Reflecting on SoloPolyCon2017 - the first ever! (2/2)
Here - for the benefit of the #SoPoC018 organisers and anyone else who is interested - are summaries of the results our two event questionnaires:
- Arrival questionnaire (previous page) about folks' identities
- Departure questionnaire (this page)
Around 70 people attended the conference. 41 submitted the departure questionnaire.
Q1. How have you found this first ever SoPoCo?
Better than I expected: 25
Roughly what I expected: 13
Not as good as I expected: 2
Q2. How did you find the three keynote speeches?
Q3. How did you find the unconference format and sessions?
The atmosphere was very safe and respectful for people of all orientations and genders. There was also a lot of openness towards different relationship structures. Very non-judgmental. I loved the focus on autonomy as an unconference. I was impressed with the keynote speeches, especially Kim TallBear.
It was really good to switch from keynote speeches to more participative workshops in the afternoon. Nice change of pace.
I was skeptical of the "unconference" format but it was fantastic! I liked how peer-orientated it was and that it facilitated community-building and connection between attendees.
Wasn't sure what to expect from an unconference but LOVED that the breakout sessions were peer-led. Social mingling was not awkward. It felt natural and lovely to hang before/after the main sessions.
Sometimes I find that I don't get as much as I give at a conference but this one taught me a lot. For example, the hand signals for active listening. I also was wary of the possible chaos of the un-con format and was very impressed by the way it came together.
The sign language helped a lot for an egalitarian conversation. It would be great if this can be the standard for the next conference and presented in the beginning while introducing the ground rules. The depth of unconference was amazing. For the peeps who are not experienced for leading an unconference it would be nice to have an early session to give some hints on how to lead a successful session.
It would be great to have more workshop style rather than mostly discussion groups. Discussion groups are helpful, but I would love to see other kinds of activities that get the brain working in a different way. The user manual workshop and the wide world of non-monogamy were great examples of this. I loved sourcing info from the community by having the sessions peer led. I thought that was a great opportunity to draw on community experience, but some of the workshops were a little disorganized or not well facilitated and there was one in which I didn't think the material was framed appropriately as something through the lens of white men (the psychology one). In the future it might be good to assign roving facilitators who can help with time management and hand signals to keep things running smoothly. That way presenters can focus on the material. Assigning a scribe to take notes in each session would also be really helpful. Finally, reaching out into the broader community to get more experts - sex educators, anthropologists, etc leading the sessions would be great.
Q4. How did you find the opportunities for socialising at the Croatian CC?
I think some more time between the sessions would have made it a little easier to mingle. During the sessions it's very much topic oriented discussion, but when it came to the interim I would start a conversation, but right as I was really getting into it I had to run off to the next session and felt rude cutting the conversation off.
This applies to a number of questions - I'm wondering whether this should be organised as a residential retreat somewhere rural next time. The Croatian club was a good venue but it was also hosting several other events at the same time, which was a bit energetically distracting. And during the evenings the group broke into self-organised activities outside, which I enjoyed but which may not have been inclusive to all.
Q5. How did you find the opportunities for socialising away from the Croatian CC?
Have a three day conference with more time for socializing each day.
I liked that on Fri people could join us even if they weren't attending the conference. I think that was really inclusive for people who couldn't financially or temporally afford the con itself.
The mixer was awkward. I felt that there was age-ism and a backlash against heteronormative behavior. I can't help being straight any more than others can't help being bi- or gay. The repression is not my fault.
The planning of places and addresses to go Sat eve ahead of time could have been planned/researched ahead of time.
I got laid!
Q6. What was your biggest 'a-ha!' moment during the weekend?
I really enjoyed learning about Kim TallBear's notion of settler sexuality and how it demonizes the desire to not "settle down" with one person. Escalating a relationship is a side effect of this and that really struck me as a new idea I hadn't heard before. Very fascinating.
During Kim TallBear's talk around her ideas of "settling" down as connected to "settler sexuality."
Decolonizing relationships... "settler monogamy"....
Kim TallBear clarifying that she focuses on de-mono'ing the younger generation because the older one is too traumatized from the residential school era still. My partner is indigenous and that was very poignant and emotional to hear. I also valued the impromptu talk about male-identifying individuals' voices. This is going to serve as a spring board for more of us to get involved and speak out. I'm already working concretely on a few projects.
Kim TallBear's point that indigenous multiamory was squelched by property.
Kim TallBear's keynote sparked an entirely new wave of critical reflection on the underlying pressures of settler sexuality which are still prevalent in many polyamorous relationships.
Small thing, but feeling very supported on a request I made.
Finding my people! Knowing I'm not alone in my aloneness!
That I am not alone and that I am normal. That I finally found some of "my people".
Feeling like I found my people... Not that I need to strictly date other solos but that hey, many people also think how I do. It's more of a gestalt... Also both how I've felt discrimination and perpetuated it in the past.
Having people confirm some of my more "out there" thoughts in regards to autonomy. Seeing that solo-poly folk are sociable and ready to relate to one another despite stereotypes of selfishness etc.
I can choose to participate as much or as little as I feel I am able. Mel just saying that gave me permission to be true to myself and my needs. Being an introvert the weekend was super overwhelming and I was able to honor that in myself and find space with less people as I needed and not feel guilty for doing so. I will always give myself that permission from now on. It feels so good to be true to myself.
I learned about some great new concepts (and vocabulary)! Cometing, settler sexuality, community oriented and free agent oriented RA, somatic therapy et al...
Carson talked about how there's individualistic RA and communitarian RA. I liked that differentiation.
My biggest a-ha moments came both during the RA discussion/presentation and during the men's breakout session over lunch on the second day.
Honest in lieu of Ethical non-monogamy. Ethics are culturally relative.
The language of "honest non-monogamy" versus "ethical non-monogamy"!
Honestly, the I can unicorn if I want to discussion. I felt like it was very good to address the topic of dating couples in a non-stigmatized space, plus I feel like it applies with relating to couples and groups in general. The 21 relationships in a 3-person dynamic was mind changing.
Learning about attachment styles and monogamy hangover, and using NVC on yourself to suss out what your actual needs are.
The discussion about gaslighting was very personal to me. I look forward to continuing further discussion about that.
Clearing up the confusion I've had in my mind about primary and other relationships. Get rid of all of that and just have relationships! Simple but profound insight to help me at this stage of my journey.
I was surprised at the absence of hunting. It was lovely.
Everything! Expanding my knowledge of the wide range of types of solo poly. So many things...I need to process it all first :)
Q7. Is there anything else you want us to know?
I LOVED the writing our pronouns out. It was really cool to see how many non-binary people there are in our community, and it made everything feel more trans inclusive for me. I also thought it was great to have some POC folk who felt comfortable to speak up when white privilege was palpable for them. I found the gestures to be a fantastic group discussion take away. In one session it got derailed and it felt really awkward... One person 'mansplaining' to another cis-appearing male, and it being brought back as a necessary model for the group's inclusiveness was really inspiring. My suggestions for future would be for us to further explore through multiple mediums what barriers people face to being included. Race and gender were explored but only by people who still came, and I think discussing among those who didn't come is very important. I think we all really want our community to be as inclusive as we can make it, so just wanting us to further consider how to reach out to everyone!
Food needs improvement.
I realize this may not be the best suggestion to make the conference more accessible to lower income folks, but I would have liked better food for lunch and would have been willing to pay a little extra on my cost of admission for that.
Thank you for having vegan options Saturday. Don't know why they disappeared Sunday, except that there were a lot of leftovers Saturday which was probably due to the fact the tortillas were mostly lettuce and olives (vegan food is a lot more than that).
There was a bit of a scarcity of vegetarian food (on Sunday I had to head home for lunch as a result) - generally i reckon it's safe to go for say 75% vegetarian or even vegan fare when catering for events like these, since the omnivores tend to eat that stuff too (and most without ever complaining!)
The solo cups are awesome!!
...Did I mention I got laid?
Not everybody is going to be attending the whole weekend. Some welcome signs or an indication on where to find information and registration would be great.
It would have been nice to have a "quiet room" or a room with dedicated quiet times where people could relax nap, or simply enjoy a little silence. Of course, I understand that that's hard to do with limited room resources.
An odd request, but I think perhaps a carpeted venue might be good- with so much chair rearranging the scrapey sounds of chairs being moved did get distracting. Also the sounds of the skytrain and the beer wars event. Perhaps a venue with more privacy and less audio pollution? Not a biggie just worth mentioning. You two did a fantastic job, I had tears of joy in my eyes more than once.