"More Love to Give." A story spawned by Big Data?
Here's a long, sympathetic article about a delta triad raising a 3-year-old.
What I find especially interesting is where it appeared. Vocativ is a big, aggressive, well-funded but struggling outfit that calls itself “a new type of media company, bringing audiences hidden perspectives, unheard voices and original ideas from around the world via the Deep Web.” Its claim to uniqueness, as New York Capital reports, is the Deep Web part: “Its proprietary software, called OpenMind, scans sectors of the worldwide web not crawled by Google or other search engines, analyzing it and producing news leads and stories.”
Fast Company's Neil Ungerleider wrote, “Their search technology is similar to that used by law enforcement to detect terrorist chatter, hedge funds to find hidden financial information, and by intelligence agencies to gauge sentiment and collect intelligence.” In fact, those things are actually what the company's founders did before they decided they might have the Next Big Thing in news.
Which would make their attention to a polyfamily sound like big data validating that We Are The Future. However, former Vocativ employees say the technology hasn't panned out as well as hoped, and that a lot of Vocativ's stories come from writers looking for topics the old-fashioned way, by guess and by gosh.
The story itself is an especially good, professional example of its genre.
A Poly Family Portrait: More Love to Give
"Family is important to Britt, Cliff and Dave [left side], and Gareth has no shortage of grandparents." Photo by David Ryder
Putting aside the novelty and the otherness of polyamorous relationships, the experiences of one family—love, marriage, children—look a lot like any other
By Luke Malone
Cliff greets me at the door of his family’s apartment in Tacoma, Washington, trying to contain an excited golden Labrador mix that has managed to wriggle between his legs. Behind him stands his wife, Britt, who offers a cheery hello, while their 3-year-old son, Gareth, sizes things up from a safe distance.
I pass the test. The blond toddler grabs my hand and leads me down the hallway into his immaculate bedroom, where he immediately begins pulling toys down from a shelf.
...Britt, 24, offers me a drink as we sit chatting on their brown sectional sofa. Cliff, 29, occasionally interjects from the adjacent kitchen, where he, a former coastguardsman turned chef, is cooking a dinner of pulled pork. Gareth, a curious and tactile child, gives me an unsolicited hug, and his mother asks him to stop bothering me. We’re discussing the family’s recent move to the area from Sarasota, Florida. Out of the corner of my eye I notice Gareth sidle back up to me, a picture book in hand, which he slides into my lap.
“Gareth,” groans Britt. “Dadave will read that to you when he gets home.”
“Dadave” is Dave, Gareth’s other father. The four of them live together in a cozy two-bedroom apartment that overlooks a large reserve, 40 miles south of Seattle. In many ways they are a traditional family: Cliff and Dave both work, and Britt spends her days looking after Gareth. All three adults settle on the couch at night to watch TV once their son has gone to bed.
“It is very normal, except for the fact that we have one more adult living in our household,” says Britt. “The only real difference is that we’re buying food for one more person, and that person sleeps in our bed.”
...Without census information or other quantitative data, the exact number of polyamorous families is hard to pin down, though polyamory nonprofit Loving More estimates there are between 1 million and 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. who identify as poly. (A recent article by Scientific American states that between 4 percent and 5 percent of the U.S. population practices consensual non-monogamy, which includes polyamory.)
...Britt is quick to point out that no one situation, her own family unit included, is representative of polyamory as a whole. “Poly is a build-your-own relationship structure. Your mileage will vary depending on what the person involved is doing,” she explains. “All that really matters is that everyone is ethically treated. As long as everyone is on the same page, it can be whatever you want it to be.”
...Walking along the street in downtown Seattle, Britt and Cliff are holding hands, and Gareth is hanging onto his mom. He reaches out to grab my hand, and we end up four in a row during the lunchtime rush hour. A couple of passersby smile at us even though we are taking up the vast majority of the sidewalk.
“It’s easier to just be a person, frankly,” Britt says later, when I ask her about the difference between life in Washington versus what she experienced in Florida. “Florida is very draconian in many ways. I don’t feel like I have to be afraid out here, so that’s nice.”...
Read the whole article (Dec. 24, 2014).
The article was reprinted by Yahoo Parenting on December 29th.
Update: And it was reprinted on the website of The Week, the national newsmagazine, on March 18, 2015. They gave it the title What life is like in a polyamorous family.