In April 2011, we joined forces with Holly Kearl of Stop Street Harassment (SSH) to conduct the first ever Community Safety Audits in DC. The goal of the audits was to collect data to help inform public safety recommendations to the DC City Council and other local decision-makers. The audit was designed to assess the safety and accessibility of public spaces, as street harassment limits women’s and LGBTQ people’s access to public spaces. CASS and Stop Street Harassment adapted the community audit structure from a model used in Toronto by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence against Women & Children (METRAC).
We held the first audit on the first-ever annual International Anti-Street Harassment Day, Sunday, March 20, 2011, and the second audit on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. Sixteen teams composed of a total of 80 volunteers spread out in each of the city’s eight wards and surveyed safety conditions, including loitering, lighting and needs for repairs. The teams canvased two neighborhoods in each District ward by both day and night to determine whether “women and LGBTQ folks can navigate the public spaces of D.C. freely without fear.”
Collective Action for Safe Spaces is available to consult with your organization or community on your next safe spaces project. We offer technical assistance in the following areas:
- Prevention of public sexual harassment and assault
- Building safe transit systems
- Anti-harassment messaging for public spaces
- Organizing for community safety
- Integrating anti-harassment and assault policies into your organization or institution
- Trainings and workshops on public sexual harassment and assault
- Using art to reclaim public spaces
In the past, we’ve provided technical assistance to the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to help them build a plan to respond to and track sexual harassment and assault on their public transit. We’ve also worked with DC’s Metropolitan Police Department to provide comments on a guide to implementing safety procedures for bar staff. We continue to work with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to develop the next phases of its PSA campaign against harassment and assault on the Metro.
When UNITEHERE Local 23 wanted to create spaces for workers to organize around their experiences with workplace harassment, the union rep reached out to CASS for ideas and assistance. Here’s what she said after working with us:
“It’s incredible but not surprising how much [CASS’s] work and experience in creating safer spaces across the city can translate into some really useful thinking about how workers can be part of creating safer workplaces.”