Workshops/presentations subject to change. Check back for more offerings.
Poly Survival Kit
Robert McGarey, M.A
A survival kit gives us speedy access to crucial tools when we’re in trouble and need help the most. In this lively, participatory workshop, you’ll learn the five powerful, essential communication skills that can help you survive and thrive in poly relationships. Presented by Robert McGarey, M.A., drawn from decades of professional experience helping polys communicate better and based on his book “The Poly Communication Survival Kit.”
What’s in our Toolbox?
Nikki Ebright & William Van Ark
Presenters Nikki and Billy share the numerous tools and techniques they use to work toward healthy, open, and honest communication. Some of these techniques run counter to cultural expectations. Come learn what we think the right (for us) response to “I love you” is!
Five Shades of Poly – Which Are You Craving to Create?
Mim Chapman, PhD
Some people call polyamory “Designer Relationships” because each one is unique, and to design the relationships of your dreams, you need to look inside to see what your goals, dreams, and desires are, and how personality traits fit into different patterns of poly relating. We’ll “act out” some of the common patterns that are emerging in the poly community, discuss the assets and challenges of each type, the agreements that need to be worked out, how new people are brought in, and aspects of “poly etiquette” that can make or break the relationships! Prepare to look within, explore yourself and your desires, and taste some of the delicious flavor options out there in the poly menu or colorwheel!
Going from Monogamy to Non-Monogamy While in the Same Relationship
Jessica Fern Cooley
As many of us know, being polyamorous in a monogamous world has its ups and downs, but taking on the process of going from monogamy to non-monogamy while staying together in the same relationship has its own unique set of difficulties, as well as gifts. In this session we will explore some of specific dynamics and challenges that relate to couples trying to transition from mono to poly while in the same relationship. In this workshop you will get to learn about and explore: The Mono to Poly paradoxes and pitfalls (i.e. “We want to be poly now, but don’t want our relationship to actually change”), • The poly as a lifestyle versus poly as a sexual orientation difference that might be playing out in your relationship. • What’s the difference between hierarchy versus having history and more shared dimensions of life together. • How relationship issues and hurts that may not have been obvious while still monogamous are now overwhelming obvious as poly, even though they may have nothing to do with poly itself.
Maintaining Identity in a Sea of Awesome
The joys of multiple loves can leave you swimming in wonderfulness, but losing ourselves in relationships is a real stress for poly situations. Groups can sway us to ignore our preferences for food, time alone and activities we don’t share with others. This trend can give way to losing your own identity amid the loves and chaos. We’ll work together to develop tools for maintaining your identity, boundaries and goals in a world filled with infinite distractions. Sometimes the answer isn’t to go with the crowd. The best gift you can give to your relationships is a complete and whole YOU!
Poly 101 for Counselors, Therapists and Life Coaches
Robert McGarey, M.A.
The issues faced by polyamorous clients can be surprising and confusing for well-meaning helping professionals. In this workshop you’ll learn the most common challenges facing polys, common myths and fallacies about poly clients, and how you can better serve this unique clientele. We’ll also explore the most common problems counselors have when working with polys and how you can handle those challenges most effectively.
Deconstructing the Myth Of The Poly Saint
Nolan Lawless & Jeri Lynn Astra Herbert
In the poly community, there are certain concepts that have become qualifications for “poly sainthood”: always feeling compersion towards metamours and never jealousy, always being available but never needy, always openly communicating but never having drama, and the list goes on. This is model that poly newbies are told to emulate, that those in the community who are struggling are judged against, and that many of us feel guilty for not living up to. In this workshop, we will explore the origins of some of these ideas, identify how they are presented in formal literature and online message boards, discuss the impact they can have on relationships and the self-concept of polyamorous people, and ask: what does it mean to be “good at” polyamory?
Keeping the Connection Alive in ALL of Your Relationships
Patrick & Kristie
I’ve been with my partner Kristie for 5 years. And over that time we’ve each found new and existing partners. When that happens we sometimes lose our own connection. Over time, we started to feel more distant & less connected. This isn’t the poly relationship the brochure promised us. We spent a year reconnecting with what it means to be in relationship with each other and have rekindled the lost passion for each other. We’d love to tell you that story and share what changes made the biggest difference in our relationship.
Redefining Family-Parenting Panel
Liz Newsom, LCSW, Robyn Trask, Marina Reiko, Jesus Garcia
“What about the children?” Is a question often asked by the people both in and out of the polyamory community. Come join the discussion about what it means to be a family, father, mother, child, and/or stepparent in a polyamorous family. How do we balance kids, family, and multiple romantic or sexual partners? This panel discussion will share the experiences of what has worked, where we made mistakes, and how to balance the demands of family, children, and lovers.
Household Establishment: Making It All Go
Sometimes it really is about the dishes! Let’s examine the functional day-to-day lives and discover ways to rethink our laundry as much as our love lives. Whether new or established, and regardless of the number of people living poly, the daily grind can get ya down. Let’s reexamine household chores in the light of poly functions, individual responsibility and shared opportunities. Living separately does not mean your household is exempt. This is a chance to break the mold and build a world of less stress! We’ll share tips on sharing space as well as household management for multiple adults with and without children.
Why Being a Senior Is the Best Time To Be Poly (Unless You Make It the Worst Time)
It’s best to be a senior if you want to be poly: Compared to younger people, seniors have more experience with sexuality, managing emotions and judging people. Accumulated wisdom and having more free time by being done with raising kids and/or building a career can make a huge difference in making poly relationships successful. As a senior, adding more relationships, sexual or otherwise, helps buffer against infirmities, the need for support and loss of loved ones. Being stimulated by sexuality and relationships improves life prospects for seniors. Many people give up on sex as they age. Part of that reflects relationship expectations that may no longer be appropriate in later life. Older women and minority groups, including LGBTQ, experience unique challenges. I’ll suggest ways of safely resuming having touch in one’s life for those who are touch-starved. Many physical and other challenges arise in the late years of life. I’ll reference books and authorities who specialize in senior sex, sex and disabilities, sex after prostate disease, advanced directives and more.
A Discussion of Gender, Labels, and Polyamory/Multipartnering
Male. Female. Intersex. Cisgender. Transgender. Enby. Polyamorous. Open. RA. Queer…. These are amongst the many labels that might apply to people interested in or practicing various forms of multipartnering in the 21st Century. What do these labels mean? What are the effects — intended or unintended — of living within or rejecting these labels? As a jumping-off point, a video on the topic of gender will be shown, created entirely by high school students of the San Leandro Academy for Multimedia, and the “Rainbow Club” (LGBTstraight alliance) of San Leandro High School. The video depicts students grappling with societally-assigned gender labels and demonstrates several options for labeling and claiming gender identities. We will then discuss how gender labeling may affect the lived experience of people exploring or engaged in polyamory, including a) what assumptions are typically made about gender, gender identity, and gender roles for those practicing polyamory/multipartnering; b) what other kinds of labeling might affect polyamory/multipartnering.; and c) what directions future research and activism might wish to explore around
gender, gender identity, and/or gender roles in a polyamorous/multipartnering context.
Taking the Hill
At a time when Congress and the White House are becoming more conservative, is there hope for continuing the momentum in sexual equality achieved by the marriage-access movement? This fun and energetic session, led by an experienced Congressional staffer and longtime polyamorist, will reveal strategies for achieving legislative change even in the face of adverse opinion. This session will discuss how to achieve legal recognition of sexual rights — to make our laws match what is in our hearts. With a special focus on the challenges unique to sexual minorities, attendees will learn how to survive and succeed in the maelstrom that is Washington, but more importantly how to effect change in state and local legislatures that can be even more influential on our rights. Subjects covered include how Congress views sexuality; how our causes are different from others (and the changes in approach that requires); and secret insider tips on getting your way with elected officials that *don’t* involve money or lobbying muscle.
Polyamory Makes Strange Bedfellows: The “Isms” Between the Sheets
Ruby Bouie Johnson & Chase Johnson
White Supremacy, and its spawn, sexism, racism, classism, genderism, ableism, and others, is an institution within the United States of America that served as a justification for the subjugation of an entire ethnic group. Ruby and Chase Johnson share their experiences of the damage and continued restoration of their polyamorous relationship through the lens of the “isms.” This is an interactive experience that is facilitated by Ruby and Chase. The intent is to be a catalyst of more conversations and awakenings beyond the workshop.
Polyamory, Loving More, Taking Our Movement Forward
Polyamory, swinging, relationship anarchy, and other non-traditional relationship orientations are moving into the spotlight. What can we do as a community to help safe guard our basic right to form love and romantic partnerships in a way that is authentic, honest and open? The intent of this session is to find out what the community wants/needs from Loving More Nonprofit, to give people more understanding of what it is the organization does and to find ways we all can work together to change the world.
Vulnerability in Poly Relationships
Lee Hencen & Murray Schechter
Society teaches us to be strong, to put our best foot forward and to not let others know what’s really going on inside. When we take this acquired behavior into our poly relationships, how does this serve us? Through discussion and exercises we’ll explore vulnerability. How do we feel being vulnerable and how does that play out in our poly relationships? What works about vulnerability and what doesn’t? There will be opportunities to be vulnerable in the workshop and each person is always at choice in what they do or don’t want to share!
Do you experience guilt, shame and feelings of inferiority around your sexuality/sexual expression, gender identity, and/or race? Until recently, Gloria Jackson-Nefertiti believed there was something inherently shameful about her, due to her being a black bisexual, polyamorous, femme woman with mental illness. This workshop tackles the topic of personal shame and the damage that it causes when left unchecked. For participants to create self-safety, it is necessary to interrupt shaming language. This interactive workshop gives participants the opportunity to: understand the meaning of shame; gain awareness of shaming phrases and behaviors that are commonly used; recognize when they are being shamed; and learn ways to confront others who shame them.
Consent: The Pillars Upon Which to Build a Consent Culture
This presentation is presented in lecture format with invited participation from attendees. The discussion includes a codified, simplistic way of establishing consent in every human interaction as well as concrete methods by which to simplify the consent conversation. The lecturer proposes a seismic paradigm shift in the way consent is thought of, obtained and discussed. Concepts are presented in a well thought, well researched, straightforward and conversational plain language and entertaining format. Audiences will be encouraged to participate in the discussion and to ask questions. These practical principles are intended to be integrated into everyday life and used daily. The discussion is pansexual, poly friendly and will support, pertain to, and affirm all sexual orientations, gender identities or forms of sexual or relationship expression. Topics include: The purpose of the consent conversation, The role consent plays in human interaction, The five pillars of consent with examples and explanations, A completely different way of thinking about consent, Strategies to minimize misunderstandings, Ways to begin building a consent culture, Socialization of the word “no,” Toxic Politeness.
Chris Deaton, Elisha Thompson
We are constantly approached by people in the polyamorous community and asked questions about what, where, how and why, as it pertains to our participation in the kink community. We want to help education on areas of safety, risk, and consent as well as give some things to look out for, where to find good resources, and some fun things to do.
Erotic Mindfulness Practice to Deepen the Experience of Pleasure & Intimacy
Melissa Walker, MA, LPC, R-DMT
Erotic Mindfulness is a practice and quality of attention that supports the relationship with the complex and unique experience of pleasure. Sex positivity invites non-judgmental, non-demand, and pleasure-oriented focus, and erotic mindfulness deepens and expands this practice by incorporating somatic and contemplative elements. This practice builds a bridge to mend the mind-body dichotomy, which is heightened around the taboo of acknowledging and experiencing pleasure in a conscious and intentional way, to facilitate intentional and satisfying intimacy in relationship. This workshop will describe and then facilitate erotic mindfulness with couples, triads, or quads within the group to explore oscillating between self and other partner(s). Fully clothed touch between partners may be included in the experiential.
My Body and Me
How does your body affect how and who you are in your poly relationships? Do you love yourself as much as your friends and lovers love you? In this workshop we’ll explore how we feel about our bodies and how our feelings may keep us from being all we can be to ourselves and in our poly relationships. In a safe clothing-optional environment we’ll have the opportunity to take some risks and open ourselves to sharing those parts of our bodies that keep us from unconditionally loving ourselves and perhaps from unconditionally loving our partners. No one will be admitted once the workshop begins. Everyone will always be a choice as to how they participate and what they share. No late entry!