Accountability Pod: Frequently Asked Questions

Why now? Why didn’t you do this earlier?

When I first tried to address this in September 2016, I asked for a public accountability process because I have held personal accountability as one of my values for many years. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I was deep in my defensive reactions, and that I wasn’t ready to take that step. As a result, I lashed out in the comment thread and created more harm and confusion. After getting input from several people, I realized that I needed to step back and do my own personal work to address the root causes of why I did what I did. That was my main focus for about a year and a half.

Is this a PR stunt?

No. This is a real thing that I am doing to try to repair some of the damage and hurt that I caused.

Is this all marginalized people doing free emotional labor?

My relationship with my accountability pod members and consultants is a professional one, and I am compensating them for their time, expertise, and support. I also recognize that there are many ways to create a fair exchange with professionals, and that my social and professional privilege gives me the opportunity to pay my pod members.

Hold on, if people are being paid to do this work that means they’re biased and don’t actually care about people in the process who aren’t Charlie!

Note: this response is from my pod.

  • FEELINGS & CONNECTIONS ARE CRITICAL IN JUSTICE WORK. Boasting about ‘not being connected to [the harming party]’? That’s a weakness, NOT a strength. Connection itself isn’t a problem, it’s connection without reflexivity & structures to protect from undue influence.”
  • Furthermore, dual relationships aren’t inherent conflicts of interest.

Why does it take so long to get a response to messages or comments?

One of the reasons I’m working with an accountability pod is to have their input and reflections on anything I write or say as I move through this process. There have been far too many times when I communicated from a place of defensiveness and reactivity, and I harmed folks. While I have done a lot of work to change those patterns, I want to make sure that they don’t sneak back into my communication.

How are the people you harmed being helped by this process?

One of the lenses that my pod is bringing to this process is transformative justice, which can be described as: “a process where all individuals affected by an injustice are given the opportunity to address and repair the harm. Those affected consider and recount how an act has affected them and what can be done to repair the harm. The perpetrator is then held accountable to the individual by way of restitution.” (from the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault).

Will Charlie be rehabilitated by the end of this process?

Note: this response is from my pod.

When does this process end?

I don’t have a definitive answer because the process will be shaped by the reports and experiences of the people who I have harmed. The report collection form will be open for eight weeks (ending August 16, 2019), after which, the pod will begin to analyze the information collected and use it to decide how to proceed.

What happens if/when this wraps up and Charlie causes harm again?

As part of the lead up to the public announcement, my pod helped me develop a consent policy, which is posted on my website, as well as on Medium. It includes contact information for Rachel Drake, one of my pod members and Deputy Director of the Consent Academy, a Seattle-based 501c3 non-profit, which she helped found in 2016. Rachel will be my accountability point person and will be available to receive reports of any harms I cause in the future. If I need to find a different point person in the future, I will edit my website accordingly.

What's the role of the people who Charlie has harmed directly or indirectly?

There are two different questions here, so I want to answer them separately.

This seems messy…

It is messy. It’s messy because people are complicated. It’s messy because I hurt people. It’s messy because it’s real. It’s messy because there are many different people involved, with different and individual needs. And one of my hopes is that my pod can support this accountability process and help me repair as much of the damage that I caused as possible.

This seems too organized…

My pod and I worked on these documents and this process for several months. I wrote the first drafts and then we edited and refined them. I chose pod members who could be thoughtful about identifying the most likely concerns and questions, so we could address as many as possible in advance. We had plenty of conversations about what to include because we wanted to create as much safety and agency for everyone involved.

Why don't you want us to praise Charlie for doing this?

This is the time to center the people who I harmed. If you publicly praise me, you take the focus off of what I did, who I hurt, and how I harmed them. Doing that undermines the work that my pod and I have done to create this process.

So how DO you want or expect us to interact with this entire thing?

If you are someone who I harmed or who was affected by my actions and you would find it useful, you are welcome to share your experiences with my pod through the report collection form or by emailing my pod.

Isn’t Charlie just asking the people he harmed to tell him how to fix it over and over? That seems lazy and disingenuous, especially because many have already told him what they need from him.

Note: this response is from Aida Manduley

Can I share this information?

Yes. You are welcome to share the link to the Medium account or any of the individual posts on Medium, as well as my announcement on Facebook. However, given the potentially triggering nature of this situation, please get the consent of the recipient before sending them the links or give them a content/trigger warning.

Where can we find more information?

What if I have more questions?

You can contact my pod here (cgaccpod@gmail.com). Emailing them will ensure transparency and accountability. They will determine the best way to respond, which might be an email reply from the pod, an addition to the FAQ, a private message from me, or something else.

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