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Community Ethics of the Neptune Underground

informed consent

informed consent represents an individual’s voluntary and knowledgeable agreement to participate in a specific activity. what distinguishes informed consent is its commitment to providing individuals with comprehensive, clear, and easily understandable information about the process, including potential risks, anticipated benefits, alternatives, and associated consequences.

key components of informed consent encompass voluntariness, ensuring the individual’s ability to make a decision without external coercion, the provision of comprehensive information, and the capacity to understand that information. additionally, the process includes an assessment of the individual’s cognitive capacity to comprehend the details provided, along with compliance with age and competence requirements, and the assurance of the right to revoke consent without facing adverse consequences.

its core objective is to respect and uphold an individual’s right to make autonomous decisions concerning their health, well-being, and personal information. by emphasizing transparency, trust, and the preservation of individual autonomy, informed consent ensures that ethical and legal standards are met.

autopoiesis

autopoiesis refers to a concept in systems theory that describes the self-creation and self-maintenance of living systems. it was originally proposed by biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. autopoiesis emphasizes the organization and processes within a system that enable it to continually produce and regenerate itself. this concept is often applied in the fields of biology, psychology, and philosophy to understand the self-organizing nature of living organisms and their interactions with their environment.

we view Neptune Underground as an autopoietic community, a living ecosystem comprised of its participants. we are self-created, maintained, and regulated. our evolution and adaptation are driven by every interaction we have with each participant, inspiring us to continually integrate new information. therefore, our current goals and ethics reflect our latest knowledge, subject to change with each interaction. this approach ensures the creation of a healthy community that is adaptable and resilient. it also acknowledges our fallibility, recognizing that we are constantly learning, growing, and striving to improve. we understand that each participant is interconnected and interdependent, emphasizing our shared responsibility to uphold the community’s ethics and hold ourselves accountable in practice.

anonymity

anonymity provides individuals with the freedom to express their thoughts, concerns, and personal experiences without the fear of repercussions. By shielding one’s identity, people can candidly share without reservation. Anonymity also plays a vital role in discussions of sensitive or taboo topics, empowering individuals to open up about personal experiences they may otherwise keep hidden.

with the exception of payment information, every participant in the Neptune Underground (NU) reserves the right to remain completely anonymous. they can use pseudonyms, alter-egos, or any reasonable means to keep their true identity hidden. in Water Closet confessional sessions, participants are also welcome to keep their cameras turned off.

we also encourage you to be yourself and express yourself freely, as long as you adhere to NU community ethics. whether you choose to remain anonymous to fellow NU participants, community members, or facilitators, all of your information will be kept completely private and secure.

non-harm

while informed consent goes a long way in reducing the harm from interactions, we acknowledge that both intended and unintended harm can occur in exceptionally vulnerable situations. at the Neptune Underground, we commit to an ethos of non-harm in thought, word, and action. in doing so, we prioritize the safety, wellbeing, and integrity of all members – facilitators, participants, and anyone who engages in our space. if anyone at any time feels unsafe, they reserve the right to pause, assess, and decide to continue or step away for their own or others’ wellbeing. discomfort may spur growth, yet everyone defines their limits between necessary discomfort and unnecessary harm. boundaries too can be a necessary and equal catalyst for growth. 

the only condition that negates the preceding ethic of anonymity is if it conflicts with our responsibility to prevent imminent danger or harm to oneself or others. in these instances, our community members are granted the agency to use their best discernment about whether or not to report these instances to a legal authority or licensed professional.  

brave space

Coined by Mickey ScottBey Jones, ‘brave space’ is an alternative or an extension of the more commonly recognized term ‘safe space.’ often, the measures we put in place to protect ourselves are the ones that keep us walled off the risk-taking vulnerability necessary for our growth and healing.

in a brave space, individuals come together with the intention of having difficult conversations and exploring challenging or taboo topics. through any arising discomfort, we encourage participants to be open, honest, and vulnerable about their perspectives and experiences.

a brave space acknowledges that growth and learning often occur in discomfort and that it is possible to create an environment where difficult conversations can take place while respecting the dignity and humanity of all participants. it provides a platform for individuals to engage with complex social and cultural issues in a constructive, nuanced, and empathetic manner.

the key characteristics of a brave space include:

courage: participants are encouraged to be brave and courageous in sharing their thoughts and experiences, even if they are uncomfortable or unpopular.

vulnerability: we invite you to be open and vulnerable, and share your genuine feelings and experiences.

respect: we encourage open dialogue, while also requiring participants to maintain respect and care for one another by listening actively and empathizing with others.

challenging assumptions: we invite you to challenge your assumptions, biases, and limiting beliefs, as well as those of others. participants are asked to engage in genuine self-reflection and self-examination.

growth: one of the main intentions of the Neptune Underground space is personal and collective growth. by engaging in honest conversations and self-reflection, individuals and communities can better understand themselves and each other.

play

we see playing is a voluntary and self-motivated activity engaged in primarily for enjoyment, pleasure, or intrinsic satisfaction. it is characterized by a lack of external goals, tangible rewards, or specific outcomes.

the defining characteristics of play for its own sake include:

  1. intrinsic motivation: play is driven by the individual’s inner desires and interests, rather than external rewards or pressures. it’s an activity people engage in because they find it inherently enjoyable.
  2. freedom and autonomy: participants in such play have the freedom to choose their activities, explore their creativity, and shape the play experience according to their preferences. there are no prescribed rules or objectives.
  3. spontaneity: play for the sake of play often involves spontaneous actions, imagination, and improvisation. it is not bound by strict structure or pre-defined guidelines.
  4. enjoyment and pleasure: the primary purpose of play is to have fun, experience joy, and find pleasure in the activity itself. the activity’s enjoyment is its own reward.
  5. no instrumental goals: unlike some forms of work or goal-oriented tasks, play for its own sake is not aimed at achieving specific outcomes or external benefits. it is an end in itself.
  6. exploration and creativity: play allows individuals to explore, experiment, and exercise their creativity. it often involves a sense of discovery and novelty.

all Neptune Underground water closet sessions are a form of play. this is not an intentionally therapeutic or cathartic space, though people often experience catharsis from sharing thoughts and experiences that they might otherwise keep hidden from others. we embrace the grey area between entertainment, education, and healing and invite you to use the confessional space for whatever form of expression you see fit.

we want your raw, we want your real, we want your un-fucking-comfortable!