The Polyamory Leadership Network (PLN) is a loose association of about 220 people around the world working to advance public awareness of polyamory — open, ethical, consensual non-monogamy, often flowering into romantic group relationships — as a valid and positive relationship choice for some people. We are working both to educate the public and to build skills and resources within the growing worldwide poly community itself.
The PLN has no officers and little structure. Its purpose is to share ideas among members, help us network and aid each other with our projects, and to set new projects in motion. We are a private online discussion group, though we hold in-person gatherings from time to time; usually these have been during or just after polyamory conventions.
For centuries, occasional people and small groups have had extraordinary, revelatory experiences with multi-love relationships — leading these people to become passionate about spreading the word that polyamory exists and can work. For some people and intimate groups, poly can create dazzling new ways of life rich in love and joy and wonder — when done with wisdom, honesty, care, insight, and abundant communication all around.
Many of us feel that polyamory represents a possibility rooted deep in human nature that, until recently, few in modern society knew exists. Some of us see it as a larger generalization of romantic couple-love: from the particular, two-person form that everyone knows about into something larger and more fundamental, if less known.
But people and groups who experienced these revelations, and had this passion, usually found themselves alone in a wide wilderness, with no paths for action in sight.
We are helping to usher in a new era in which such paths are visible and waiting.
The PLN began in October 2008, thanks to volunteers working with Polyamorous NYC who were planning that month’s Poly Pride Weekend in New York. They realized that the weekend was bringing lots of well-known poly activists to the city who had never met. So Polyamorous NYC scheduled a National Polyamory Leadership Summit for right after the weekend’s events. At that meeting, 34 people came together to brainstorm ideas and discuss how next to proceed.
Despite the enthusiasm at that first event, not much happened until the second Summit in February 2009, held right after Loving More’s Poly Living Conference near Philadelphia. That meeting drew 62 people including some by audio hookup. The group brainstormed project ideas — dozens of them! — and formed committees around “point people” who volunteered to work on some of them. Because most of the people attending came from far and wide, it was decided to work via collaborative Google Groups. A main Google Group was set up for general discussions.
In the online discussion following the meeting, the participants decided to name the group the Polyamory Leadership Network — with the understanding that “leadership” simply means “people who build cool things without waiting for permission.” The group makes no claim to speak for anyone else, aside from the fact that people who speak out on any topic will be heard more than those who don’t. A similar term would be “movers and shakers.”
The Google Groups approach to running projects had partial success. By the time of the third summit in March 2010 (with 35 attending, again following Poly Living at Philadelphia), many of the projects from the previous year had died on the vine, but others had come partially or wholly to fruition. It was clear by now that volunteer energy among widely scattered people goes only so far. So this third meeting was designed to identify people’s own current projects; to identify what excites and motivates each person and what they do well (because those are the things that get done); to list the skills and abilities each member offers the rest; and to list Action Items that people would commit to in order to move their own projects forward. And more ideas were launched.
The fourth Summit took place in October 2010 on the outskirts of Seattle (31 attending), again following a Loving More Poly Living conference. We reviewed progress on projects, brainstormed some new ones, brought new members up to speed, and held networking sessions in several formats to match people with others having similar plans, visions, and skills.
Since then, the PLN has settled into what seems to be its permanent role: as an active discussion and coordination group for polyactivists building projects or wishing to assist in projects, and for sharing ideas and information toward this end. Most discussions take place on a dedicated PLN Google Group discussion list. Particular projects may have their own spinoff Google Groups.
More recently, members have held smaller regional PLN meetings (about 12 to 20 people), though the internet is where most now happens.