Tag Archive | Loud Love

Plug and Play Organizer

i’ve organized lots of different types of events: conferences, arrest actions, political campaigns, social gathering, work parties and festivals.  The job of organizing often splits into two broad parts – logistics and content.


Logistics organizers make sure that all the registration fees are paid, that ride shares are organized, that the site is prepped, that speakers or workshop givers are picked up at the train station, that the press releases goes out and the promotion is done, that the event program or action fingerbook is compiled and proofed, that the dry erase board has working markers or the participants know their rights and have lawyer numbers written on their arms, that the food is prepared or the pot lucks don’t have 16 deserts and no main course, and that there is bail money somewhere to get our people out of jail if needed.

Content organizers figure out who is going to present and that they fit together thematically, they translate materials from brilliant facilitators into something accessible for participants to help them decide which workshop to attend, they do the media interviews about the event or action and with some regularity they present or facilitate parts of the event.

but without logistics, no one makes it out of the parking lot

but without logistics, no one makes it out of the parking lot

Typically, organizers are dominantly one type or the other.  But when you get lucky, you find an organizer who is a universal donor, who can do both parts of making an event happen.  I call them plug and play.

Angie is one of these gifted types.  A handful of days before the Loud Love event she agreed to come to the last disorganizers meeting (her lack of car and need for a ride to go shopping played into my hands).  As we went over the long list of things which still needed to be done, both on the content side and logistics, she kept volunteering and i started relaxing.  She would write the event program, she would coordinate the kitchen, she would create a new logo, she would run registration and manage the money, and sure she could give an edgy kick ass workshop as well.  And she would do it all in just 3 days.

The Logo Angie whipped out in her spare time

The Loud Love Logo Angie whipped out in her spare time

Over the long arch of our relationship we have had more than a couple of conversations where i was describing the relative disaster of the organizing state of something i was trying to manifest and she calmly accessed the situation and pulled it together.    Like the time she got together $5000 in cash, after all the banks were closed, to bail me and a handful of other scruffy activists out of jail.  But that is another story.

Thanks Angie, for everything.

Angie takes Willow to the Barcelona Aquarium circa 2008

Angie takes Willow to the Barcelona Aquarium circa 2008

Loud Love: Relationship Strategies to Change Your Life, and Maybe the World

i have been delinquent in posting about the Loud Love event, which overall i was super pleased with (special thanks to Angie for jumping in at the last minute and being the world class organizer that she is). Here is one participants view on the event, complete with exerts from the upcoming Transparency Tools fingerbook i am crafting with Marta (if you have good pictures, please let us know we need them).

Steve, Stevia and Feonix at Loud Love

Steve, Stevia and Feonix at Loud Love

Disrupting Dinner Parties

Two weeks ago, I attended “Loud Love: Relationship Strategies to Change the World,” an ‘unconference’ on relationships in rural central Virginia. It was a really powerful and cool experience, and I want to share with you some of the tools I learned–including tools to increase knowledge of others and yourself, and to help sustain long-term relationships.  I want to share these tools with you because I think they are really important and useful to everyone, in all manner of relationships–not just to the sort of people who go off to a weekend conference on polyamory organized by a bunch of hippies in the woods. I also want to share them with you because I really do think better interpersonal relationship skills can help change the world, and in the conclusion I’ll muse a little on how.

Loud Love PhoenixThe first thing you need to realize is that we’re not only…

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Organizer versus Promoter

I skipped most of the workshop blocks i was not facilitating at Loud Love. Not because the content was disengaging, but because there was so much organizing to do.  We joked that the new staff to the organizing collection were called “disorganizers” because theoretically open space can be run by a loosely affiliated collection of participants – but we have not quite figured out how to do that yet.  Sky grabbed me and said he wanted to talk about funology before i gave the workshop.  So we talked outside during the “Negotiating Good BDSM Scenes” workshop.

Sky at Loud Love Phoenix Circa June 2013

Sky at Loud Love Phoenix Circa June 2013

He had three main points:

Funological grading/Grade Inflation:  Sky was critical of the funological grading system which i developed and promoted, feeling both that it leads to grade inflation (saying events were better than they really were) and that undercuts our inspiration to do better.  He proposed a multiple index system, where novelty, an event’s life changing capacity, its inspiration for future events and other factors might be averaged for an aggregate grade.  

sometimes the best is just too good

sometimes the best is just too good

Insidious mainstream creep:  Sky also warned that event organizers must be ever vigilant of mainstream values creeping into our work.  We need to make sure we are not drifting towards events with are consumption oriented, or move us towards observer/performer dichotomies instead of everyone as participant,  or that create access stratification based on access to money.  To name just a few.

Beware of actions looking radical, but that still replicate mainstream values.  Just because something has the image associated with something radical doesn’t mean that it is radical.

 You can have the same quality and quantity of alcohol drinking at two different events, but the intention behind that use can be the difference between a new friendship after the party and and awkward, “oh shit, I can’t believe I made out with them last night” experience.  The values and intentions at play lead to different choices, even if elements are the same.
it is not enuf to just appear radical, one has to be it.

it is not enuf to just appear radical, one has to be it.

Promoter versus organizer:  But his most important point was a critique which was of me quite specifically, that the two rolls i play in event organizing are frequently in problematic conflict.  I both promote events and i organize them.  In the process of promoting, especially around the recent Loud Love event, i start to believe my own hype about how big or how wonderful the event is and do not do the organizing necessary to insure the quality of the event.

Loud Love Phoenix

Of course there is a story.

In the grand planning for the new community, which likely wont be called  Chubby Squirrels, (this week the most likely name is The Hive) one of the things we wanted to investigate was “Could we make money running conferences at Sophia House?”  Loud Love came out of the idea that if we chose interesting enough materials, we would be excited about organizing it and participants would flock to the event.

We started with an organizing model like the one used for the communities conference.  This has a portion of “fixed format workshops”, in which we bring experts or eloquent “headline presenters” to insure quality content and we pay for their travel and waive their admission fee. The second part of this is “open space technology”, where we offer to all participants that they can present on something of import to them moving for them.  It also has two workshop blocks of open space, in which anyone can propose a work  shop and the ones which have enough participant interest happen.

Financially, this model requires higher entrance fees and tends to be more full service (meal plan, staffed child care, outreach budget, etc).  Plus the organizers dont pay to get in, nor do the many communards who attend.  They are subsidized by the rest of the door for the event.    The problem with this model is if you dont have many confirmation of the attendees, your event can loose money.

Three weeks ago, we looked at the small number of confirmed (as in paid up) conference attendees and decided to cancel the event.  This was an unusually harsh blow to my generally rugged ego.  This was the second major event in a row which i had initiated which collapsed (the first being Village in the Sky).  i grumped around for a couple of days, more than a bit out of sorts.

back from the ashes

back from the ashes

Enter some folks from the Cville poly group.  They said “Hyey we want this to happen, let’s reformulate it cheaper and easier.” Their proposal was to go to 100% open space format, no “headline presenters”, everyone pays to get in (including organizers and workshop presenters), cut all other costs (pot luck instead of meal plan, paretn coop child care, etc) and just charge for the housing costs.  For someone camping at the event the price dropped from $100 to $25.

This model also means you can go forward even if there are only a handful of participants, since their fees just covers the variable costs. i happily agreed to un-cancel the original event. The original organizers collective dissolved and a new smaller “un-organizers” one formed with some of the same people involved.

The event puttered along and a few people registered and we expected a considerably smaller event.  Then something funny happened, a bunch of people expressed interest in this new event, confirmed registrations are just short of 40 with perhaps a dozen more possible.  Angie stepped back in as an un-organizer and shined in that way she does, whipped out a fingerbook, a new logo (see above) and wrestled the kitchen organizing into shape inthe last couple days.  The new name “Loud Love Phoenix” is actually credited to my dear friend Rez.  And today, a very sweet piece fell into place – several folks from the Keep in DC decided to come to the reformulate event.  The content looks strong.  i am jazzed.

There is still time for you to register and come.

So now just two days before the event,

Transcending Jealousy and The Shakespeare Challenge

kissThe coining of the word “kiss” is often credited to Shakespeare and i think it is an especially brilliant name, further solidifying his genius status in my mind.  Perhaps it was called just “snogging” before old Bill came along and saved the day.  In this spirit, i have asked Rabbit to come up with a better term for compersion, which is slightly poorly defined as the opposite of jealousy.  What compersion really is is feeling excited about your romantic intimate having other romantic intimates.  Great idea, terrible name.  Oh, and it turns out Shakespeare did not coin “kiss”, but has the first attestation of it (first recorded printing).

A talented group of organizers is putting together this Loud Love conference in June (you can register on line for it).  peoplecirclejoypplclosermost copyThe content is potent and eclectic, including: how to date a sexual assault survivor,  how to have a brilliant break up, honest seductionblues dancingbluesas non-sexual consent practice, transparency tools, how to explain polyamory to your kids, crafting sexy consent, BDSM/kink, becoming a drag king, multiple parallel honeymoons and much more.  One of the workshops i am most excited about is on how to transcend jealousy and learn how to be excited about your lover having other intimate relationships.

In polyamory discussions one often hears “Do i have to transcend my own jealousy to be polyamorous?”  The answer is no.  The stock reply is that you do not have to transcend jealousy to be in a poly relationship, but you do need to be willing to look at the feelings underneath it and communicate honestly about them with your partner.  If you can communicate about these and other tricky feelings, you maybe able to navigate through your jealous experiences and maintain multiple relationships.  If you can’t talk about it, you are sunk.poly

There is a fair amount of good stuff out there in the world on how to manage jealousy and there is precious little that i have found on how to build compersion.  And by the time Loud Love is actually happening, i am confident we will have found useful stuff on this important topic, and/or we will have found a capable facilitator for this workshop.

And hopefully Rabbit will have found a better name for it by then as well.

My would be Shakespeare practicing snogging

My would be Shakespeare practicing snogging