Category Archives: Conference

Cronica Post Foro: Reflections on Conference in Spain

 

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I just returned to the United States from the first annual Foro Poliamor in Spain, and was completely charmed by it all – the people I met, the places they showed me, and the conference itself.

If you have never been to Spain and could possibly travel there, I strongly suggest that you try to find somehow, someway to get there. It is a lovely, diverse, delightful country with friendly people and incredible places to visit. Going for the Foro is the perfect excuse to explore this incredible country!

 

Catalunya

The Catalunya region of Spain is gorgeous and diverse. A charming mix of ancient and ultra-modern, Barcelona is the transit, tourist, and business capitol of the region. The Foro Poliamor conference met at the delightful Hotel Cardos in the Pyrenees Mountains. Roughly three hours from Barcelona by car, the mountains have lovely trees and burbling brooks in the summer and skiing in the winter. With barely any competing light and clear air, the night sky in the Pyrenees is so dark and clear that you can see the band of the Milky Way standing stark amid the most stars I have ever seen.

 

Hotel Cardos

FORO 01 grounds .jpgHotel Cardos is a charming, quirky, and comfortable hotel with a lovely deck, swimming pool, gardens, and grounds. A collectors’ dream, Hotel Cardos boasts a diverse and fascinating array of objects (especially nativity figures), sculptures, and wall-art gracing each of its six floors. The dining room offers a large and inviting space with a central buffet for breakfast, and long tables where lunch and dinner are served. The staff are delightful, incredibly friendly, and accommodating, and helped to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Inviting sleeping rooms provided comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and windows with gorgeous mountain views of the fierce late June sun during the day and lovely cooling breezes at night. The grounds of Hotel Cardos are filled with delightful nooks and crannies, from a fountain grotto with elaborate stone designs to a gazebo surrounded by trees and horses in the field next to the pool. Indoor spaces provide a wide range of places to hang out – among them the Piano room for big meetings and social chatting, the Zen room for quite thinking, reading, or meditation, the Botanica space that straddled the sunroom and stone patio, or the underground discotheque complete with lights and sound system.

 

 Foro Poliamor Conference

A three-day fiesta of thoughts and interactions, learning and socializing – what’s not to like? In fact, the entire conference was lovely, from the flexible nature of the programming to the delightful conversations around delicious food. There were two organized tracks – four workshops with me and four workshops with Nico Castellanos. My workshops covered types of CNM and when they work (or not), a brief history of CNM and its place in social change, dealing with jealousy, and children in polyamorous families. Nico Castellanos presented workshops on four-hand massage, BDSM for the curious, conscious touch, and a sensory journey.

A third track was organized by the folks who came to the conference in the moment, with people writing suggestions for what they would like to discuss and others offering expertise in specific topics. I attended one of the open track sessions on ninja training led by the impressive and intrepid Irene and it kicked my ass, even though I was not in time to meet them for the running portion of the workout. Doing the stairs, jumping up and down a bench (except in my case more stepping up and down) and lifting blocks of concrete from a squat or in a lunge was more than enough for me. By the time we got to repeatedly jumping in the pool and lifting ourselves up using upper body strength I decided I might just stay in the pool for a while. Everyone was jovial and encouraging, some joining me in the pool to luxuriate in the delightful water and others continuing their (grueling I must say) workout. That moment was characteristic of the Foro for me – I was free to do as I wished with the delight and support from those around me in a relaxed learning and collaborative environment. Non-ninja-related topics included dancing, defining and establishing consent, working through the emotional pain that can come with polyamorous relationships, and many more.

 

Socializing

There were many fun opportunities for relaxed socializing. Meals at long tables encouraged spontaneous conversations with folks who ended up next to each other, and the swimming pool and patio offered many opportunities to lounge and chat. A costume party Saturday night had everyone cross-dressing and boogieing in the disco and watching the absolutely incredible (I cannot sufficiently express how truly amazing) night sky.

 

Language

While I learned a little bit of Spanish as an exchange student in Guadalajara, it was not even enough to really communicate then and I have forgotten most of it in the intervening years. Even with such limited skills, I was able to communicate easily with people at the conference because many of them spoke at least some English. During my workshops the Foro provided someone to translate between English and Spanish, and they even gave me a personal translator during the group meetings who whispered to me in English. In the rare case that the person I was chatting with could not understand my broken Spanish and could not speak to me in English, there was always someone else nearby who was happy to translate on the fly. Overall, I found the language quite easy to navigate and people happy to help me through stumbles.

 

The next Foro happens in June of 2018. Tickets to Barcelona are not all that expensive, especially if you start looking for deals early. If you start saving today, you might be able to travel to Spain next year for the Foro. In my experience, it was totally worth the time, effort, and expense to get there for the amazing experience.

 

 

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Accessible Multi-linking & Polyamory Virtual Con Still Accepting Panelist Submissions

 

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Good news for anyone who is interested in polyamory but find Cons inaccessible for a variety of reasons. The Accessible Multi-linking and Polyamory Virtual Con, is taking place November 3 – 5 at an Internet-capable screen near you. AMaP is a fully online con designed to be accessible to people who usually can’t make in-person cons.

 

 

If you want to, consider submitting a workshop or presentation proposal for the con. The theme this year is Silenced Voices, and organizers are inviting all to participate with a special emphasis on diversity and folks who do not traditionally have access to the cultural megaphone.

If you are interested, but not sure how running an online workshop can work, you can see our short example here.ww.polyamoryonpurpose.com

 

 

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Dr. Eli Sheff at Outlantacon May 13 & 14

 

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I will be presenting on the Fandom Culture track at Outlantacon this weekend, so if you are in town come on down to the Atlanta Marriott Century Center to check out the cosplay and panels. On Saturday I present “Which Form of Consensual Non-Monogamy is Right for You?” at 8 pm and “Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round: An Unabashed Introduction to BDSM” at 10 pm. On Sunday I will play in the Hollywood Squares on the Gaming track, hosted by Candace Weslosky-Miller  and with other panelists Lee Martindale, Pinky Shear, Kiernan Kelly, Moxie Magnus, Kage Alan, Heather Ness, Brent Seth, and Andrea Judy.

http://www.outlantacon.org/

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Dr. Eli Sheff to Speak at Conference in Spain June 16 – 18

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In my first international keynote address, I will be speaking at Foro Poliamor, a polyamory convention that will take place in the countryside of Catalonia, Spain. For more information see http://foropoliamor.org/es/ponentes/

 

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Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit Still Accepting Proposals

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Do you have something to say about the intersection of sexual freedom and social justice? If so, then please consider submitting a proposal for a panel or workshop at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit scheduled for Washington DC August 3 – 6, 2017. Proposals are due by Monday February 6. For more information click here

 

http://eepurl.com/cx6Jsv

 

 

 

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Sexuality and Relationship Related Conventions in Atlanta

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As home of a thriving film industry, the Black Glitterati, and the largest gay population between Miami and Washington DC, Atlanta is a city of rich cultural diversity. One of the elements of that diversity shows up in the incredible range of relationship and sexuality related cons to which the lovely city of Atlanta plays host. Listed in chronological order below, these conventions add a smart and sexy strand to the vibrancy of Atlanta.

 

All of these cons have online registration, meet in large hotels, have social and learning components with panel presentations and gaming rooms, and include vendors rooms with merchants selling everything from jewelry, books, and crafts to corsets, kilts, and sex toys. While the cons usually have blocks of rooms reserved for reduced rates, it can be cheaper to stay in smaller or more modest hotels nearby.

 

InfinityCon – February

imgres.jpgFresh from its first excellent year, InfintyCon specializes in the kinky side of polyamory. Touting itself as an educational conference with flair, InfinityCon aims to deliver a wide variety of information on polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy. It is a sister con to Atlanta Poly Weekend with a more adult focus to contrast to APW’s family-friendly goals. In addition to their educational tracks, InfinityCon hosts a fun track designed to help folks connect with like-minded people with social time, dancing, and relaxation. InfinityCon is scheduled for February 9 – 12 in 2017.

 

Frolicon – April

imgres-1.jpgKnown among locals as DragonCon’s slutty little sister, Frolicon is a chance to “join all your favorite deviants for a fun filled weekend of debauchery and decadence.” A kink and think con for the “naughty side of paradise,” Frolicon features fun for thinkers, artists, and kinksters. Think tracks include those for writers, LGBT+, costuming, and polyamory, The kink track has classes on techniques, theories, and relationships, and the sync track helps frolickers make connections through meetups, speed dating, and mingles. For the kinksters, there is an incredibly well-equipped dungeon (configured by Sadistic Engineering) that fills the hotel’s largest ballroom and hosts open play as well as theme parties. Partiers will enjoy the Saturday night Party Battles in which groups of people try to outdo each other with making their party the most fun. Frolicon happens in the spring, when it is time to frolic, and is scheduled for April 13-16 in 2017.

 

Atlanta Poly Weekend – June

images-2.jpgHaving just completed its sixth year, Atlanta Poly Weekend is the only child-friendly con that features a kid track and pg-13 programming during the day, with the NC-17 programming scheduled after 9pm. Established by the Relationship Equality Foundation, APW offers polyamorous or poly curious folks the opportunity to meet and mingle, learn new skills, get advice, make family connections with other polys with kids (or without kids :), and learn about the wide world of communication, negotiation, and honesty among multiple partners. Atlanta Poly Weekend is scheduled for June 2 – 4 in 2017.

 

South East Leather Fest SELF – June

Iimgres-2.jpgn addition to lots of classes and opportunities to learn everything from An Introduction to Biting or Conflict Resolution Within a Master/slave Framework to Erotic Shaving or BDSM and the Law, SELF also hosts a range of competitions. Titles include Master/slave, Ms. SELF, SELF Boy/Boi, Mr. SELF, Southeast Bootblack and Southeast Person of Leather. SELF also hosts a huge dungeon with some very sophisticated scenes – dedicated to a much more serious version of kink than Frolicon, which also has a giant dungeon but is focused more on play and less on protocol. This next SELF is scheduled for June 22-25 2017.

 

DragonCon – September

images.jpgWhile not officially a sexualities-related convention, DragonCon is the kind of sci fi geek paradise that appeals to the kinksters, queers, polys, and cosplayers. Founded in 1987 and now in its 30th year, DragonCon touts itself as the largest muilti-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe. It hosts one of the most impressive parades I have ever seen and brings media figures from Sarah Gellar to William Shatner who speak to adoring throngs. The many fan tracks focus on everything from alternate history, animation, and armory to paranormal, puppetry, and robotics or urban fantasy, video gaming, and young adult literature. My personal favorites are the science and skeptic tracks. The mingling of thousands of imaginative people in sexy cosplay (with a decent dose of alcohol) leads to sexual exploration and fantasy play. DragonCon is a great place to get your geek on, and your freak on. It is scheduled for September 1-4 in 2017.

 

Sex Down South – October

images.jpgOrganized by a cadre of smart young queers, Sex Down South focuses on the intersections of sexuality, race, class, gender, ability, religion, social justice, and pleasure. In 2015, the first year of this excellent con dedicated to diversity and sexual liberation for everyone, speakers included psychologist Dr. Rachel Kieran, writer Fiona Zedde, sexy disability activist Robin Wilson Beattie, Velvet Lips founder and sex educator extraordinaire Marla Stewart, performance artist Ignacio Rivera (aka Papi Coxxx), minister Aldalphie Johnson, and author, podcaster, and cliterati Tristian Taormino. Sex Down South is scheduled for October 13 – 15 in 2016 and includes an impressive line-up including Tyomi Morgan, Sinclair Sexsmith, Orpheus Black, Ken Melvoin-Berg, Sunny Megatron, and yours truly (Elisabeth Sheff). SDS is coming right up — October 13-15 2016 at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta.

 

Do you know of any relationship or sexuality cons in Atlanta that did not make the list? Let me know by emailing me at drelisheff@gmail.com and I will be sure to add them.

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Dr. Eli Sheff Two Presentations at DragonCon in Atlanta This Weekend

imgres.jpgI will be giving two presentations this year at the fabulous DragonCon this year. On Friday September 2 at 1pm I will present Multiple Partner Marriage After Same Sex Marriage for the Skeptic Track, and on Saturday September 3 I will present The Polyamorists Next Door for the Science Track at 5:30pm. I hope to see you there!!!!

 

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