New RelateCon poly convention gets a good newspaper writeup
A reporter for the local alternative weekly paper attended. Their long article went online today. Excerpts:
Along Came Poly
A Boise convention brings polyamory out in the open
By Harrison Berry
...RelateCon brought into the open a community that has gained momentum online but, because of Idaho law and misrepresentation in the media and broader society, has been largely secretive.
"I just want people to not feel so alone in what they're doing," said [Jennifer] Hyde, president of the Boise Polyamory Network, a mostly online group of approximately 450 people. ... The purpose of the convention was for the group to meet openly, expose members to national resources, and discuss pressing issues related to what they call "ethical non-monogamy."
How to Find a Partner
Many of the presentations at RelateCon were lighthearted, with titles like "50 Shades of Real Life," "The Cuddle Puddle Project" and "Painless Poly Dating 101." One of two talks [Tyson] Downey hosted was about regaining passion in long-term relationships in the midst of "new relationship energy" from other partners.
...Another presenter, Masami Tadehara-Hinkle, offered attendees a "relationship shopping list" for identifying new partners and maintaining healthy relationships with existing partners. More than a checklist to be applied to others, however, Tadehara-Hinkle said it encourages people to be introspective, considering carefully what they want out of their new relationships.
"The idea is that it's more effective in terms of relationship structure to define the relationship in terms of individual needs, rather than having a set of rules," she said. [Amen to that, say I. –Ed.]
Tadehara-Hinkle's idea for a checklist came from the website morethantwo.com, which she described as "the poly bible." There, site curator Franklin Veaux has collected tutorials, tips, how-tos and common mistakes by newcomers to the practice. There's also a "relationship bill of rights" and advice on when and how to be openly polyamorous.
...Conference organizers said socializing was one of RelateCon's most important functions. Activities included poly bingo; a fancy dinner where polyamorous couples, triples and beyond could mingle; and meet-and-greet events at the hotel bar.
Because polyamorous groups are spread across the state, the informal events were some of the first times people who may have known each other online could meet in person.
Connecting to a National Conversation
The Boise polyamorous community started small. For the past three years, Hyde and the Boise Polyamory Network organized monthly potlucks at members' homes, sang karaoke and went bowling. Though they typically met in small groups, attendance at some events could reach 30 people. Most of their interactions took place online, but Boise Polyamory Network aimed higher — for a must-attend event that would bring the community together and connect it to the national polyamory movement.
"We're reaching and we hope to spread," said RelateCon organizer Heather Franck. "This is a national conference and we want reach across the nation."
Most RelateCon attendees were from Idaho and the Treasure Valley area, but many came from Utah, Oregon and farther afield—from the East Coast and even Canada. It also pulled nationally recognized speakers and organizers, including the Atlanta, GA.-based Relationship Equality Foundation. ... The group's mission is to offer education and resources to conferences on relationship structures and affiliated organizations. When Boise Polyamory Network asked REF for support, it sent four educators to the City of Trees.
"It's part of our mission to support new and up-and-coming organizations," said REF Vice President Billy Holder. "Relationship Equality Foundation is growing by leaps and bounds, and we're doing it by grassroots empowerment of organizations like RelateCon."
Beyond affiliating with national communities, REF collects data about polyamorous people through its legal survey, spotlights local events and organizations, and helps present large conventions like Atlanta Poly Weekend and the Chicago NonMonogamy Conference. It's also an awareness-raiser, spreading the word on ethical non-monogamy—a job that gets a little easier every year thanks to increased media attention given to the lifestyle. ...
Ethics, Children and Faith
Jennifer Hyde has seven children. Heather Franck is trying to conceive with her partner. Tyson Downey and Billy Holder are both fathers. Children are a fact of polyamory and a test of the ethics of the lifestyle.
"If you exclude any element of the family—a child, a partner, a husband, a mom—you're excluding the element of family," Holder said, describing the importance he places on being honest with his children.
Ethics was a central feature of RelateCon, encompassing nearly every aspect of polyamorous relationships, from intersections with the law, sex, introducing the practice to partners and discussing the lifestyle with children.
Conversations about the polyamorous lifestyle between parents and children can be uncomfortable. ... During one of these interactions, Hyde's then 5-year-old daughter called her a "cheater" for dating more than one man. When Hyde asked her where she learned about infidelity, the child told her she learned it from the Disney Channel. ...
...According to Franck, in right-to-work state Idaho, polyamorous people have lost their jobs because of the perceived ethical failings associated with "swinging."
Several RelateCon presentations sought to address these and other issues. Topics included identifying abusive relationships and how to help people in them, safe sex practices and BDSM, the roles of consent and honesty in the lifestyle, and legal issues related to polyamory. ...
Read the whole article (April 19, 2017).
● Also: Here's a writeup of the event by Kitty Chambliss, one of the presenters, at her Loving Without Boundaries site: All of the AWESOME at RelateCon 2017.
RelateCon is on again for 2018, but no dates yet.
Keep an eye on ALAN's LIST of POLYAMORY EVENTS. Right now it lists 32 conventions, campouts, retreats and other gatherings (with descriptions) worldwide for the next 12 months.