August 30th, 2007

Aphrodite

Send In The Welcome Committee

The ideas...they never stop...

So, one of the things that has occupied my mind since undertaking the path of sacred romance is how such a path could serve the larger Pagan/interfaith communities. While I do believe it's valuable and necessary to do a lot of self-work through one's spirituality (which on the path of sacred romance includes learning self-love, discovering or rediscovering joy, finding one's passion in life, etc), at some point you have to be willing to move outside that lest the whole thing become a giant spiritual wank and nothing more. I've always felt strongly that sacred romance would be most effective if it benefitted not only its practitioners, but the community it exists in and interacts with as well.

(Folks on the Romancy list, I'm gonna bring this topic there too, for further discussion!)

I had an epiphany around the end of the Pagan Leadership Skills Conference, which I shared with Del over lunch, and which I've mulled over a lot since then.

One of the issues that came up in the conference, from a number of people, was that they felt sort of lost, that they didn't know who to talk to if they had any questions, that they had a hard time making social connections at the parties. We were all there in large part to network, but a lot of people seemed to feel like they were adrift on a sea of faces.

I, personally, didn't feel like I had a lot of trouble talking to people and making connections, but I've gone to things like this where I didn't know *anyone* and where I had no choice but to make some friends, and I'm also more outgoing than a lot of people, even considering my natural reserve. Even so, I could definitely see their point, and experienced a lot of the same situations even though I didn't feel as limited by it.

And it's something I've seen in other situations-- big gatherings where there are some established groups and a lot of less connected people drifting around, many of them anxious and nervous and shy, unsure who's on staff or who can give help or whether anyone wants to talk to them.

So the idle thought popped into my head that a lot of groups could probably benefit from a hospitality strike force-- a few or more people who aren't otherwise on staff for the event, whose sole job is to organize hospitality suites or parties or whatever social stuff the event organizers hand over to them, and to be visible throughout the event (probably wearing something that clearly distinguishes them) as friendly, outgoing, approachable people who can answer questions and greet newbies and provide some small talk or introductions to people who are having trouble feeling comfortable and welcome. They would have to be, I thought, specifically trained to draw people out and sustain conversations, ready to smile and chat even with obnoxious or boring people, good at beefing up party energy or feeding people or just generally putting them at ease.

And I thought, now *there's* something that people on the path of sacred romance could be really good at, something they could offer to their community. Not only would it benefit the people who are feeling lonely, anxious, or lost, but it would benefit the sponsoring group if their attendees felt like they'd been very well socialized, like there were people to talk to who paid them a little attention and helped them and maybe threw a killer party or two. Frankly, I'd be so down with showing up to an event knowing it was my job to be friendly and helpful and social. I'd get to experience the event but also feel involved, I'd get to meet people, and I know from having thrown many parties and run hospitality suites that I find that kind of thing very rewarding. It'd be gravy if I knew it was love bhakti too.

Anyway, the reason I'm throwing this out here is that I'm curious what other people think of the idea, whether from an event organizer point of view, an event attendee point of view, or a "hey I could do that" point of view. Is this a need? Have you been to other events, or even run other events, where something like this would have been useful? Would you appreciate it? Would you do the job yourself?