June 30 2022 GM

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Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

Date: Thursday, June 30rd

Time: 9am EDT / 1pm UTC

Who: Sandy & Danae

Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.

Pathways to Organizational Health

Learn about Team CommUNITY recently published Community Health Report, Pathways to Organizational Recovery’

The NEW report is designed to provide digital rights community leaders with practical insight and recommendations to help them prioritize the wellbeing and health of their teams and employees, while also offering insights into the psychosocial challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has had on digital rights defenders.

  • Learn why it's more important than ever for organizational and community leaders in the digital rights field to prioritize ethics of care. In other words, centering their action and decision-making around care for their people and the communities they serve.
  • Hear about valuable analysis, trends and recommendations that can help organizations and networks identify interventions and areas of growth to improve the wellbeing of their employees and community members. Information to be shared is based on literature review of existing workplace research conducted in the last two years.
  • Understand the mental health challenges digital rights defenders are going through, that are contributing to burnout and an exodus of talent.
  • Learn about the action-oriented toolkit of policy recommendations for organizational health that Team CommUNITY will be publishing in the Fall 2022.

Selma Zaki is Team CommUNITY’s director of the Community Mental Health Program and author of this report. She is a licensed Mental Health Counselor with experience in providing therapy services in a diversity of settings, ranging from private practices, to community mental health centers, to hospitals. Selma also has experience conducting qualitative research, and has been published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology for studying the experiences of gender among Arab American Women. For Team CommUNITY, Selma oversees The Community Health Report and The Mental Health Program, which provides individual and group psychosocial services to digital rights defenders across 130+ countries.


Can we talk about the circles?

  • Essentially we will provide 8 circles this fall which are intimate (only 8-10 people per circle) and allow folks to process specific areas. They will be led by a mental proofessional. We have 8 circles, so around 80 slots
  • “A Circle is a series of weekly virtual private gatherings that happen over the course of 8-12 weeks, lasting between 60-90 minutes. Each circle is led by a mental health care professional and are limited to 6-10 participants per gathering.
  • Circle allows participants to process experiences and emotions collectively as a group, while learning adaptive coping mechanisms, and connecting with others facing similar challenges and/or experiences.”
    • Activist Fatigue
    • Dealing with Grief
    • Diaspora Group
    • LGBTQ Support
    • Living in Survival Mode
    • Racialized Trauma
    • Skills Based Group for Men

Do I have to attend every week for the timeframe listed on the site? September 19 - December 9, 2022.

  • Yes, it will require that time commitment, even though it might seem quite demanding for busy people, our professionals consider that it is a necessary amount of time. Also emotional health should be a priority these days!

Why do policies actually affect not just organizational health, but the health of every individual in that org?

  • That is the dichotomy we’re trying to address with Selma
  • We realized that a balanced emotional health does not only depend on individual efforts but also on structural issues
  • The latest report touches on that topic
  • And in the future (September) we will launch more research strictly on organizational policies, we talked a bit about this during the job fair
  • This generalized crisis of emotional health has to be tackled from both dimensions, the personal and the collective

This may be a leading question, but why do you think in the human rights world, it took a pandemic to say wait, our internal work culture may be not helping us?

  • Many of those reasons were reported by us, the inequalities of the space became more visible, matters of accessibility (connectivity mostly) finally were taken a bit more seriously, people also the enormous amounts of screen time this job requires.
  • And you can only do as much as your capacity. This was a really hard lesson because you see so much need, and then you force yourself to work. But it also felt like a snake eating its tail, because we all had that expectation in the space of each other. And then this was reinforced through leadership too.
  • We also feel kinda privileged to have the opportunity to critically assess our working conditions. It's sad that people in other jobs are still subject to exploitative conditions, even worse than before the pandemic. This is why if in our industry we start building better work environments, we can become references to other areas and ignite revolutionary change!
  • I think if any community can do it, it's this one, for real. People are craving examples and role models and formats etc. So many managers have stress from not knowing what to do, and in many ways it's because there are no good examples out there.
  • We didn’t realize that having strong policies in place about screen time, and vacations mattered, because we thought that we were already flexible. Of course people can take time off when and if they need it, but what we didn't realize is that individuals need those parameters to create health and also feel solid and encouraged to take that time off.

When you talk about labor rights, a lot of people get scared. For example, here in the USA, people get really uncomfortable, even though, as you said before, this is about setting good working conditions FOR EVERYONE. Why do you think that this is folks' reactions?

  • It is certainly especially problematic in the US, it is coherent with a model that privileges profit even if it means saving some dollars in someone's payslip. But we are seeing that it is becoming more common to talk about these things, and of course usually these conversations and implementations come from the workers themselves who organize
  • And even just talking about these issues is a major step forward, it’s crazy how we keep getting workplace stories

Do you think that it's generational trauma too? Meaning labor rights advocates were so attacked in past generations, that we have been traumatized to even touch the topic?

  • Could be but we have also seen the case of younger people being totally clueless about labor rights, while older people have more knowledge of networks of support and defense (unions, professionals associations, etc.) I speculate that a reason for this could be that in the past it was more normal to have a real contract while nowadays precarious temporary arrangements are the norm, this also happens in our digital rights space, the case of contractors or the “fellowships” that now are all over the place

There is a lot of confusion on how to create fair salaries in an international setting. We heard that it's good to have a "scale" for each salary that puts some of these contexts into place, but what thoughts do you have on this? Also, related to this, why do you think would be a good alternative to fellowships, or how to fix fellowships so they are better?

  • We should include context at the moment of setting salaries but this argument has been used to create structures of exploitation in which organizations in the global north simply outsource their work to organizations in the global south. There is not a magical recipe on how to solve this but salary and funding transparency could help everyone to build fairer arrangements
  • And fellowships are good! I like the model of funding independent actors, but I have my doubts on how many fellowship opportunities there are these days; sometimes fellowships expect people to do work that in the end will mostly benefit the organization. Also, now it is more common to see fellowships with very small stipends expecting people with high levels of seniority to do advanced work.