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Principles of Citizenship:
1. Actively seek out new ways to make an environment where Canaries can breathe easier.
- Canaries are those in society who, for whatever reason, are more sensitive to bad situations. They are our early warning signs that something in our community is wrong. By creating a culture that takes care of them, we will all be healthier. We want people of influence at Canary to be known for propping people up and helping them, rather than shutting down people who are “in the way of fun.”
2. Expect deep intellectual discussion as the norm.
- Shallower conversations limit the size of the box we think in. Ideas outside the box then become automatically wrong and easy to stigmatize. Many of us have been victims of stigma, when others saw one particular trait that didn’t fit in their box and used it as an excuse to dehumanize us. They didn’t want to take the time to look at us a whole person. Having deep intellectual discussions as part of Canary’s culture means we care about understanding the intricacies of the people we serve and the problems we face.
3. All Canary Nation events are sober. (Avoid drug/alcohol culture references.)
- Canary Nation is not specifically against drugs or alcohol, but some Canaries may be battling addiction issues and we want our events to be fun, relaxing places for everyone to socialize. Our awesome Citizens and Volunteers make our events interesting enough that drugs or alcohol are not necessary to have an amazing time.
4. Remain passionate in our pursuit to grow as people.
- We seek to make the world a better place, but sometimes that means first understanding how bad things can be. In our discussions, we will sometimes be looking at the darkest parts of humanity. We do not invalidate people’s concerns by only telling them to look on the bright side. We don’t sugarcoat things, but we never allow ourselves to settle and accept defeat. There’s always something we can do to make it better, both as individuals and as a Nation.
5. Hold ourselves accountable and stay open to constructive criticism.
- We cannot change if we are unable or unwilling to notice the parts of ourselves that need to change. This means being open to constructive feedback and taking steps to make necessary changes. If you spot unsavory behavior from any of our citizens, please contact a moderator. We will help those affected by the behavior cope with its effects, and help those doing the behavior understand what they’re doing and what steps they can take to stop.
6. Hold our staff to a higher standard of accountability.
- Our staff must be especially open to acknowledging any missteps and setting the example of doing everything in their power to learn and grow from mistakes. If you have issues with any of our staff, no matter how influential the person may be, please bring your concerns to a moderator immediately. Too many other organizations have failed because people in positions of power were exempt from criticism. As flawed human beings, our leaders will occasionally make mistakes. How we deal with them is what defines us and sets Canary Nation apart.
7. Strive to understand issues that arise from neurodivergence.
- Due to our mental illnesses and life circumstances, many of us did not go through regular developmental phases at age appropriate times of our lives. Sometimes this manifests in adorable ways (like crayons and coloring books at our events because someone’s child alter needs to come out), and other times, this may manifest in more uncomfortable ways. We’ll deal with them appropriately- see Principle #5- and try to keep them few and far between.
8. Follow both the spirit and letter of the Membership Rules and Principles of Citizenship.
- Do our honest best to uphold the true meaning of the Principles, rather than doing the bare minimum to coast along without technically breaking a rule. As Citizens, we shape what Canary Nation is and we are the ones who uphold what it represents. It is up to us to take action and shape it into what we want to see.
9. Our events are de facto night life, not watered down.
- We bring in the general neurotypical population to our events with the goal of normalizing these interactions. We attract this population by creating events that exceed the desirability of events that are not mental health inclusive. By creating a culture that takes care of Canaries, this actually makes our events more desirable overall. To create a culture where people actually take care of and respect Canaries, we have to provide an alternative that is better than what’s out there, inspiring people to change for the better.
10. Be prepared to address unique challenges.
- We cover adult topics and themes. Understanding and expressing sexuality are themes almost no other mental health community seeks to explore or allow, but they are necessary parts of the human condition.
11. Go the extra mile. (This one goes to 11!)
- While we do focus on topics relating to people with mental illness, we recognize that these populations often fight the same fight as other underprivileged demographics. We can learn a lot from the struggles of the feminist movement, racial equality, and LGBT equality, and we gladly welcome those who have fought and been through those struggles into our Nation. As time passes we’ll continue to learn and expand our understanding of people, culture, and what we can do to help.