[TheThinkTank] BIKEBIKE BOYCOTT

Heather Nugen hnugen at gmail.com
Wed Nov 13 05:36:27 PST 2019


Alright, y'all. Again. Getting a little bit out of control and hyperbolic
in here. I'm going to try to keep my patience and my calm as I attempt to
unpack this stuff and manage some folks' expectations.

1) We were very temporary guests of Enclave Caracol and Bicis Dicidentes.
It behooves us to hold onto some humility as guests, in a foreign place,
largely as foreigners, before we react and make allegations about policies
that are ultimately not ours to make or enforce. It's fine if we disagree
but we need to keep in mind that those were not, and are not, our spaces
and it is not for us to apply pressure to change those spaces to better
suit ourselves.

2) We don't need to speak for Eric. Eric's worth or merit is an individual
is not under question here. Eric is an adult man who, if he wanted, is
certainly empowered and able to speak on his own behalf if he so desires.
As far as I can tell, after Eric disclosed his background in whatever
context that became relevant and was asked to leave-- he agreed to leave
and did so peacefully and respectfully. To my knowledge, and the knowledge
shared by the people on this list, Eric was able to respect the values and
practices of Enclave Caracol and Bicis Dicidentes-- even though they
resulted in him not being able to participate at this years BikeBike.

Yes, after he traveled all that way. It's a real shame, and I feel for
Eric's hardship and hope that he was alright and able to enjoy what he
could of his time off and return to his home safely. This is also a risk
all of us take anytime we travel anywhere-- any set of circumstances could
change or become known to us that requires us to leave a pre-planned event,
injury, illness, a person disagreement or dispute, a mismatch of values--
these things happen sometimes, and this isn't the first time someone has
been asked to leave a BikeBike or that someone has been asked to leave a
DIY/DIT bike space-- we all have different policies and expectations in our
shops and we have all been placed in the undesirable and difficult position
of asking someone to leave-- and sometimes we have had to weather backlash
and various allegations for standing up for our principles.

Lets try to remember our own personal experiences with how difficult
standing up for our principles and practicing our values can be as we
process our emotions about this event.

3) BikeBike is not an organization. BikeBike does not have a board, it
doesn't have staff. It is best known as a kind of temporary autonomous zone
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporary_Autonomous_Zone>, which many
people voluntarily work very hard to make happen, year after year, to the
best of their abilities, navigating a non-homogeneous network of cultures,
practices, expectations, values, and languages.

It doesn't have codified policies or practices, and for practical reasons
leaves a lot of the detail work up to the hosts. Is that an imperfect
system? Does that result in undesirable experiences and outcomes sometimes?
To me, at least, that is part of the practice-- part of the learning
experience that is social justice work.

BikeBike has current organizers/hosts, and it has past organizers and
hosts. Boycotting BikeBike isn't an action you are taking against Bicis
Dicidents or Enclave Caracol-- it's an action you are taking against next
year's hosts who, as far as I can tell, had no role to play in what
happened.

It's everyone's personal choice to evaluate whether they desire or are able
to make the trip in 2020-- but as we consider the hyperbole and (as much as
I hate the word) hysterics in this thead, lets try to keep in mind what the
desired outcome is. What does resolution for this issue look like? Who is
that resolution for?

4) Most of the people participating in this pot-stirring are American
citizens-- that comes with a lot of privilege, and a lot of blind spots--
especially re: how we are viewed in other countries, and especially when it
comes to the role of US military and/or Intelligence's impact in Central
and South America. Before putting Enclave Caracol on blast for being too
leftist or unreasonable or whatever it is you think about the decision they
made-- do some reading on what the US Government *has done *in Central and
South America. Is it possible that Eric is just an unwitting individual
caught up in the middle? Sure. But as someone participating in the bike
collectives network, I find it difficult to believe Eric had no knowledge
of US foreign relations policy in Central & South America and that he
entered that situation completely naive of how his professional identity
would be perceived in that space and place.

Our veterans and intelligence professionals are not venerated, trusted, or
beloved in other countries, our citizenship is not venerated, trusted, or
beloved in other countries. For some of us, this incident may be the first
encounter with that realization-- it may have been Eric's first encounter
too. Instead of demonizing the members of Enclave Caracol and Bicis
Dicidentes, we'd be better served to observe this discomfort and try to
learn from it-- in the process, we may identify a solution to help both
guests and hosts navigate norms and expectations in the future-- many of
which are unspoken and uncodified.

Lets work to keep these things in mind and manage our own emotional
reactions to this event so that we can get to a space where we are able to
grow individually and collectively to make good-faith requests and
improvements to BikeBike in the future-- requests and changes to practices
that reduce harm and stress for guests and hosts.

Heather
BikeBike Detroit 2016
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