ARCHIVED: Group and Member Expectations (June to October 2020)

These Expectations were in place from June 28 until October 25 2020. Our community engaged in an accountability process and revised these Expectations significantly. The updated version can be found on the Home page.

Polyamory Toronto Group and Member Expectations 

Posted June 28, 2020  17 minute read 

Contents 

Land Acknowledgement

Growth, Learning, and Accountability  

Confidentiality, Privacy, Disclosure

Anti-Oppressive, Anti-Racism Intersectional Framework

Violence, Trauma, Mental Health

Online Rules of Engagement

Accessibility

Locations and Venues: 

Scents:

Interpreters/Translators:

Childcare:

What these expectations can look like in practice

Revising the Group and Member Expectations

Preamble 

Polyamory Toronto is a collective of non-monogamous, polyamorous, and other interested people in Toronto and the GTA. We are an in-person community group and hold a variety of events. Our events are for people who feel strongly aligned with our community’s values and expectations outlined below. Please read and understand them thoroughly. 

As our community expands and grows, our expectations of one another evolve. This document evolved from our original Member Expectations and Safer Space Guidelines, which is archived, and we will continue to evolve these expectations over time. 

This document is lengthy; a table of contents has been constructed to ease the process of finding specific information. If you have any questions or feedback about these expectations, please contact us at organizers@polyamorytoronto.ca

Land Acknowledgement 

We acknowledge that the land in which we gather has been home to many people before us. Land acknowledgments are a way of naming peoples’ relationships with the land. What we know as Toronto today is the traditional lands of many different Huron, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples—the Wendat and Petun, the Seneca, the Ojibwe, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit.   

Instead of just reading the listed names, we ask you to dive deeper. Think about the following: when and how did different people live on the land? What treaties are in place here? How have those treaties been (dis)honoured? Where are the indigenous nations now? Please consider visiting https://native-land.ca/ to research more about the land you inhabit. Don’t let your awareness end with the acknowledgment. Let the acknowledgment be the first step in the long and difficult journey of reconciliation. 

Growth, Learning, and Accountability 

Polyamory Toronto organizers began the work of developing community accountability practices in January 2015. Soon after, we drafted a document describing the values, principles, and standards that guide our community. In March 2015, we presented the Member Expectations and Safer Space Guidelines to the community at large. We have continued to learn through this process and are now (June 2020) implementing these updated expectations to express explicit anti-oppressive values. 

We are a community-led, community-run collective. We ascribe to the practice of Do-It-Together (DIT), meaning everyone who attends our events are collectively and individually responsible for the community and the atmosphere we co-create. We find it important to practice organizing in ways that are more sustainable than how society is traditionally organized within kyiarchy, and taking collective responsibility for everything is a way to do so. 

“There’s no such thing as a safe space. We exist in the real world, and we all carry scars and have caused wounds. This space seeks to turn down the volume of the world outside and amplify the voices that have to fight to be heard elsewhere. 

This space will not be perfect. It will not always be what we want it to be, but it will be ours together, and we will work on it side by side” 

Originally written by the Carpe Locus Collective 

Be accountable. If you are called out for oppressive words or problematic actions, listen, and then immediately change your behavior. What you meant is less important than what you do after you’ve hurt someone. Own your actions. Polyamory Toronto organizers commit to guiding and educating those who display accountable behavior(s) and are genuine in seeking clarity and growth through learning. 

Our events seek to create a space that is compassionate and empathetic enough for all of us to speak authentically. We also want to distinguish between safety and comfort – we want you to feel supported and empowered to sit in your discomfort, so that you may live on your learning edge.  

We strive to find a balance between self-care and group-care. We encourage all members to take care of themselves before, during, and after our events. Caring for ourselves and others is important in this work, and we want to make sure everyone takes time to think about what they might need. Our discussions may be difficult or triggering for some members. 

Suggestions that may be useful, especially if you believe some of the conversations may be triggering for you:  

  • Attend the event with a friend and/or support person. Have at least one person who knows you will be attending an event that you can reach out to if you need support.  
  • Think about what might be best for you before, during, and after our events.  
    Examples may include  
  • Schedule downtime 
  • Plan time to be around people who support you in taking care of yourself 
  • Bring a meaningful object with you that will help ground/comfort you during an event (something you can wear, hold in your hand and/or look at are often helpful) 
  • Contact an Event Host beforehand if you would like additional support. 
  • If needed, leave an event earlier than anticipated.  This is okay and is fully supported by our Event Hosts and Organizers.  Choosing to attend an event at all is a courageous move in itself.  

Confidentiality, Privacy, Disclosure 

Please note that the Meetup group is set to Private; no one outside the group can see who the members are. You have, at minimum, two profiles: a main Meetup profile and a Polyamory Toronto profile. You have a profile for each individual group you join. Polyamory Toronto members can only see your main profile and your Polyamory Toronto profile. Meetup.com allows you to hide your groups/interests, if you would like an added layer of privacy. You can find this setting in your main Meetup profile in the right-side column under your groups and interests, using the desktop version of Meetup. 

We ask that while attending any of our events that you refrain from taking photographs unless permission is otherwise posted or explicitly granted.   

Being out as any non-traditional identity is a privilege that not all of us can access. Please be aware of this when interacting with members outside of our events. 

Anti-Oppressive, Anti-Racism Intersectional Framework 

Our community works within an anti-oppression framework. This means prioritizing inclusion, taking a harm-reduction approach and striving to limit and prevent situations of oppression from happening within our events, online spaces, and community as a whole.  

Cishetero-patriarchy exists, white supremacy exists, ableism exists, racism exists, colonialism never ended, capitalism is problematic, and we are marinating in a sex-negative culture. This is not a space where we argue about the basics of the situation; if you are not aligned to these fundamentals, you are likely not a good fit for our community, and we encourage you to pursue your growth and learning elsewhere. We learn and grow together, and we do not minimize or deny experiences with oppression. 

Oppressive, abusive, or reactionary language and behavior of any kind will be interrupted and challenged in all Polyamory Toronto spaces. 

We respect, embrace, and defend the identities and complexities of all people that do not uphold oppressive ideologies. We do not respect, embrace, or defend fascist, bigoted, xenophobic, or any other oppressive ideologies or persons. We invest in restorative justice models and accountability measures by taking time with members to discuss wrong doings. However, oppressors are not welcome in our space and will be asked to leave, or will be removed. We review requests to return to the group after removal on a case-by-case basis.  

The organizers and members alike of Polyamory Toronto are empowered to enforce these rules.  We reserve the right to ask any individual who cannot abide by our expectations to leave the physical and online space. 

Violence, Trauma, Mental Health 

Many of our members have lived experiences of violence, trauma and/or mental health struggles. It is a myth that people who struggle with mental health issues are the perpetrators of violence when, in fact, they are more likely to experience receiving violence. We do not tolerate threats – in any form – to the safety of any member of our community or any part of the communities Polyamory Toronto is accountable to. If you see it, interrupt it. If it’s not safe to interrupt, tell an organizer as soon as you can. 

Members will respect the boundaries, consent, emotional and bodily autonomy of all persons; ask about them – do not assume to know them. We unequivocally believe and support survivors of assault, trauma, and abuse. 

Online Rules of Engagement 

This section will outline the areas of membership profiles, requirements to maintain membership, online conduct and private messaging. 

In the interest of our members’ safety and comfort, and in order to maintain a positive and welcoming atmosphere in the group, we have the following membership requirements: A personal photo of yourself, thoughtfully answered profile questions, and Acknowledgement of reading these Member and Group Expectations. 

A personal photo of yourself is required. You are welcome to partially conceal your identity, such as in this example (member gave us permission, thank you!). However, we will not accept pictures of landscapes, pets, cartoons, etc. No X-rated, implied nude or lingerie pictures as your profile pic. No Group photos. Please respect the privacy of others in the picture by not using it as your profile photo (even if you have their permission, due to issues of administration and management).  

We are doing our best to respect some members’ needs for a greater degree of privacy while balancing that with other members’ sense of safety. Empty or one-word answer profiles have been shown to negatively impact other members’ comfort and participation. Please note that thoughtfully does not necessarily refer to the level of disclosure of personal information. We simply ask that you answer the profile questions to the best of your ability within your own comfort level.  

Profiles indicating ‘cruising’ or ‘hooking up’ as the primary reason for joining will not be accepted. Please remember we are a social and educational group, not a dating or swingers club. If you are looking for a hook up, there are many other avenues that will be successful for you. This meetup group is not one of them and that type of behaviour will result in removal.  

Do not message people you have not met. Particularly, unsolicited messages to members asking for dates or private meetups are not supported. Messaging after engaging in conversation at one of our events is acceptable, so long as the member consents to being contacted. Please consider any directions in individual profiles (I.e. some people will state “no direct messages”). It is advised that you ask in person if a private message would be welcome. If it is reported that a member is sending unsolicited, unwelcome messages, you will be warned and/or removed from the group. Messages to organizers and event hosts for group dynamic clarifications are always welcome. 
 

When making comments within an event page, be mindful that it is visible to all members. Comments are moderated by the Event Hosts. Removing posts will be a discussion with organizers/hosts; hate speech will be removed asap. Original commenters are asked not to delete their own post. Informal education can take place within the comment sections and, although the original commenter may not hold the same perspective, erasing the comment also erases the effort and labour of the education that others could benefit from.  

Accessibility 

Locations and Venues: 

Physical accessibility information for specific venues will be included in each event description. We prioritize spaces that are accessible in a variety of ways. We include transportation information in each event description. 

Scents:  

Please help us support a fragrance-free space by attending chemical and fragrance-free. A Fragrance-Free Zone is a smoke, fragrance and chemical free area, designed for those who report mild to serious reactions to these items.  

Interpreters/Translators:  

Polyamory Toronto will provide interpreters for our large educational events, like lectures and conference. These services will not be provided at our social events or smaller discussion groups. If you have skills in this area or have interest in participating to make this happen, please contact the organizers. We have numerous members who speak multiple languages and know ASL. 

Childcare: 

Polyamory Toronto does not provide childcare for our events but will plan for this, when requested. We would love to work towards supporting members with children by hosting more family friendly events. If you have any interest in assisting this process, please contact the organizers. 

What these expectations can look like in practice 

We are an in-person community group. We serve and are sustained by those who understand the importance of showing up and participating. 

  • We ask for and respect people’s pronouns. You may never have thought of your pronouns and that’s okay. It’s a privilege to never have thought of your pronouns, so we ask you to be respectful and conscientious throughout this process and in this space. This means that it is not acceptable to be dismissive about gender, sexuality, or pronouns themselves at Polyamory Toronto events. 
  • We take a strong focus of naming and unpacking privilege within our discussion groups. 
  • Certain boardgames may not be featured due to themes and possible impact. 
  • Karaoke song selection may be discussed and challenged relative to performers’ identities. 
  • We name and address microaggressions.  
  • We discuss behaviour openly and transparently at Group Planning Meetings.  

We strongly lean towards dealing with the impact of behavior, and not a person’s intent or motivations. 

Revising the Group and Member Expectations 

These expectations are encapsulated in a living document that evolves to better reflect the standards, principles, and ethics of our community. Members of the community may at any time propose revisions by bringing a revised copy of the document to a Group Planning Meeting. Those in attendance shall discuss the suggested revisions, consider how the revisions reflect Polyamory Toronto’s values, principles, or standards, and decide whether to adopt the revisions.  

The community at large shall regularly review our Group and Member Expectations. In this discussion, the community will consider: 

  • Are we still aligned with this document? 
  • Do we as a community need to realign ourselves to our expectations? 
  • Do we need to realign this document with our evolving values? 
  • Do we need to host more educational events so our community is aligned with these values? 
REVISION LOG 
Date Changes/Sections Updated Author 
06/28/2020 New Member Expectations posted Eva 
   
   

About

I'm very excited to meet with other like minded people in this community. Here are a few labels that currently fit me: Genderfluid Femme, Relationship Anarchist, Solo Poly, INFJ, Activist and Educator. My pronouns are fluid but she/her are most prominent

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