How to Be Excellent
A common adage we have here is “Be Excellent.” It’s a catch-all rule that basically comes down to this — be the best member you can be!
Here are some ways to “Be Excellent”:
- Respect other members — this is a creative, safe space free of harassment.
- Use Asmbly facilities AND take classes to learn more.
- Help fellow members if they ask — be polite when you offer help.
- Not sure how to use a tool? Ask for help!
- Come in clean and clothed.
- Follow policies on storage, parking, and safety rules.
- Keep your contact information up-to-date — if we cannot reach you via the email you have provided us in Neon, you may miss pertinent info regarding your membership!
- Keep your work area clean while working — this is a shared space.
- Leave no trace — clean up after yourself before you leave or even better, leave your work areas better than you found them.
- Take out the trash. Any trash, any time.
- Check the Volunteers Needed category on Discourse for ways you can help improve the facilities or community.
- Go home to sleep! — Operating machinery tired is dangerous and it’s against our rental agreement to have anyone sleeping on the premises.
- If you use the kitchen area, clean your dishes.
- Do not leave food waste in shop trash cans.
- Disagree with a rule? Come to member meetings and propose changes.
- Respect members’ volunteer efforts on behalf of the space - we are completely volunteer run and honoring our volunteers is of utmost importance! We wouldn’t function without it.
REMEMBER: Membership at Asmbly is a privilege, not a right. We cherish our people, our space, and our machines. We reserve the right to ask anyone to leave who cannot take care of the space and respect other members.
Remember, our goal is to be excellent. Many behaviors lie in a gray area of social approval. The right question to ask is not, “is this legal or technically permitted?” but rather “is this excellent?”
If you find yourself doing things on the list below, please pause and reflect — your actions are very likely not excellent. Why not check with a friend, or your mom, or a board member or steward, or the other person involved?
Behaviors that might be fine in one context, but are frequently non-excellent:
- Pursuing a one-sided relationship. For example, asking a member out who has already said “no.” Politely inviting another member to a social event can be appropriate, but if they have declined twice, do not ask again. Scheduling your visits to the space to intersect with the times another member will be present might be fine for old friends, but not for new acquaintances.
- Consuming Hackerspace resources more than most. For example by occupying full shelves of the fridge or spreading your work across multiple tables.
- Crossing personal boundaries. For example by using another member’s tools or commenting on their appearance. Again, among good friends this may be fine, but with other members there’s a strong chance it is non-excellent at best.
- Consuming a person’s time at the space more than is excellent. For example, by interrupting a person’s work without asking them if it’s a good time to chat, or without actively looking for signs and cues they want to get back to work.
- Making the space less pleasant. For example, by creating a lot of dust, noise, or noxious smells, bad-mouthing other members, or holding a political conversation loud enough that other people can’t avoid it.
- Forgetting that we are a volunteer-run organization and that you are a potential volunteer. We’re working to grow the community to where we can create a paid position for shop steward/administrator, but remember that all the people you see running the space and repairing machines are volunteers paying full-freight dues. This is not a gym for tools, it’s a community for learning and making — be patient when things go wrong and look for ways to help in return.
- Observing negative incidents without taking action. If you see someone using a tool unsafely, or harassing another member, or any factor that makes you not want to return to the space, please report it (see Handling Conflict).
Note: Please fill out a Critical Incident Form at bit.ly/criticalform or email [] about negative behaviors.
Reflection: Would you, in a moment of honesty, say “I have many gifts, but socially I am somewhat awkward”? Great! So would many of us! If you fall into this category, it’s important to be especially reflective about these social gray areas.
Boundaries with Clients
Many hackers use the space to produce work for clients and may at times bring clients as guests to view their progress. Please respect your fellow hackers and their client relationships by following the guidelines below. Disrespecting your fellow hacker’s client relationships is highly non-excellent behavior.
- Don't talk to someone else's client(s) if you are not invited to do so or have a previous rapport with the client.
- Don't offer services/advice, unless asked by the member or client beforehand.
- If you don't have something nice to say, keep it to yourself.
- If there is a safety concern, the client may be asked to leave.
- Clients should wait in the lounge if the member is not present to escort them.
Tips for Handling Conflict
The non-excellent behaviors previously described and other patterns of non-excellent behavior are not your fault and not your responsibility to address.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you may politely notify the other person of their behavior or ask someone to help intervene. Depending on the situation and severity, you may fill out a Critical Incident Form found at bit.ly/criticalform, notify a board member ([] or []), or consider contacting a resource line or law enforcement (only when severity level deems it appropriate).
It is always appropriate to contact the board anonymously if you prefer, but please never contact another member anonymously. You can send an anonymous email to the board using www.sendanonymousemail.net or other means.
Here are some guidelines for handling conflict in a helpful, productive manner:
- DO name a specific behavior.
- “sawing with staples still in the wood”
- DO voice your concern as a question.
- “I’m concerned about the staples I see in this pine. Did you know that if the saw blade touches metal this will force-stop the table saw?”
- DO name your feelings or concerns.
- “I’m concerned for your safety”
- “I’m worried for the health and longevity of the machine if we keep stressing it like this”
- “I’ve got a project due and I’m under some time pressure. I’m worried the saw might shut down and I won’t meet my deadline.”
- DO name a specific request.
- “Could you stop sawing until we pull out the staples?”
- DO offer to help.
- “Here, I have some pliers. Want to borrow them?”
- DON’T come in hot.
- If you’re not in a calm headspace, step back and wait for another time or ask someone you trust to help you handle the issue.
- DON’T make grand statements.
- “You always” “I never” “...never works”
- This is called “totalizing” — or “generalizing” or “catastrophizing — and it means you haven’t taken the time to think very hard.
- DON’T make accusations. Just ask a question.
- Instead of saying “You stole my drill!” when a tool you were using goes missing, ask, “Have you seen where the drill I was using went?”
- NEVER practice name-calling or aggression.
- “Only an idiot would…” is classic bullying behavior, and says more about you than it does about the other person.
- If you have constructive feedback to give someone about their technique, frame it kindly.
- DON’T create cascading drama.
- Do not make a problem worse by complaining about another member’s behavior to other members. Report problematic behavior as described here and let the process complete.
- Even if another member has misbehaved, gossiping in the space about it is a conduct code violation and may result in disciplinary action against you.
Remember, this person could be facing things you know nothing about.
- They could be experiencing homelessness or not be sure where their next paycheck is coming from. They could have a kid or parent in the ICU. This project could be helping them to recover from PTSD, divorce, job loss, or rape. These are all situations that could have happened to any Hackerspace member. There is dignity in creating and we all deserve dignity.
If another member approaches you with concerns about safety or respectful treatment of the machines:
- Stop your work and listen. Understand that regardless of demeanor, this person is likely concerned for your safety or the well-being of the machine and the space.
- Talk to a shop steward, board member, or someone who knows the machine extremely well before moving forward.
- If you feel unsafe or that someone is not being kind or excellent, approach a board member or email [].
If you find yourself in conflict with another member that you cannot resolve or have an issue you need help addressing, please email the Director of Human Resources ([]). This could include a request for a member to be moderated on an email list due to communication you found to be harassing or offensive in a way that harms the community. In your email, please describe the issue you are experiencing and how you would like assistance. If the issue is in regards to a specific incident, you will be asked to fill out a Critical Incident Form found here bit.ly/criticalform. These forms help us track and formally document behavior.
Please allow 7 days for the Director of HR to review and investigate the issue, after which Director of HR will reach out to you by email or in person with information on how the issue will be addressed. In general, matters will be handled as quietly and amicably as possible on a first complaint.
If several members make a complaint about a member or group’s behavior:
- That member or leaders from that group will be asked to meet with the board at a regular Wednesday board meeting.
- Their ability to use the space will be on hold until that meeting takes place. The subject of a complaint should not be present at Asmbly until the issue can be resolved.
- The board will request information from all parties involved and work to formulate a resolution.
- At the close of that meeting, a letter will be written by the board stating the terms of the member’s (or group’s) continued presence at Asmbly.
- If the complaints relate to damage to the space or a machine, we will request that you make this right before you are readmitted to the space.
- If subsequent complaints are made regarding the same member and issue after that member has been addressed, the matter will be discussed at the next board meeting, and the response will be announced publicly.
Please respect the process. We would prefer not to remove members. However, if a user’s communications with Asmbly board in this process are not respectful, professional, and in good faith, the board is empowered to remove that member’s access. The user will not be refunded for any prorated amount s/he may have paid in membership.
- Austin Services & Information: 311
- Assistance with homelessness: 512-972-HOME
- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- Austin Abuse/Exploitation 24-hr SAFEline: Call 512-267-SAFE (7233) or Text 737-888-7233 or Chat at safeaustin.org/chat
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255