The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.
Neil Gaiman

So I run events for a living. But I don’t call myself an event organizer; I call myself a Playground Builder. And here’s why:

My younger brother is developmentally disabled. He’s 35 now, but his mental age is somewhere in the 2-4ish range. (I can tell you: My brother was a 30-year-old My Little Pony fan way before it was cool.)

And Louis loves the things kids love. Trick or treating. Toy stores. Playgrounds. It was the playgrounds which taught me the best lesson, and I’d like to share it with you.

Louis is a kid. That’s how he acts, that’s how he sees himself. He’s not big for his age – something arrested his physical growth as well as his mental acuity – but he’s easily twice the size of the people he perceives as his “age”. And he really doesn’t speak as well as someone who is three or four; he’s got unusual verbal tics and mannerisms.

This is the thing:

The worst playground in the world is the one where kids turn away from him, won’t respond when he talks to him, or, hardest of all, laugh.

The best playground in the world is the one where a person, usually so small in comparison that they need to reach way way up to do it, takes him by the hand and leads him over to come and play.

In other words, the playground matters very little..,.compared to the players.

I don’t build physical playgrounds; I build events. And if you want to try to have a great event, I believe you should try to have events which encourage wonderful people. And don’t be afraid of seeming corny or silly – sure “wonderful people” sounds more like a description for a kid’s show than a kink event. I don’t care; the phrasing works. Praise kindness and model it in your own actions. Value respect. Fight for safety even when it’s very hard to know how to make a space “safe”. Discourage hateful people. Turn down their money; urge them to take their business elsewhere.

Let me give you, then, my big secret, the formula, the recipe for a great event:

  1. Attract amazing people and try to treat them well.
  2. That’s it.

Jeff’s heart was captured at thirteen by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He was fascinated by how much you could change the seemingly ordinary world of a movie theatre, and create a strange, wonderful new home for people whose interests were outside the norm. He’s dedicated his life to creating those places.

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