Creating a community

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Creating a community

Postby Jacque » Tue Aug 17, 1999 8:01 am

This topic started in <A HREF=http://www.barbarasher.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000009.html>Finding Jacque's Career</A>. The relevent posts are copied below: Barbara Sher suggested: You know, jacque, I think you absolutely (if you don't already) should take on the job of creating get-togethers for your friends. Nobody gets together often enough, even with the people they're really fond of, and if one is as tuned in to the wonderful stuff that can happen, she should make it happen. Have a birthday party for someone. Some people can't come, but so what? Have a "Summer Solstice party" a month later, and then they can come. And have a "Post-Thanksgiving debriefing party" after that holiday, so everyone can laugh away anything ghastly that happened to them on that day. Have a November "Pre-Xmas Party Because Everyone Goes Away on Xmas" And a January "Resolutions, Dreams and Wishes" party, where you say what you hope will happen next year. Then next year, meet again, and see what happened. (I know of people who actually do this, and love it.) You love the idea of friends getting together as in that movie. And you apparently have more than one circle of loveable friends. You shouldn't wait for fate to bestow such good stuff on you. You should make it happen. [This message has been edited by Jacque (edited August 17, 1999).]
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Postby Jacque » Tue Aug 17, 1999 8:02 am

I responded: Your suggestion of hosting regular parties, combined with the SLEEPERS clue reminded me that one of the things I've been missing is a Gang and a regular Hang Out. My of my Grand Impossible Fantasies is to have a big old house with a gazillion rooms (several of which are guest rooms) and an electron-cloud of friends and acquaintances floating in and out. (I'd rather find somebody *else* who's created one, but they have this nasty habit of moving away.) Unfortunately, my place isn't big enough to host more than one other person comfortably, so I need to find a comfortable, (preferably rent-free) regularly-available venue. (Coffee-house leaps to mind.) Also, it's been my observation that a community like that needs a fairly good-sized core-group (like four to six people) to drive it, and currently the only "core groups" around are ones of which I sort of skirt the edges. One of them folks, though, seems to be a frustrated hostess, and I wonder if she might throw in with me on engineering some sort of Hang Out. A bunch of us tried to start a discussion group a few years ago, and got a few good evenings out of it, but it ran aground on personality conflicts, lack of topic ideas, and busy schedules. How about it? Anybody out there know how to nucleate stable community groups? Know any good resources on creating a gang of friends and establishing a stable hang-out? --Jacque
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Postby Jacque » Tue Aug 17, 1999 8:03 am

Then Martha (mgre) chimed in with: Jacque, when I was at college I had no money and had to come up with some. One thing I did was prepare lunches and cook evening meals for other students or anyone else who wanted to come. This provided a core group which met at least 5 times a week. People brought their various interests and we got to know each other pretty well. A teacher at the college saw the ad I put up and thought it was a good idea and so did more advertising for me. One person in the core group was always talking to folks at bus stops and would often bring them along for supper. We entertained everyone from street people to singers from Australia to cooks from France. It was wonderful. I know that college students are a group that this might work especially well for but what about your hostess friend? Is her place big enough to host evenings? Would you be able to get some people together regularly on weekends? They might come for a good meal (that they paid for). And encourage them to bring friends with whatever interests so the group won't lag. [This message has been edited by Jacque (edited August 18, 1999).]
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Postby Jacque » Tue Aug 17, 1999 8:19 am

Hm! Martha, this idea has some distinct potential. (Come to Mary's House on Friday's and Get Fed.) Particularly since the demographic I'm in would probably appreciate just being able to "come home to a good meal and friends" once in a while. The picture it puts in my mind is relaxed and cozy, and it would save the hassle and chaos of dealing with restaurants on Friday evenings. Yes, this hostess-friend does have a place big enough to entertain. Especially if we can find someone who loves to cook and is a frustrated caterer. (I do know someone like that, but she lives in another state.) Ooh! You know, another thing I like about this is the image of friends hanging out and laughing and dodging around in the kitchen while making dinner, like in the movie THE BIG CHILL. That actually suggests that it would be useful to distribute dinner-making chores a bit, if possible. Yes, new blood is definitely important, I remember that being one of the features of the better Gangs I've hung out with. One or more core members was always scouting new talent. The variety your bus-stop member achieved is truly appealing. That's one of the few things I miss about school: concentrated access to random humans. The challenge is to capture some aspect of that with busy, scattered, working folks. Hm... ------------------ Jacque Marshall http://www.eskimo.com/~jacquem [This message has been edited by Jacque (edited August 18, 1999).]
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Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Aug 17, 1999 8:52 am

I'm going to find (I think) this article I cut out years ago about a man (Jim Haines, now in Paris) who started out as a bookstore/coffeeshop owner in Scotland and just couldn't stop introducing people to each other. He now hosts these Sundays in Paris where everybody pays about $20 (except poor students) and different people cook up a rather good meal (I've been there, and met some interesting people) and some very acceptable wine. It was a bit of a madhouse. But somebody ought to do it. More to my taste is something I did a few years ago called "Soirees" which I shall tell you about in the next post. They were *excellent!*
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Postby MattRyan » Tue Aug 17, 1999 2:09 pm

Thoughts in response: #1 My guess is that the core group you\'re looking for are all \"life-long learners\". Your trolling success may be better in venues that attract them (eg Adult-Ed centers). #2 My \"what if it were easy?\" heuristic says, the events & groups you\'re looking for are already out there. When you find a fruitful event or gathering, ask around how other people found out about it. When you meet a worthy person, find out where they hang out. There are local affinity groups that run email discussion and announce lists. Consider that the right people for you may be broadly attracted to certain events that don\'t interest you personally -- you could repurpose such events to pure scouting. #3 My one professional colleague in Boston and I were talking a few nights ago about our shared problem of not-enough community. The natural first thought for us was to host and promote a regular group with a door open to anyone interested in our discipline. But that doesn\'t really work for us, because what we\'re really lacking is enough people who are *very good* for us to be with. The idea we came to was to start and promote an educational series, in which we would show a different video each time demonstrating an application of our discipline, followed by open discussion. On the surface, we\'d be helping spread the word about our strong but little-known field (Client-Centered Therapy), but most importantly we\'d be people-watching, and from the folks we meet from this there might develop an invitation-only ongoing support- or discussion-group that might fit our personal needs. ------------------ Matt Ryan mbr2@world.std.com http://world.std.com/~mbr2
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Postby karabas » Wed Aug 18, 1999 12:44 am

Hey Barbara, That group in Paris on Sunday night sounds like fun. Is it still happening? I am leaving for paris tomorrow morning. Where is it? Can anybody go?
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Postby PeterH » Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:25 am

Karabas, you lucky devil.! Jacque, I have been watching this discussion with great interest, hope it works well for you. ....... and by the way, love your art work, in particular the wizard. You have a great gift there. ------------------ phornhar@atctraining.com.au
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Postby Jacque » Wed Aug 18, 1999 8:06 am

Barbara: Yeah, the Paris Sundays sounds closely related to the notion Martha was suggesting. Is this guy contactable? Would he be willing to discuss his experience with this stuff, do you think? I'm waiting with bated breath for your post on soirees. That's a notion that's crossed my radar screen a few times, and it sounds like an idea that would be very useful here. Matt: "'what if it were easy?' heuristic"--! I love it! I'm going to shamelessly plageurize that. Point #1: Yup. Comparatively easy to do here, given the local culture. Finding interesting people isn't hard; it's overcoming the centripital tendencies that seem to be endemic in the local social dynamic that's rough. Any suggestions there? (Although point #3 may address that somewhat.) Yeah, point #2 occurred to me the other day, and I finally woke up and cast the psychic net. I've had good luck with this in the past, so I just need to start beating the bushes. But the specific search stragegies you suggest are particularly interesting. Point #3: Ooh, that's very sneaky. Sort of like recruiting for a Secret Society. Hee hee. I like it. That's actually what we had in mind with the discussion group we tried, but in retrospect I wonder if we needed a better-defined format or something. Hm.... Good points all. Thank you for the thoughtful response! Peter: Thank you for the lovely compliment! (Flattery will get you everywhere.) Are you also a community-seeker? What has your experience been?
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Postby oceankind » Wed Aug 18, 1999 10:18 am

hello all, Jacque, there's this book called The Circle of Simplicity by someone. I think it's in this book that the 'freebox' is mentioned. The 'freebox' is basically a box where people put things they don't want anymore. The contents of the box are then, you guessed it, free. People can come and take whatever they want. The 'freebox' helped to build community life at a university, the book goes on. Two strangers would walk past each other. One would notice their old clothing on the other, and the two would stop to talk. Both would end up with a new acquaintance, possibly friend. The freebox idea can be used anywhere, not just on campus, although it is easier to set up there. The best part is that the flow of clothes is surpassed by the flow of friendship.
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Postby Jacque » Wed Aug 18, 1999 12:28 pm

oceankind: Hm, yeah. This echoes the idea of a "Cosmic Spot" that a friend of mine coined: basically anything that draws people to a common location and slows them down enough that they start to interact. I like the idea because it's passive and minimum maintenance. If I could somehow figure out how to stick this idea together with Matt's #3 idea above.... Hm.... Matt: Can you say more about the "scouting" procedure you discuss above? The picture that pops into my head is walking up to interesting-looking people and saying, "Say! Are you part of a community that fits these characteristics?" I could do worse, I suppose, but that seems a bit awkward. [This message has been edited by Jacque (edited August 18, 1999).]
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Postby PeterH » Thu Aug 19, 1999 5:00 am

Not quite sure what you mean by a community seeker. We are surrounded by communities, groups and tribes and to me the only solution to \"suspect\" a common interest and dive in. is that what you mean? What sort of work do you do now? ------------------ phornhar@atctraining.com.au
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Postby Jacque » Thu Aug 19, 1999 10:16 am

Peter, Let me rephrase: Are you, too, in search of a community? Can you say more about what you mean by "suspect a common interest and dive in?" If I understand what you're saying, my obstacle is in finding these communities, tribes, etc. I don't, at the moment, have a lot of local social contacts (mostly a couple of excercise classes and one singing group I follow), and striking up conversation is difficult (for me, at least). "Hi! What's your name! Do you have a community? Can I come?" seems awkward. I'm sure there's a graceful way to elicit this information; I just don't know what it is. The work that I do now is that I build and maintain the automatic office newsletter, and convert publications for the web. I work in the publications office of a research institution. [This message has been edited by Jacque (edited August 19, 1999).]
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Postby PeterH » Fri Aug 20, 1999 2:49 am

What i mean is this------- Having identified a few things that might interest you, you then identify through local government agencies, directories or on the net, clubs, groups, organizations that might be of interest and visit their next meeting.
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Postby Jacque » Fri Aug 20, 1999 12:49 pm

Can you give a specific example of what you mean? I feel like what I've identified is still too unfocused to support such a search, and I wonder if I'm not missing something in what you're saying.
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