Since members were elected at the November 2019 general meeting, the eight folks who comprise the Twin Cities DSA Grievance Committee have been hard at work assessing current issues and envisioning what the Grievance Committee could be. We meet on a monthly basis to discuss new grievances and concerns within the chapter, review past grievance processes, and engage in critical discussions of what restorative and transformative justice approaches to addressing harm can look like within our organization. Founded on the belief that the carceral state perpetuates harm rather than providing safety and justice, the Grievance Committee has been working to create systems of accountability, safety, and support within TCDSA.
One such system is the grievance process itself, which is one of the vital roles that the Grievance Committee has been formed to serve. Grievance Committee members stay in regular contact to discuss each situation, ask questions, and search for the right process for each unique experience. No two grievances are alike and thus individualized responses are called for when relationships have been ruptured or harm has been caused. Keeping each process rooted in the ideals of restorative and transformative justice, we aim to center the person(s) who may have been harmed while both holding the person(s) who caused harm accountable and providing a gateway for them to remain within the community when possible. This process is led by the wants and needs of the person bringing the grievance forward while keeping in mind the safety and sustainability of the larger community. Grievance Committee members additionally debrief after each grievance process to better understand what went well, what didn’t, and how to make improvements to processes in the future.
As a newer committee for the TCDSA, Grievance Committee members have been carving out time at each meeting to read through, discuss, and implement information and strategies formulated by other radical groups and community-based organizations. The “Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence” created by the Oakland-based group Creative Interventions, a national resource center focused on creating and promoting community-based interventions to interpersonal violence, has been foundational for the Grievance Committee as we think about the systems of care and accountability that could most benefit our organization. This toolkit will be one of many resources utilized to further give shape and substance to the grievance committee as it grows.
An additional area of growth for the committee has been in the grievance process itself and the document created by TCDSA members which began this entire venture. Grievance Committee members have been discussing the intricacies of the process, as well as the best ways to relay this information to the general membership. The committee aims for transparency in its processes and procedures with the understanding that everything is still in the process of becoming. The Grievance Committee, and the grievance process underlying it, are only as strong as the members that support and uplift it, which is why it is critical that everyone has knowledge of and a stake in the process, including becoming members of the committee. We currently have two open spots and will have more to fill in the coming months. Read more about the grievance process here and reach out to the Grievance Committee with questions, concerns, and your desire to join at email@example.com.
– Caroline C.
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