Welcome to probably the most international array of polyamorists! At the end of last month 50 polyamorists from all over Europe and beyond met for a weekend of unconference. We had people from…
Spain & Catalonia
Such an international crowd brings a mixture of flavours. However, it was great to see so many people from Southern Europe, where polyamory takes a slightly different shape to the rest of the world.
What is OpenCon Catalonia?
It’s an unconference that runs every year in the countryside near Barcelona. The unconference philosophy means that the organisers set up the space and manage logistics but it’s up to the attendees to generate the create the workshops that are going to run. The result is very eclectic, as you can see in the pictures below. There were fun workshops such as massage and play fighting, as well as more serious workshops such as “Beyond Owning Your Shit” or “Poly Newbies Meet Experienced Polys”. And, as has become traditional, I ran my “Flirting” workshop.
What counts as a highlight is extremely personal. And I certainly found there was more cool stuff on than I could possibly have time to go to (sign of a good conference). Here are some of my favourite workshops:
Wheel of Consent
In the past few years there has been a growing debate around consent and the topic can be quite a hairy one. Betty Martin, a sex educator, put together the Wheel of Consent to clarify what we do in sex, why, to who and whether it’s in consent or not. I’ve found it to be an amazing tool, so I was excited to see that two amazing women were bringing it more into the poly community.
Here is a video with Betty Martin explaining the whole thing:
Beyond Owning Your Shit
Inspired by a post by Meg John Barker on how we either take full responsibility for other people’s feelings or none at all, some participants organised a debate workshop to explore the limits to the “Owning your shit” paradigm. We saw that often it’s an accusation given by a partner who does not want to take responsibility for the impact their behaviour is having on their partners. We explored ways in which we could be there for our partners when they were upset without taking responsibility for their emotions. We looked at how trust and care are important and how to balance everything with good boundaries. The result was a very rich discussion, where we came away with tools on how to communicate and support our partners. I could tell you more, but I will just summarise it as “the best response depends on the situation”.
A few years ago a film on polyamory was crowdfunded in France. Isabelle, the screen writer, director, producer and main actress was a professional director before this film and that really shows in the quality of it. The storyline is complex and intriguing (if I tell you more it will be a spoiler). It blends documentary and fiction in such a way that you need a long discussion with Isabelle to be able to work it out. Isa and her partner were there and we got to see the film and discuss with them. It’s amazing and I completely recommend it. You can see the trailer here.
The place we were was absolutely beautiful. It’s in the middle of the Catalan countryside, between fields of wheat, rolling hills and bits of very green forest.
And to the delight of us in northern Europe – there was a pool! Many of the workshops took place outside
The food was also amazing. Fully vegan (though we did have Catalan cold meats for breakfast), it was cooked by Can Masdeu, a collective from Barcelona. Many of the cooks were poly too, which helped us feel we were in a really welcoming environment – and that the food was cooked with love.
As always, a great experience featuring interesting talks, fun workshops, beauty and like-minded people. It’s probably the most international of all European polyamory events, and a beautiful place to be as well. If you want to hear about future ones, it’s good to follow their blog.