Conflict Resolution & Accountability Framework

January 2016


The Punch Up Collective is committed to conflict resolution, community accountability, and transformative justice. We will work to recognize and bring out the best in ourselves and others, communicate clearly and directly with one another, and take responsibility for resolving conflict and addressing harm within our organization.

1. We agree that we are trying to shift our practices from:

  • coercion to healing
  • a focus on individual responsibility to individual and collective responsibility
  • a primary reliance on the state towards self-reliance within communities
  • the idea of justice as getting even to justice as getting well
  • disruption to continuity, from something that causes a break in relationships to something that deepens relationships
  • an aim toward banishment to an aim toward reintegration
  • passivity to participation
  • representation to direct involvement
  • obedience to inclusion and choice

2. We recognize that:

  • Accountability is a skill that we all need to learn and practice; it’s not just for “problem” people or situations.
  • We have all internalized domination-based values and practices and we all need to do the difficult and intentional work of unlearning them.
  • We each carry (in uneven ways) the damage of living in a society shaped by inequality and structural violence. This damage inevitably seeps into our relations with one another.
  • Dealing with conflict and harm brings up lots of difficult and uncomfortable dynamics and emotions. It takes practice and skill to be able to work with those feelings over time without becoming reactive and falling back on domination-based practices

3. We believe that:

  • Social conditions resulting from systems of domination are the primary cause of harm and conflict in our communities and movements.
  • We must work to shift these systems – and the conditions they create – if we hope to effectively address conflict and harm in our lives.

Principles in this section draw substantially on materials from Briana Herman-Brand of the Capacity Project and Danielle of the Rock Dove Collective.


Accountable, Accountability: For people involved, thinking about the ways they may have contributed to harm, recognizing their roles, acknowledging the ways they may need to make amends for their actions and make changes toward ensuring that harm does not continue and that healthy alternatives can take its place.

Collective: An approach relying on collaboration including shared capacity, resources, and decision-making.

Community accountability: A process in which a community such as family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or community members work together to transform situations of harm. This can also describe a process in which the community recognizes that they are impacted by harm even if it is primarily occurring between individuals, that they may have participated in allowing the harm to happen or even causing the harm, and are responsible for resolving it.

Conflict: A serious disagreement, often protracted and involving intense negative emotions.

Conflict resolution: A process through which two or more people work through serious disagreement and difficult feelings, and come to a mutually acceptable resolution.

Disagreement: Lack of consensus, involving two or more views that are at odds with one another.

Harassment: Unwanted behavior, unwanted language, or words that are upsetting, such as sexual harassment or bullying.

Harm: Some form of injury to a person, group, or community. This injury can be of many types, including physical, financial, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and/or environmental.

Oppression: Violence, harassment, or exclusion that is based on and/or perpetuates systems of domination.

Transformative Justice: An approach to – and processes for – addressing harm that seeks to not only address the specific situation of harm in question, but to transform the conditions and social forces that made such harm possible.

Violence: Threats, attempts, or actions to do physical injury.

Definitions in this section primarily come from Creative Interventions and the work of Lukayo Faye Estrella.

Punch Up Collective Conflict Resolution & Accountability Process

Punch Up will use the below process when conflict arises within the collective, and all collective members agree to participate in this process when asked to by the group. The members of Punch Up commit to practicing, revisiting, and improving this process as we would any other skill or technique.

Step 1: Circle Process

The first method of resolving conflict arising within the collective will be a circle process.

Any circle process will be grounded in awareness and acceptance by all participants of the ‘Principles’ described in the collective’s Conflict Resolution & Accountability Framework.

At any point, a member seeking to resolve conflict within the collective can block the use of a circle process and ask for a different method of conflict resolution or accountability if they feel a circle process is not appropriate or will not be useful.

What is a Circle Process?

A circle process is a means of bringing all members affected by a conflict together to seek a resolution. A circle process will have a facilitator, whose purpose is to ensure all voices are heard, to facilitate open, respectful dialogue between participants, and to maintain the focus of the process.

What is the Purpose of a Circle Process?

The purpose of the circle process is to think about and discuss any harm that has occurred within the collective, and how to repair this harm if possible. Participants in the circle process must be committed to working towards this outcome and to attempting to understand everyone’s experience of what happened.

Who can call for a Circle Process? Who takes part?

Any member of the collective can call for the commencement of a circle process. The circle process should include the person or persons responsible for the harm and, when possible, the harmed individual or individuals. The circle process can include all members of the collective, and all members affected by the conflict.

How do members participate in a Circle Process?

Members participating in a circle process, keeping in mind the ‘Principles’ described in Punch Up’s Conflict Resolution & Accountability Framework, should follow these guidelines:

  • Use ‘I’ statements: We should strive to speak about their own experiences, and not speak to the motivations, intentions, or experiences of others.
  • Speak with respect: All participants commit to respectful communication during the process.
  • Listen with respect: Participants should try to honestly and actively listen to what others are saying, even if what is being said is hurtful, upsetting, or surprising.
  • Stay in the Circle: Participants commit to seeing the circle process through, and not leaving when we are upset or frustrated. This doesn’t mean no breaks, or that participants can’t ask for a pause in order to think things over or process what they’ve heard. But, as a general rule, such breaks should be rarely used.
  • Confidentiality: Anything discussed in the circle process remains confidential.
  • Keep our promises: If, as a part of the process, we agree to do something or act in a certain way, we will ensure we actually do.

What does a Circle Process look like?

While there will be some variation depending on the specific situation being addressed, a typical circle process might look like this:

  1. An opening go-round, asking the participants a general opening question (ie. how are you feeling right now?)
  2. Facilitator asks participants about their concerns about or experience with the issue being discussed
  3. Facilitator encourages and supports ongoing discussion until it seems most issues have been raised
  4. Participants speak to what they need at this moment and moving forward
  5. Participants share ideas about how to resolve the situation
  6. Participants discuss concerns they may have about the above ideas for resolution
  7. Participants are invited to offer support to those involved in the conflict or make their own commitments regarding the situation
  8. Participants reflect on how they are feeling having had this discussion
  9. Close the circle process with a simple collective activity (ie. share some food, sit in silence for a moment)

In general, discussion on each question moves around the circle, one person at a time. Depending on the situation, the facilitator may decide to encourage other means and methods of discussion or sharing.

Step 2: Conflict Resolution or Accountability Process

At any point, a member looking to resolve conflict within the collective can block the use of a circle process and ask for a more formal method of conflict resolution or accountability if they feel a circle process is not appropriate or will not be useful.

The type of accountability process to be used will be based on the specific situation to be discussed by the collective, and will be grounded in the ‘Principles’ of Punch Up’s Conflict Resolution & Accountability Framework. Examples of such processes could include mediation or inviting a trusted elder from the community to participate in the conversation.

The above section draws substantially from ‘Anti-authoritarian Approaches to Resolving and Transforming Conflict & Harm’ and Rock Dove Collective’s ‘Dealing With Conflict’.


In thinking about and preparing our Conflict Resolution & Accountability Process, we read and discussed a range of resources. Some of those resources included:

  • Shifting from Carceral to Transformative Justice Feminisms Conference Tookit, by Jane Hereth & Chez Rumpf
  • “Facilitating the Creation of Accountability Policies & Procedures” Tip Sheet, by Lukayo Faye Estrella
  • Community Accountability/Transformative Justice (CA/TJ) Framework, by Decolonize/Occupy Seattle
  • Anti-authoritarian Approaches to Resolving and Transforming Conflict and Harm (workshop transcript), workshop by Danielle at 2007 New York City Anarchist Bookfair
  • Philly Stands Up Portrait of Praxis: An Anatomy of Accountability, by Esteban Lance Kelly & Jenna Peters-Golden
  • Transformative Justice And/As Harm zine, by AJ Withers
  • Dealing with Conflict zine, by Rock Dove Collective
  • Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence, by Creative Interventions