We strive to provide members with tools for creating and maintaining a healthy community. We focus on the idea of safe spaces so that members and their guests feel comfortable wherever they go, in every aspect of their co-op lives.
The BSC puts on a number of workshops throughout the year available to all members. Topics include self defense, first aid, harm reduction, CPR, workplace safety, peer support groups, and sexual health.
The Gender Equity Resource Center, fondly referred to as GenEq, is a Cal community center committed to fostering a safe, equitable and inclusive experience for all. GenEq is the campus location where students, faculty, staff and alumni connect for resources, services, education and leadership programs related to gender and sexuality.
The Mental Health Division provides a range of community-based mental health services to Berkeley and Albany residents. We work with people in our clinics, in schools, in their homes, on the street or in shelters, and in a variety of other settings.
Drugrehab.com, a free online resource dedicated to providing information for students struggling with mental health and addiction issues, published an educational guide to help students with mental health illnesses. This guide provides information on stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Fire safety is taken very seriously in the BSC and all members are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the following guidelines. Houses are inspected periodically during the semester and before parties to ensure compliance. Your Maintenance Manager can help you if you need a smoke detector fixed or the batteries changed. Managers are also trained on fire safety and use of extinguishers - ask one if you have any questions.
- Always keep hallways, walkways, fire escapes, and building entrances and exits clear! Do not leave and/or promptly remove furniture, trash, and personal belongings from these areas. If a hallway is dark and full of smoke you don’t want to be tripping over debris in the hallway. Seconds count in an emergency.
- Members are not allowed to store bicycles or motorbikes indoors except for designated bike storage areas.
- Familiarize yourself with all fire exits near your bedroom and in your building.
- Do not prop open fire doors (even your bedroom door).
- The BSC recommends that you refrain from burning candles or incense in your room. If a fire results from you burning candles or incense, you can be held financially responsible for the damage from the fire. Candles, incense, and smoking can also trigger the fire alarms as common space smoke detectors are linked to the alarm system.
- Note: Smoking, candles, incense, and open flames are strictly prohibited at Cloyne Court.
- The BSC discourages the use of any appliance other than a personal iron, UL approved coffee makers, a small microwave, and/or mini refrigerator in bedrooms. The use of any appliance that has an open coil or creates heat or flame is strongly discouraged outside designated kitchen areas.
- Members should also avoid halogen lamps and decorative light strings due to their high fire danger.
- Do not overload electrical outlets and make sure that furniture and other items are not placed on top of or are causing damage to extension cords.
- The possession of volatile solutions, flammable substances, explosives, or fireworks is strictly prohibited.
- Regularly check the smoke detector in your bedroom to make sure it works properly.
- If the fire alarm system is activated, evacuate the building as quickly as possible. Do not ignore the fire alarm and do not re-enter the building until the Fire Department has turned off the alarm and indicated that it is safe to re-enter.
- Do not hang or attach anything on the sprinkler pipes or sprinkler heads in your bedroom or in common areas. The sprinkler pipes do have water in them and if a sprinkler head breaks or is set off in any way you will flood the building. This has happened before.
- Keep yards clear of dead plants and dry grasses.
- When you discover a fire, pull the alarm and call 911 from a land line telephone or (510) 981-5911 from a cell phone.
- Use an extinguisher with caution and always stay between the fire and the exit.
- Grease fires should be extinguished with baking soda, a pot lid, or chemical extinguisher—never water as this can cause serious injury.
- If the fire becomes too large, close your door and leave the building at once. Be sure to wear shoes to avoid cutting your feet during the evacuation. Take your keys with you!
- Evacuate the building immediately. Walk, do not run.
- Do not use the elevator. Use the stairs.
- When smoke or heat is encountered, keep low or crawl to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. Breathe through a cloth, if possible, and take shallow breaths.
- When the fire alarm sounds, feel your room door to see if it is hot before opening it.
- Do not open the door if the knob is hot—try to exit through a window or fire escape.
- Do not re-enter the building until the alarm has been reset and you have received authorization from the Fire Department.
- Tampering with fire safety equipment or refusing to evacuate during an alarm are serious violations of state law and will result in disciplinary action and possible criminal prosecution.
- Exit the building, even if the alarm has been accidentally triggered. This is a Fire Department requirement.
- Firefighters will arrive shortly and inspect the building to make sure there is actually no fire (or if there is one, they will put it out).
- Once inspection is complete, firefighters will turn off the alarm and let residents know it is OK to re-enter the building.
- Please do not pull alarms when there is no fire. More firefighters are killed or injured in traffic accidents responding to alarms than actually fighting fires. If your house has an alarm that is located where it gets accidentally activated by people bumping into it, please contact Central Maintenance to get a Fire Department approved cover installed.
More fire safety information at the City of Berkeley Fire Department http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/fire/
Falling objects are the cause of most injuries and deaths from earthquake. Place beds, desks, couches and chairs far from windows and mirrors—avoid coexisting with shattering glass. Secure loose objects (particularly bookshelves). There should be no heavy things above your head as you sleep. Keep a clear space under a bed or desk clear, as a shelter. Know where to find the earthquake kit, first-aid equipment, and emergency water. Let your House Manager know of any services you can provide (access to a car, CPR/First Aid Certification).
Each house is required to send a few members every semester to a free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training on first aid or search and rescue run by the City of Berkeley. Ask your house manager if interested.
Duck, cover, and hold. If you’re indoors, find shelter under a solid piece of furniture. Hold on to it; be prepared to move with it. The closer you can get to a wall, the better your odds if the building collapses. Stay away from bookcases, cabinets, glass doors, windows, power lines, brick walls, trees, and chimneys. If you’re outdoors, find the largest open space you can. If you are in a wheelchair, stay in your chair and lock your wheels. Protect your head and neck with your arms.
Earthquakes can last seconds or minutes. They may be followed at any time by aftershocks, which can be equally violent. Check for injuries of yourself and other house members. If someone else is hurt, and there is any chance that they have a spinal injury, don’t move them unless they’re somewhere unsafe. Call 911.
Check the house for damage and fires and evacuate if necassary. Turn off gas and electricity; if you do not know how, ask a house manager. Turn off water if there is a burst pipe causing flooding in the house. Don’t touch a live wire. Use telephone lines for emergency calls only—text messages are more reliable. Damage reports and emergency information will be on the radio at KNBR 680AM, KCBS 740AM, KGO 810AM, or WNZV 1610AM. The BSC maintains an emergency food supply in several locations around Berkeley, ask your managers where the nearest one is.
You should wash your hands often; probably more than you do now. You can't see germs and there's no way of telling if you're carrying them around. It's especially important to wash your hands in the following circumstances:
- Before, during, and after you prepare food
- Before you eat
- After you use the toilet
- After handling animals or animal waste
- When your hands are dirty
- More often when someone in your home is sick.
Another way to help you keep the germs away is to routinely clean and disinfect surfaces. Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. In most cases, cleaning with soap and water is adequate to remove dirt and germs, but sometimes you need to disinfect to provide an extra margin of safety.
Under the right conditions, some germs can live on surfaces for hours or even days. Even if surfaces look clean, many infectious germs might be lurking around. Disinfectants, such as regular household bleach, have ingredients that destroy bacteria and other germs. It's a good idea to disinfect areas such as kitchens and bathrooms where there are high concentrations of germs and a possibility they will be spread to others.
Before you start, read the labels and safety precautions on your cleaning products. Follow them.
Wear rubber gloves if you're cleaning up body fluids such as blood, vomit or feces, especially if you have cuts or scratches on your hands or if a family member has AIDS, hepatitis B, or another blood disease.
Clean the surface thoroughly with soap and water or another cleaner.
If you need to use a disinfectant, apply it to the area and let it stand for a few minutes so it has time to kill the most germs.
Wipe the surface with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards.
Store cleaners and disinfectants out of the reach of children.
Even if you use gloves, wash your hands after cleaning or disinfecting surfaces.
Careless food handling and improper cooking often set the stage for the growth of disease-causing organisms. Cross-contamination can occur when cutting boards and kitchen tools that have been used to prepare one contaminated food (such as raw chicken) are not cleaned before being used for another food (such as vegetables). Hot or cold foods left standing too long at room temperature provide an ideal climate in which bacteria can grow. The first rule of safe food preparation in the home is to keep everything clean - this applies to the areas where food is prepared and to the cook.
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the “stomach flu,” or gastroenteritis. The symptoms of norovirus illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults. Most people with norovirus illness have both of these symptoms. People tend to get better within 1 or 2 days and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. Dehydration is the most dangerous effect of noro virus and can require immediate medical attention. Symptoms appear 12-48 hours after infection.
This virus is very contagious and can spread rapidly throughout such environments. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:
- Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
- Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth
- Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms
People infected with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least 3 days after recovery. There is no treatment for the virus, but there are ways to relieve certain symptoms, namely dehydration.
You can decrease your chance of coming in contact with noroviruses by following these preventive steps:
- Frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits and changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.
- Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).
- Flush or discard any vomit and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
Persons who are infected with norovirus should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness. Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed of.
Scabies is an infestation of the skin with a microscopic mite. Scabies spreads rapidly under crowded conditions where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact between people, such as in hospitals, institutions, child-care facilities, nursing homes, and CO-OPS.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Pimple-like irritations, burrows or rash of the skin, especially the webbing between the fingers; the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee; the penis, the breast, or shoulder blades.
- Intense itching, especially at night and over most of the body.
- Sores on the body caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria.
Scabies can be contracted by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person already infested with scabies. Contact must be prolonged (a quick handshake or hug will usually not spread infestation). Infestation is easily spread to sexual partners and household members. Infestation may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding. Symptoms may take 4-6 weeks to begin.
Diagnosis is most commonly made by looking at the burrows or rash. A skin scraping may be taken to look for mites, eggs, or mite fecal matter to confirm the diagnosis. If a skin scraping or biopsy is taken and returns negative, it is possible that you may still be infested. Typically, there are fewer than 10 mites on the entire body of an infested person; this makes it easy for an infestation to be missed.
Anyone who is diagnosed with scabies, their sexual partners, and anyone with close, prolonged contact to an infested person should be treated with topical lotions that can be bought at a pharmacy or recommended by a physician. If diagnosed, the persons clothes, bedding, and towels should be washed in hot water, and dried in a hot dryer. Itching can continue for 2-3 weeks after treatment.
The BSC, consistent with its policies and governing law, promotes institutional diversity and pluralism by promoting equitable access to opportunity through policies such as open membership to room and board and affirmative action in hiring.
Unlawful acts of discrimination or harassment are prohibited.
In addition, the BSC community holds itself to certain standards of conduct more stringent than those mandated by law. Thus, even if not illegal, acts are prohibited under this policy if they discriminate against any BSC community member(s) through inappropriate limitation of employment opportunity, access to BSC residential facilities or participation in social, educational, house, organizational or other BSC activities on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, height, marital status, national origin, political persuasion, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status or weight.
Counseling & Psychological Services
University Health Services, Tang Center,
2222 Bancroft Way 3rd. Floor
University Health Services, Tang Center,
2222 Bancroft Way 2nd. Floor
University Health Services
Student to Student Peer Counseling
Drop In Counseling: 318 Eshleman Hall
Phone Counseling: (510) 642-9021
http://sspc.berkeley.edu / email@example.com
For All Campus Emergencies: UC Police Department
from a cell phone dial (510) 642-3333 from a land line dial 911
Alameda County Behavioral Health Care
Bay Area Woman Against Rape
(510) 845-7273 (24-hour crisis line)
Provides free in-person counseling to survivors of sexual assault and their significant others.
Berkeley Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team
(510) 981-5254 Telephone
(510) 981-6903 TDD
10:30AM-11PM, 7 days a week
Crisis/Suicide Prevention Hot Lines
National, 24-Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline (TTY capacity): (800) 273-TALK
If calling from Alameda County from a non-local cell phone: (800) 309-2131
S.F. AIDS Night Line (5pm-5am): (415) 434-AIDS
S.F. Spanish (6pm-12am): (415) 989-5212
Asian Community Mental Health
310 8th. St., Ste. 201 Oakland 94607
Health & Human Services -
Dvision of Berkeley Mental Health
2640 Martin Luther King Berkeley 94704
Oakland Community Support Center
10700 MacArthur Blvd., Building 15 Oakland 94605
West Oakland Mental Health
2730 Adeline St. Oakland, CA 94607
Sausal Creek Outpatient Stabilization Clinic
2620 26th Ave. Oakland, CA 94601
*Services to any adults (18 and older) who cannot wait for routine mental health outpatient care
Berkeley Therapy Institute
1749 Martin Luther King, Jr. Berkeley 94709
JFK Transpersonal & Holistic Counseling Center
2501 Harrison St. Oakland 94612
The Wright Institute
2728 Durant Ave., Berkeley 94704
Redwood Center Psychology Associates
Psychological Services Center
519 17th St. , Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 628-9065 (Main)
Bay Area Psychotherapy Services
Oak Creek Counseling Center
(510) 649-9320 / toll free: (888) 649-9320 s
Psychology Clinic, Dept of Psychology
2205 Tolman Hall, MC#1650
The Psychotherapy Institute
2232 Carleton Street, Berkeley
Jewish Family and Children Services
2484 Shattuck, Ste. 210 Berkeley 94704
Women’s Therapy Center & Couples Clinic
Advanced Training Program El Cerrito
Harassment may be manifested by, but not limited to, actions that are targeted at individuals or groups based on their identity that is disruptive of the work or living environment such as:
- Repeated stereotyped comments or depictions.
- Hostility or offensive conduct towards a person or group or group on the basis of race, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or other status protected by state or federal law.
- Explicit derogatory comments or remarks; Verbal harassment or abuse;
- Physically threatening behavior.
- Coercion by threat of punishment.
- Retaliation towards complainant or refusal to cease any form of harassment.
BSC Cooperative Experience Manager:
Victor F. Saldivar
Investigates formal sexual harassment complaints in accordance with the sexual harassment policy as a neutral fact-finder for the BSC. Also provides information and referrals.
Sexual Violence Prevention and Response:
UC Berkeley is dedicated to preventing and addressing sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus. We believe in fostering a culture that prioritizes consent and respect, and responds to and supports survivors and their allies. As part of these efforts, we are working to engage all members of the university community to create a healthy and inspiring environment where violence in any form is not tolerated.
The BSC Zine about Sex, Consent, and Violence publishes submissions from Berkeley co-op members and the greater community. The intention of this project is, more or less, to raise awareness about sexual violence and sexual consent in our communities, to connect survivors of violence to resources, and to prevent sexual harassment, assault, and rape.
The following three editions can be found below. The first two are pdfs, where the third is published as a blog.
Please note: where the zine refers to an @usca.org email, the current equivalent is @bsc.coop
- Being clear both to yourself and your partner about your intentions. Setting boundaries and respecting them. Being conscious of your own actions and intentions.
- Checking in with yourself – Do I consent to what is going on?
- Mutual agreement and active participation from both parties – silence is not consent.
- Dispelling any doubt that arises through verbal communication – the best and only way to know if consent is given, is to ask.
- Being in a clear and stable state to understand what you are consenting to. Emotional distress, fatigue, and intoxication are obstacles to giving consent.
- Being accountable for one’s own actions – the person who initiates sexual contact is responsible for asking for consent.
- Atmosphere must be free of real or perceived threat or coercion.
- Communication – the more communication occurs between two people, the more likely the situation will be consensual. Communication can be physical, but verbal communication is clearer. It is important to start communicating about intentions and needs before the heat of the moment starts.
- Communication should be open ended – What do you want to do? In the heat of the moment, communication and understandings about sexual style (dominance, submission, etc.) will make sex fulfilling for both parties.
- Clarity of expectations about the future relationship between two people involved, ex. Are we hooking up for just one night? Or am I set with a partner for life?
- Consent must be given each time‐ for each act. Consenting to kissing isn’t consenting to touching.
- Consenting to touching isn’t consenting to sex.
- Knowledge about risks of STI transmission and pregnancy. Open agreement about the use of barrier
- and contraceptive methods and disclosure of STI status.
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time
- Intoxication – the use of alcohol and other drugs by groups and individuals. Prevents people from being clear about their own needs and intentions. Prevents people from clearly understanding the needs and intentions of others.
- Taboo – being unable to initiate group and individual dialogue about sex, without being viewed as predatory, aggressive, and inappropriate.
- Discomfort and fear.
- Being afraid to ask for consent or withdraw consent, due to overt or covert coercion and threats. Fear of physical violence (like abuse) and emotional violence (shame, rumors, guilt).
- Discomfort resulting from the other party assuming, or deciding for you, what you want to do. Asking questions that make assumptions: “Do you want to go to my room or yours?” leaves no room to say – no, I don’t want to go anywhere. Other examples of assuming
- questions are “Do you want to be on top or bottom? Do you have a condom? How do you like to have sex?”
- Fear of saying something or using language that will unintentionally hurt or offend your partner. People use different words for different acts and different body parts – fuck, have sex, make love, get it on, vagina, cunt, penis, dick, semen, cum, etc.
- Gender roles and sexism ‐ expecting men to always initiate sex puts pressure on them to make situations sexual, expecting women to submissively consent prevents women from actively initiating sex or actively withdrawing consent (saying no).
- Events and situations set up with the assumption to there will be “hookups” and sex puts pressure on individuals to either have sexual interactions, or leave and not be part of a community event.
- Setting positive community precedents and expectations – expecting members of a community to actively communicate about boundaries and respect each other. Creating formal and informal spaces to talk about consent, sex, and sexual violence (men’s and women’s meetings, consent workshops, council, dinner, discussions between friends and between partners).
- Integrating consent into foreplay with your partner – consent can be very erotic and increased communication makes sex more satisfying.
- Teaching friends and partners about consent – demonstrate the use of consent to your partner, model the use of consent to your friends and community
- Checking in with yourself about what your needs, intentions and boundaries are, before going out and before becoming intoxicated.
- Communicating with friends about intentions and boundaries before going out and becoming intoxicated. Check in with your friend when you see them crossing their own boundaries, remind them of the decisions they made when they were sober and removed from the situation. Ex. If you see a friend having more drinks than they intended, or being led off by another person when they decided not to sexually engage with anyone that night, ask them if they’re okay with what’s going, if they would do this if they were sober.
- Asking for consent in an open ended way and giving a person the opportunity to say no – What do you want to do? What do you like? Do you want to have sex? Can I go down on you? Can I kiss you? How are you feeling?
- Taking responsibility for your own substance use and level of intoxication.
- Questioning your assumptions about what your partner wants and expects, and checking in with them frequently.
- Being aware of unequal power dynamics that exist in our communities and compensating for them.
- Men can have more power than women, managers can have more power than residents, old coopers can have more power than new members.
“In order for any discussion to be productive, you must create an open and relaxed atmosphere.”
-Anti-Oppression discussion guidelines
You can use this tool creatively, adapting the intensity of the 4 basic principles to different situations, depending on the level of risk being taken in each setting. Some components of these tools may be inappropriate for some settings, and invaluable in others. The more personal risk involved, the more carefully you want to frame the space at the outset, because a secure anchor is the only thing that will enable a process to fly to the heights of its potential.
A few settings I’ve used this tool in are: board meeting, activist/organizational meetings, co-facilitators/teachers meeting, co-op/group house meeting, personal relationship talks, and discussions with persons of authority.
Equalize the Space
Confidentiality – share stories and experiences, not names and gossip.
Step-up/step-down – give space before you take space, and challenge yourself to step out of your pattern value and encourage risk taking, while maintaining everyone’s right to speak or not speak.
Challenge the idea or the practice, not the person.
Everyone has equal worth in this discussion, and all ideas and opinions are equally valid.
Check Your Assumptions
No judgments or disclaimers (including self-judgments)
Maintain gender neutrality in your language, and inquire about preferred pronouns.
Treat everyone as an individual and not a representative of any specific group.
Personalize your knowledge, don’t project it (i.e. use I statements)
Believe in our common best intentions.
The Right to be Human
We all have the right to be human (i.e. inconsistent, emotional, triggered, etc. )
Avoid blaming people for the misinformation taught to them.
Practice Consensual Dialogue
Active listening – attention focused, maintain appropriate eye contact, check your body language, take breaks only when you need to.
Silence is okay – an unforced pace of dialogue is one into which people can step-up safely.
Be sincere and consistent, practicing respectful honesty.
This is a list generated by 2007 Action Camp participants of guidelines for creating a
safe space throughout the week.
Things That Make Us Feel Safe
- Freedom to speak openly
- Knowing I have a buddy
- Open communication
- Freedom to not speak
- Making space for people to speak
- Acceptance that everyone has their own opinions
- Willingness to recognize each others’ triggers/how we get triggered
- Taking responsibility
- Love & Acceptance
- Laughter & Crying
- Willingness to call each other out & be called out
- Critique of ideas, not of people
- Affirmation of people
- Mutual understanding of confidentiality
- Talking about how to facilitate these activities in other groups
- Ability to leave
- Ability to call a time out, if needed
- Opportunities to check in
- Creating Comfortable Spaces for People of Color
Things That Make Us Feel Unsafe
- Assumptions about my motives and/or intentions
- Expectation to conform; be involved in group think
- Using position of power to dominate a situation
- Being touched without permission
- Problems aren’t brought to group’s attention but discussed in small groups
- Passive aggression
- Using exclusive language
- Unnecessary yelling
- Hard drug use; excessive alcohol
- Aggressive body language
- Loud noises
- Very vocal negativity/absolutes
- Guilt tripping
- Knives left out
- When an organization is started, it shouldn’t be made up of white people.
- Ask people of color/support people of color in their decision to be on the board or in leadership roles.
- Examine your intent.
- Focus on people in leadership roles in a community that has asked to have access to resources that you have access to.
- Some single-gender showers in addition to existing co-ed showers.
- Offer single rooms/apartments.
- Hold movie nights w/ movies of non-white cultures.
- Go to cultural events as a house.
- Checking in.
- Make sure your words/symbols are inclusive [i.e. not all Queer PoC identify with the rainbow]
- Hold a People of Color issues caucus with no staff members present (if necessary)
- Examine how members get recognition: look for paternalism and tokenism.
- Listen and look around you: what’s happening; resources.
- Put yourself out there. Don’t go fishing. Be an ally. Learn.
- Make your space comfortable.
- Don’t refer to people as diversity [ex. we would like to be a more diverse organization rather than we want more diversity in our organization]
- Be honest.
- Teach people how to be called out/call people out.
1) Don’t just explain, involve yourself in it – modeling personal investment in process invests
2) Encourage risk taking and model it appropriately – keep it challenging.
3) Keep rules to a minimum.
4) Bend the rules appropriately.
5) Don’t run a good game into the ground – know when to move it along; conversely, know
when to give up on a game and change your plans.
6) Keep the players playing – don’t let people be ‘out’ for too long.
7) Pick fair teams/groups – don’t let them self-segregate or fall into old ‘comfort zones’.
8) Play games that are as gender/class etc equitable as possible – context dependent.
9) Emphasize competition against selves, not others (i.e. ‘beat our best time’, not ‘beat them’)
10) The fun of a game can be an end in itself – refrain from making every activity have a ‘larger message.'
These games are loosely categorized for reference only; they should be used and adapted whenever and wherever useful. Some require Safe Space to be in place before attempting, as noted.
“How do you get around?”
Arrange group into circle large enough for some movement
each person states:
1) Their name.
2) A mode of transportation that starts with the first letter of their name.
3) An action or sound to correspond with his/her mode of transportation.
4) Everyone else’s name/transportation/movement who came before
variation: animals, nickname
“I’m coming to the Party and bringing…”
Group circles up. The facilitator starts by saying, “My name is... and I’m coming to the party and bringing ______” (something that starts with the first letter of their name). The next person says, “That was (first person’s name) and they are bringing (the object they named). My name is (their name) and I’m coming to the party and bringing” ….. etc. Each successive person must name all those that have come before them – if they forget, they have to ask for help. Variations: name the party (is sex party, co-op work party, zombie prom, underwater fantasy, space aliens, etc; be mindful of the group’s boundaries).
“The Line Up”
The facilitator asks the group to form a horizontal line without talking, in order of: height, birthday, shoe size, age, etc. Variation: for advanced players, try eyes closed.
Everyone in a circle, keep the ball ‘alive’ a la hacky-sack, but with any body part. everyone counts each time the ball is hit, and you can’t hit it twice in a row. Group size: 10 or less.
Pick 2 people within a larger group (…in your head! Don’t announce it!)
Stay equidistant from each of them (i.e., in an equilateral triangle)
Try not to run into anyone.
“Room Sized Scrabble”
Everyone in the room grabs a letter (you need scrabble letters)
You have 10 minutes to get into a word.
Bonus – if you join all the words (a la a scrabble board)
“Find a person with…”
The facilitator calls out “find a person with (some characteristic)” the group then scrambles to find a partner with that trait, and links arms.
Those left without partners are out.
Some sample traits: same eye color, brown hair, the same sign, lived in the same city, height etc etc.
Alternative version – the out person (or people) get to call out the next trait.
Some guidelines should be established as to what are appropriate traits.
This can be used at different points in the training with different intents and confidentiality levels.
“Peanut Butter and Butterfly”
Everyone is given a compound word (like cupcake or waterfall) – one person is given ‘cup’ and another ‘cake’ etc. then they close their eyes and try to find their partner-word by sound only. once they find their partner, they link arms and stay silent.
Variation: give compound words with overlapping parts (as in the title) and see what happens to the remainders – incorporate into a new layer/use as a transition to a new game; when partners find each other, have them introduce themselves and find something in common.
“Alternate Gordian Knot”
The group forms a circle.
Everyone puts their right hand in and grabs another person’s hand, then they put in the left hand and grab another person’s hand. now everyone should be holding hands in a big knot.
Rules: you cannot grab the hands of the people next to you; you must grab the hands of two different people, instead of slicing through this knot, cooperatively untangle it without breaking the thread.
The group forms a circle and holds hands. The facilitator sends an impulse (hand squeeze) around the circle.
Variations: eyes closed; time it and do it a few times; do snaps, whistles, finger snaps, claps etc.
Played in pairs. Partners decide who is the camera and who is the photographer. The camera closes eyes, the photographer places hands on camera’s shoulders. Photographer leads the camera (eyes closed) around the room and positions the camera and takes a picture by squeezing the camera’s shoulders. The camera quickly opens and closes his/her eyes – the collage ensues. camera and photographer take turns.
“Find the Laugh”
NOTE: ground rules about appropriate behavior should be laid before hand, as this can get
threatening (i.e. no touching, heavy breathing, etc)
Group stands in a circle, with one facilitator in the middle. Play begins when the facilitator approaches a player in the circle and does everything possible to make them smile or laugh. Any player who laughs or smiles joins the facilitator and helps work on the rest of the stony faced players. Play ends when hysteria reins.
“Have you ever?”
The group forms a circle and marks their ‘spot’ with something recognizable (slips of paper work), leaving one person in the middle without a spot. That person asks “have you ever..?” ending the question with something they have done. Every person who answers yes – you have the right to pass – must move to another spot at least 2 spots away from their original spot. The last person left without a spot asks the next question.
NOTE: this is a SILENT activity, and should only be done once a Safe Space has been established.
The group forms a circle, including the facilitator, and holds hands. The facilitator then reads a list of ‘step out’ questions and directions. ex: “step out if you have ever felt alone. Pause. take a look around you. Pause. Please step back. Step out if you "…” etc. When a person chooses to step out, they drop the hands of those in the circle, and take one step toward the center, where they pause, look around, and then rejoin the circle and hold hands again. The last question should be “step out if you could have stepped out for a question, but chose not to”.
Variations: at the end of the activity, hold a brief guided meditation (on our oneness, on the
connection of the community, honoring our common experiences and bravery in sharing them, etc); before and/or after this activity, do an “Impulse” activity.
NOTE: this is a SILENT activity, and should only be done once a Safe Space has been established.
In this activity, every person in the group will hug every single other person. The group of people being hugged is silent and still, with their eyes closed. The huggers approach the people in that group individually, and silently hug them, holding on until they feel the impulse to let go. Appropriate behavior, respect of personal boundaries, and maintaining silence is essential for allowing people to take risks in this intimate exercise.
Logistics: the group is split up into an even number of groups and rotated until everyone has hugged everyone else; the facilitator participates, though must also keep the game moving and enforce the
Ex: 40 people are split up into groups of 10
1) each group splits in half and hugs each other / reverse.
2) the groups become whole again, and A hugs B while C hugs D / reverse.
3) A hugs C while B hugs D / reverse.
4) A + B becomes one group which hugs C + D / reverse.
Split the group into smaller ‘trust groups’. Appoint a timekeeper with a second hand or a stopwatch. One person sits in the middle of the group and the group asks them questions continuously for 60 seconds. The person has a right to pass on any answer. After 60 seconds the next person gets into the ‘hot seat’ where they are questioned, etc.
“In the Middle”
Split the group into small ‘trust groups’. One participant is ‘in the middle’, and is silent. The other participants have roughly 2-5 minutes each to relate their first impression of, first experience with, and perhaps current relationship to the person ‘in the middle’. After everyone has finished, the person ‘in the middle’ has 2-5 minutes to respond, while everyone else is silent. Rotate until everyone has gone.
Split the group into small ‘trust groups’. Each participant has 2-5 minutes to tell the group about their ‘wall’, to describe the front that they put up to the world, the nature of their armor, how and why they feel it came to be, and their current relationship to it. The other participants are silent, and do not respond during the activity. Rotate until everyone has gone.
Group writes anonymous responses to questions, crumpled up, thrown in the middle, redistributed and read aloud. Some questions:
What does it mean to be a facilitator?
What makes a good facilitator?
What are some qualities in a good facilitator, and how do you relate to these qualities and their practice?
“Listen and Respond”
Group pairs off. Person one speaks non-stop for 2 minutes (if you have trouble filling the space, just keep saying words until your train of thought catches up) while their partner practices active listening. Person 2 then relates back to person one what they heard. Partners switch roles. Group should think about: when is it important to express your opinion? when should you hold back? (do as a group debrief)
Everyone starts clapping to a regular beat.
On the fourth beat, the first player says a word.
Four beats later, the next player says an associated word.
Anyone who falters, breaks the rhythm or says an odd word is out.
When everyone has spoken a word, repeat on every third beat, then every two, then every single beat.
Goal: making people cognizant of/comfortable with a pace and the rhythm of a process.
Players sit in a circle, facing in.
One person leaves the room and a leader is appointed.
S/he leads the players by performing certain movements, etc. which they follow.
Odd person returns and tries to guess who is the hidden leader.
Goals: realizing that there are hidden dominants in group processes and that finding them is the key; also think about how the hidden intricacies of familiar relationships look to an outsider coming in.
Place out a huge cloth (4 sheets pinned together), representing the space for a marginal community. The group must all fit into the community space. Fold the sheet in half, and repeat. continue until no one can fit on the tarp.
Variations: separate the group into ‘identity groups’ and give them special rules (i.e. the LGBTinterest group won’t help someone from the Republican group stay on the tarp, and the religious groups won’t help the queers, but the different people of color groups will help each other before helping a queer etc etc; perhaps use numbers or colors or days of the week to avoid triggering labels? or consciously use the labels?) as the game progresses, look at who gets ‘pushed out’ of the community space first, last, by whom etc. Make provisions for changing the rules internally for the second round – i.e. give them ways to work with each other, maybe even to overrule the facilitator (i.e. a sit-in to preserve the space?)
The group splits up into teams of 3. The teams have 5 - 10 minutes to find something in common within their members that is as unique as possible within the larger group. At the end of time, groups share their fact with larger group and others who share it raise hands. The number of hands equals number of points for your team. The team with the least number of points wins.
Variations: frame the activity with the following thoughts/avenues for interrogation.
1) Assumption — (focus: exposing assumptions, creating open foundation)
Hand out paper, anonymously write one fact/truth that you believe most people in the larger group will have in common; give a context—a container for responses; write up on board! 1 min.
2) Sharing — (focus: establishing intimate relationships fast)
Find similar stories/experiences obeying above rules; give another related context. 5 min.
3) Negotiation — original ideas (focus: group dynamics, roles within negotiation situations, patterns of interaction) after step 3, do structured feedback and analysis. 10 min.
Questions to ask: Did anyone take the lead? What did that look like? Who talked the most? The least? How often did you get 2/3 of the way there? What did you do when you did? How did the space feel? Did any one person take up more space? Less space? Were you paying attention or did you zone out? What did you feel your role in the group was? Who did the most work? What is ‘work’ in this situation? Was there an instance where you took the lead? Etc.
Questions asked, silent, responses line up on a spectrum according to their beliefs (variation on ‘step out’)
Below is a list of resources, however for a more detailed list of community resources and the services they provided please see this PDF.
Tang Center, UHS
Comprehensive medical care, counseling, health promotion, and public health services.
Phone number: (510) 642-2000.
Advice nurse & after hours assistance for referral information: (510) 643-7197.
Gender Equity Resource Center
Women’s & LGBT services and programs. Sexual harassment & sexual assault advocacy, response, & education. Bias incidents/hate acts education.
Phone number: (510) 642-4786
On-campus location: 202 Cesar Chavez Student Center MC 2440
Alta Bates Summit
Comprehensive hospital services.
Phone number: (510) 204-4444.
2450 Ashby Av., Berkeley, 94705.
Alta Bates Summit (Herrick Campus)
Psychiatric in/out-patient service, community-based program, offering crisis intervention, evaluation, and treatment 24 hrs.
Phone number: (510) 204-4444.
2001 Dwight Way., Berkeley, 94704.
Sexual Assault, Dating/Domestic Violence
Bay Area Women Against Rape
Provides free in-person counseling to survivors of sexual assault & their partners. Offers accompaniment to police, court & hospital, a 24-hr hotline, support groups, & community education.
Phone number: (510) 845-7273
470 27th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Family Violence Law Center
Comprehensive services for dating/domestic violence victims, including legal assistance and overnight emergency response team. LGBT friendly.
Crisis line: (510) 208-0255.
P.O. Box 22009, Oakland, CA 94623
Community United Against Violence
LGBT specific dating/domestic violence services.
24 hr crisis line: (414)333-4357.
170 A Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Pregnancy, Emergency Contraception
Planned Parenthood National Hotline
Will automatically connect you to the PP provider nearest you. PP is a source for contraception, testing for STDs, including HIV, pre- & post-natal care, pregnancy options counseling, & adoption referrals.
24 Hour Hotline: (800) 230-PLAN
Information about emergency contraception. Gives names & numbers of local places where you can get emergency contraception.
Hotline: (888) 668-2528.
Mental Health and Crisis Lines
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County
We work to prevent suicide and offer hope and caring during times of hopelessness.
24 Hour Hotline: (800) 309-2131
Alameda County Mental Health & Substance Abuse Access Program
Phone number: (800) 491-9099
Berkeley 24-hour Crisis Hotline
Phone number: (800) 309-2131
Berkeley City Mental Health Services
Phone number: (510) 981-5290 (M-F, 8-5).
2640 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
National Institute of Mental Health's Anxiety Resources
Hotline: (888) 826-9438
Panic Disorder Information Hotline
Phone number: (800) 64-PANIC
Eating Disorders Center
Phone number: (888) 236-1188
Substance Addiction Resources
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, National Drug & Alcohol Treatment Referral Service
Can link the caller to a variety of hotlines that provide treatment referrals.
24 hour hotline: (800) 662-HELP.
Meth Addiction Hotline
For both users & friends/loved ones of users.
24 hour hotline: (800) 480-5965
12-step program for alcoholics. Info on AA meetings in the East Bay.
Phone number: (510) 839-8900.
12-step program for drug addicts. Provides information about NA and referrals to local meetings.
Phone number: (510) 444-4637
12-step fellowship for family & friends of alcoholics.
Phone number: (888) 4-AL-ANON.
12-step fellowship for family & friends of drug addicts.
Phone number: (800) 477-6291
Other Hotlines, Misc. Information
GLBT National Help Center
Free and confidential peer-counseling & local resource information for lgbt & questioning people of all ages.
Phone number: (888) 843-4564
CDC National STD & AIDS Hotline
Provides information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV/genital warts, herpes, and HIV/AIDS, and referrals to local clinics.
Phone numbers: (800) 227-8922 and (800) 342-2437
Easy-to-understand legal information and resources for women living with or escaping dating/domestic violence.
Go Ask Alice
Hip and topical question & answer site from Columbia University. Wide range of drug questions with non-judgmental and info-filled answers.
Online Screening for Mental Health
Online screenings for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and ptsd.
When calling from a landline: 911
When calling from a cell phone: (510) 981-5911
Berkeley Police Department
Non-emergency phone number: (510) 981-5900
For emergencies, see above.
Emergency phone number: (510) 642-3333
Non-emergency phone number: (510) 642-6760
Phone number for info during major campus emergencies: (510) 642-4335
Phone number: (800) 222-1212.