We invite you to join us in co-creating a welcoming and respectful conference culture which supports a rich learning and community building experience for everyone. We are all learning how to best participate, interact, and support each other in an online format. We hope that these guidelines can help us all to do so mindfully.
- Be fully present. Choose a place to connect to the conference that supports your full participation, and take time to clear and prepare your space. Consider sitting near a window or bringing elements of nature indoors with you. Turn off or silence ringers and notifications, close out your email and other programs and apps, and put away devices you are not using to access the conference. Be here now.
- Give and receive welcome. Say hello. Share a smile. Share your video when possible to help warm the space for others. Use the chat and comment features to welcome, celebrate, affirm, and lift each other up.
- Listen deeply. Listen not just to words, but to the feelings, ideas, and inspirations behind them. Consider having paper, writing or drawing implements, or other tools that support your listening and understanding at hand.
- Stay curious and open. Ask questions. Practice inner inquiry. Expect and accept a lack of closure or agreement. Stretch your willingness to be uncomfortable.
- Make space, take space. If you tend to be the last person to speak, consider adding your voice sooner. If you tend to jump in right away, practice patience and listening.
- Share your knowledge, skills, and questions. Don't expect that we all come with the same language. If you use words or concepts that may be unfamiliar to others, check in to see if an explanation is needed. If you don't understand something, ask to slow down and clarify. Explore the options for connecting that are comfortable to you. Raise your hand, pose a question to the group through the chat, or ask a question one-on-one to a BDA staff member or someone you may know. No one knows everything, but together we know a lot.
- Speak from your own experience. Use "I" statements rather than generalizations. As you listen to others, understand that their experiences are unique to them, and your experiences are unique to you. Be aware of your biases and privileges, and allow space for voices that are different from your own.
- Embrace difference and diversity. Practice "yes/and" thinking, exploring how apparently contradictory ideas, observations, or experiences might be true at the same time.
- Respect others' identities, backgrounds, and boundaries. Listen to how people introduce themselves, rename yourself to include your preferred pronouns, look at others’ name labels, and use the names and pronouns that people prefer. Do not assume anyone's gender identity, cultural background, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Recognize that participation is always by invitation, and each person has their own thresholds for how they show up and what they share.
- Take care of yourself and each other. Stand up, move around, drink water, look out the window, step outside, nourish yourself, and rest. Children, pets, food, and drinks are welcome to join you and be within view. If you need to take a break, turn off your video, or just listen for a while, that is fine. To the extent that you are able in this context, offer support when you sense it may be needed, with openness to how your offer may be received.
- Be aware of both intent and impact. Even though we may intend no harm, sometimes our words and actions can be unskillful and hurt others. Listen to what you actually say, not just what you meant to say. Recognize that impact is often different from intent. If someone tells you that something you said or did caused harm, listen, acknowledge their experience, reflect, and reengage.
- Call each other in, not out. When someone acts in a way that challenges your values, use it as an opportunity to invite or call that person into greater awareness of their impact. Be accepting that you might also be called into acting more skillfully. Let’s all help each other to learn and grow.
These guidelines were co-created by Biodynamic Association staff and conference advisory committee, with inspiration from Soul Fire Farm, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, and Finding Our Voice.