Building Your Tribe
Here is a list of things through testing and building Meetup.com/VoluntaryDallas have been derived from ACKCHYUAL human behavior.
FORGING YOUR OWN TRIBE In 1753 easy steps...
This is a non-exaustive list on how to organize and grow a community of voluntaryists where you live.
In Dallas we have a large group of active voluntarists which helps with
- Friendship - Some of the best friendships have been forged from the group. #AnarchistsRule
- Mutual Aid - When SHTF people help out. It's cool. :)
- Philosophy - Ethical learning and bolstering. Like iron sharpening iron so do anarchists shapren each others wit.
- Activism - We built a guillotine together / Fed the homeless together / brought an alternative to people tired of the LP
If you are going to try to build your own group first let's set some expectations. In the beginning it will feel awkward. You will be sitting at a table by yourself waiting for strangers.
Having even one other person with you will help in the beginning but is not necessary. Be comfortable by yourself and with talking to strangers. Bootstrapping takes time. Your Mileage may vary depending on your location.
We used Meetup.com (NOT JUST ZUCKERBOOK)
- Host a meeting every two weeks. In Dallas we alternate, one week in Dallas and one week in fort worth. It is two different crowds with some crossover.
- Meet after work hours and evening. 6:30P is a good start time - with some straggelers usually rolling in by 7P. (at our group the people in Fort Worth call the people in Dallas what they want to eat and place their order for them and vice versa depending on which city the meetup us held in.)
THOU SHALT NOTS
- Thou shalt not host the regular meetup on weekend; Generally, people have lots of stuff to do on the weekends and you will take a big hit on attendence if you slice a regular chunk out of that time.
- Thou shalt not your house or backyard. use a public place with other people so people are comfortable. (You can TOTALLY invite people from the meetup to a Backyard BBQ or game night though!)
- Thou shalt not host in bars -- alcohol is up to the individual but I suggest not making the meetup about drinking.
Always have two locations for the meetup. - One for food. One for conversation.
Herefollows the heavenly decree of what NOT to do when picking your restaraunt venue.
- Thou shalt not host in an anti-gun or otherwise unethical location. (In Texas that's a 30.06 30.07)
- Thou shalt not host in loud venues... the whole point of meetup is to interact and chat. No live band venues, places with loud music, or so many people that you have to yell to be heard.
- Thou Shalt Not attend at a venue that requires the group to be split amongst different tables or even worse, rooms.
- Thou Shalt Not host in a place that would be considered expensive by the general population in your area. If people are going to go 26 times a year -- it needs to be manageable for the majority.
Suggestions for food
- Satisfy special dietary needs or preferences when convenient. Dont sacrifice any of the above for the sake of this one. People can eat beforehand or bring their own food if important to them. This can sometimes dominate the others if allowed a higher priority. Same for general food quality -- it need only be serviceable -- the purpose of the evening is the people… There are other meetup groups for foodies.
- Restaurants with patios (weather dependent) can be awesome to sit at.
(in order of importance)
- Must not be anti-gun
- Must not be loud
- Must not require splitting the group to different tables / rooms
- Must not be too expensive
- Must be open late (10 min 11 - 12 if possible).
- Satisfy special dietary needs or preferences
Suggestions for conversation
coffee shops, book stores with patios and coffee ;)
Remember to make reservations where appropriate with enough time for the venue to prepare and reserve space for your group. If your venue require this it's helpful to remind people to RSVP if they want a chair.
I typically reserve two spots over the RSVP count and they end up being filled most days. Your mileage may vary.
Its also important for members to RSVP on the meetup site so that your meetup appears more active. This will assist in getting new visitors.
ALWAYS SHOW UP TO EVERY MEETUP until you have regulars. If you can't show up.... cancel the meetup well in advance. You NEVER want a new person to arrive to find no one there. They WILL NEVER RETURN.
Early on it will be helpful to have one or two topic suggestions in mind for the evening. This will help kick off the discussions that will keep people returning.
Eventually this will be less necessary but will still be good from time to time. Never force it though -- go with the flow of the group.
Engage new people before other discussion. Ask for how they label themself (Ancap? Libertarian?) and origin stories. Let them talk about themselves. Identify with commonalities.
The group will develop its own personality. Expect it. Let it happen.
Advanced / Misc Information
Step in if the general “personality” starts going sideways, away from the core principle of the NAP. (walls, relativism, consequentialism, Libertarian party politics, etc) Discussions on these topics are fine, but the group should not be allowed to become “for” those things. They can find other meetups if that is their thing.
This will be necessary from time to time. venues close down, service quality changes.
THIS IS THE LARGEST CAUSE OF LOST MEMBERS, missing new people. So do it as rarely as possible.
People get used to seeing where the meetup is in the notifications. Even people that have never been. Some will not notice the change. Keep the meetup app open and check it for notifications and messages from lost people.
Do not let it become a democratic process. You know what is best. Listen to feedback and to the needs of the group and then make the decision yourself.
Handling drama / problem people Sometimes certain topics can become recurrent and dominate and reduce members enjoyment. Debates are awesome but the core value of the group are the people and relationships. Tell people to take it “offline” if it gets to be too much.
Relativists / Consequentialists / Wallyneux “ancaps” will for certain show up from time to time. This can sometimes be fine. But if you start to notice them dragging every conversation away from the objective ethics of the NAP remind them of the purpose of the meetup. Debating their ideas occasionally will be fun and useful. But keep the group centered.
Obviously if someone becomes a threat of some kind then ban them from the meetup.com / facebook groups and ask them to not return. Handle conflicts “offline” 1 on 1. Never in front of group. (normal conflict advice applies) but you are not a parent and definitely should not meddle or participate in drama or try to micromanage the relationships that develop in the group.
Encourage break out hangouts that aren't “official” meetup events. Your members will want to hang out at other times and participate in other activities. This is the entire point of the meetup group and is awesome!
The meetup should be home base for the community with people going off and doing other things on their own. Try to not be the host of these other events once enough others are involved.
The main request to the members, or the only “no no”, should be for them not to schedule events that conflict with the primary bi-weekly meetup night. You never want to split your membership. Small attendance begets smaller attendance and less “sticky” new people. If it's something really important then make it the official meetup for that day.
Examples of activies that people have done.
- Skill sharing (farming, prepping, shooting)
- Recreation (gaming, sports, boating, movie nights)
- Activism (street activism / charity / etc)
- Road trips (Candles in the Dark,other live events,seeing speakers)
Bring flag or sign for your table (maybe not a FUCK THE STATE sign)
Ask me why tax is theft / other thought provoking slogan.
Don't dress so scary that you scare away potential producers.
Pimp your meetup everywhere all the time. Add groups cool activities as you go.