#038: Community – The Good, the Challenging, and the Intentional

September 3, 2018

If you’re poly or kinky you’ve likely realized the importance of surrounding yourself with a community of like-minded people. Sarah Taub works at the Center for New Culture and teaches people how to better their relationship skills, navigate conflicts, and find or build their own community.

Today Sarah speaks with us on what community is, why it’s important to have one, the difference between a commune and an intentional community, and how an individual can take steps towards joining a community or starting their own. Sarah also explains why clear communication, strong boundaries, and the ability to hold space are even more crucial in communities, and discusses effective ways to resolve conflict in a community.

We also go a bit down the rabbit hole on how to start an intentional community, so if (like Rigel) you’ve ever thought about starting your own intentional community of poly and/or kinky folks, there’s some good info in here for you.

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Resources Mentioned:

Show Notes:

[2:25] Sarah is an event organizer, group facilitator, and relationships coach. Her group, the Center for New Culture, is a nonprofit that supports a culture based on love and freedom as opposed to fear and judgement. She loves helping people hold space and understand one another during conflicts.

[5:25] In college Sarah took a student run course called Nonviolence and Social Change. This sparked her desire for facilitating community and led to her seeking out a living arrangement that fostered a unified and open mindset.

[7:04] New Relationship Energy happens in communities as well.

[8:16] A community is a group of people that want to be connected in some way, and share a common set of values and perspective. Sarah’s interest is in creating a community that satisfies the basic human need to see and be seen, and to touch and be touched. Living in a community is also crucial to receive help in times of need and to validate our desires.

[10:29] Communities that aren’t based around dogma or religion are often harder to hold together.

[14:18] When Sarah first dipped her toe in the poly waters in the 1980’s, there weren’t a lot of resources to model her experience off of.

[14:50] An intentional community is a group of people who decide intentionally that they want to live together.

[16:13] A commune is a community where everyone shares their income. An intentional community is made up of each person or family owning their own smaller dwelling unit, with a common house that has a big dining area and guest rooms.

[20:23] Even the most well structured community won’t succeed if the people in it don’t know how to be in relationships with themselves and others.

[23:32] Sarah’s community now in Arlington, VA is two houses side by side and made up her network of intimates and co-creators. There are 8 people that live there permanently, and a bunch of folks that come in from out of town, or go back and forth between their retreat center in West Virginia. There are many different personality types that make up the community, and everyone has both a shared safe space and the ability to be by themselves and work on their own emotions.

[30:30] Sarah recommends attending a conference, festival or gathering of whatever your particular interest is. Many times the relationships sparked at these events can be the seed of a future community.

[33:11] If you are building your own community, find a mentor who has done it themselves either in person or online, or contact the Polyamory Leadership Network and they can provide someone to lead you in the right direction.

[34:21] Holding space for another person means you are clear on your own needs, but also able to hear and understand someone else’s needs without judgement. Having strong boundaries and being clear on your needs, while at the same time understanding the needs of others is crucial to all types of relationships.

[37:16] Many conflicts can be shared by reflective listening, and it’s important in a group conflict not to fall back on triangulating and recruiting allies without addressing the issue directly.

[38:38] Sarah facilitates a practice called Forum. All group members deliberately bring themselves in a space of witnessing and authentic emotions.

[44:16] Much like creating poly relationships, creating a community is an area in which people create a grand vision but often need models to guide them into sustainable and realistic expectations.

[47:12] Sarah’s advice for joining a community: be sure to continue working on your own conflict and skills training, visit communities, expect to take things slow, seek others who have done it before.

[49:26] At the Center for New Culture, they teach people how to have strong boundaries, and how to be curious rather than judgemental and be transparent instead of manipulative or secretive.