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Poly Living 2011 Preliminary Workshop List

Presenter Bios available here

What Does Polyamory Look Like?

Mim Chapman, PhD

What is your poly relationship dream, and what does it look like in action? A wide variety of models for loving and living are emerging within the poly community. This interactive workshop will give you the opportunity to look at some of them and explore what best matches your fantasies, desires, and needs. It will propose a vocabulary to describe these varied forms of poly lifestyles, both to ourselves and to our potential partner(s). There can be as much difference between two models of poly living as there is between poly and mono!  Come share what YOUR poly family or your poly dream looks like, and explore some of the ways folks have developed what one poly leader calls “Poly Designer Relationships.”

Managing Jealousy: Some Thoughts About the “Most Dangerous Passion” and New Ways to Limit Its Power in Your Life

Jim Fleckenstein

The great anthropologist Margaret Mead said of jealousy, “Jealousy is not a barometer by which the depth of love may be read. It merely records the degree of the lover’s insecurity. It is a negative, miserable state of feeling, having its origin in a sense of insecurity and inferiority.” Yet well-known evolutionary psychologist David Buss recently lauded jealousy, asserting that it can “enrich relationships,” while predicting dolefully that “the total absence of jealousy…portends emotional bankruptcy.”  Which approach is “right”?  Drawing on the pioneering work of Albert Ellis, creator of Rational Emotive Therapy, this workshop will explore common thinking about jealousy among those who practice nontraditional relationships, examine some rationales offered to “normalize” it (and thereby minimize its perniciousness), and then discuss some strategies for managing this “most dangerous passion.”

Relationships Choices Polyamory 101

Robyn Trask and Jesus Garcia

Polyamory 101 is a class exploring polyamorous (multi-partner) relationships as well as other choices.  Practical tips to help these alternatives to monogamy work.  We will cover different choices in relationships and styles of polyamory, terms and definitions, and the kinds of issues and challenges one might encounter including safer sex discussions. We will explore how to deal with conflicts and the needed skills to make these alternative relationships work. This class is meant as an introduction and guideline for those interested in learning more and looking to explore alternatives to traditional monogamy.

When the Relationship Construct gets in the Way or, Can Monogamy be the Problem?

Michele Sugg, MSW and Ken Haslam, MD

We will hear case examples and discuss circumstances where the relationship construct of clients seeking couples therapy got in the way of their ability to negotiate healthier ways of functioning together.  We will outline various alternative ways of approaching these mindsets, and discuss choices which allow greater health within relationships.

The Tyranny of Two: Mononormativity in Mainstream Psychology and Marital Therapy

Curt Bergstrand, Ph.D.

This lecture and discussion focuses upon how the adjustment to monogamous relationships became the standard for defining psychological, emotional, and sexual “health”  in mainstream psychology and marital therapy, beginning with Sigmund Freud and ending with a variety of contemporary approaches to marital therapy.  It will explain why and how the practice of non-monogamy, or even the desire for it, is inevitably seen as a sign of immaturity or emotional instability by mainstream therapists and, consequently, by society in general.  A way out of this dilemma is suggested using Jane Loevinger’s theory of personality development which views complex, multiple love relationships as a higher stage of human ego development than that encouraged by monogamy.

Communication & Boundaries in “Open” Relationships

Rosella & Alan

We all know the Poly Mantra,   “Communicate, Communicate, then Communicate some more.”  But just how much is too much? For that matter, how much is not enough? What do you tell your partners & what do you hold back? What are different styles of communication and how do they affect our efforts when they collide. How do you talk to each other? How does timing play into communication? What things can you do to have dialogue go smoothly and should you do (or not) to avoid agony & drama. This brings us to the second half of the discussion, “Boundaries.”  What types of boundaries have you negotiated and practice? What kind of boundaries or limits do you avoid? Do you practice “veto power?”  What terms or conditions are important to you and/or your partner. Why is it important to have boundaries in the first place and how can lack of forethought in this department lead to stress in your relating. When conflict happens, how do you “fix” it? Though there are no set or correct answers to these questions (they are going to vary & be specific to each couple) today we are going to explore these issues by communicating about communicating.

MonoPoly – The Fairy Tale

Donna and Buck

Please join Buck and Donna on an interesting journey of the relationship paradigm MonoPoly. Buck (polyamorus) and Donna (monogamous) will lead this lively discussion of how they make it work.  They are living it!  Learn to communicate your needs and boundaries in a safe and effective way.  Learn how to listen more intently.  Learn to identify YOUR fears.  Learn tools and resources to better make this work for you.

Blending all your loves- how to be poly and raise great kids.

Carol Morotti-Meeker, MS,MLSP

As if handling the complexities of having more than one love interest at a time is not challenging enough, adding the care of  children and teens can get, well, complicated. Come to hear what you as a parent or lover of a parent can do to side step the pitfalls associated with Children’s Protective Services, a non-poly non-resident parent, schools, medical care, government agencies,  grandparents and other relatives to keep everyone safe and sane. There will be a focus on kids in middle school and high school years in a poly household. Keeping the lines of communication and trust between the minors and the adults is key as with any relationship. We’ll discuss parenting issues, house rules and the value of consistency. Come with your life experiences, stories, problems and questions to share, discuss and learn from each other to make all our loves work together. There will be plenty of time for questions.

Clear Conscience: Morality and Polyamory

Beverly Dale

Society is very clear that anything outside monogamy, the only positively sanctioned sexual experience is wrong, immoral, and sinful, if not an abomination! This workshop is for those who are tired of such statements and who want a way to respond, as well as those of us who may have twinges of guilt and doubt every now and then. The Christian minister who will teach this workshop is in good standing with two denominations and has a sexual justice ministry. Therefore attention will be paid to those Christian arguments for monogamy and against any variations. Participants will leave with more confidence in the morality of their own sexual decision-making abilities with a means to defend their moral standards.

Aging and Sexuality

Nancy Miller, Jens Wennberg and Ken Haslam

Nobody ever believed that “Old People” had sex! Now as we age, we find that our sexuality continues. This is another topic our parents never told us about!! Hot sex, loving sex does not have to end as we age!! But there are changes. What are the issues of positive sexuality, as we grow older? We have found that the spiritual and emotional parts have become stronger. The conveners will share their own experience of continuing sexuality into their 7th and 8th decades and invite other participants to share their stories too. Part of this workshop will be devoted to the men listening to the women discuss their issues; then reversing and the women listening to the men discuss their issues.

Relation Transformation: Breaking-Up With Grace

Amy Jo Goddard

Why do so many of us do break-ups so badly? Ending relationships is an essential part of having them, and yet, breaking-up is a skill that most of us never learn. How we approach our break-up determines whether the relationship can transform itself, and it has a great impact on our emotional and spiritual well-being. Will the break-up cause a break-down or a break-through? Break-ups are one of life’s greatest opportunities to grow, so learning how to do it well and to honor the relationship we had is the key to mining the gold that will push us to the next level in our own lives and ability to have sustainable and pleasurable relationships.

The “Mind Orchestra” – sharing our various roles and inner voices.

Michael Rios and Sarah Taub

We can see ourselves as having many inner roles and voices – the “critic”, the “good boy/girl”, etc.  Sometimes those voices harmonize well; other times they fight each other, creating “mind noise” and turbulent emotions.  In this experiential workshop, we’ll use movement and sound to reveal these voices.  As we see them more clearly, we learn to appreciate their strengths and weaknesses – from this perspective, the “mind noise” becomes a beautiful “mind orchestra.”

Opening into Joy: Discover Your Inner Lover Kundalini Awakening to improve health and well-being

Suzann Robins and Gary Stroup

Experience the energy flow throughout your body and mind as you tap into your sixth sense of intuition. This experiential learning will introduce simple movements for each of the major centers of the body, and a mind-fullness exercise using rainbow colors designed to enhance relationships not just with lovers, but in all areas of life with family, friends and co-workers. An exercise will be introduced to do alone or with partners.

Learning objectives: To explore the energy systems of the body through understanding the body/ mind connection and to comprehend how our attitude effects our health by becoming more aware of the flow of the vital life force in the body.

My Body and Me

Lee Hencen

What do you like about your body?  What don’t you like?  What’s keeping you from unconditionally loving yourself?  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 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.  No one will be admitted once the workshop begins.   Everyone will always be at choice as to how they participate and what they share.

The Joys of RelationDancing

Ben Silver and Robyn Trask

Embracing movement, dance and music with lessons in boundaries we will seek to explore what we can learn through dancing with others. This fun workshop is designed to explore movement,  communication through touch, eye contact with an emphasis on respecting  boundaries, knowing our own boundaries,what we want and learning to become fluid in our interactions.

Curiosity, Transparency, Intimacy: Tools for Creating a Win/Win Connection

Michael Rios and Sarah Taub

Cultivating curiosity has two benefits.  First, curiosity is incompatible with emotional reactivity – a person who is truly curious is unlikely to be deeply angry, unhappy, or afraid.  Second, curiosity builds your working data set – it’s hard to figure out a win/win if you don’t know what your partners really want!  Join us for a series of experiential exercises designed to stimulate curiosity, transparency, and emotional intimacy.

“Partnerships”  From a Polyamory Perspective What does it mean to “Live It.”

Rosella & Alan

What constitutes a “Partnership” or, for that matter, a “Poly Partnership?”  What are the earmarks of a good one or a bad one? Is “partnership” defined by mutual goals? Sex?  Marriage?  A co-owned home or business?  Shared offspring?  A shared illness?  A shared life? What differentiates a “partner” from a “lover” or a “friend?”  Is partnership sexual? Is it permanent? Does it have to be? How do you handle finances within your partnership?

All good questions…   In its’ simplest and purest terms, we have come to believe partnership can be defined as  “Shared responsibility and the mutual benefit we receive from sharing it.”  In the monogamous world, these issues are complicated enough but what happens if there are more than two partners involved? What does it mean for Polys? What are the additional implications? What specific issues arise and how do you handle them? For example, are your partners’ partners you partners, too???  In this discussion we will coax out answers to these and other intriguing questions by exploring “partnership from a polyamory perspective.”

Healing Sexual Shame By Asking For What You Want

Reid Mihalko of ReidAboutSex.com

Have you ever been too ashamed to ask for something you wanted? Can you remember a time in your life when you felt embarrassed or shameful for something that felt good? For many of us, feelings of shame (or trying to avoid them) keep us from asking for and experiencing things that we want, and we feel powerless to change things. The great news is you don’t have to let shame stop you anymore and don’t need to be “shameless” to get what you want in your relationships.            Join sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com for this 90-minute, experiential workshop, you will learn: • The emotional tools and approaches Reid uses to deal with his own sexual shame • How to “track” your shame and have it lead you to breakthroughs in your relationships • Communication tools and strategies to have you asking for what you want in your love life, the bedroom and beyond!                                                                                                                            This is a clothes-on, participation-optional workshop. Group exercises are not mandatory. Voyeurism is participation! And you are free to change your mind at any time. Exercises will include practicing asking for what we want sexually and witnessing it together as a catalyst for accessing our shame and working through it through by revealing it.

Workshops Subject to Change


  1. Steve Ranieri says:

    My wife and I are new to the poly lifestyle although the values and goals have been a part of us for many years. The conference and workshops are fascinating, helpful and look like a lot of fun. Unfortunately we can’t get to the conference to participate. If there is a mailing list or some means of maintaining contact we would greatly appreciate the correspondence. Have a great conference.

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