Sliding Scale: A Meditation on Trust
Built into Califia's guiding principles is the desire to create multiple access points for the wild and big hearted creatures called to learn from us. Our commitment to access includes our consideration of locations, the type of teachers within our collective, and the variety of material, classes, and prices offered. In meditating on what tool we could use to create multiple financial access points that would reflect the multiple economic realities of our students, we decided on using a sliding scale system. We have that much trust in our community and in you.
Sliding scale is a tool that allows for a single item/service to be obtained at multiple price points based on the circumstances of the purchaser. Typically, the scale will be set in a chart and some form of income verification is provided by the purchaser to an authority figure who determines where on the scale the purchaser falls. This method allows folks who would most likely be priced out of something the chance to partake in it. It also seeks to address the systemic inequalities of class in our culture. If you're unfamiliar with what class is and why it matters, please visit classmatters.org to learn more and check out the additional resources listed at the end of this post.
Sliding scale represents the idea that financial means are not and should not be the determining factor in whether or not someone can access services/care/etc. Service providers and institutions usually offer sliding scale because there is a commitment to serving individuals and/or communities that would otherwise not be able to afford the services. These organizations actively seek external funding to establish financial stability and fill in the economic gaps that sliding scale does not provide for. At this point, Califia is funded and teachers are paid entirely from class revenue.
To honor Califia's guiding principles, we seek to invoke the true power, complexity, and accountability of the sliding scale. We do not ask for income verification. We trust you to be honest. Community thrives when accountability is high, because that is where trust grows and depth work can be done. Teachers deserve to get paid. Students deserve classes which recognize the multiple realities of economic access and privilege that exist.
By honoring the sliding scale we support each other!
Here is a general guideline about how to determine where you fall on the scale:
- The highest dollar cost reflects the true cost of the class. It is the cost that the practitioner would charge all students in the absence of a sliding scale. If you have access to financial security, own property or have personal savings, you would not traditionally qualify for sliding scale services. If you are able to pay for "wants" and spend little time worried about securing necessities in your life, you have economic privilege and power in our community. This price is for you.
- The middle cost (when there is one) reflects the practitioner's acknowledgement that paying the full cost would prevent some folks from being able to attend, but who do not honestly find themselves reflected in either descriptions for the highest cost or the lowest. If you are struggling to conquer debt or build savings or move away from paycheck to paycheck living but have access to steady income and are not spending most of your time thinking about meeting basic needs such as food, shelter, medical care, child care, etc., you belong here.
- The bottom cost represents an honest acknowledgment by the teacher/practitioner that there are folks whose economic circumstances would prevent them from being a part of classes if there is not be a deliberate opportunity made for them to access services at a cost that is reflective of their income/economic realities. If you struggle to maintain access to needs such as health care, housing, food, child care, are living paycheck to paycheck or are in significant debt, you belong here and you deserve a community that honors your price as an equal economic offering to you as the person who can pay the highest tier. If the lowest price is still prohibitive, please get in touch with us so that we might come up with a workable solution together.
Typically, each class has a size limit and there will only be so many seats of each point on the scale offered. Please be mindful that if you purchase a class ticket at the lowest end of the scale when you can truthfully afford the higher ticket prices, you are limiting access to those who truly need the gift of financial flexibility. Being honest with yourself and your financial situation when engaging with sliding scale practices grows strong and sustainable communities.
In the spirit of access and supporting those who appreciate visual learning tools we've created a graphic to illustrate how the Califia Collective sliding scale works. Above you'll find a graph illustrated with three bottles. Each bottle contains sentences that describe a person's current financial experience and class. The bottle on the far left is full of beautiful green potion representing the upper end of the sliding scale spectrum. Folks who identify most with the statements in the far left bottle qualify to pay for class tickets at the upper end of our sliding scale. The middle bottle represents folks who sometimes can pay for the upper end of the sliding scale, sometimes the middle, and sometimes the bottom half (depending on how many sliding scale options are available). The bottle on the far right represents the lowest end of the scale and folks who qualify to purchase class tickets from the bottom of our price spectrum.
Trust is a pretty amazing thing. We have a deep trust that the community called to learn through Califia will honor the teachers' efforts in holding spaces for healing, magick, personal growth and community. We honor the trust you place in us to hold this space.
- Working Definitions of Class
- Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks
- Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists by Betsy Leondar-Wright