Interview: Kevin, San Francisco Homebrewers Guild
We’ve all probably dabbled in cooking, but have you ever tried to make your own beer? Organizer Kevin of the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild shared some of the ins and outs of homebrewing.
Why was this group created?
We created the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild (SFHG) presence on Meetup to serve as an organizing force for the local homebrewing community in the city. Our membership on Meetup has grown from 287 when I took over as Organizer in October 2012 to more than 400 today.
What do you think inspires members to join?
I believe members have been inspired to join by our ability to truly bring the homebrewing community together. We offer a space for brewers to Meetup, share their knowledge and passion of homebrewing, and, of course, share their creations!
What does a typical Meetup consist of?
Our regular Meetup is our Monthly Meeting that we hold at a local brewery. Each month we profile a specific style of beer and discuss how to brew it at home, and then have additional presentations about tips and techniques our brewers are using.
Several of our Meetups revolve around homebrew competitions and the subsequent awards events. In addition to winning our club-internal awards, some of our brewers have taken home First, Second, and Third Place ribbons in competitions in San Diego, cities around the Bay Area, and one took home a first place in Wisconsin!
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? You could try to learn by yourself from a book or a podcast…or maybe you could join an awesome Meetup near you!
ARF: From Kill Shelters to Loving Homes
Since March 2008, Animal Rescue Flights has been flying animals away from kill shelters and into loving homes all across the United States. Once I saw the amazing mission of this group, I had to talk to Organizers Clark and Julia to find out more!
What inspired you to start this Meetup Group?
I am the organizer for the Northeast Pilots Group and I received an email from a desperate rescue coordinator who could not find drivers to handle the last segment. The timing was critical as two Kelpie puppies had to be removed from the kill shelter or be put down.
I also learned that 3-4 million animals are put down each year in the U.S. and that there is a dire need to transport them to rescues from where they can be adopted. I contacted Julia, who is the Organizer for the Phoenix Pilots Group, and we enthusiastically decided to create a flying organization specifically dedicated to the cause.
We needed a name that described what we do in the simplest terms and Animal Rescue Flights was chosen. When we realized that the acronym was ARF, it became official.
What kinds of members do you see coming from Meetup?
Mostly pilots, who are the backbone of our operations, but we also see a lot of non-pilots who love animals and offer to help out in any way they can. Some of these members have helped by driving when the weather prevents the completion of a transport by air, or by putting up posters at their local airports.
What advice would you give to an Organizer who needs to train members to do a specialized task?
If advice had to be given to an Organizer, it might be to show how a task can be successfully completed by a group effort, so the challenge is presented to the group and not to any particular member. It’s often easy to illustrate how much more can be accomplished by members working together and applying their own unique skills to a task than could be realized by individual efforts.
What is the most rewarding moment in your Meetups?
The most endearing moments are when animals are handed off directly into the arms of the children whose families arranged for the adoption. There’s rarely a dry eye in the place!
Interview: Ula, Organizer of Be Active. Be Outdoors.
Keeping active in the cold
Next week, temperatures will drop to near-freezing in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, but that’s not stopping the Be Active, Be Outdoors Meetup Group!
Organizer Ula embraces the changing seasons and what it means for her Meetup Group. “I live in a state with four great seasons,” she says, “It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter. I try to go out and spend some time outdoors.”
To help keep off the dreaded holiday pounds, the group plans an active Meetup for the day after Thanksgiving. “I usually have a ‘next-day’ hike to burn that turkey off. Black Friday hike! I want to encourage more people to spend time outside instead of going shopping.”
Once it gets cold enough, a whole world of activities opens up! “During the winter months, I schedule skiing, showshoeing or snowboarding Meetups.”
When Ula started the Meetup in January 2011, she had a vision of an outdoor group without age or activity restrictions. “I try to organize as many Meetups as possible. Indoors or outdoors. During summer we have plenty local hikes, kayaking trips, camping, as well as trips out of state.”
"We spend our days hiking Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. It was wonderful time to see all wildlife in their own habitat, geysers and basins full of colors." Don’t forget to check out some of their beautiful photos.
Ula recommends scheduling a variety of activities, and asking members for suggestions as well. Her advice to Outdoor Organizers? Be creative! “People are joining your group not only for the events you offer, but also to meet other people. There is no reason to limit yourself or others.”
What can members do? Suggest Meetups, offer to help and have fun! “Remind your members that they are more than welcome to suggest any ideas for an event.
"Members, don’t be afraid to interact with others. The more you try to talk and learn about other members during event, the more new friends you make.
"If your group is donation based…donate if you enjoy their events!"
Ultimately, the point of your Meetup is to connect with others face-to-face. “Get out, face your fears, make new friends and have a blast. You won’t regret it.”
We have some fresh faces on the list of top 10 Outdoor Meetup Groups over the last 30 days! Outdoor Meetup Groups big and small can be inspired by some of this month’s top groups and their upcoming Meetups:
- Dog-Friendly Hikes. Get away from the gated parks and paved roads and give your pup a taste of your local trails.
- Overnight Trips. Immerse yourself in the great outdoors before the weather turns cold! With Labor Day coming up, this could be a good use of a three-day weekend.
- A Challenge. Is there a local mountain, a steep slope, or a deep ocean to conquer? A little competition among the strong athletes in your group can be fun, especially with the Olympics in full swing! If your athletes are sponsored, profits can go to a local charity!
Top Outdoors Meetups, by RSVP July 2012:
- The Los Angeles Hiking Group - Los Angeles - 1654
- The Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group - Washington - 1384
- The Vancouver Outdoor Club - Vancouver - 1238
- OC HIKING CLUB: Orange County’s Hiking & Backpacking Group - Irvine - 1179
- The Boulder/Denver Grey Wolves Over 40 Adventure Group - Boulder - 1029
- HikingOC (Meet to Hike in Orange County & Travel the World) - Orange - 1025
- Adventure Wellington - Wellington - 973
- DFW Bucket List - Addison - 937
- GHAC - Adventure and Trekking - Hyderabad - 911
- Downtown/Greater LA Hiking - Los Angeles - 855
Check to see where your Outdoors Meetup ranks on the worldwide leader board here.
If you’re the Organizer of a Outdoors Meetup Group, why don’t you schedule a Meetup? And if you’re looking to get involved with all the fun as a member, be sure to RSVP for an Outdoors Meetup near you.
Lisa Marie is Meetup’s Outdoor Meetup Scoutmaster.
Get the full rundown on Outdoor Meetups here.
It’s the heart of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and it shows in the Outdoor 1K Club! A quick peek at the latest numbers shows a lot of activity in the United States during the heat wave. Keep hydrated, everyone!
Here are some of the ways these successful groups get members to put on their kicks and head outside:
- Considerate timing. The Boston Late Risers Hiking/Walking Meetup Group shows that scheduling Meetups around work schedules and other commitments is a good way to boost RSVPs.
- Difficulty Ratings. The New Mexico Backpackers Meetup Group rates each and every Meetup based on difficulty. This way, beginners do not feel intimidated or overwhelmed, and more advanced athletes can go at their own pace.
- Skill Sessions. For Meetups that require a skill, training your members is a good way to give them the confidence to keep on coming back for more. Check out this Ocean Skill Session from the NE Seacoast Paddlers for inspiration!
- The Puget Sound Sailing Group - 1100
- LETSHIKE.ca - 1093
- Outdoor Thrillseekers - 1075
- Western Connecticut Outdoor Adventurers - 1074
- Curious Kat’s Adventure Club: walking, hiking, new friends - 1067
- Montreal Outdoors Adventure Club (MOAC) - 1063
- GoSydney - 1052
- San Antonio Outdoor Adventurers - 1046
- NE Seacoast Paddlers - 1045
- North End Get Out And Have Fun! - 1041
- Boston Late Risers Hiking/Walking Outdoors Social Meetup - 1037
- Chattanooga - Outdoor Club South - 1033
- South Bay Mountain Bike Group - 1033
- New Haven Walks in the Woods - 1028
- The Rochester Hiking Meetup Group - 1019
- Spontaneous Seattle Trekkers - 1018
- The Indianapolis Hiking Meetup Group - 1015
- Bay Area Mountain Biking - 1014
- Sunset Beach Kayaking Group - 1014
- Golden Gate Hikers - 1012
- Hiking Buddies! - 1010
- California-Outdoors - 1008
- Sheryl’s Outdoor Adventure Group - 1008
- 20s & 30s Cool Things To Do Meetup - 1006
- Denver Day Hikers - 1005
- Global Bikes Meetup - 1003
- The New Mexico Backpackers Meetup Group - 1003
- The Triangle Water/Snow Sport Fanatics!!! - Cary - 1010
- The Fox Cities (Appleton area) Backpackers Meetup Group - Appleton - 1005
- The NJ, PA, NY & CT Single Adventurers & Travel Meetup Group - Washington - 1025
- Grand Rapids Hiking Group - Grand Rapids - 1001
- Hike/Snow Shoe Vermont! - South Burlington - 1009
- Alamo Bicycle and Multisports - San Antonio - 1031
- Monday Evening After-Work Hikes - Saratoga - 1026
- Wheel Cyclery Ride Club - Kansas City - 1030
- Maui Adventurers - Kula - 1003
- Sacramento Paddle Pushers - Fair Oaks - 1164
- Texas Outdoor Woman Network Bastrop Chapter - Bastrop - 1008
- UAE Trekkers - Abu Dhabi - 1075
- Slow and Steady Hikers - Calgary - 1063
- San Antonio Hill Country Hikers - San Antonio - 1175
- Florida Trail Association - Central Florida Meetup Group - Orlando - 1036
- Hudson Valley Fitness & Social - Tarrytown - 1082
- The Funigan Group - Seattle - 1085
- G1.1 Outdoors (Bayside Adventure Sports) - Roseville - 1060
- Chesapeake Kayak Adventures - Ellicott City - 1119
- Anything’s Possible! - Greensboro - 1042
- Bay Area Hikers (20s & 30s only) - San Francisco - 1038
Lisa Marie is on Meetup’s Community team.
Get the full rundown on Outdoor Meetups here.
Philanthropy and Meetup
Dana Hill, A Black Doll Affair
Looking to give back to the community, while promoting self-love along the way? The Black Doll Affair combines looking, feeling and doing good with their acts of philanthropy and style.
After seeing Kenneth Clark’s ‘Black Doll’ experiment, Dana Hill (now known as the ‘Mama Doll’), decided she wanted to make a difference in how black girls perceive themselves and are perceived. From this inspiration, the Black Doll Affair was born.
Mama Doll decided to take her organization’s mission to Meetup in December 2007, at the recommendation of her sister. The Black Doll Affair currently has 8 Meetup Groups across the country with over 1200 members. They’ve even been invited to the White House!
Who is a Doll? “From college students to grandmothers, career women to ladies of leisure, Black Dolls are role models that band together to tackle the black family’s issues with shad-ism, self hatred and low self-esteem,” Mama Doll explained.
Whether they’re taking a Megabus from DC to New York to visit grandma in Harlem, or getting their own holiday in the state of Georgia, the Black Dolls are always looking out for when someone needs a Doll!
“I read a news story in the New York Daily News about Grandma’s Place, a struggling toy store in Harlem,” Mama Doll said. “The store is not just a toy store - most of its toys are Afrocentric, educational tools of play that teach black children about their rich history and promotes their self-worth.” Mama Doll set up a nationwide, online fundraiser and had an ‘Ambassadoll’ deliver the check. “Once at Grandma’s Place, the Black Dolls bought out all of Grandma’s toy black dolls. Finally, they took those dolls and distributed them to unsuspecting little girls on the streets of Harlem.”
What are their goals for the future? “I’d like to take the movement around the world – changing the way black girls perceive themselves and are perceived. It is our goal to take the movement as far as Africa.” Meetup is sure to come with you, Mama Doll!
Want to do good in your community? Check out some philanthropy groups! Thinking of using chapters of Meetup Groups for your organization? Let us know.
Lisa is on Meetup’s Community team.
How do I find the right members for my Meetup Group?
My current Meetup is for small concerts and house concerts… I know other people like house concerts. Now, how on earth do I find them?
Melissa, Organizer Brisbane Bookclub; The House of Owls: Make a little card or flyer to hand out at the next house concert you attend, or advertise your meetup at the venue with posters.
Shella, Organizer History Reading Circle-SF: I might try reaching out to other Meetup Organizers to see if they would cross-post your events. And try circulating flyers at book stores, music stores, music events, etc.
Lana, Organizer in Walnut Creek, CA: Perhaps send the Organizer of a similar group an email asking her for advice? Another option is to look into the local musicians union.
Source: Meetup Organizers’ Forum
Interview: Chris, Organizer of Shy London
Meeting in real life
Meeting new people can make just about anyone a little nervous, but what happens when you’re trying to meet people who are incredibly shy? I had the opportunity to ask Organizer Chris of the Shy London Meetup Group about his group and how he handles social anxiety.
How did you decide to start up your Meetup Group? Did you have a certain goal?
I didn’t actually create Shy London, but I have been its Organiser since January 2010. The group had been created the previous spring, but the Organiser stepped down at the start of 2010. So my immediate goal was to keep the group alive. I hadn’t heard of the term social anxiety; I hadn’t gotten to hang out with other people who also had issues with socializing. Having just found the group, I wasn’t about to let it die.
The purpose of Shy London is:
- to provide and promote free Meetups which enable shy and socially anxious Londoners to get together in a safe environment.
- To support and encourage the growth of individual members, for example by allowing known members to host their own Meetups.
- To ensure that as many shy or socially anxious Londoners as possible know about the group and join it.
- To take steps to ensure that the group survives and thrives in the long term, for future years.
- To make Meetups available to people who are on low or no income.
What were the first few Meetups like?
Memories of sitting in a cafe off Leicester Square with a couple of printouts of our logo on display for a cinema Meetup. Shuffling chairs to try and get one where others could sit close to me in a group when they became available. Very overpriced frozen yoghurt.
No idea if anybody would actually come. Nervous about nobody turning up, nervous about fact I was about to Meetup with a group of people who were strangers (apart from their group profile) and be responsible for them having a good experience.
There were eight of us in the end which I was happy with. Meetup went fine and people enjoyed it…despite the film.
Since then I’ve attended and/or hosted 171 Meetups on the group. My favourites to host now are probably:
- The Introductory Coffee Meetup - Designed to be the most relaxed introduction to the group possible. Often for people who have a extremely limited social life, or perhaps just smaller than they wish for. It’s great for me, too, I get to meet one or two people at a time and spend a couple of hours chatting.
- The Workshop - The least common Meetup. Usually held in a church hall, a series of exercises to help people overcome social anxiety.
What have you learned about getting members to feel comfortable?
Trying to be relaxed and put out relaxed body language myself... to be very open and honest about my own experiences when asked, and taking responsibility for making sure everyone is included in the conversation, unless they really just want to sit quietly.
What is your favorite Meetup moment?
I met my wife on a Jack the Ripper walk, in a Meetup Group called Celebrate London. We just started chatting at the start of the Meetup and didn’t stop talking throughout it. July 30 last year we got married and it was a fantastic day. A number of guests at the wedding were members of the group who have become good friends.
Are you an Organizer with amazing tips to get people out of the house? Feel free to submit your tip!
Lisa is on Meetup’s Community team.
Parenting Meetups: Ideas for your next Meetup
- Host a backyard picnic playdate — with a sprinkler break
- Go on a nature walk
- Take a trip to the beach
- Visit a local pool for a themed swimming playdate
- Schedule a backyard scavenger hunt
- Celebrate summer holidays with a BBQ
- Host an all-group summer picnic
- somebody should know the venue well or at least have checked out when it’s the busiest: if it’s enclosed for the younger set, any safety concerns, shaded areas, parking, etc.
- The Organizer or host should anticipate any supplies one may need or would be nice to have along just in case: picnic blanket, some extra water or juice boxes/snacks to offer, sunscreen/bug spray, even hats, wipes, etc.
- Also if possible and if the host feels comfortable doing so, give out a cell number if somebody has trouble finding group. The host should also state where to meet group and how to best find him/her (clothing, color of bag, a sign…)
Katie rocks as part of Meetup’s Community team. She’s especially keen on Parenting Meetups.
From a hobby to a business: An Organizer’s tale
This Organizer’s Meetup journey started with being bored one weekend… and blossomed into a business!
Like many Organizers, Lynford started his Meetup Group to meet people with whom he shared a common interest. “I enjoy going out shooting pictures in fun locations, but that had always been a solo sport for me. Not many of my friends shared the same passion.”
Bored one weekend in July 2008, Lynford started Shutterbug Excursions. “I chose my first location to shoot in Annapolis, Maryland at the harbor,” Lynford said. “We had a blast at that first meeting. At that point, I knew we’d found something special. I still consider that first core group some of my best friends in my photography world.”
Meetups center around visiting points of interest around Washington DC and photographing scenery, people and historic monuments. Past Meetups include Butterfly Exhibits and war monuments on Memorial Day.
Since he first began, Lynford’s group numbers have swelled to over 600 members. What’s the secret to this incredible growth? “I think we are all just genuine, friendly people who share the same passion…and that attracts similar kinds of people. A good Meetup organizes around a clear interest or passion. It also works best when it is organized around a spirit of giving and sharing.”
A little over a year ago, Lynford took a leap of faith and started his own business, Photo Tour DC. “I’ve always been interested in the photo tour business, but I would have never tried it had it not been for my experience as a Meetup Organizer.” Lynford said that during his Meetups, he found himself using the skills he would need to be successful in that type of business.
"Once I’d been running my group for about a year, it occurred to me that I was using all the skills I would need to be successful in that business. I come from a family of teachers, so I started thinking about what a curriculum would look like. It was literally back of a napkin from there. I started doing research and writing a business plan. Once I had that process in my system, I knew I eventually would have to do it."
Advice for Organizers? “You have to keep things on your calendar. I’ve not been as diligent with this… and when I’ve slowed down, so did my membership. You should always have about two to three things on your calendar to show that your group is vibrant.”
Wanna see some of the Shutterbugs’ work? Check out their Meetup Group’s photo album or their Flickr page. And if you find yourself looking for more inspiration, find a photography Meetup Group near you!