Posted on August 4, 2009

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I wanted to take a moment to give everyone a heads up on the coolness that happened during the “Get Stuff Done” Conference that I held online last weekend.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to do lessons on both days as I originally planned.  I was called away on business and had to fly out on Sunday afternoon, leaving only Saturday for classes.  Here’s the lessons that I presented:

Leadership 101 (How to Fake Being A Well-Rounded Person):  The attendees learned the importance of self-knowledge, especially when it comes to their own strengths and talents. I walked through a couple of ways that the attendees could assess their personal strengths and identify the strengths of others. The idea of “faking” being a well rounded individual is to understand where you are strong, find those areas where you are not strong, and build a core team of people who are strong where you are weak.  Thus, by working together, everyone on the team can “fake” being well-rounded :)

Team Building 101 (”Who Is Supposed To Be The @&^!% Healer???”):  The attendees continued to learn the importance understanding one’s own strengths and the strengths of their peers.  In addition, they also learned different exercises that could be used to change a group of people that share the same goal to a cohesive and effective team.

Project Planning 101  (”How To Turn  Your Idea For A Cool Party… Into A Freaking Cool Party!”):  The attendees learned about how to effectively develop a goal and put together a plan on how they plan to bring said goal to fruition. Most of the exercises focused on the actual goal development and analyzing themselves and the environment around them to see how each would impact what they want to accomplish.

After the third session, the four of us (me + the 3 attendees), had a post-event chat session where we talked about the pluses and minuses of being leaders and coordinators within our respective communities. 

I don’t know if it’s a personality or generational thing (we ranged from early 20’s to 35 – so a mix of the Gen X & Y demographics), but there was a LOT of frustration when it came to being a young poly leader.  The interesting thing is that the stress wasn’t coming from the outside (media and other non-poly sources), but rather from the haphazard attempts of good-intentioned colleagues, as well as the complacency of the majority of the polyfolks within our respective communities.  

The question that we are now trying to answer is how to engage the young, hopefuly poly’s that want to become an active part of the national community without having them fall through the cracks of bureaucracy and busyness. 

The fruits of our discussions will probably be posted here. Let’s just say that we’re possibly putting together a leadership/mentorship program :)

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Posted on April 26, 2009

I recently attended the Bisexual Empowerment Conference: A Uniting, Supportive Experience (BECAUSE) 2009.  The theme for this year was taking a look at Images in the Media and Art of Gender Expression and Sexuality (IMAGES). 

Sadly, I missed the keynote presentation by Robyn Ochs. Fortunately, one of my friends recorded the presentation and I’ll be able to listen to it soon. 

Despite being tired and undercaffinated, I spent most of the conference rushing between workshops and panels. I kept finding myself staying late in order to talk to the presenter or other attendees, only to realize I was late for the next workshop.  In some of those cases, the people I was talking to were also going to the same workshop I was.  :)   I also attended the evening cabaret, which was a blast.  I went into total fangirl mode over one of the drag kings that performed.  Even when using a sock puppet for a duet singer, Fox Smoulder is hot!

Some of you may be wondering why I would attend a conference on bisexuality.  The main reason is that several of my friends within the polyamorous community are bisexuals. I wanted to learn more about how I could help in becoming an ally for acceptance.  In addition to this, I am interested in understanding more about bisexuality and gender identity issues on an academic and personal level. 

For me, being heterosexual means only feeling inclined to have sexual intercourse with members of the opposite gender. While there are some women that I find attractive, and would consider expressing my attraction through flirting and courtship, I do not see myself progressing beyond that point.  It’s difficult for me to imagine myself having sex with another woman.   There are those that may say that I’m bisexual because of my ability to feel attraction towards both genders, even if it’s not to the same degree.  I’m not married to any particular label with regards to sexual orientation, nor do I see a need to identify myself with a specific label.

Gender is another topic that interests me – both in how we identify ourselves as well as the way that we express it within cultural and societal contexts.  While I was born female, and identify as female, there are times when I wonder what it would be like to be a male, or to be able to switch between being male and female.  This curiosity was initially piqued when I started watching Ranma 1/2while in high school and college, and developed for the years afterwards as I lurked on various FTM transgender bulletin boards. 

In addition to supporting my friends and seeking additional resources for studying the topic of gender identity, I was also interested in what resources were available for activism in general. I attended two panels during the morning that dealt with that topic – one in defining what it meant to be an “ally” to a movement, and another on the how-to’s of community organizing.

I left the conference with a lot of information and a few more friends and contacts. Overall, I felt that the experience was valuable, not only because of the resources and connections that I gained, but also in getting ideas on what to do if and when my group is able to host a conference on polyamory in the future :)

Posted on February 26, 2009

oh-noesThe following email has gone out over various lists regarding the upcoming conference in Chicago:  Last week, the conference reduced it’s admission price by a third to try and encourage additional people to attend. It appears that the lowered prices have not encouraged enough people to register.

To Conference or not to Conference
That is the Question!!

Hi, my name is Mary Ann Kaufman, and if you haven’t seen the Chicago Polyamory Conference website lately, you should look at it now!

We have a gem here that’s available in your own back yard. This conference is fully loaded with lots fun, and parties on Friday night, and food, and a play and possibly getting together in the dark during Earth Hour or by candle light, and singing or drumming or even dancing by candle light if it
strikes your fancy!!

Featured on Sunday is Oberon Zell, an even a Catholic Priest to discuss Ethics, Religion and Poly.

I hope you take a look at this and decide to come. It will be in Spring, not Winter. So if you’re worried about the weather, try not to be, and hope for rainbows.

In case you didn’t know, Oberon is not well. This could be the last time he’ll ever get to Chicago. I know economic times are hard, but the only way to get through the tough times is with a little faith that if you’re down, the only direction is up.

So it’s up to you. We shut our doors and turn off the lights as of March 1st if we do not have 60 registrations by that time. You’ll never see a conference in Chicago at a hotel for this price. Please do take advantage of it.

Warm Regards,

Mary Ann Kaufman

The cost of airfare makes it difficult for me to attend the conferences that are held on the East or West Coast, which is why I am looking forward to an event that is held in the Midwest.  When compared to the larger polyamory gatherings, the Chicago Polyamory Conference is competitively priced ($100 vs. $200-250 for admission). 

I don’t know how many registrations are needed to reach the required 60, but I will keep you posted when I find out. In the meantime, share this news with your poly friends that are sitting on the fence on whether or not they want to go.

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Posted on February 11, 2009
By jnystrom @ stock.XCHNG

By jnystrom @ stock.XCHNG

This was originally published in the polyamory community on Livejournal.


Audition Announcement

Live audio-theatre (a la old time radio) production of an original adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land

AUDITIONS: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2009 2-5pm in Chicago, IL

The auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.

Looking for 6 men and 4 women – some for single roles, but most to take on multiple roles. Vocal flexibility and characterization and smooth reading are key – lines are READ, not memorized.  It is a full length show – 2 hours including intermission.

The initial plan is that this will be performed at the Chicago Polyamory Conference on Saturday, March 28, 2009

I must be up front with everyone.  There is a chance that the convention will be canceled  (HINT HINT - SIGN UP NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THE CONFERENCE CANCELED!)  The decision will be made at the end of February.   Should the conference be canceled, however, I plan to talk with the folks with the Heinlein Trust (who granted permission for the performance) asking for permission for a change of venue so we could still produce the play.

I promise not to have more than 3 rehearsals (probably 2) before the fate of the show is determined.  Unfortunately, unless I have auditions and start rehearsals soon, we will not have long enough time to put the show together.

Please blip me off an email (kzoegraham/at/gmail/dot/com)  to let me know if you wish to audition and I will send you the address. Also let me know if you want to audition but cannot make the audition time indicated.  Let me know if you have any questions about the production.  Thanks.


PLEASE, PLEASE – feel free to forward this to anyone else you think might be interested in auditioning.

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Posted on January 30, 2009
By jnystrom @ stock.XCHNG

By jnystrom @ stock.XCHNG

I’m really excited. There’s a polyamory conference that’s close to me. Typically, these types of conferences are hosted either on the East or West Coast.

$150 is a decent sized chunk of change, but that is still relatively cheap as far as polyamory conferences go.  If you want the admission price for future conferences to go down – help these guys find sponsors! :-)

The convention is being held at the Holiday Inn Schaumburg-Rolling Meadows, which is offering rooms for $85 per night.

One of the benefits of the event being hosted in Chicago is that transportation to there is inexpensive. Lots of airports have cheap flights to Chicago due to it being a popular major city.  For those in my neck of the woods, there’s also the Megabus (think Greyhound, but a LOT cheaper). A round trip ticket from Minneapolis to Chicago costs ~ $30.   The same route passes through Madison, so for you Madison poly peeps that are reading this, you can have a round trip to Chicago for ~$20!

I am currently assessing my finances to see if I can afford to go.  The household budget is a little tight right now due to some bad math gone awry. I’m hoping that the tax returns will fix that.

Update (2/1): Taxes are done. Yay for me choosing to over-withhold. We are still assessing our financial situation to see if we can justify one or both of us going to the conference.  Assuming someone could pick us up from Union Station, it would be ~$400 for one of us and $600 for both of us to go.

Update (2/13): I have officially registered for the conference! I posted an ad on the event message board to find a ride (from Union Station or O’Hare airport – TBD),  as well as someone to share the hotel room with (I only need one of the two beds).

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