Notes from Mokihana
The Canary Report is a very successful and collaborative example of resourcefullness and service with its focus on MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES. "The Canary" is the creation of founder Susie Collins, who lives and blogs from the island of Hawai'i. I found Susie and The Canary in the early days of living back on the North American continent when the symptoms and despair of MCS had us in a swhirl. The blog was smaller then, yet there was support and wide-open arms with the flavor of Hawaii that is always a core of nurturing for me. Here is a piece of prose that I asked Susie to contribute. It's a view of this wahine that fills out the hard-working public relations that she does with the online community that swells with spirit. Susie likes to say, "Together, We are stronger" in Hawaiian that would be Onipa'a Kakou. Mahalo Susie for your expression ... your mana'o.
Thanks for inviting me to join your Canary Caravan Carnival! This has been an amazing MCS Awareness Month, full of fun and creative activities, and I think this 1st Annual Canary Caravan Carnival is the most fun idea ever!
You’ve asked me to write about the passion that fuels my work at The Canary Report, and about my passion for collaborating with other bloggers to create resources for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I’m happy to share some thoughts on that.
Throughout my life, I’ve had a passion for activism and community work. In high school, I went door to door with petitions about water rights on the island of Molokai, and while at university I worked on a 65-foot schooner that sailed inter-island teaching kids about ocean resources.
Later, when I owned by own bookshops, I started a women’s group where we gathered every full moon to dance on the beach to the beat of our own drums. That morphed into local community work, which evolved into local political work and getting involved in the 2004 election season, where I then ventured out of my comfort zone to work on the presidential campaign in Boston and DC. For the past few years, I’ve been part of a group fighting the development of a veneer mill and power plant planned for our tiny village.
Meanwhile, in 1995, I’d developed MCS, and as time progressed, I became less and less able to work out in public. I’ve been incredibly lucky these past 10 years to work as an assistant to the chancellor at the local university, where I do communication materials. The incredible thing is, my boss allows me a home office. I used to go into the chancellor’s office every couple of weeks to meet with her, but after they renovated the building with new carpet and furniture a couple of years ago, I couldn’t even do that anymore. Exacerbating the problem was the toxic emissions from our active volcano, called vog, further restricting me from venturing out.
So I knew that if I wanted to continue with some sort of public service activity, I was going to have to figure out how to do something online, where I could do good work, but in the safety of my home office.
And that’s how The Canary Report was born. I thought I could take all the skills I’d developed throughout my working life and public service activities and apply them to creating a super online resource about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Plus, I really love social media, and I wanted to start my own blog and online social network. I thought all those factors might be combined into creating an exciting and worthwhile online project about MCS.
If you look at the way I’ve done public service, community work, and activism throughout my life, you’ll see a pattern of teamwork and collaboration in everything I do. I love organizing things for others, helping with documentation so everyone is informed and included, creating schedules and goals so everyone can participate, helping the group create a common vision. I believe that leadership means listening to all points of view and inspiring all group members to participate. I love empowering people to fight for what’s right, fight for the underdog, protect the weakest of the group, and work hard toward improving the quality of life for everyone. And I love giving people a platform to be heard, to be respected and honored for what we in Hawai‘i call their mana‘o, their opinion.
That’s why The Canary Report has so many contributors and guestbloggers. And that’s why I love our online community so much, there’s so much wisdom there! Providing a platform for others to do good work, to dialogue, to share all they know about MCS makes me very happy. I’m driven with a passion to do all I can to help people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity get the information and support they need to live the healthiest, most productive lives possible. So it makes me very happy to see our thriving network of hundreds of people helping each other cope with MCS.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is part of The Canary Report’s blog and online social network. I am so proud of our canary community! I’m proud about how kind everyone is to each other, how supportive, wise and compassionate. I want to thank everyone for all your support. Together, we are stronger!
The Canary Report