24 July, 2017

Letter from the Executive Director – Reflections on the Year Past and the Year to Come

Rena’ Leigh Executive Director

It’s really been some journey to this place. Two years ago I sat in a room at Wyndham City Council with my partner, talking to a council person about how we could help with their diversity programs. That’s where it all really began, with a single question he asked us.

What is the name of your organisation?

We didn’t have one. No one, to our knowledge, had an organisation that could do the things we envisioned doing.

My partner and I talked it over and the idea of KNOTbound becoming a community organisation was born. We contacted some people, we pulled together a working group.

A year later and I was on my own, still holding the dream. My partner was gone. The original people we started with were gone. There was only an idea left with a library at Eagle Leather and a quarterly workshop that had already been running for 4 years.

The idea was still sound. People told me they loved it. For me there was no turning back. Just a lot of hard work ahead.

Fast forward another year.

  • KNOTbound has become KNOTbound Ltd, a non profit company limited by guarantee. This was a promise made from the beginning and fulfilled.
  • The Dom Social Club settled into the community, creating a safe place for people to share ideas, talk about problems and issues and create bonds of support in this too often isolated demographic of our community.
  • The Victorian Novice and Newbie (VNN) program has continued its long running newbie day.
  • We ran classes, mostly on Power Exchange as there wasn’t much being done in this area.
  • We ran the VNN in Benalla, expanding into rural Victoria.
  • The Australian BDSM Archives came to life and a roadshow was done up the east and north east states.
  • The Festival Committee sprang to life and has been busy mapping out the work for the next three years.  They are now a part of the Park Lounge planning committee with Wyndham City Council.
  • A multi-state board has been established.
  • A company secretary, a bookkeeper and an auditor engaged.
  • An IT infrastructure specialist, an application developer and a website developer have given large blocks of time free of charge to build and manage our IT needs.
  • We have a roadie who takes care of our traveling equipment when we need to present somewhere.
  • We have key people in NSW and SA to develop strategy for these states.
  • We have a historian/interview training program that is almost ready for release by our dedicated historians in ACT.
  • We have researchers doing interviews for the digital archives, both in video and audio format.

Over 20 volunteers have put in amazing efforts to build strong, secure foundations so that we can bring the organisations services to our communities. We have more people volunteering regularly, from the newest members in our scene to the oldest.

We have over 400 books, over 200 magazines, as well as pins, cards, clothing, toys, contracts and other artefacts in our physical archive and more is coming in all the time. We have software to manage cateloging and tracking of publications and artefacts. We have audio, video and sound equipment to ensure we capture and present the best quality possible. We have a flag with our UNITY symbol to give to the communities of Australia to show that we can unite even in our diversity and support each other in the many flavors and endeavors under the umbrella we call BDSM.

Most of all, we have heart. We have commitment. We have dedication.

We’ve come a long way from a year ago.

In the year to come we will see more changes and more offerings to the community.  Here’s a peek at what’s on the planning board:

  • We have engaged with Joy 94.9 to get the message out there about who we are and what we are doing.
  • We are working on releasing our new formal mentoring program by the end of the year.
  • We are building a training package for mental health organisations and are in discussions with Cohealth about working with them to integrate with our communities better through training about our lifestyle and our people.
  • We have an application in with Ross House to become a member organisation, to support them and in hopes that before the financial year is out, we can open our first resource centre.
  • We have an application in with the ACNC to try to achieve Charity status which would open new avenues of revenue for us. It’s a slim chance but we are trying because it would help us get our programs off the ground quicker and build them better.
  • We are a month or two out from releasing our Events Management Platform, currently known as KEMP (please feel free to suggest a new name!) which will give a top quality events management system to our communities for free. There will be no charge to use it.
  • Soon we will relaunch our website with additional areas and functionality, including a members area which we will continue to develop over time and add value for the member subscribers supporting us.
  • Theo will make his debut with the first Theo story. Definitely watch this space!
  • We will begin to release some of the history we have collected in both text and audio format.
  • We will continue to grow and expand the Archives and begin seeking public funding on a larger scale.
  • We will launch CWAK, Connect With A Kinkster, for those just needing a quick chat or a one off connection to ask questions of, gain reassurance or just talk to a like minded person. Watch for the rubber ducky that represents this program!
  • We will provide a 1800 support number to answer questions and help people connect with us. This is expected to grow until we can offer a true 24/7 help line for our people. It will take a little time but we will get there.
  • We will begin training interviewers across Australia and ramp up our collection of personal histories.
  • We will be expanding our presence in festivals.
  • We will be creating new resource materials both online and offline that are sourced from community collective wisdom.
  • We will launch an Australian Wiki to gather the information, making sure everyone has a chance to contribute but refining those contributions down to what we can, for the most part, agree on. Even if that agreement means we are simply incredibly diverse on a subject.
  • We will have fund raisers to help achieve all these things and we will build revenue streams to ensure we have a steady supply of funds and are not totally dependent on grants and one off monies. Much time in the early part of the year will be spent chasing grants. Our grant writer in NSW will be busy!

We are going to have an exciting challenging year. We invite everyone to be part of it. We are a community organisation by the community for the community, just as was envisioned in the beginning. To kick it off we are having a fund raising party, Comm-UNITY, and a raffle with great prizes and to help us complete some of the foundational work so that we can move on to providing services.

It’s real. It’s happening. It’s exciting. It’s a bit scary. It’s amazing and humbling.

It’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever been part of. I am so proud of everyone who has put their heart and soul, their time and energy into it. This wonderful organisation belongs to all of you.

This is what we can do, together. This is how strong we are, how proud we are of who we are.

This is our monument and legacy to ourselves, our gift to each other. My hope is that the generations to come will keep it as a sacred trust and as a symbol that we are, under all our differences and diversities, one people, with respect for all.