Date: 2/22/21 6:45 pm From: Courtney Kelly Jett <ckjannabirds...> Subject: [obol] Improving Community Guidelines for Inclusivity and Nonviolence
In light of the recent messages and behaviors regarding sexual violence against women, and the evident issues which that conversation did not fully address, we (Caleb Centanni and Courtney Kelly Jett) feel the need to help begin an OFF-list conversation in order to provide support and empathy for women and other underrepresented folks (people of color, LGBTQ, (and young birders too?)) in the birding community who have experienced fear of violence or intimidation or exclusion, to provide a safe space for discussing ways to make our birding community more inclusive and accepting, and, if necessary, make requests as a group of the Oregon Birding Association (OBA) and other local birding organizations for changes in community guidelines.
We are interested in starting a conversation with underrepresented members of our community and allies.
Here are some ideas that we want to gauge interest in as potential solutions to some of the unresolved community issues which recently came to the surface, which might be supported by the OBA and Oregon birding community.
* Group Discussions of Inclusivity. *
An online discussion forum could be organized to share experiences and give empathy, discuss the nature of and solutions to current community problems affecting underrepresented folks, and ultimately propose changes in community standards for the OBA, OBOL, and other Oregon birding community organizations.
Caleb and I, Courtney, practice NVC (Non-violent Communication), and during covid closures we have been attending weekly Compassion practice groups via zoom. Caleb and I are willing to experimentally facilitate a similar zoom meeting in which women, colored, queer, and other underrepresented Oregon birders and allies can share our experiences and concerns and ideas, and be seen and heard by eachother. I would want to make sure that it is the women and underrepresented who get the most screentime to speak and be heard.
* List of Support. *
A list of safe members of the birding community who are part of underrepresented groups and allies and their contact info could be provided online so members of the Oregon birding community can contact someone for support, resources, and to report any violent or aggressive behavior which has taken place in the community.
This Support list of names could be available on the OBA webpage where their statements of Inclusivity are.
* Anti-bullying community standard. *
We know many people who have been driven off OBOL or out of other parts of the birding community due to hostile messages they received from other community members, so one change we need to make and enforce is clear rules for forums such as OBOL that any member who sends bullying, name-calling, or discriminatory messages to the listserve is BANNED immediately. There is no reason any of these things should have a place on a public birding listserve. We should not be giving a platform to people who do not consistently treat other people with dignity.
I, Courtney, feel angry, disgusted, and sick to my stomach, and hopelessly depressed, how the thread about violence to women dissolved this morning to listserve-silencing just after women were publicly bullied by men on OBOL.
I want changes made within the OBA and OBOL and also other birding platforms that OBA promotes and supports on their webpage, including Whatsapp and field trips.
If the OBA is releasing a statement of support of women, (and of people of color and queerness and inclusive belonging for all), I want to see real support and change begin (this week! is my vote). The OBA needs to officially ban bullying across every affiliated organization and platform.
I feel sick that Jeff Gilligan and Ron Kearney are still allowed to post (moderated) on OBOL after their degrading shaming of Sarah Merkle and other women who posted.
“Sheesh, what a pathetic post.”
“Sarah I only read a few words of your email, before knowing that you are irrational,” - (and then threatened to report her to the police for harassment if she writes again).
This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, if we care about creating a Safe Welcoming platform for all. Not ensuring that there are direct consequences for this behavior is totally contrary to the message of believing and supporting women which the OBA has just adopted. OBOL is not safe for women if men who belittle them are allowed to remain on the platform.
One of the national birders in the news this week for allegations of “emotional and psychological abuse” - bullying - of women, Christopher Collins, has resigned from the several birding organizations he chaired, “for the benefit of the organizations.”
It is (overdue) for the benefit of the Oregon birding community, that bullying be declared no longer acceptable, and people who do it be immediately banned from participating. When we allow people who bully others to continue writing on our listservs, and acting in our organizations, or being Oregon eBird reviewers, etc., many many many other people choose to not participate in the toxic community.
I want to see Oregon birders stand up against power-over control/intimidation and emotional violence, insulting and demeaning behaviour, as well as physical violence, in our community.
We, Courtney Kelly Jett and Caleb Centanni, would like to add our names to a list of safe people to contact in Oregon birding, and we are open and happy to explore the above and/or further ideas to help provide a safe and empathetic space for all birders in this community who have been impacted by sexual violence or discrimination or feel underrepresented or excluded in it. We want to be advocates for all, and to help build a community where we all can feel safe.
If you need support, or want to express support for any of the ideas in this email, please let us know.
We request that all responses are off-list. Our OBOL moderator, Treesa, does everything she can for our community within the guidelines she has been given by the OBA. We write to this listserve because it seems the only viable way to reach a large portion of our Oregon birding community. We are interested in starting a conversation with underrepresented members of our community and allies.
Any hostile, aggressive, or bullying messages we receive in response to this post will be deleted immediately.
If you are in support of any of our ideas or have other productive suggestions, please let us know at
If we receive enough postive responses, we plan on connecting with the OBA or other organizations about these options.
Outside our window today, Pine Siskins are happily buzzing about peanuts in a mesh feeder, and a Spotted Towhee is singing in the rain. We hope that we can have the complex and empowering conversations necessary so that we can all enjoy birds together as an inclusive group, united by our love and passion for the natural world. We stand with and we believe that women and people of color and LGBTQ and all diversity deserve safety and solidarity in our birding community.
Best wishes and love to all, and happy, safe birding,
Caleb and Courtney