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Meetup Theory

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2008 4:44 pm
by ily
(Partially because I like this forum and want it to have more topics, but I also want everybody's input... :-)

Something I'm really interested in is "meetup theory". Since I started planning asexual meetups in SF, I've been constantly thinking about how to make them better, and how to get more people to come to them. At some point, I think it would be cool to come up with some sort of directions that would help confused people plan meetups so they don't have to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to leave this open-ended as a place to discuss meetup theory...have you come to any conclusions about what works and doesn't work when it comes to meetups?

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:35 am
by ghosts
To be honest, I'm not all that interested in attending meetups... I'm pretty awful, I know! It's just that I'm so busy, & I don't feel this great need to be going to AVEN meetups.

However! Perhaps somewhat ironically, I am definitely interested in getting more meetups happening, & to have them be more successful. What I'm really interested in is getting a more visible offline presence (which is partly my goal in getting the chapters off the ground - I'm pretty positive DJ's talked to you about SF, right?) going for asexuality - I feel like that will have a bit more of a lasting impact than just organizing meetups, which seem to me more like hangout sessions - not that there's *anything* wrong with that at all, & I do realize that I'm probably simplifying what goes on at meetups, because I do think they have been very important for a lot of people.

Meetup theory (or suggestions) was something we were originally gonna try to come up with when starting chapters, as a way to help people involved in chapters think about what might work best for them. Maybe it's something to reconsider.

So, maybe if you think about what you're trying to do with your meetups, seeing how I'm not quite sure what you guys generally do in SF! - what is your purpose for holding them, what would you like to see happen with them down the road? What would you like to see happen with asexuality in SF? If you think about them more as meetings for a local group, would that help? I suppose it really depends on your area - maybe you could have your fun meetups where you pick different places to meet & then go from there, but you could also have one regular place to meet up & discuss things about the group as well. After going through your recent blog entry, I think that you might have been on to something when you mentioned that working on something creative together might help unite people - I think it might keep people interested in coming to meetings/meetups because they feel like they are invested in something. And visibility/education of asexuality might not be a bad goal to have with your group, as a way to get people involved - I don't think that has to be a scary thing. It doesn't mean you have to necessarily go do interviews, appear on national television, give talks about asexuality at a college, or even be the one who gives pamphlets or whatever to colleges or other groups or whatever - but there can be ways to help out with that kind of stuff so you can still be comfortable with doing what you're doing. So, I guess you guys could try to come up with something(s) that you would like your group to do, something that you think would be beneficial to increasing asexual visibility in SF & surrounding areas, whether it's putting on a play, starting a newsletter, making pamphlets, trying to get in touch with local LGBT organizations, and so on. But try to make it so everyone can be involved in some way or another.

I'm trying to think about what works for my local music scene... And I guess everyone wants to feel involved in some way or another. A good number of people are in bands, but not everyone. Some people want to put on shows, some may just want to go to shows, some want to open up venues, some want to start zines, some want to start labels, some want to start distros, and so on and so forth. But we all have this overall thing - independent/punk/DIY music - that kind of pulls us all together. I think once people start to lose that connection, they lose interest in the local community - so I think it's pretty important to at least let people realize they have the opportunity to get involved in different ways if they want to.

I'm not sure if I've just been rambling, or if I've made any sense - I'll leave it at that for now!

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:46 pm
by ily
Hey, thanks for your thoughts. No, it's not awful to not be into meetups. ;)
If you don't mind me asking, what city are you in?
I agree 100% about the offline presence, and I thought I was already doing an SF chapter! Well, sort of...I know we were supposed to do various visibility action items, but it's hard to get things done when it's just me and DJ who are interested. So actually making people want to be involved is our biggest hurdle, I think. Figuring out what to get done with people is kind of a moot point when you don't know how to get the people...(I know I have to go beyond AVEN, but I'm not sure where...)

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:29 am
by Witch of Wapping
I think meetups are very different from chapters mainly because they have a kind of "coming out" role for people encountering other asexuals off-line for the first time, who can be really nervous. For that reason, I feel quite protective of them on behalf of those people. They do lead to an established core group, but amongst "my lot" in London, everyone, when offered the chance to become a chapter, has that same sense of protecting the meetup as a safe social space rather than anything else. From my memory of the early days of the lesbian and gay movement, we needed both then.

So we probably need both now, and personally, I would probably get involved in a chapter if it happened but don't have enough spare energy and commitment to be it by myself (DJ knows all this from PMs).

Something else also holds me back from the chapter idea and it's this: I do also think there are tricky issues for visibility work, in that amongst ourselves we're still debating great swathes of what asexuality is anyway, and I'm not convinced there's enough shared vision yet (actually, as Aven gets bigger and newbies restart all the discussions, there's less). Maybe I'm just saying I'm not sure enough who I am as an asexual to explain it coherently to other people, beyond the bog standard definition. I can see the visibility task won't wait for us to get it perfect, and it's important to say we exist. Somehow though, I don't feel anything like the shared enthusiasm I did in the early days of the lesbian and gay movement or that you do, ghosts, from your music community, and I do think it has to do with lots of still working out who we are. Which may be another whole discussion not for this thread.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:27 am
by wintermute
I went to a couple of AVEN meets and I've been to a few online meetups from other groups too, I think the biggest rule of thumb I could pinpoint would be don't ever give anyone a choice otherwise it turns into endless bickering!

Excuse me for sounding ignorant, I've not posted here much, are there some sort of plans "spread the word" as it were, because if so I'd definitely donate some time toward that.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:23 pm
by Lehcar
I generally find that organized activities or schedules tend to work the best - if only to cut short the endless debate that wastes your time for socializing. Bowling, a movie and then discussion afterward, a meal at a specific restaurant, even a board game has the potential to give people a structure to lean on, so that they can concentrate on getting to know one another and discuss various issues.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:34 pm
by ily
Lehcar wrote:I generally find that organized activities or schedules tend to work the best - if only to cut short the endless debate that wastes your time for socializing. Bowling, a movie and then discussion afterward, a meal at a specific restaurant, even a board game has the potential to give people a structure to lean on, so that they can concentrate on getting to know one another and discuss various issues.


Thanks-- I'm a big, big fan of structure. ;)

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:01 pm
by Noskcaj.Llahsram
Ily, I get to go to Chico for school next semester. Hopefully I can make friends with someone with a car and crash one of your meet ups one time.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:32 pm
by xaida
Numbers at our Berlin meetup increased, when we had a jour-fixe in a fixed place, which was generally known everywhere. It is now in a queer community with lively cultural program, where our meetup is in the official program as well. Also its about time to introduce an own cultural program there. Watching movies, going out, discussions of several topics, etc.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:11 pm
by ily
xaida wrote:Numbers at our Berlin meetup increased, when we had a jour-fixe in a fixed place, which was generally known everywhere. It is now in a queer community with lively cultural program, where our meetup is in the official program as well. Also its about time to introduce an own cultural program there. Watching movies, going out, discussions of several topics, etc.


Wow, that's great...what kind of place did you meet at? And how did you get the word out?

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:48 pm
by ghosts
That sounds awesome, xaida! It'd be nice if we had more of that in the US.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:05 am
by wintermute
And in the UK...!!

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:20 pm
by ily
wintermute wrote:And in the UK...!!


Really? I thought the UK was doing really well on the meetup front...I model our meetups after the London ones!

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:26 am
by wintermute
ily wrote:
wintermute wrote:And in the UK...!!


Really? I thought the UK was doing really well on the meetup front...I model our meetups after the London ones!


The UK is much larger than london though

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:39 pm
by ily
wintermute wrote:
ily wrote:
wintermute wrote:And in the UK...!!


Really? I thought the UK was doing really well on the meetup front...I model our meetups after the London ones!


The UK is much larger than london though


I know, but the UK did have a country-wide meetup, and I know there's been meets in other cities like Manchester too. Well, I'm not trying to convince you of anything, because I've never been to a UK meetup. But what sorts of things would you like to see in terms of meetups over there?

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:35 pm
by wintermute
When I was posting on AVEN there were a couple of london meets I went to - they were fairly low-key and not hugely well attended, it seemed to be the same half a dozen people each time. It goes to show how "well" the meets are advertised - I wasn't specifically looking for them and they completely passed me by.

What I'd personally like to see is more meetups and much less london-centric (although that goes for everything really, not least of all central government here!!) A huge portion of the UK media seem to think that the country just stops suddenly north of watford. We half heartedly tried for one in central belt of scotland but although a few people expressed an interest, hardly anyone actually came in the end. Probably manchester or another large northern city would be best.

My thoughts (and these are supported by nothing more scientific than my own observations) are that asexual people are spread so thinly at the moment - or at least people who are open to the idea or know about asexuality - that we are really hurting for lack of a real community. Online things are good - not least of all because they break down the need for geographical closeness, but they aren't a substitute for proper face to face talking. I'm not 100% convinced that the gay community is a good fit for us - I'd like to see an asexual community that stands on its own two feet to be counted, one way or the other. That, I think, would be something worth investing some time to achieve.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:15 pm
by ily
I agree with you 100%, wintermute!

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:27 pm
by Karl
Moved this to the new Community & Media forum as suggested by Ily.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:04 am
by Witch of Wapping
OK, feeling all protective of London meets now... we do have upwards of a dozen people each time on a regular-ish date but London doesn't try (in this context) to represent anything other than itself, the city where I live, rather than a whole country. It's so big and complicated a city that lots of groups of people, including enormous chunks of the lesbian and gay community don't always know what each other get up to, but we meet as Londoners, and expect people in other parts of the country to find their own ways to meet up - they do, sometimes. There's one this Saturday in York.

Anyway, I've inherited a sense that meetups are for people from Aven just coming out and meeting other asexuals in real life for the first time, who can be paralytically shy (sorry, repeating myself from above), as much as for a few regulars, so yes, I advertise them only on Aven, plan which of our regular pubs to meet up in and what to do next, and make it easy for the paralytically shy to find.

I also want to get back on my old-lady soapbox that lots of the lesbian and gay community have lived through times like ours since the late 1960s - different, because there were always a proportion of people who got the confidence to go to semi-visible and semi-legal bars and clubs even earlier and to have relationships. However, there were loads of others who felt completely isolated, thinly-spread and in some cases suicidal, until it started to be possible to go to small, struggling groups that met in pubs and community centres. All that bouncing assertiveness didn't just happen, it took decades to build up from a place similar to where we are now, and I lived through most of it, and knew people who faced violence or spent time in psychiatric hospital and things like that. I'm not denying we're different and can work on visibility in our own way, but it might take time and patience.



Can I repeat my "old lady" perception that the

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:27 am
by ily
Witch of Wapping wrote:Anyway, I've inherited a sense that meetups are for people from Aven just coming out and meeting other asexuals in real life for the first time, who can be paralytically shy (sorry, repeating myself from above), as much as for a few regulars, so yes, I advertise them only on Aven, plan which of our regular pubs to meet up in and what to do next, and make it easy for the paralytically shy to find.


That's an interesting point. I thought that because I'm kinda shy myself, I was repping it for the shy folks, but I'm not paralytic, so maybe I should consider those sorts of folks more. Anyway, London meets have always been my main role model for the SF meets. And it did take me over 2 years to get 10 people at a meetup. It does take a very long time.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:08 am
by wintermute
I guess I'll just have to put the hours in organising stuff up here then

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:13 am
by ily
Yeah! Organizing meetups doesn't take *too* much time...you sort of just set them up and wait. I got really frustrated with meetups a lot, and I'm sure I still will in the future. But when we finally did get those 10 people (that had been my number goal), it was all worth it.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:13 pm
by wintermute
I just wish there were more people nearby that I knew of who might come. Feel like a bit of an outpost at the moment

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:17 pm
by wintermute
Thinking about it, I wonder how hard it would be to organise some sort of A-con

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:35 pm
by ily
Hmm, I think that might depend on how easy transportation in your area is. The transport here exists, but it can take a really long time to get places that are relatively close, which I think deters people. Most of the people that have come to SF meets I didn't know beforehand. Actually, I think only one person ever was someone I met outside of AVEN. Everyone else just came because they read about it on AVEN. I know that's how I got to my first meetup.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:57 am
by Isaac
I went this month to Madrid meetup and my experience is different. I went to this meetup because I wanted to meet physically people of Spanish language AVEN boards. It felt no component of comming out, but freedom to talk about asexy topics naturally, without introduction, questioning or disbelieving. Objectively seen, it's comming out, since you revealed some data you will never leave online. It had an unexpected consequence in my relationship with rainbow people. I have no longer to remind that asexuality exists, but it's accepted as a natural completion of the picture and consider that one may come out as ace.

I went to this meeting because I strongly wanted to know them, but it was as informally organized that it had no organization. The experience was good, but tips about choosing time and place for meetups are welcome. Notice that, although Madrid area is similar to SF area in population, Madrid is surrounded by a sparely populated land, and about the half of we come from towns within a 250km radius where there is only a single AVENite.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:13 am
by ily
Cool! I need to lurk on the Spanish boards...and post once I figure out how to do accents and stuff on my computer. ;)
Time and place...that depends. Sometimes it works better for one person to just declare a reasonable place and time, publisize it to everyone else, and see who shows up. I know that in London, they have the same time and place every meetup, and that seems to work well for them. But, I think they also have "unofficial" meetups where they discuss where to meet on AVEN. Really, I'm not sure how this works, because it can be hard to come to a group consensus on things. I suppose someone would need to lead the discussion.

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:13 pm
by clouded_perception
But... but I really want a meetup! It'd be fun! Unfortunately I can't afford to travel and nobody else in Adelaide seems interested...

Re: Meetup Theory

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:49 am
by ily
Really, nobody? That is too bad...all you need is one or two other people to get the ball rolling.