify the importance of one-minute poems.
•   Trevor explained that the original motivation for the 3/2/1 format was to avoid surprising newcomers who had not prepared a one-minute poem. 
•   The challenge involved with changing the structure now was that the season had already begun, and it would technically create a minor imbalance to score the qualifying slams equally should we change the format mid-season.  However, it was agreed by consensus that the effect would be minor and the potential gains significant.   
•   Additional discussed motivators for or against the proposal were as follows:
o   Jillian posited that a 1/2/3 format would be shorter and higher-energy.  She also recommended the change not be immediate, so as not to blindside poets at the poetry slam occurring the next day.
o   Kyle posited that the prevailing culture of Slam Poetry was strongly centred around 3-minute poems, and that changing the structure such that only 3 poets per night could perform a 3-minute poem could adversely affect poet sign-up, which already suffers during the summer season.
o   Lisa S. expressed that she was excited for new repertoire.  She posited that 1-minute poems are excellent tools for tournaments, and encouraging their use could strengthen VanSlam. 
o   Abbi posited that while encouragement for 1-minute poems is a good idea, the proposed format could hurt new people’s chances of joining us.
o   Dana K. explained that a shorter format was a better fit for the summer season, as it would help people enjoy the summer weather.  However, since (as she posited) the 3/2/1 format may mean less time on stage for new poets, she proposed a 2/1/3 format as an alternative. 
o   Erin proposed that there are numerous alternatives to discuss, such as 2/3/1, 1/3/2, and 2/1/3.  One of these, she suggested, could operate as a good compromise between the discussed advantages and disadvantages.  Trevor explained that a 3/1/2 format would not greatly reduce the length of the show. 
o   Jillian elaborated by positing it is a preconception of established poets that slam is centred around 3-minutes poems; newcomers, in her experience, are historically more open to short poems.  She also requested that good notice be given of the change. 
o   Sasha expressed mixed feelings.  She posited that many poets have mostly shorter poems, and this change may broaden turnout.  Trevor added that most Internet slam poems he has seen are three minutes in length. 
o   Matt proposed a random-draw slot, but Trevor explained this would not be implementable, as it would determine the length of the night with no notice. 
o   Jessica explained that at IWPS, there is also a 4-minute round, and IWPS preparation may indicate incorporating one into VanSlam’s summer season as well. 
o   Jillian countered that a 4-minute poem is often a 3-minute poem performed in a more relaxed way.  However, she also posited that the expectation of 3-minute poems is largely created by VanSlam’s organizers.  She concluded that it is a positive thing to challenge artists. 
o   With these points in mind, Lisa S. therefore proposed a 1/2/4 format.  Abbi and Sasha proposed a 2/1/4 format. 
•   With the above discussion in mind, a new motion was raised.  First, the Family voted on whether to vote on a 2/1/3 or a 2/1/4 format.  2/1/4 won. 
MOTION:  For VanSlam to adopt a 2/1/4 format for its summer season
•    Kyle requested good communication and fair notice of this change.  It was agreed that this change would come into effect as of May 21’s VanSlam. 
•   Conversationally, following previous concerns about the possible ramifications of voicing problems regarding sexual violence or safety, it was strongly affirmed (and well received) that people should be encouraged to speak up and not remain silent about these issues.
•   There is currently a Safe Space Development Committee in existence, whose mandate was to deliberate on good practices and protocols to facilitate a safer VanSlam, and to bring proposals back to the VanSlam Family.  The committee had a meeting in April 2012 and several of its members followed up with its proposals for discussion. 
•   Jillian explained the proposed steps involved with a safety issue, in order of escalation. 
1)   Direct Conversation
•   With moderators
•   Only If the acted-upon party feels comfortable with a direct discussion
•   Never in cases that involve assault
2)   “Islands” (appointed individuals whose role is to provide resources and space to those in trouble)
3)   Intervention
•   Sasha elaborated that “islands” are people present to speak to regarding issues of Safe Space.  They are not judges or mediators, but resources.  Their importance is clear, as if those in trouble have no one to speak to about their safety, that in itself is a Culture of Silence.  We have to be prepared to engage in Active Listening regarding any subject. 
o   The final name for these individuals is still under discussion. 
o   Sasha recommended that boundaries on the islands’ behalf will also be necessary.  It ought to be a public role, with no private aspect, and people should not expect to reach an island during their personal time.  Accountability will also be key.  There ought to be a follow-up step regarding how to raise a safety issue. 
o   Matt proposed that islands be required to report that they had been spoken to about a safety issue, though with all names left anonymous.  Abbi elaborated that there are precedents for this model. 
o   Abbi elaborated that islands will need support, as they are also people, and will be receiving descriptions of traumatic events. 
o   Jessica stressed the importance of training, a careful recruitment process, retention, and good protocol. 
o   As Lisa S. explained, the original idea was to keep islands separate from the administrative body of VanSlam.  That being said, these individuals are by nature resource-providers and not policers.  She posited that multiple layers of who’s accountable to who does not work. 
o   Sasha enquired whether there could be two separate roles:  one role to be present at live events for immediate assistance, and one role to be available for ongoing and systemic problems. 

o   Trevor recommended that islands not be VanSlam organizers, but separate from authority.  Jessica proposed that “islands” be a mix of genders, races, and orientations.  Sasha agreed that horizontality would be an important aspect of these individuals.  There was a discussion regarding whether it would be appropriate to only select people who do not slam, but this was generally agreed not to be a good criterion.  Lisa S. recommended that interactions with islands remain in VanSlam space, and not to enter alien or private space with them for safety reasons. 
o   Julie explained that there are implications and inevitable issues during a recruitment process of these individuals.  That these resources themselves be safe people is paramount.  However, it is also paramount that VanSlam not say that these are safe people:  Jessica explained that it can create a sense of false security; and Lisa S. explained that creating a formal position of “safe people” is how predators enter roles of trust. 
o   After some discussion, it was agreed that the selection and nature of these islands would not be referred to a sub-committee, to avoid the appearance (or the reality) of such a body becoming a special interest group, and to prevent two redundant conversations happening at both levels.  As Jeremiah said, those who are responsible for safety should never be chosen by a sub-committee; as Sonya said, safety is a VanSlam Family issue, and it should be determined at that level. 
o   Sonya proposed that, as a fair and an effective recruiting tool, VanSlam develops a questionnaire for everyone at VanSlam to anonymously identify those they go to for help; and that those most often identified as safe people are offered positions as Safe Space islands (possibly after training in Active Listening, resource information, providing Safe Space, and in receiving traumatic information without being triggered or traumatized themselves).  She proposed careful wording to avoid pressure:  “If you identify a person you trust with safety, and you choose to divulge it…”  She also recommended that these lists be kept confidential. 
MOTION:  To identify & invite individuals to become “islands” at VanSlam events via a questionnaire made available to all VanSlam attendees
o   Maureen proposed that these recruitment workshops be made available to everyone, to expand knowledge in Safe Space issues.  Sonya responded that it may be impractical and unsafe to train everyone in Active Listening and engaging skills:  there have been numerous incidents of predators learning to pretend to be an active listener, and the tool can be abused to camouflage and enable predatory relationships and incidents. 
MOTION:  To host Safe Space training for any interested member of the community
o   Sarah proposed a separate workshop regarding anti-oppression and good behaviour, and how to be safe to others. 
ACTION:  Jessica to schedule safety workshops
•   As our protocols currently put conduct violations under the purview of the Rules Committee (i.e. enforcement of the Code of Honour), there was a question of whether to utilize the Rules Committee to maintain Safe Space.  It was widely agreed that the Rules Committee is not the appropriate body to deliberate on this subject.  Kyle elaborated that the Rules Committee primarily practices judgement on competition rules, and judging rules of poetry slam is a different skill-set than restoring a safe environment free of violence. 
MOTION:  For the Rules Committee to maintain Safe Space and respond to Safe Space issues at future VanSlam events
•   Trevor pointed out that if all decisions are made at this level, then the Safe Space Development Committee will have become a redundant body.  Lisa S. posited that it may be time to disband the committee.  Sasha agreed. 
MOTION:  To disband the Safe Space Development Committee
•   Jessica proposed we put these ideas into a forum and begin a separate discussion for each.  Lisa S. posited that while she is in favour of continuing discussion, decisive action is vital so as to begin the process.  Kyle affirmed that a body that meets less than once a month runs the risk of endlessly debating a matter without coming to decisions in good time, while this is arguably an imminent matter.  Dana elaborated that online discussions would have to be structured carefully anyhow, so as not to become an unproductive and malignant argument. 
•   Lisa S. proposed that we implement the policies discussed today and get something in place, to amend later as needed, to avoid indefinite discussion. 
MOTION:  To further develop island ideas online
•   Trevor proposed that we may get VanSlam attendees to become more interested and involved if we engage them at VanSlam events.  Abbi expressed that she had been involved for over a year before she was informally invited into the community outside of shows.  Sasha agreed that the clique factor is an important item for discussion. 
ACTION:  Jessica and Kyle to make inclusiveness of VanSlam Family an agenda item at next VanSlam Family meeting
•   Julie expressed that the host spiel is also a key portion of making VanSlam a Safe Space.  Erin requested that the spiel should be a positive message about good community, rather than an antagonistic one.  Abbi added that it also shouldn’t be so amusing in wording that it belittles the issue. 
•   Jillian and Kyle expressed a wish to collaborate on a host spiel that incorporates Safe Space issues. 
MOTION:  To produce a draft spiel for next meeting

ACTION:  Jillian and Kyle to collaborate on a draft host spiel that incorporates Safe Space issues; by next VanSlam Family meeting

•   Lisa expressed that, now that VanSlam’s Safe Space protocols are well in production, future meetings may have a more regular mix of agenda items. 
•   Trevor proposed that future VanSlam meetings occur in a more public space as opposed to a private home.  Lisa S. explained that practical decisions regarding meeting space may be waylaid if non-expensive public space with good accessibility to the community is made available.  Britannia Community Centre costs $90 each meeting. 
o   Sasha elaborated that it is difficult to find free meeting space, and space costs can diminish a community’s budget very quickly.  That being said, she agreed to the premise that a home-team advantage has the possibility of shifting a dynamic, and approved, in principle, of a range of options. 
o   Sonya suggested a park as a public space, though Julie explained that it is difficult to be in a public space speaking about sensitive issues, and Sasha added that a single outside person can derail or interfere with a meeting, and a park is generally not policeable as space.  Lisa B. proposed that each invitation to a VanSlam meeting express that the meeting space chosen was a practical and not a personal choice, and invite ideas for more public spaces. 
o   Dana proposed the Lori Krill room.  Jillian proposed the back-room space of Café Amici, as they are easy to book and have historically not charged. 
ACTION:  Kate to investigate the prospect of booking the Lori Krill Room
•   Sara requested that accessibility issues be taken into account when choosing meeting space, and Daniel agreed.  She also expressed accessibility issues in Café Deux Soleils.  Jillian enquired whether the more accessible seating in VanSlam may be reserved prior to each VanSlam event.  Matt responded that The Foxy House has good basic accessibility measures once one is familiar with the area.  He agreed to create a diagram to assist attendees. 
ACTION:  Matt to draw map of Foxy House with accessibility diagram
o   Sara explained that accessibility involves not just physical space to enter, but good bathroom and seating. 
o   Sara proposed consulting the Ramp Radical Accessibility Mapping Project to request an accessibility audit of CDS for accessibility. 
•   UPDATE: Sarah reported that an accessibility audit of Café Deux Soliels has already occurred, accessible at:


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Re: VanSlam Family Minutes - May 13, 2012
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2012, 01:13:43 PM »
Thanks, Kyle

I didn't see it mentioned in these minutes and it may have been posted elsewhere but I was wondering if the 2nd Monday of the month alt slams have been cancelled?  Or they just at random times now?

Are there plans for keeping things like the Nerd Slam, Anarchy Slam and Haiku Death Match going?