Written by Amber Yada

It’s our goal to make BACE as accessible as possible to anyone who feels the need to be part of this collective.

Volunteers should practice basic human respect: keep your word, honor people’s space and time, communicate respectfully, be understanding, and be aware that people have individual needs.

However, if you feel someone has been out of line with you in any way, we encourage you to talk with us. Not everyone is treated equally in our society, and this has deep effects on our behaviors, even in communities that have progressive, egalitarian values.

Strategies for Safety

You can request for an additional “sidekick” person to accompany you on an exchange. This is a good way to feel safer for exchanges done in the home or in a place where one-on-one situations aren’t a comfortable option for you. For some folks, having more than two people lessens the tension, and it can actually diffuse negative behavior. You can ask someone you already know, or you can contact us via phone, email, or the BACE site as described below. We will help you find someone.

Remember you have the agency to say, “I’d like to meet you in person before committing to this exchange.” Peoples’ energy and presence say a lot about them. Feeling someone out beforehand — especially if the exchange involves a more personal service, like bodywork or childcare — is not only acceptable, it’s recommended. It’s a simple way to prevent an unsatisfactory exchange; and it can make a good exchange even more meaningful by building a relationship around it.

When you have questions about someone, try meeting the person at a public space or event. Monthly POSSE Parties are a perfect setting for facilitating exchanges face-to-face. You can also invite someone to our regular BACE work meetings every Thursday from 1 to 4 PM at the Happiness Institute, 1720 Market Street, San Francisco.

If a person on the Timebank decides not to receive your services or offer you theirs, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, or that there are no possibilities for future exchanges; it means that it wasn’t the right fit this time around. Similarly, if someone requests an additional “sidekick” person, it shouldn’t be read as a lack of trust on their part. We need to respect that everyone is building their own paths of trust in this world, and they might not look like our own.

Not everyone is a good fit for an exchange. There are respectful ways to say and hear “No, thank you” from a fellow volunteer. There are respectful ways to be a volunteer. Practice them.
Building trust and opening ourselves to each other involve a constructive kind of risk. But this process should never require giving up personal feelings of safety and agency.

We find sexual harassment, bigotry, threats, violence, and other abuse absolutely unacceptable. Breeches of conduct will be handled on an individual basis, with accountability as a guiding goal.

Any complaints can be made, anonymously if need be, by calling Amber at 415-699-7011. You can also email timebankinfo@sfbace.org. We will come up with a plan together and proceed at your own level of comfort, taking into consideration the humanity of everyone involved.

Creating a Safe Space in the BACE Community

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