The workshops listed below can be presented singly or in combination, as stand-alone presentations or as part of a larger event. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions on any of these, or if you would like to have a workshop customized to your particular needs.
Conceptual Workshops (mixed experiential and lecture/discussion)
From the moment of birth (“it’s a girl!”), children are identified by gender. This shapes almost every aspect of their lives and relationships.
But as we learn more about gender, its significance gets murky, especially once we learn about GLBTPQ??? . What is it that defines our gender? Which of these characteristics are essential, and which are created by the culture we live in? What effect has growing up in a strongly gendered society had on ourselves and our children? Are there alternatives?
There will be a presentation on what has been learned from many sources about gender, including the latest discoveries in neuroscience, followed by a group discussion.
Balancing Connection and Freedom in Poly Relationships
Nearly everyone seems to have a deep need for connection – in intimate relationships, friendships, or community. It can feel wonderful to work, live, and play together. At the same time, nearly everyone seems to have a deep need for freedom and self-determination – making one’s own choices, acting independently from one’s desires. How do we balance these needs as we create multiple loving connections? Do we live together in a group or “tribe” and make collective decisions? Do we live with one partner and make “excursions” to visit other lovers and friends? Do we live alone and visit friends and lovers when we want connection? What skills make these choices and other choices work well? How can the larger community and culture support both connection and freedom? We’ll be mixing conversation with dynamic activities that help bring out the wisdom and experiences of everyone in the group.
Creating a “New Culture” Based on Love and Freedom
We are in a time of crisis and change. Can we draw from the ecstatic to create and shape that change? Creating a sustainable world based on love, freedom, and community won’t happen piecemeal; it depends on people recreating themselves, their relationships, and their place in the world holistically. This workshop will share some of the insights and experiences that have come from trying to create a new culture, and provide opportunities to connect to other people and events who are walking this path.
Curiosity, Transparency, Intimacy: Tools for Creating a Win/Win Connection
Cultivating curiosity has two benefits. First, curiosity is incompatible with emotional reactivity – a person who is truly curious is unlikely to be deeply angry, unhappy, or afraid. Second, curiosity builds your working data set – it’s hard to figure out a win/win if you don’t know what your partners really want! We’ll explore curiosity and transparency as attitudes and practices that support healthy relationships, whether with lovers, friends, co-workers, or community members. We’ll have some short, fun exercises where people can try out sharing about themselves transparently and asking questions based on curiosity. And we’ll also talk about how curiosity and transparency go along with other attitudes such as compassion, non-attachment, being “at choice”, personal power and responsibility to create a way of relating that many of us think is sustainable, healthy, and reasonably drama-free.
Building a Sex-Positive Culture
A “sex-positive” perspective sees all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally good and healthy. It’s hard to expand into sex-positivity while surrounded by the emotional and cultural residue of a society that sees nearly all sexual activities as bad and harmful! Join us as we explore the foundations of creating a sex-positive culture, including eliminating the sex-negative voices in our heads; creating supportive sex-positive places, events, and community; finding new spiritual frames that see sexuality as sacred and good; and sharing skills and practices that make sex-positivity easy and natural.
Relationships Without Drama
Why do relationships that begin with such high hopes often lead to ongoing stress and disappointment? Why do we fall in love with this person, but not with that one? How can we deal with the storms of emotion that seem to follow connections of great joy? What does it take to create a relationship that is supportive and appreciative for both partners? The insights and techniques that are shared in this workshop are drawn from many sources, including the facilitators’ polyamorous paths, Eastern spirituality, and hard science. They can be applied to all our relationships and interactions with others, sexual or non-sexual, polyamorous or monogamous, casual or intimate. Join us as we discover how we can come to a place of power and choice in how our lives and relationships unfold.
Polyamory as a Spiritual Path
What would relationships with others be like if we really were “our own best friend”? The more we do our own spiritual work, which is really about learning to fall in love with ourselves, the more available and loving we become. We no longer approach our partners from a place of need, but from a place of appreciation. Painful emotions become opportunities instead of threats, and positive feelings can come without fear of loss. We are able to take delight in our connections whatever form they might take.
Radical Personal Responsibility
What would relationship, family, community be like if everyone took 100% responsibility for their own feelings? What if every surge of emotion was seen as an invitation to connect with essence and rise to a new level of awareness and love? What if we decided never again to blame another person for our feelings? The more we do our own personal work, the more available and loving we are in the moment. We no longer cling to rules and impose agreements that we hope will keep our intimates from triggering painful emotions in us; we welcome those emotions, work through them, and delight in our connections whatever form they might take.
“Transparency” in human relationships means openness and the lack of hidden agendas – “what you see is what you get.” When we have intense feelings, sometimes it is difficult to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and desires in a way that others can appreciate and understand. It can even be challenging to articulate these to ourselves. This workshop focuses on the skillset of becoming transparent about our needs, desires, fears, hopes and dreams in a way that is truly effective and promotes closeness rather than separation. We will explore and practice how transparency relates to self-discovery, communication skills, emotional challenges, and nurturing our relationships.
Merry Meet / Jump-Starting Intimacy
Who are the people at this gathering? Some of us are excited and nervous newbies, some of us are working through many issues related to alternative lifestyles, and some of us have arrived at a place of ease in our alternative practices. We’ll spend much of the time moving around, meeting new folks and deepening existing relationships. Let’s find out who’s here and what we have to offer each other!
Exploring Our Differences
Who are you? Who am I? Who are we? In this high-energy, interactive workshop, we’ll find out more about the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of everyone present. We’ll explore curiosity and transparency as attitudes and practices that support healthy relationships, whether with lovers, friends, co-workers, or community members. We’ll have some short, fun exercises where people can try out sharing about themselves transparently and asking questions based on curiosity. And we’ll also talk about how curiosity and transparency go along with other attitudes such as compassion, non-attachment, being “at choice”, personal power and responsibility to create a way of relating that many of us think is sustainable, healthy, and reasonably drama-free.
Boundaries: Speaking Truth, Meeting Needs, and Releasing Attachments
How many of us say “yes” to things we don’t actually want out of guilt or a fear of losing connection? In many ways, “no” is the most daring and intimate response possible – if I can hear your “no”, I can trust your “yes.” We’ll practice the skills of self-awareness, transparency, and non-attachment, which help us find the space of mutually desired connection that is available with each person.
Finding the Sweet Spot
Mmm, that glorious moment when we are giving exactly what our partner wants to be receiving! Sometimes we find that “sweet spot” spontaneously—but more often, we find it through clear communication and feedback. Let’s practice finding that sweet spot—through a series of juicy experiential exercises we’ll offer and/or request touch, negotiate the touch we want, and give verbal and nonverbal feedback on the touch we receive.
Finding the Sweet Spot: Clear Boundaries Make Bigger Playgrounds (alt description)
Mmm, that glorious moment when we are giving exactly what our partner wants to be receiving! Sometimes we find that “sweet spot” spontaneously—but more often, we find it through clear communication and feedback. How many of us say “yes” to things we don’t actually want out of guilt or a fear of losing connection? In many ways, “no” is the most daring and intimate response possible – if I can hear your “no”, I can trust your “yes.” Let’s practice finding that sweet spot of mutual “yes” —through a series of juicy experiential exercises we’ll offer and/or request touch, negotiate the touch we want, and give verbal and nonverbal feedback on the touch we receive.
A key skill for living a powerful life is the ability to “show up,” to communicate your truth to others. Using a format called ZEGG Forum (not related to Landmark Forum), the facilitators create a safe, loving container where participants may step in front of the group and share what is going on for them. Profound shifts in consciousness can occur as we reveal or witness what had been hidden.
The “Mind Orchestra” – Revealing Our Inner Voices
We can see ourselves as having many inner roles and voices – the “critic”, the “good boy/girl”, etc. Sometimes those voices harmonize well; other times they fight each other, creating “mind noise” and turbulent emotions. In this experiential workshop, we’ll use movement and sound to reveal these voices. As we see them more clearly, we learn to appreciate their strengths and weaknesses – from this perspective, the “mind noise” becomes a beautiful “mind orchestra.”
Songs of Sex, Love, and Passion
Music has the power to connect us, arouse us, and move us deeply. Please join us for an informal song circle — we have loving, funny, and erotic songs to share, and we want to hear your songs too! Bring your favorite love song or bawdy ballad, your singing or humming voice, and any instruments you play. Everyone is invited to sing, and you are also “at choice” just to listen if you prefer.
Michael Rios is an entrepreneur and practical visionary with a creative approach to freedom and empowerment. For the past decade he has been a major organizer of “New Culture” events (www.cfnc.us) aimed at creating a culture based on awareness, compassion, and freedom rather than on fear and judgment. In 2011, Michael became the director of Abrams Creek Center (www.abramscreekcenter.com), a retreat center in the mountains of West Virginia. His current passion is creating an “intentional village” there and in the nearby town – a place where people live consciously with and near one another, building a life based on personal enterprise and freedom, economic independence, and a web of social interconnectedness (http://aciv.cfnc.us).
Sarah Taub, Ph.D., is a cultural activist whose passion is creating events where people transform. She teaches relationship and community skills – such as self-awareness, honesty, clear boundaries – as well as leading groups to greater emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy. For the past decade she has been a major organizer of “New Culture” events aimed at creating a culture based on awareness, compassion, and freedom rather than on fear and judgment. Since 2011, she has been the financial and programs manager for Abrams Creek Center (www.abramscreekcenter.com), a retreat center and community in the mountains of West Virginia.
Indigo Dawn (they/them) is an impact-oriented love activist who works to create a world based on compassion, freedom, and non-violence (facebook.com/mxindigodawn). As program director for Center for New Culture, Indigo teaches skills and mind-sets for sustainable relationships and communities– including self-awareness, open communication, authentic connection, and healthy boundaries. Their most recent project is building intentional community in the DC area (New Culture DC) and Mt. Storm, WV (Allegheny Crest Intentional Village).