We often get asked about our policy of only listing free and donation based tents, so we thought that this month we would share where we are at with that question and why.
As you will see below our policy has always been to only list ‘free and donation-based’ tents and when women submit listings we do our best to check this out and sometimes we decline a listing if it’s clear that there is a charge rather than a donation to costs.
We are aware that this is not the approach that every woman is taking and that some women do choose to charge for these spaces. We have thought about this a lot but have felt it right to stay true to our own vision of Red Tents’ as Co-Created community spaces which we would love to see come up, as our inspirational mentor, ALisa Starkweather puts it, ‘in every village and town’
We hope that Jill’s sitting in circle space helps to explain why. We believe that there is a lot to be gained for our communities from Red Tents that are free and donation based and that, as a result are held by a group of women working together to hold and create community and developing an understanding of what it means to share leadership of these spaces, as distinct from what it feels like to run a business offering our work to women.
This doesn’t mean that we stand against Red Tent spaces that make a charge in any way, simply that the approach we believe in is one in which these spaces are free and accessible to any woman in a community and we think that the benefits of that, which we have seen in spaces like the Brighton Red Tent, are worth standing for as the Red Directory.
This is not about women feeling out of pocket or over-giving however. The opposite in fact, we hope that women will share responsibility for co-creating Red Tents so that the burden is shared and the experience is a nourishing one for all women involved and that’s why we support donation-based spaces where they feel appropriate.
The Red Tent Directory itself is something we have created as a free listing space without cost and have chosen to invest our own time and resources in over the years it has been building. We may, at some stage, ask for donations to support its upkeep however we never intend to make this space something out of which any of us make a profit. For us this is a sacred principle with this work.
Having said all of this, all of us involved in the Directory make money in the world in other ways, including offerings for women which may, on the face of it seem similar to this space. We are not against women generating an income in any way. It is important for us to earn a livelihood.
We believe however that Red Tents can be spaces outside of this paradigm and that the co-creation that can emerge from holding to the principle of free or donation based tents can both sustain and grow a different kind of community space. And we believe deeply in the value of that for us as women and for our planet at this time. Free or donation-based tents promote access for all women, and this in and of itself is core to the purpose of Red Tents.
We highlight an approach we have used to co-creating Red Tents in our free toolkit. We have copied it here for you to read.
At the Red Tent Directory we only list Red Tents that are free or donation based. This is because we operate on a volunteer basis rather than as a business. We also think that although some women do charge for Red Tents (and similar spaces), free or donation based Red Tents help keep this work and vision both co-created (rather than led) and accessible to more women. The vision we hold is for spaces created in the community by a group of women and open to all.
Our suggestion therefore is that you ask for contributions if you incur costs in holding your tent for example for the venue or to cover anything that you buy to help create it and that as far as you can you ask women to donate whatever is required to help your tent exist and grow. For example you might ask women to bring or donate decorations, talking objects, food to share before or during your tent, and items to support any creative activities which you plan to do or that they may wish to share.
You may find that issues of money and the promotion of services come to the surface and need to be addressed. Clearly it is not our intention to suggest that any woman loses money by holding Red Tents and so if you do need resources we do encourage you to ask women attending to donate to cover costs. However often some of the women who help to hold and attend Red Tents have related offerings that they do charge for either as a practitioner or as part of their own businesses or a business that they run with others.
Sometimes indeed you may be asked to, or feel that you want to, promote these offerings. However if your invitations or circles become focused on one of more other offerings we have found that this can detract from the spirit and intention of the Red Tent which is (for us at least) about creating a shared, open space for all. We suggest therefore that you consider finding a way to do this that doesn’t interfere with the intention of your tent. Obviously we don’t want to prevent women from sharing their skills and talents and discourage them from making a living but in our experience we have found that it is best to keep both the invitations and communications about the Red Tent and the sharing during the circle itself free from promotion or advertising or services. Women are then of course free to share about their work and offerings during social time or perhaps you may wish to provide a special place for that sharing at the end of your tent or through another form.
If you would like a copy of the Toolkit then click on this link to go to a page where you can enter you email and receive a copy. redtentdirectory.com/create-a-red-tent/