GRUE ca change, GRUE ca meme chose… – Old Quebecois Proverb
Since 2007, it has been a privilege to share the idea of “Open Space” and kink with thousands of people across North America, Hawaii, and Europe. We’ve lost count of how many GRUEs there have been – some where in the mid-80’s, by best estimate – but it’s been a consistent pleasure to see people come together and create days of shared passion and joys.
I’ve had a great time. I’ve even literally had my fantasy of having a GRUE at Ramblewood realized by a hard-working team of wonderful people led by Deborah Rose for three years in a row – which was something I considered impossible until she and Kanin and Grant and Ella said “No, we can make that happen.” And they did.
Every GRUE has been a meaningful and educational experience for me. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I have learned a lot from so many people, as well as from the experience of doing so many open-space (as Deb coined them “AltSex Peer-to-peer kink”) events.
But one of the things I have learned is that, as much as I might wish it, I can’t sustain it. It is not possible for me to make a living doing GRUEs, even with other side-gigs teaching, writing, designing, etc. The needs of travel and time make it impossible. This means that the time has come to make some changes.
And That’s a Good Thing.
I just finished doing the first GRUE in Montréal, with forty lovely Kinksters, and next month I’ll be doing another one in Calgary that I’m very much looking forward to. Then in August the GRUE comes home again to Madison, WI, where it all started back in 2007…and that, I’ve decided, is where it’s going to stay. I’ll be working with the Freyja project to do summer and winter GRUEs for the foreseeable future – but only in my hometown of Madison.
Yes, that means I will not be at RambleGRUE in September of 2018. I have talked with the staff of the event, including the team of facilitators, and they are as supportive as they’ve always been, understanding that the needs of everyday life sometimes have to take precedence over the desire to be in a magical place full of passionate Kinksters. I am happy that they’ve chosen to make this one last “RambleGRUE” happen, with a crew of competent and experienced facilitators running the GRUE portion of the event. I’m excited that they are going to come back next year with a brand-new event, different than the GRUE but with the same core goal of creating accessible and inclusive kink space.
They will be making their own announcement today, and we want everyone to understand: my withdrawal from the event is motivated purely by economic necessity on my part, not through any acrimony or disagreement. I’m going to miss those folks a lot, but I’m going to enjoy vicariously watching them build something new.
That’s What I Hope Everyone Does
Every GRUE has run on the principles of Open Space, the first of which is: Whoever shows up are the right people. We’ve proven, over the last eleven years (and over the doubts of many people) that Open Space works in kink communities. While I’m egotistical enough to say that I’m good at facilitating them, I am most definitely not the only person who runs them. By limiting the GRUE to Madison, I hope that it will open the way for new facilitators and organizers to use Open Space to create their own events, custom-made for their own communities and run by the same passionate people that live there.
I’m happy to share the lessons I’ve learned, both on a general level through writing, podcasting, and video, and in the form of direct training in open-space facilitation for those who desire it (that’s a video course to be announced later). I’m also certainly going to continue facilitating open spaces, but they will be for a wider range of clients, rather than under my own kinky brand.
I’ll also still be involved in other kink events, both as a presenter and continuing as the Director of ROPECRAFT. The only time I will be doing GRUE, however, will be in Madison, WI. It’s a great place – the Rope Bondage Capital of the World, in fact – and if you find yourself missing a GRUE, I hope you’ll look at joining us there.
I have to thank everyone who has made these events, from Lee Harrington who first suggested I create them on through thousands of people who have let me share their passions. It has been a beautiful, fulfilling, challenging, and meaningful journey for me, and I am immensely fortunate.
Now it’s time to make room, both for others and for myself, for something new. Exciting times ahead – see you there.