Grassroots Connect supports and strengthens the capacity of locally-based, community social justice projects.
Steering Committee (SC)
The Steering Committee is composed of all members of the official legal board and others who want to be involved in Grassroots Connect but do not want to be on the official board.
Steering Committee Members
We aim for 5-8 people on the Steering Committee. Each SC member serves a term of 2 years. We try to stagger the terms so they don’t all expire at once. When a term expires we will check in and see if they want to stay on or leave the committee.
People are added to the Steering Committee by a consensus vote of the current Steering Committee after they have been nominated by an SC member. We seek to add people who are active in the local community, with skills and/or knowledge that can benefit the group, and who are excited about the Grassroots Connect mission.
People can be removed from the Steering Committee with a vote of consensus minus two. This would only happen if absolutely necessary and after engaging in the conflict resolution process (see below).
All SC members are expected to actively work to dismantle engrained systems of oppression (including racism, class oppression, colonization, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism) and characteristics of white supremacy culture internally and in our work together. Within the first six months of joining the Committee (preferably sooner), white-bodied members or folks who experience white privilege will complete a Me and White Supremacy book group (or some agreed-upon, equivalent structured and accountable work) to acknowledge and begin dismantling white supremacy culture internally, if they have not already done so. And they are expected to participate in at least one training a year after that. Non-white members are also strongly encouraged to engage in this internal work as well.
If a SC member has a conflict of interest in a decision (they are involved in a group being discussed, materially affected by a decision, etc) then that SC member shall abstain from voting on that decision.
Consensus decision-making is a cooperative process in which everyone in the discussion hashes out possibilities and modifies a proposal until everyone can agree to support a decision in the best interest of the whole. A decision may not be everyone’s personal preference, but is something that all can agree is worth trying. The wisdom of the group is synthesized through active listening, shared purpose, preparation, deliberation, and a focus on issues and solutions. More general info on consensus
The Steering Committee strives for consensus in all decisions but can fall back to consensus minus one if absolutely necessary.
For significant decisions (structure changes, approving new projects, and other things that deeply affect the group), everyone on the Committee needs to be heard from (even if they aren’t at the meeting). This can be done digitally. Smaller decisions can be made without everyone present, but not if it’s likely that the absent people would disagree.
The Steering Committee seeks and incorporates input and advice from projects for any decisions that affect that project before making the decision.
The Steering Committee can delegate some decisions (implementation details) to individuals or teams.
Feedback and Accountability
The Steering Committee regularly reviews one of the principles at the beginning of meetings and discusses how they are and are not acting in alignment with that principle.
Project liaisons regularly ask for feedback from the projects. And send out surveys to all projects at least once a year requesting feedback.
People from sponsored projects are welcome to sit in on board and steering committee meetings, though they may be asked to leave some conversations if there are sensitive topics.
The Steering Committee sends out all meeting notes and information about major decisions to all sponsored projects.
We have a form on our website where individuals or projects can send anonymous feedback.
For decisions that require official board approval, the Steering Committee technically only makes recommendations to the official board. The official board then meets, usually right after Steering Committee meetings, to approve or reject the Steering Committee recommendations (this could also be done via digital communication).
See the bylaws for more on the official board structure.
Who We Work With
We work with liberatory grassroots social justice projects that are connected to the Eugene/Springfield regional community and have demonstrated that they will follow through.
Ideally the project would: Have at least two dedicated people, have a mission statement or something that lays out what they are doing, and already be active in some way in physical reality.
Projects must demonstrate a commitment to Black and POC liberation, decolonization, feminism, trans-inclusivity, accessibility, anti-authoritarianism, horizontally structured, anti-capitalist, pro-sustainability, etc.
There is no set limit for the number of GC projects. The Steering Committee will evaluate new potential projects based on the current capacity of Grassroots Connect.
Onboarding Process for Sponsoring New Projects
Step 1: The project applicant fills out a simple online application form or sends in a video that explains the basics of the project. The project applicant will receive an acknowledgement of the application.
Step 2: The Steering Committee will name two SC members to meet with the project applicant. In that meeting they learn more about the project and explain the parameters of working with Grassroots Connect (how we can and can’t support them, that they are technically a part of Grassroots Connect, what GC has to do to work within the system, financial oversight, etc.) The two SC members likely continue as the regular liaisons for that project.
Step 3: The two liaisons share information about the project and their recommendation of whether Grassroots Connect should support the project with the rest of the Steering Committee.
Step 4: The Steering Committee does a quick digital consensus check to see if there is quick support for sponsoring the project. If there is no digital consensus then they convene a meeting to discuss more and decide. The meeting happens as soon as possible because we want to be responsive to the project applicant. The Steering Committee will make a decision within 30 days of meeting with the project applicant.
Step 5: If approved, the liaisons meet with the project to discuss and sign the Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement and Financial Policies. Then the liaisons will work with the project to get them set up with a bank account, mail box, and whatever else they need.
Each project has two dedicated liaisons (one primary and one secondary) from the Steering Committee who take time and energy to build and maintain a relationship built on trust and respect.
The liaisons check in with sponsored projects at least quarterly to see how things are going and if there’s anything they need from Grassroots Connect. Some check-ins could be a brief digital communication, but there must be at least one longer check-in meeting per year.
There is no limit on how long a project can be a part of Grassroots Connect as long as they are active, aligned with the mission and principles of Grassroots Connect, and not putting Grassroots Connect at risk. Through conversations between the project and the Steering Committee, it could be decided that it’s time for a group to move on.
Each project has a bank account (a secondary checking account on the main Grassroots Connect bank account) that they can use how they wish, in accordance with the Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement.
There are two signers on all accounts. If the project only has one signer, an SC member can be the other signer.
The SC liaisons work with the projects to track spending and receipts. All receipts / spending info for each project must be documented at least quarterly.
End of Sponsorship
If either party chooses to end the sponsorship or if a project becomes non-responsive, Grassroots Connect will wait one year before allocating funds raised for that project to another purpose.
Grassroots Connect can only donate funds raised for that project to another non-profit. Tax law prevents non-profits from donating funds to individuals.
Conflict Navigation Framework
We want to do conflict well, for tensions between members to be healthy and contribute to personal and collective growth. We want to embrace new practices and build a culture of care and accountability where members feel invited to express and discuss differences of opinion in an open and honest way. We can acknowledge mistakes and harm while holding both perpetrators and community accountable. We work toward a culture of transformative justice.
Conflict Navigation Principles
- We endeavor to the best of our ability to self-reflect, bring up issues promptly, and seek help when needed.
- We begin with the people directly involved, and expand from there as needed.
- We have mutual responsibility and care for each other. We act in good faith and work to be constructive, empathetic, and honest. We navigate conflicts with both our individual needs and the needs of the collective in mind.
- We view each other through the “Green Lens”:
- This person is whole and complete
- They have goals, dreams, and a desire to make a difference
- They have their own answers
- They are contributing to me right now
- They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect
- Disagreements can inspire discussion and learning. However, if a disagreement is blocking progress, is hurtful, or is harmful, then something needs to be addressed.
- Anyone affected by a conflict can move an issue to the next navigation step if it is not being addressed at the current level of engagement.
- Resolution means the parties involved feel heard, the agreed outcome or change is clear, and normal decision-making and activity within the collective is possible. If a conflict continues to negatively impact an individual or the team, more work is needed.
Regular practices to navigate conflict
- Many conflicts are misunderstandings. Don’t make assumptions about what others intend, feel, think, understand, or mean. Start with questions to clarify.
- Don’t tell people what they feel. Talk in terms of your feelings or needs.
- We introduce our principles, structure, communication systems, and conflict navigation framework to all Steering Committee members and projects.
- We hold regular team process check-ins to reflect on our systems and raise any issues.
- We continuously focus on effective, empathetic communication. We create a culture of giving and receiving direct constructive feedback, listening to one another, and asking for help when needed.
- We discuss conflict practices as a group and share how each of us approaches conflict and would like to be approached about conflict.
Generally, the process will start with an “internal check in” and move from there as needed. However, someone could begin at a later step after seeking advice that it would be appropriate to the specific situation.
Ideally, the Conflict Navigation Framework is initiated with all conflict participants. But, if some parties are unwilling, the process could be started with just one.
If you notice conflict between others that seems to be harmful, empower yourself to draw their attention to it. If necessary, you can suggest they engage in the Conflict Navigation Framework.
We start with ourselves. Notice what’s going on internally. Talk to a friend or journal. Strong feelings deserve our caring attention. Get curious about our raw spots and decide how to move forward rather than deepen the wound (Mutual Aid p. 122).
Start by assuming the other person has good intentions (unless proven otherwise).
Most conflict in social movement groups happen because we have strong feelings about people close to us. When those feelings emerge, we can dig deeper and ask ourselves: What else is true? What else is going on I’m not aware of? What else is going on in my life? Am I overreacting? Am I being insecure? Am I taking something personally? Am I simplifying a complex interaction?
Is this situation my responsibility? In my control? If not, can I imagine letting go?
Am I activated due to my history and experiences? Can I attend to these wounds with care?
Do I recognize patterns of reaction from earlier experiences?
Giving feedback is hard. Find a neutral/safe space to share. Be aware of social and historical power dynamics. It may take more than one conversation. Start with gratitude and what you appreciate about each other. Invite the other person to share their story of the conflict. Be compassionate to yourself and the other person. Once they are finished, share your story.
What will make this situation more safe?
What will lower the level of conflict intensity?
How can everyone in the conflict get their basic needs met?
What kinds of health, mental health, and healing supports are needed?
What would accountability in this situation look like and who needs to be involved?
Include a mutually trusted person to host a conversation, choose someone who can remain neutral and is an able facilitator. Encourage participants to speak their truth in order to navigate complexities and possible contradictions (we all have them).
Here is a Mediation Guide that could be helpful for the person supporting the conversation.
If an agreed upon outcome is not reached, pause to sit in discomfort and once again check in internally. Then reach out to the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will select a few people to be a support team to help. The team will try to find a mutually agreeable next step, such as hosting a mediation themselves, or inviting an external mediator.
Conflicts should rarely reach this point, but if the situation has escalated beyond an interpersonal level it becomes a concern for the whole group. The Steering Committee will review the circumstances and previous process, listen to all sides, look at how it is influencing the group, and try to find a resolution that will benefit the whole group.
Irresolvable conflicts may lead to someone leaving the organization or a systemic/structural change to the group.
We are all in the process of learning how to navigate complex cases of harm in our communities as justly as possible. This framework may be far from perfect and we would welcome feedback as we build our skills in conflict resolution as we work toward a culture of transformative justice.