Saturday, May 21, 2011

Leather Bear Tails: Giving back, The evolution of AEL Kinkskills


Leather Bear Tails: Giving back to the community: The evolution of AEL Kinkskills
Last Sunday we held another AEL Kinkskills workshop. The flogging intensives were conducted one on one with two different instructors, and a third instructor floating around the rooms between demonstration and instruction helping students with questions. It was an amazingly powerful experience. There was so much laughter and joy and learning in that workshop representing everything AEL Kinkskills was meant to be. 

But it did not start out that way.

The AEL Kinkskills workshops started out with an idea and for me personally with no intent of giving back to the community. Actually the concept was born out of selfishness. I asked myself – “What did I want to learn, and how did I want to learn it?” Then from there it evolved to—“Were there others that wanted to learn what I was interested in as well?

Which quickly turned into –“This could be something really good that could help a lot of people!”

When I started out there were two others with me, now it is just me and my slave. A lot of these ideas were formulated for AEL Kinkskills by all three of us in the beginning. Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without them. While one person found a venue another managed the budget and purchasing of supplies. 

Over time maintaining continuity for the project, the constant demand for communication and updates became more then my counterparts wanted to do, so it was left to me. This is not a bad thing; it is just the way the project evolved. I will always be grateful for the time and effort because without them, I don’t think the project ever would have gotten off the ground.

When it first started we all knew that it needed a group to back it. 

At the time, AEL was the only group that I could see both willing and able to do this. Because the organizers of AEL had worked with and been supported by all three of us, it made it easier to ask the leaders of AEL to take a risk. So we approached AEL asking if we could adjunct to their ongoing events and were thrilled when the organizers embraced the project with open arms. This allowed for a lot of stability as an already established group was able to get the word out. It was a win win for us and them. Plus the added bonus of having amazing community leaders to go to when we ran into problems was invaluable. When you are starting to coordinate any kind of event you need resources to help handle conflicts, troubleshoot the workshop itself, and with learning how to maintain your “positive leadership face” when the face you really want to given certain moments might be “WTF? Are you kidding me??????”

Once AEL gave us the green light, the three of us got down to the organizing and we all knew we wanted certain things. 

1. Affordability and Access. It had to be affordable and offered on a routine basis. Since our goal wasn’t to make money, and the venue cost was next to nothing that was easy to accomplish. So we priced each workshop at $5 per person if no supplies are needed, and $10 per person when buying supplies are required (with the caveat that people get to take supplies home so that they can continue to practice right away). In the beginning we all put money into the project and were eventually reimbursed, and quickly the project- because costs were so low, became self sustaining.
2. Choosing teachers and instructors. The teachers had to have a lot of experience.
3. Planning. The workshop had to have a consistent day and time.
4. Teaching style. These workshops were exclusively HANDS ON, not simply a demo since; these were skills people needed to learn under the close guidance of an experienced teacher. So many skills require hand eye coordination (like flogging and single tail) a detailed understanding of safety and infection control (like piecing and saline injections), and the understanding of nuance (like with canes). That just watching someone else do the act doesn’t really provide the same learning ability as doing it yourself.
5. Scheduling. We wanted to prevent burnout so we decided put on a workshop once every other month and not monthly. Occasionally we held a series that would take place once a month for three consecutive months so people could advance their skills from beginner to more intermediate through the classes.

Naturally over time something’s having changed, as I reworked and rethought about the project, what it required and what students needed. The cost hasn’t changed and the program is still completely self sustaining. In fact we are doing so well the goal of AEL Kinkskills changed altogether. Once the budget allows for it AEL Kinkskills will host a day or two long event in a hotel conference space for only $10 per person. This is far in the future, but already in the plans. 

What also changed significantly is how I look at potential teachers. At first I just wanted experienced people. Now, for a teacher to teach at AEL Kinkskills they not only have to have experience, but they must possess and project powerful positive energy. Our teachers must be excited about teaching their subject, about the project goals and must be student centered in their teaching methods. I have found that experience alone does not a qualified teacher make. The teachers who are positive, excited about serving the community and knowledgeable completely change the learning experience for all involved.
Lastly, I stopped organizing series classes. The idea was great but- the teachers would burn out and, the students didn’t learn more. Plus organizing a series of three meant that during one month, two Kinkskills needed facilitating, and that became too much. The one month on/one month off schedule created a break between workshops allowing time to reflect, relax and adequately prepare for the next workshop.

Currently, AEL Kinkskills is so blessed to have three host homes we rotate through and at no cost to the project. We book our teachers a year in advance so all that is left to do is to hammer out the details with teachers and purchase supplies.

This is how I give back to my community.

This is how my community gives back to me: They show up, they say thank you, they meet new people and learn skills. That is what they give back to me.

AEL Kinkskills has become an integral part of my life and me. It has become how I define myself inside the community and I get so excited when I get to work with teachers or students or learn a new skill myself (which I have plenty of time!)

So here is my overall point- to everyone and anyone in this community: If you are seeing a need in the community and want to fill it, then go for it.  Don’t let anyone tell you what can and cannot be done. Seek out those who are successful in the doing and ask questions.  And most of all close your eyes and do it! Anything from throwing a play party to putting on a weekend event are the projects that keep our community strong. The best part is getting to sit back in the end and to watch it all unfold.

If you are interested in power munches, play parties, or hands on workshops in the Albuquerque area please contact:

Next AEL Kinkskills: Cock and Ball Torture!!!!

If you are interested in an active New Mexico online community please find:
Fetlife.com
Group name:
New Mexico fetlifers

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