A-Camp Is Taking a Break in 2020

This announcement has also been posted on the A-Camp website.

After careful consideration, we have decided to take a year off from A-Camp. We feel strongly that transitioning camp into its next phase — whatever that looks like — needs to happen thoughtfully, intentionally, and with a clear, inclusive process, and that doing that work properly takes more time than we have between this winter and next summer.

We know that this will be disappointing news for many. A-Camp holds a special place in so many of our hearts. A lot of campers were eager for their first trip and others anticipated returning to see beloved friends. We are very sorry that our prospective A-Camp dates had been released prior to us coming to this conclusion, and that some of you may have made plans with those dates in mind.

We will miss seeing your faces and sharing space with you this spring, but are confident that this time is needed in order for us to do internal work as an organization around structural racism, class and disability; areas in which A-Camp has failed in the past. That work has begun, but there is so much work left to be done.

Over the past few months, we’ve been all-hands-on-deck for the website — gathering feedback on improving Company Culture and implementing new Company Values and policies, increasing transparency and communication with our staff around hiring and pay rates, bringing new people onto the team through transparent and thorough interview processes, building leadership and teamwork skills with a coach and making plans for racial justice and workplace inclusion trainings. We know in our hearts that giving this website work the time and devoted focus it deserves will be imperative to its success.

Our next steps for A-Camp are this: in early Spring 2020, we will assemble a primarily Black and other POC transition team to determine next steps for A-Camp or a different kind of Autostraddle-adjacent event, as well as landing on a reasonable compensation package for new leadership and other staff. Our work will be informed by an independent professional financial analysis of what is possible for us to execute responsibly as we move away from a structure that relied too heavily on already-strained website staff/freelancers and other unpaid/underpaid labor. We will update you on the results of these conversations on the A-Camp website as we have them.

The outgoing co-directors and CEO will follow new leadership in the offboarding/onboarding process to ensure this and work that’s already been done by Black and POC staff is amplified and uplifted. Any future events will be designed to center of POC leadership, voices and experiences in consult with our Black and other POC staff.

The staggering strength, integrity, spirit and personalities of our staff and incredible community of campers has left us consistently awestruck, year after year. We wish to honor that work with this process. We sincerely hope that taking this time to evaluate and rebuild with vulnerability, bravery and open hearts; employing practices rooted in community care and hope for comprehensive change; will lead to a better experience for all.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2781 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. This was a really brave and necessary decision, and I really appreciate the transparency. I believe in A-Camp’s ability to rise out of this into something that we can all be proud of! Thank you for always seeking new, thoughtful, and better ways to serve this community <3

  2. Is there a plan to make reparations to the POC and trans folx you’ve worked with and harmed in the past? The ones you never paid, or dropped at a moment’s notice? A Medium article published earlier this year lays out some very disturbing racist and transphobic behavior from A Camp staffers in years prior. I understand that this is why you’re making changes, and that’s great. I also understand that maybe these people have already been contacted privately, which is also great. Autostraddle has been an amazing resource, especially in my coming out, and I want to continue to come here for news and entertainment. I appreciate the honesty presented here, I think it’s huge. But there have been people seriously othered by A Camp, and I think it’s important to address that specifically and work to make sure those people feel heard.

  3. I had no idea these problems existed in the A-camp team. I’m very happy that you are open about the problems, accept responsibility, transform transparently and are actively making reparations (mentioned in another comment).

    We are all human and need to learn and grow. Openness like this makes me think about my own (subconcious) racism/classism/transphobia and my own internalized issues with mental health, disability and fatphobia. This inspires me to look at aspects off my life in which I can grow and learn.

    So thank you and wishing the team all the best in this time of transformation.

  4. Et tu, Brute? I must’ve been asleep at the wheel because I did not know about any of this. I left the other site because it had devolved into something completely unrecognizable and thought AS was a safer space. The realization that people who pride themselves on creating safe spaces, for those marginalized by mainstream society, has failed at the very thing they promised to do is disheartening.

    I understand that A-Camp and Autostraddle are separate entities. Being the captain of both ships probably produces levels of anxiety and stress that could drive one mad. I appreciate the effort that has gone into creating more opportunities for the underrepresented and the acknowledgment of past transgressions.

    The problem is, however, what the problem has always been. White people, even those considered members of other minorities, will never, ever be able to understand what it is to be black in America. Even the most woke amongst you could never fully appreciate how difficult that journey is for many (if not all) of us. I am only two generations removed from slavery so I know I see this place differently than most. This is America. And, honestly, I’m most upset for getting caught slipping up.

    We are human and therefore flawed by design. Mistakes happen. But not this. Not here. I do not forgive easily. It’s a safety mechanism that comes from a lifetime of being me. Consider this. I am a black, queer, NB, person living with mental illness and a sexual assault survivor. I have been all of the things. Even Jewish. Not a joke true story. The only thing people see or hear is black. Every judgement and stereotype is based on my blackness. I had hoped that this place was different. I guess I was naive.

    Things I have to ask. Accessibility for differently-abled individuals was a thing in 2016. How do you mess that up? How do you not include their voices? How, in 2016, are you extending invitations for “talent” performing non-inclusive material riddled with hate speech? Why does it take three years to shut it down and start over? Does POC include Indigenous People?

    Ok, so I just needed to say those things (and be heard) because I support this site with both my money and my patronage. Seriously, it’s one of the few (if not only) places IRL and on the internet that doesn’t have me in a constant state of anxiety. I look forward to seeing the change happen, as swiftly as possible.

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