Thursday, January 21, 2010

Retreat and Renew

The Hostesses of the Impropriety Society had a two day retreat last weekend to discuss the future of the organization and reflect on our accomplishments of the past two years (can you believe it's been two years!?!). We have produced 5 large parties, 7 socials, and several workshops. We have operated in the black financially since the beginning, which is unusual for an organization/business of any kind, whether or not there are paid staff. We have had many, many people tell us that their lives have changed because of their participation in our events and community. And the biggest success of all for us personally: we have worked well together, processed through our conflicts and shadow behaviors with a commitment to healthy communication, and grown our love for each other as we evolve into better leaders and better people.

I have been involved in leadership for 10 years and have seen organizations struggle as politics, shadow behaviors and unhealthy communication destroy professional and personal relationships (and the organizations themselves in some instances). It is remarkable to see how the Imps volunteers have successfully navigated our relationships, deepening our friendship and intimacy rather than tearing each other apart, especially when sex is involved in such a prominent way (consider how most businesses officially discourage relationships between staff because of the problems that can arise!).

It turns out that we do far more than produce sexy parties. While we could have remained focused on managing the logistics alone, the Society is more than a sequence of erotic events. The Imps are a thriving community revolutionizing our cultural approach to sex, relationship and love. Because of our commitment to healthy communication, consent, negotiation, privacy and safety (both physical and emotional), the Hostesses have found ourselves having to take on an expanded leadership role by nurturing the community relationship.

Honestly, we were not prepared for the emotional stamina required for this kind of leadership. We did not consider that we would have to be role models for healthy relating with our staff, our friends and our lovers, holding ourselves to higher standards than we ever have before. We didn't realize that we would have to guide ourselves and others through the process of changing unhealthy communication and relationship habits -- whether public or private. We weren't aware that we would have to mirror people's shadows to them when their behavior becomes harmful to the community and face the heartache of people we love turning away from us. We did not know that community members would come to us for guidance on a whole variety of personal and relationship issues. We were not expecting having to navigate complicated relationships as the lines blur between volunteer staff and personal tribe. We have seen relationships begin and end, conflicts arise and resolve in forgiveness, and amazing love bloom in greater abundance than any of us could have wished for.

We have realized recently that the logistical demands for parties are more than we three hostesses can continue to manage with our full time jobs, families and social lives. The vision of a community center dances in our hearts, but we wonder about the resources needed to make it a reality. When we add the time and energy needed to nurture the volunteer staff and greater community, it's impossible for us to consider growth without growing the circle of leadership. We struggled this last year with maintaining the Society's regular activities. If we are to grow as an organization, or even continue thriving in what we do now, we need to expand the circle of responsibility.

We have decided to implement a new level of leadership in the organization called the Impresarios. This group will include event Crew Heads, as well as a few other new leadership positions that will both help us with the event planning logistics and with nurturing the community relationship. This team will meet monthly and participate in the decision making process. We are excited about the possibilities. We are excited about expanding our vision of what is possible by embracing the deeper involvement of others.

It's a new year and we are headed in a new direction. It feels good. I feel re-energized and re-committed to the evolution of this amazing community that brings so much love, fun and sexy goodness into my life. I hope to find that others feel the same way.


teresanamita said...

Impresarios; what a cool idea!

And, hey, how could anyone anticipate or fully prepare for all that stuff? At least you can be conscious of it when it comes up, which is more than a lot of folks in the world...

Dave Berman said...

As one who has grown in life changing ways from being part of this community, I'm grateful for what you have created and applaud the choices you are making now to grow and expand.

HumboldtJen said...

I love you April! Thanks for being you!