Working to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community
free from public sexual harassment and assault.
WHAT WE DO
Founded in 2009 as Holla Back DC!, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) has evolved from a blog to a dynamic organization that mobilizes the community to end public sexual harassment and assault in the DC metropolitan area. It does this through both online and offline activism, including workshops, innovative direct services, policy advocacy, and community outreach. Currently volunteer-led and -run, CASS utilizes the creativity and energy of the DC community to further its mission and vision.
In 2009 two concerned DC metro residents created Holla Back DC!, an online forum for individuals to submit their public sexual harassment and assault experiences as a way to raise awareness about the prevalence of the problem in DC. In April 2009, due to the popularity and community support, the founders decided to expand the efforts to offline activism, including workshops, policy & advocacy, and community outreach. With that, the name changed to Collective Action for Safe Spaces, as the community needed more collective community action to create safe spaces for all in the DC metro area.
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) is a grassroots organization that works to empower people in the DC metropolitan area to build a community free from public sexual harassment and assault.
Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) strives for a community in which people of all backgrounds, gender expressions or identities, and experiences can feel safe occupying public spaces. In this community, individuals will hold themselves accountable to each other and to the community at-large for preventing public gender-based violence and fostering a safe and harassment-free environment free of the negative influences of power and control. Until we are able to achieve this, CASS wants every community member to feel safe and comfortable addressing public sexual harassment and assault, whether they witness or experience it.
We seek to honor and support survivors of public sexual harassment and assault while also challenging current institutional frameworks that diminish their voices or experiences. We believe in the power of community-driven, action-oriented solutions to spark the individual, community, and societal culture changes that will create a world free of public sexual harassment and assault.
We do this by:
Engaging the Community: Shaping community-driven solutions through thoughtful and
strategic community organizing, capacity building, and consensus-based decision-making that honors self-determination. Empowering a supportive community of survivors and allies who can share their experiences without fear of judgment or victim-blaming, choose coping mechanisms and responses that are best for them, and find strength in one another, both in-person and online.
Celebrating Contributions: Those who share their time, space, and contribute –including volunteers, survivors, businesses, community members, artists, decision makers, donors, and government officials — allow the organization to move closer to fulfilling the mission of ending public sexual harassment and assault.
Innovation: Emphasizing the power of technology and innovative tools that can be used by victims and bystanders alike, regardless of background or life experience, to help raise awareness and prevent public sexual harassment and assault.
Creativity: Harnessing creativity and the arts as tools to build the movement against public sexual harassment and assault, challenge staid attitudes or ignorance surrounding it, and empower survivors by providing them with an outlet. We also seek to empower the DC Metro Area to create a new and better definition of community, in which greater safety and opportunity for survivors is a priority.
Diversity: Embracing all forms of diversity and their intersections in our communities by
working collectively within them to ensure that all individuals live lives free of public sexual
harassment and assault.
Accountability: Holding ourselves accountable to DC Metro residents as a primary steward of the movement to end public sexual harassment and assault in DC. CASS also seeks to help hold our communities accountable for creating safe public spaces for everyone, and hold harassers accountable for their actions and negative impact on both individuals and communities.