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Participants at Aspiration events are sometimes based in one geographic location, but more often come from many regions and countries spread across the globe, and in all cases, represent a broad range of experiences and viewpoints. So much of what we are trying to accomplish at each event involves building new relationships, and positive and constructive attitudes serve as the foundation for the work we will do.

While we do not want to dictate behavior or in any way unnecessarily limit expression, we provide the following guidelines as a starting point for collaboration and community building during all the events we co-design and facilitate.

These guidelines are put forward in a proactive stance of trust toward all participants, inviting each person to be their best self, and to help others have most positive meeting experiences.

These guidelines are employed within our practices for establishing Inclusive and Safe Spaces.

Participants who fail to honor and follow these guidelines may be asked to leave the meeting at the discretion of the meeting organizers.

Guidelines on Respect

Demonstrate respect for others at all times: Effective sharing and learning can only take place when interactions are built on a foundation of mutual respect. It will never be acceptable to insult others or demonstrate disrespect, even in moments of philosophical disagreement and passionate exchange. In particular, we ask all participants to:

  • Respect the schedule and the clock so we can stay on time: When we take a 15-minute break, please be back and ready to go after 15 minutes, not off checking email or smoking a cigarette. Please attend to email and voicemail earlier in breaks instead of later, and arrive promptly for sessions so that others are not made to wait :^)
  • Focus on listening: We are all passionate about our work and have much to say, but it is in listening and understanding how others are thinking and experiencing, and any challenges they are facing, that we become stronger as projects, communities and networks. In particular, it is never ok to interrupt others while they are speaking, and please refrain from side conversations while others are speaking.
  • Avoid excessive debate: It is always OK to disagree and let others know you think differently on an issue or point. Many among us possess strong beliefs on matters of technology, politics, philosophy and community. But live meeting time is precious, and extended debate is not time well spent, especially for those who are spectators. In moments of strong disagreement, whenever possible, we ask participants to "agree to disagree", stayed focused on the goals of the session or discussion, and move on to address shared needs and shared opportunities. When deeper debate is warranted, we encourage participants to pause and agree on a productive frame for further exchange of views; repeatedly asserting the same points is not such a frame :)

Guidelines on Inclusion

Actively strive to include everyone present in all facets of the event. Meetings should not be viewed as a competition to prove who is most knowledgeable, but rather as an opportunity to broaden networks of trust, skill, collaboration and understanding. Strive to ensure that no one is left out, and speak in language that is accessible to all. In particular:

  • Utilize simple language: Speak slowly and clearly for those who have English as a second or tenth language, and always make sure to avoid jargon and acronyms, using vocabulary everyone can understand. Where they do need to be used, please define acronyms and technical jargon when introducing them in discussion.
  • Follow the "Rule of 1" and the "Rule of n": When you speak, make 1 point and then let others speak, and when in a group of "n" people, speak "1/nth" of the time.

Guidelines on Creating a Safe Environment

We are committed to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion or nationality. In particular:

  • We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Any such behavior will be addressed immediately and definitively, and those who harass or make others feel unsafe at the meeting will not be allowed to stay.
  • Check your vocabulary: Please refrain from using words or phrases that may offend or make other participants uncomfortable. This includes sexually explicit language, violent language, or language that makes assumptions or projects stereotypes about cultural, racial and gender norms.
  • Meeting privacy and discretion: Depending on the nature of the meeting, we may request participants agree to follow protocols such as the Chatham House Rule in order to protect the privacy and anonymity of fellow participants. This request may also be extended to not taking pictures or documenting the event on social media. In general, we request that when looking to share or repeat non-public information obtained during the meeting, participants confirm what is acceptable with those from whom they gained the information.

Guidelines on Overall Participation

  • Don't just talk to your friends: We encourage all present to make it a point where possible to talk to strangers and those you know less well, as they are hopefully friends you have not yet met.
  • Ask your questions early and often: Questions are the currency of collaboration; never suffer in silence when something is unclear. Asking questions is an act of leadership. The event is convened specifically for the benefit of those who need to know more about the topics at hand. Participants should feel free to ask any question at any time; there shall be no such thing as a "stupid question".
  • Embrace a spirit of sharing: We believe that everyone present has valuable knowledge and experience to share, and encourage each participant to please contribute their wisdom to the mix. All of us know something and none of us knows everything.