Creating Safe-Spaces at Hackathons and Beyond

At Code for America, the concept of safe-spaces is a necessity. We’re committed to building apps that are “by the people, and for the people” and we recognize that in order to do that, we need to make room for every single person. We must honor each others experiences and engage in a way that supports dialogue.

Although it seems common sense that discriminatory language and acts are inappropriate, a series of recent incidents at Techcrunch Disrupt, Business Insider, and a post in the Usenix community serve as a reminder that defining and promoting respectful conduct is necessary to ensuring safe-spaces.

While we know we can always improve on our efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity, we’re making every effort to protect safe-spaces for civic engagement.

In fact, even before offering tactical tips on hack night organizing, New York Brigade Manager Noel Hidalgo states the Youth Advocates definition for Safe-Spaces writing:

Safe-Space: A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourages everyone to respect others.

As we work with new Brigades and expand our partnerships, we want to ensure that the same spirit of safe-spaces and inclusion cascade to our many U.S.-based and international partners.

To share your tips for creating safe-spaces or to share your code of conduct, ping us at @codeforamerica.

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