Mark Michaels & Patricia Johnson are presenting The Dark Side of Tantra. Check out Mark Michaels's bio here and Patricia Johnson's bio here. 1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change? We have been active in various alternative sexuality communities since 1999; Mark started exploring polyamory a couple of years before that. We see our role as one of empowering people through sharing information and community-building. We feel that these efforts have helped people realize that there is no “right way” to be sexual. 2. Who or what was a catalyst for you? Even though we’ve moved away from identifying as Tantra teachers, Dr. Jonn Mumford (he still teaches people personally via his online courses - www.jonnmumfordconsult.com) was a major catalyst; our first book is based on his material, and his influence is there in all of them. The friendships we have developed with amazing colleagues (many of whom are presenting at Catalystcon) are an inspiration too. That list would be so long! 3. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality? Cultural attitudes toward what constitutes a happy relationship are changing rapidly. More and more people are looking to create and nurture relationships in an intentional rather than a reflexive way – whether they’re monogamous or have some other relational orientation. We see the act of consciously and consensually creating relationships is good for individuals, their partners, and society. 4. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today? Well, climate change and ecocide are the biggest ones. In the face of such monumental challenges, it sometimes feels like talking about sexuality is inconsequential; we can only hope that helping people develop a more integrated and authentic way of being in the world is a small step toward inspiring a more respectful attitude toward the planet. 5. Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you? There is a lot of mythology around Tantra. The meaning of the word, and the history of the tradition are hotly contested. The popularization of Tantra in the West has been problematic in many ways, and we’ve made our own mistakes over the years. While these issues are difficult and potentially painful to discuss, we thinks it’s important to examine them. 6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself? We’re both active in conservation. Mark is a leading expert on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (www.projectcoyoteIBWO.com), and Patricia has rehabilitated hundreds of Native New York turtles (www.TurtleAdvocate.org.) We’ve also spent the last five years writing, touring and generally working too hard. This year, we’re focusing on having more fun!