A Statement About Living Up to Our Mission

As an organization, Big Heavy World has invested its labor and spirit to uplift people while serving Vermont’s music community. We’re a corps of volunteers dedicated to local arts, but also to values of inclusion and empowerment. Our job is to be a safe place for people to get a little closer to their potential by following their passion, one of the most beautiful human possibilities available. 

In the course of our work we have opened our doors to people from every direction, from youth to elders, artists to businesspeople, and people who face challenges that others don’t. Our code of conduct is real and meaningful. As a microcosm of the larger world, we face the fact that not every person is a good fit for an environment that’s intended to be positive. In our history we’ve adapted to help people on the margins participate successfully, and have barred others.

A recent public conversation has led to a calling-out of Big Heavy World for having a potentially harmful person on its staff. The accusations against them were raised years after they were employed or present at the office, but are especially painful because they relate to the harmful treatment of others. This person does not have (and has not recently had) a role at the organization, but the question has been asked if our leadership is prepared to prevent others like them from having positions from which they could do harm. 

The oversight of Big Heavy World staff is direct when crew members gather. Our code of conduct is demanding and includes a process for reporting uncomfortable behavior. Our core two-person oversight team are parents of thriving young adults. We have sought a better understanding of gender issues including gender-related violence — this has occurred naturally and proactively as society has become more aware and communicative of potential issues. We are increasingly vigilant about safety and decision-making related to volunteer safety. Our focus is on making the office a safe space for all people. That commitment is firm and involves purposeful professional and systemic development (some happening naturally, and some in response to the current question) to ensure the effort is thorough and successful. We are also far wiser now than we were before this concern arose.

To those who have been interested in this information: Thank you for your constructive presence in our community and for your sense of responsibility to others. We’re grateful you asked, and are making an honest and energetic effort to live up to your expectations.

Bob Colquhoun