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Monday, November 29, 2010

Poly community.

I have talked before about involvement in the Poly community. Going to parties, participation on message boards, attending socials, etc. Now I would like to ask for ideas.

There has been a bit of chatter in my area lately about creating a new Poly group to have meetings for discussion of Poly topics and general socialization with other Poly folks. We have had a couple of groups in the past which have struggled with both leadership and locations. The new group being suggested will have completely new leadership so that problem will be avoided. But location is still a concern.

In the past groups often average 12 to 15 people and sometimes almost 30. Obviously this makes having the meetings in someones living room almost impossible. Groups have also tried community centers that are alternative lifestyle friendly but those options have mostly disappeared due to business closures and the economy. Coffee shops are the most recent venue but often they don't have a good space for 12-15 people to sit as a group and the lack of privacy is concerning to some folks.

Help! Do you attend poly discussion or other events in your area? Where do you meet? Ideally space would be free or very low cost, private or semi-private, and alternative lifestyle friendly. Ideas I've seen that were dismissed are public library's, community centers, and church spaces.

Any ideas you might have would be appreciated!


  1. We host a Poly Group on meetup .com and hold out meetings at a Local Coffee Shop in a small room. We take up donations to help defray the minor cost. Normally 25-50 bucks, but food and beverage account for that much with 15 folks buying drinks for 2 hours so they comp us the room. We have been meeting there since March and never had an issue.

  2. Why were libraries dismissed? The ones in my area have multiple meeting rooms that can accommodate a few dozen to a few hundred people (depending on the room.)

    More ideas:

    If money isn't too tight, what about booking a few hours at a restaurant? Some have event rooms that are private and cozy.

    Could you meet outside for part of the year? Many parks have pavilions that can be reserved - sometimes even for free!

    Do you know anyone who has a finished basement who'd be willing to lend/rent it out every so often?

    I've known people who have rented out schools on the weekends for various events. That may be a possibility as well.

  3. Thanks Fred!

    So far we haven't found a coffee shop in the area with private rooms, resulting in privacy concerns for some folks.

    Glad to hear your meetup's are going well!!


  4. The Preacher's Kid,

    I'm honestly not sure why libraries were dismissed. The only answer I could ever get was that the group included quite a few pagan and gay folks who felt we needed a "lifestyle friendly" location and libraries/churches didn't fit that need.

    Thanks for the other ideas. We have tried restaurants but some have privacy concerns about open spaces. We have also met in parks which worked very well in the summer but wouldn't in the winter. I hadn't thought of schools or actually renting a basement.

    Thanks for the great ideas!


  5. Here in Santa Fe, NM, the Poly Groups are announced on a Yahoo Group and are scheduled on the same first weekend of every month. The meetings are held at a rather large and sprawling Santa Fe home. The large living room overflows with attendees. The three steps that are access to the living room become seating area for attendees. Sofas and love seats provide cramped but cozy and intimate seating. Dining room and kitchen chairs provide seating along the perimeters of the living room. Sometimes the hallway and doorways of the kitchen and dining room have some people leaning against the wall and standing. From my estimate, the groups are as large as forty people.

    Yes, forty or more attendees is a large amount of people in any home. Somehow, the facilitator of the group always manages to create engaging topics for discussion. With a crowded room, cramped with a variety of Poly lifestyle folk, the interesting and educational topics somehow transcends the fact that the space might be a little too small.

    I believe that the privacy of meeting in a residence is in part some of the success to the Santa Fe Poly Group.

  6. Kameshwari,

    It would be awesome if we could find a big enough home that was available on a regular basis but so far, no luck.

    It sounds like your group has a great setup going, I'm jealous!!

    Thanks for the comment :)

  7. Our local BDSM groups meet in local restaurants. One of which was lucky enough to find one with a banquet room free of charge. Very private. One of the others sits us at one end of the restaurant putting enough tables together to accomadate 30+ people. They quit seating others in that vacinity after that time as well. It works nicely and privacy has NEVER been an issue. We talk freely about the lifestyle amongst ourselves and nobody but us (and the waitress) knows what we're about.

  8. I belong to a different organized group in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The group meets for pot-lucks and an organized group discussion. The home is extremely tiny, yet the pot lucks generate about forty to fifty attendees on a Friday night.

    The hosts of the home remove anything that is breakable. They leave nothing lying around. Every surface in the rooms that are used are cleared of everything except lamps. Somehow we manage to bring in our numerous pot luck items, (and our own plates and silverware for the meal), find a place to sit, and manage to have a place where the tykes can congregate. (Most of the kids are on sugar free and chemical free diets, so they are usually calm and manage themselves in a tiny corner of the house.)

    I wondered at the success of gathering in that small house. Although we are a bit congested and close, I think the fact that the hosts keep their house free from clutter during the pot-lucks, creates a sense of easy flow for large groups of people on cold winter nights.

    For me, I found that when I am somewhat smothered into a certain area of the room with no chance to wiggle to another section, I will engage in discussion with a small group around me.

    During the summer, we have pot lucks in smallish backyards.

    By the way: the group that I reference in Stevens Point is not a Poly Group. It is the local foods, grass roots, community organizing type of group. It is largely made up of professors, farmers, college students, and citizens who are involved in poverty and hunger prevention initiatives.

  9. k!nkyNurse,

    Yes, it sounds like you were lucky. Most meeting rooms either charge a fee or require a minimum number in my experience.
    I've been in the restaurant situation before, with them not seating others near our group. It works great until the restaurant gets busy or another unexpected group comes in, then they are happy to seat people in your lap if it means more customers. When it has worked out though it was a nice way to meet.

    Thanks for the input!

  10. Kameshwari,

    I too have seen how a group crammed into a small space can prompt you to talk to those around you. It isn't like you have a choice right? LOL
    One of our poly groups starts this way, with everyone crammed together and having one large discussion. After about 30 minutes or so it becomes obvious there are folks at many different stages of polyamory with many different questions and the push to break into small groups begins. Our space is also opened up and expanded after the first half-hour. As people find others to talk with the group (now small groups) will settle again. I don't think that process could happen if the group were crammed into a small space for the duration of the meeting.

    Thanks again :)

  11. Everyone commenting has given me some great food for thought! You have all helped me take a closer look at things and understand the problem better.

    What I initially saw as just the problem of finding a meeting space actually has two pieces;
    1. Finding a suitable meeting space with privacy and enough room for everyone.
    2. Finding a meeting space that can be used consistently.

    #1 seems to be from most of the posts here, and my experience as well, flexible. People will make due with cramped, noisy, or less private space in order to continue to socialize.

    #2 is where I think groups in our area are having a problem. Meeting places are changing every few months as management of businesses changes and agreements expire, demographics change and friendly spaces become less friendly, or businesses close forcing relocation. When that happens people drop out of groups for several reasons; the groups pause while new space is found and folks lose interest, the new location may not be geographically friendly, the new location may not be as lifestyle friendly.

    I think a large part of focus for the new group being discussed in my area should be on finding a sustainable, long-term meeting location, even if it isn't perfectly ideal for everyone. Hopefully that will promote consistent membership and attendance and lead to a solid group.

    Thanks to everyone for your help! That is a happy poly moment for my day :)