This series of blog posts introduces some of the guiding principles that we use at the Ronin Institute to help the community be its best. Our last post was on Art of Hosting.

Opt In is all about seeking permission and consent first, instead of assuming that people say Yes. 

Opt In is actually a pretty challenging principle to follow because sometimes it pushes up against our Minimal Viable Everything principle. For example, it’s easier and less bureaucratic to assume that all of our new Scholars are OK with receiving general communications from the Ronin Institute, rather than getting an affirmative from each person. But in the spirit of Opt In, there is now a new check box on our Welcome Form for new Scholars :). 

Here are some ways that Opt In can work in practice for us as Research Scholars:

  • When we make recordings of online events, we make sure that we have consent from anyone who is speaking, and let attendees know that we are recording so they can choose not to speak or show their video. 
  • We ask people if it’s OK to share their information out of context, or to use information that they have shared in public spaces or in ways that might benefit us personally (think: informed consent). 
  • We don’t assume or imply that anyone should do something in service of the Ronin Institute or for anyone else. For example, we ask if someone would like to do such-and-such (without putting them “on the spot”), or better yet throw the question out there and hope someone will speak up to volunteer. 

It’s hard to get this principle exactly right. But if we try our best in good faith, then we should be able to get most of the way there. Next time you find yourself wondering if someone might be OK with an action that could affect them, go ahead and ask. They’ll probably appreciate knowing that you were thinking of them first. 

Photo by Kevin Gale.

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Arika is a Research Scholar and Community Director of the Ronin Institute. She is a social-ecologist who works with human-environmental issues including, community resilience, natural resource management, and the application of science. In addition, she is the Founder of Middle Path EcoSolutions, a consulting firm that helps organizations with community building.

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