Fractured Atlas has undergone some big changes in the past few years, including entering into a period of interim leadership led by Theresa Hubbard, who is also our new Chief Operating Officer.
When we interviewed fiscally sponsored project PeepMe about the cooperative platform they are creating for and by sex workers, they mentioned that they had in their operating guidelines an “Exit to Community.” We had never heard of the concept before but after they explained it to us, we’ve been mulling the idea over in our minds. Inspired by PeepMe, we’re sharing an introduction to Exit to Community, or E2C, in the hopes that it can help others think more broadly about how businesses, collaborative projects, and other ventures can be organized more equitably.
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The life of a freelancer is a precarious one. There are periods of feast and famine, confusing taxes, and the chasing down of vendors to pay on time (or at all). There is the constant hunt for gigs, which could cancel at a moment’s notice. This is to say nothing about how freelancers in the U.S. pay for healthcare or save for retirement.
For an entire category of workers (but certainly not the whole workforce) the expectation of a 40-hour, 9-5 Monday through Friday workweek seems like an inevitability; an expectation so deeply ingrained that it’s hard to remember it wasn’t always this way. And it’s even harder to remember that it might not have to be this way in the future.
Since I came to Fractured Atlas almost two years ago, I’ve been sharing information about how artists and creatives can run successful fundraisers. I’ve written articles about picking perks and shooting videos for crowdfunding campaigns, the importance of donation tiers, and running raffles.
Fractured Atlas believes in being honest about what a job is, but not fatalistic. Your job is not your family, it’s a way you exchange your labor for money. But it doesn’t have to be soul-crushing or toxic. We are interested in creating humane workplaces, whether that means ensuring fair pay as part of antiracism at work or exploring exactly what we mean when we talk about toxic workplaces.
The past few years have given us collectively a great deal to think about in terms of problems with our workplace cultures. Big unionization drives across sectors have gotten us to think about exploitative workplace conditions, the mass shift to remote work and the haphazard move to hybrid work have encouraged us to think about communication norms and boundaries, the George Floyd uprisings showed in new relief how racism and white supremacy show up in our workplaces.
The word “toxic” has been having a big few years. It was chosen as the Oxford Word of the Year in 2018 and, honestly, it’s still going strong. It is applicable to personal relationships, environmental collapse, and, of course, workplaces. With the fallout from COVID, the rapid shift to remote working, and an unsteady implementation of hybrid working, everyone is thinking about their workplaces more and more. Are they especially brutal? Are they supportive? Do they let us live dignified lives? One framework for thinking through particularly bad workplaces is the concept of a toxic workplace. But what does that phrase really mean? And why does it matter to define it carefully?
During the height of the pandemic, we saw exhortations to support frontline workers, to tip extravagantly, to be kind to the person providing phone support, and to remember that the person working behind the counter or on the delivery truck is potentially risking their life to get you what you are looking for. There was at least some understanding that the customer-facing workers are the people who actually keep the wheels running of our society.