First Meeting Thoughts

Started off on Facebook and then worked together to create an in-person meet-up. 61 people showed-up:

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-5-54-40-pm

Here is what I learned.

Pre-meeting

Co-Organizer: We originally started on Facebook and then I got connected to someone in the area who had some knowledge of our local area. We worked together via Facebook to find an location to meet. If you have some co-organizers rely on them for help.

Supplies: Have basic supplies such as paper (computer paper or lined paper), pencils, pens, dry erase markers, permanent markers, stickies etc. ready. You don’t know how the meeting is going to go or what resources will be available. Users may not be familiar with Google Docs (yet) so you may need to go pencil and paper for the first meeting. You could probably spend about $20-30 bucks at staples for some basic supplies or ask your members to bring some.

Name Tags: Make sure everyone has a name-tag. This was super helpful in getting to know people.

Arrival: Greet people and direct them to a sign-in area. This area can be a table a chair a computer. Something where you can collect a name, phone number, and email address. They can also fill out a name-tag and take a copy of the agenda.

Agenda: Have one. It doesn’t matter if it is agreed-upon before hand or not but have an agenda. Have something to work off of. Identify a clear start time and end time. I started with creating an Agenda with my co-organizer on Google Docs, just so we have something to work from. We then made it viewable for all users and shared that link on Facebook so all could see it. Also, print out copies of said agenda. There are many analog users.

Meeting

  • 1. Symbolic Patriotic Act: We started with this as an opener. I asked everyone to stand. This can be a pledge of allegiance, singing of star spangled banner or whatever you feel is best. I decided beforehand on the Preamble to the US Constitution. It is short, succinct, and basically described why we are meeting. I felt it was important to have some sort of symbolic act to show unity and strength.
  • 2. Indivisible: I explained the point of the group.
  • 3. Security: I briefly discussed security with the group. I have written it up into a post here that is sharable within our group.
  • 4. Introduction: While it may take a long time, have everyone introduce themselves and why they are motivated. Remember these people are coming together because they dislike Trump. They are strangers to each other.
  • NOTE: If you have many people you may need to skip this. We had 61 people show-up and it took about 40 minutes go around the room. 
  • 5. Facilitating: Have a time keeper (ask for a volunteer). Assign a time limit to everything (introductions, discussions, etc). If needed add more time.
  • Ask for a note-taker. These notes should be digital but can be pencil paper for first meeting
  • Ask for a person to record names during discussion.
  • 6. Procedures: Outlined meeting procedures as the first thing to do when meeting was called to order. As a former teacher this is sort of the

A. Entering: Had a sign-up station with a clear posting letting people know where to go when they come in. You will have people come in late and instead of interrupting the meeting the sign-in area was a create place to direct people to.
B. Bathrooms: Told people where the bathrooms were. Told them it was OK to get up and go. Told people if you need to take a call, it is OK to step outside and take care of personal business
C. Called On: Established procedure for being called on. Something like “During discussion please raise hand and limit your response to about a 30seconds to a minute”.
Chances are many people will raise hands. Ask for a facilitator to take down names so they can then be called upon.
D. Parking Lot: People will get into side conversations. Create a “parking lot” for questions and concerns unrelated to the discussion OR if you need to stop time and people have questions or statements they can enter them there. Tell people it is OK to add them to the lot. This “parking lot” is just a piece of paper with the word “parking lot” on it and some stickies (post it notes). People can then get up write their issue down on the parking lot that you will then review or look at later. Later can be at the end of the meeting OR after the meeting.

  • 7. Shift Meeting: Listen to what the people say. I had thought we could all agree on actions we can do but it became clear that with such a large group we were not yet at that stage. We decided to create an organizational structure. Be prepared to shift to something else if your original plan is not working.
  • 8. Organizational Structure: If you have a large group create/decide on a structure FIRST. Decide on an organizational structure. Here is an example of a chart we decided on: http://pasteboard.co/An77uyMlK.png. Yours may be different. That is OK too. Your local area may have specific needs that do not match ours.
  • 9. Goals: We then gave each committee a specific goal they are to achieve. As it was our first meeting I asked for each group to decide on a:

A. Spokes person and then give the spokesperson contact information.
B. Let me know who it was.
C. A specific action they are going to take. In hindsight, this may not have been a good idea. I am not sure why though….I felt people came to take action and we instead we created an organizational infrastructure to work within. I think we should have also spelled out the committees purpose too. I don’t think that message of purpose was communicated clear enough.
D. Spokes people then emailed me the contact info of who is in what committee. We then created a Google Spreadsheet with the information.

Note: Because is was not clear, we ended up having a “Steering Committee Meeting” where representatives from all of our committees came to hammer out the “Goals, Roles, and Responsibilities” of each committee, establish clear lines of communication AND to discuss future actions such as a PostCard writing day etc.

Tip: If discussing specific actions or goals make sure they are specific. An example, could be “The immigration committee needs X amount of people, to do Y thing, on Z date/time”.

  • 10. This structure was all written on a whiteboard
  • 11. We then assigned corners of the room for breakout sessions to go to and meet the goals of that group. Once the group had meet its goals it was dismissed.
  • 12. When me and the co-organizer spoke we always used the inclusive “We”. So it would be “We decided to…” or “Can we do…” or “We need your group to do…” or “We ask…”.
  • 13. Democracy is really hard.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s