Between 1890 and 1930, roughly one third of American men were members of a “fraternal order”. These organizations, often secretive with their rites and rituals, offered camaraderie and, more importantly, a social safety net for men and their families before Roosevelt’s New Deal became a reality. Since then, membership in these organizations has waned, shedding an average of 60% of their members since 1970. As families accumulated wealth and the internet provided a convenient method to connect with family and friends, the thought of in-person mutual benefit networks seemed all but obsolete.
Modern American life offers new challenges, some of which resemble issues our country has grappled with in the past. Our government continues to pick apart the programs that originated in the FDR years. Meanwhile, threats to net neutrality and social media fatigue leave us yearning for better ways to connect with our “tribe”.
2016 was the year that we realized we’d had enough, but it took us 2 more years to figure out what to do about it. We knew we needed to strengthen our communal network, and we knew we were all one medical or financial emergency away from personal disaster. We knew we cared about the city we live in, and we realize one of the biggest disasters on the horizon is the health of our environment. We looked at other organizations with roots in the past, and we realized our values didn’t completely match with theirs. So, in November of 2018 a group of us met and put pen to paper, and in doing so updated the concept of the “fraternal order” for the 21st century.
What we’ve created is a panhellenic organization for and based on Secular Humanist principles. You will not be asked to affirm your belief in a god. You will, however, be required to affirm your faith in your community. There will be no ladies’ auxiliary association; we believe our lodge belongs to everyone, regardless of gender. There will be no test of skin color to join, nor of sexual identity. We exist not only for the mutual benefit of our members, but for the health of the urban areas that we operate. As other similar organizations have largely moved to the suburbs, we affirm our commitment to our community by locating our lodges in urban areas, and pledging our efforts to improve the communities where we operate.
Every year as the seasons change and the weather grows colder crows and other corvids flock to the heart of downtown and inhabit the trees overlooking the masses of cars and people traveling beneath. Despite their extremely high intelligence and resourcefulness in urban areas every November the city targets this family of creatures with sonic weapons, bent on removing them from their roost. Every year these creatures defy the powers that be and return to their urban roots. In solidarity with these mysterious and misunderstood avian friends, we symbolically identify as the Guardians of Corvidae.