Balancing an Ace Group space

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Balancing an Ace Group space

Post by epochryphal on Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:29 am

So, I semi-run a social/support group in my town. We're called A Squared, and our two A's are "Asexual Association." I don't like naming the group after asexuality, but "Ace Association" isn't likely to draw in people who aren't already familiar with terminology. (Plus, not everyone uses "ace" to mean asexual-demisexual-and-grey people.) So that's our name for advertising purposes, but we mostly call ourselves A Squared.

I've run into a problem, repeatedly. Most of the people who come to our group are strictly asexual-identified, and many need a safe space to detox and not hear about sex and sexual attraction and all that. But also, some *do* need to puzzle out "what is sexual attraction" (be it for theorizing interests, or figuring out personal experience, or what have you). And as a grey person, even though I organized and semi-moderate the group, I often don't feel like it's an appropriate space for me to talk about my (nebulous) experience with sexual attraction. This is especially true as the group is just starting up again now post-summer, while I'm also experiencing a bit of a paradigm shift, and needing support but also hyper-aware of new people and their needs.

Any advice on how to juggle everyone's various needs? Some of us have discussed designating particular meetings to include sex-talk, and having the rest be sex-free. I do think deciding ahead of time what topics fly could help people avoid topics they don't want to hear/talk about. But I also keenly know that sometimes life events happen unpredictably and it's hard to wait a month to talk about them. I really don't feel like there are enough grey-type people to merit our own group, A Squared is usually a handful of people showing up anyway. Argh.
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Re: Balancing an Ace Group space

Post by Aisling on Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:41 pm

Our university campus has an adjacent, disaffiliated facility called Gaia House Interfaith Center; they deal with the needs of underrepresented religious, orientation, political, socioeconomic, etc. groups... and some of these groups are kinda' mutually-exclusive. I've admired how effectively they handled this by three very simple methods:

1. Have a meeting space with multiple rooms which are fairly sound-proofed to each other.
2. Have a weekly schedule, with designated days for certain types of group meetings.
3. Have one or two open forum spaces or times every single day, with at least one person available to each group, to accommodate sudden life events and issues. These times might only be an hour or 90 minutes per group per day, but like a professor's office hours, inevitably they get used to full effect by somebody who needs them. This can be as simple as just having a quiet corner of a common room, with three chairs set around it away from the rest of the room, situated on a big rug. It visually lends itself to security and a sense of privacy and separation from whatever a larger group is doing, while still making it possible to pay attention to what is happening. Station somebody at the corner on a rotation of shifts, maybe put a small bookshelf nearby for such times as nobody needs one-on-one discussion... automatic invitation if there is such a thing. Smile

One thing I noticed about their week setup... in cases of two mutually-exclusive groups, they don't do an every-other-day setup (one group on MWF, another on TRS, etc.), because some people have conflicting schedules and would only be available on the day of the 'wrong group' for them.
They set it up more like MTR, WFS, with each group having two consecutive days of meeting, and another day that is separated from that pair. For people in my situation, with all-morning classes on MWF, I can't attend morning events on those days... but I'm free on Tuesday and Thursday, and their schedule is convenient to this.

I don't know what your personal weekly schedule is like, or how may other people are in any kind of position to be 'in charge' or trusted to moderate in your absence... but if there is a second or even third in command, provided the schedules of each person were not desperately in conflict for it, you could arrange it so that the P2 or P3 handles the 'No Sex At All' discussions, and you could be in charge of the 'I Need To Sort Myself Out' discussions.

Anyway, that's about the gist of my usefulness for suggestions:
-multiple meeting spaces, for physical separation of subject matter
-multiple meeting times, spaced to accommodate schedule conflicts for all members
-a despecialized forum space, if only a couple chairs in a corner, with a designated go-to person for sudden issues.

Considering you're still functioning on just a handful of folk... just until such a time as you actually have a largeisch group in attendance, it would perhaps make more sense for the 'Sorting Myself Out' people to have a regular meeting two or three days a week, like at a meal, and keep the primary meeting space for the 'No Sex At All' discussions, if it appears that your majority is still significantly of that persuasion.
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