Shared vs. Shareable

Or, Why a Code of Conduct is Good -AND- Safety is an Illusion.

Or, Q: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? A: Humans.

Concept in < 140 chars: I do what I do. You do what you do. If it matches up, great! If not, no worries. What’s it to ya if I have a Code of Conduct for my event?


Imagine, if you will, a giant rock. Hurtling through Space on its own prescribed orbit around an immensely larger ball of flaming gas. You, as the observer, standing on that giant rock, are surrounded and outnumbered by organisms who control the environment.

And quite possibly … your mind.


“Looks good to me, Matthew,” said my lawyer about Refresh Portland’s Code of Conduct. Which, platonic full-disclosure, I copied, pasted, and modified from another source.

“Somebody grab somebody else’s something, or something,” asked said lawyer.

“No, and hopefully not ever. Just want to make it clear that Refresh is a safe, welcoming space and that I will open a can of figurative whoopass on anyone who crosses me.”


Now, imagine standing on a sidewalk somewhere on that giant rock, having just left a mentally-stimulating talk on a topic the organisms who control your movements and motivations thought was, “pretty darn good.”

While waiting for the after-party group to collect, the presenter puts his hand on your butt. Another attendee catcalls you. You drink too much at the after-party and proposition another attendee. The proposition is welcomed. Your spouses would disapprove. You both leave and are hit by a car crossing the street. Then an asteroid crashes into the giant rock on which you live.


If you’re someone who breathes on a regular basis, something bad can happen to you. Bad things happen regardless of your ability to control (which is debatable as a concept) or influence (more likely the case). Bad things happen that are driven by people, circumstance, nature, and combinations thereof.


In this imagination, you, as a ghost, look upon the new shape of the giant rock. The sky has darkened. The land burns. You drop to your knees with the rest of the ghosts that surround you and shout to the stars beyond the darkened sky, “Why! Why didn’t the Code of Conduct cover this!”


The Refresh Portland Code of Conduct, which I initially select-all-copied from XOXO, is a wish list. It is no more than that. It, in of itself, doesn’t provide anything but an outline to what I hope doesn’t happen. It won’t stop something from happening.

It is, quite simply, a code. A code to live by, which, it is my hope, all who are involved with Refresh Portland follow. The spirit of my code is simply this: All are welcome. Don’t be a dick.

The code is shareable. But there is no guarantee it is shared by everyone. Assholes and asteroids alike.