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Citizenship & Community Connections

Supporting the planet means more than using less resources. We connect people with their neighbors around the themes of your events, providing technology that you can use to build community. The ideas here parallel the neighborhood connections that occur when people carpool, and we are happy to build tech tools to further these community building tools, but most of the focus here is on activities live at your site:

As an environmental organization, we particularly hope to facilitate ways for people to meet their neighbors to get involved in healing the planet, in any way they choose. We build some online tools for this, so that people with similar interests who live near other can connect before your event. Below is the very beginning of a guide to increasing citizenship connections at events. We've come to believe that many people are most inspired when working in a small community of peers, making use of the experts at your event, rather than as individuals joining groups of experts and being told what to do. Below are ideas on how to connect people to each other at your event.

Regional & Issue Maps

Between bands, or speakers, or when people sit down to lunch, there are easy ways to help them connect, to turn audiences into participants.

  • Basic Map: Draw a regional map based on the people present at your event, distorted to match the size of each community rather than the square miles, and match it to your space. From the stage, describe the map, and encourage people to head to their area. "If you're from San Francisco, head to that corner, from Berkeley & Oakland over there, from farther east over there...." Then encourage people to meet their neighbors, to shout out their favorite issue and see if someone wants to talk about it. For a large event, you could have zip code or neighborhood signs.
  • Diversity Variant: Have people go to different areas based on their home neighborhood, city or zip, but combine two home regions in each corner of your room. Try to combine home regions as different as possible. Form temporary "sister cities" and encourage people to compare their experiences.
  • Issues Map: Divide your room or field based not on area, but on issue. Interested in Peace, head that way, Biodiesel over there, politics over there...

For any of these, it can be helpful to encourage people to write down their interest on a sheet of paper, creating "mini-exhibits," letting others know they'd be happy to talk and perhaps get more involved on a particular issue. For the "Issues Map," encourage people to say their neighborhood once they are surrounded by people with the same interests...

Meeting Spaces & Conversation Corners

Declare certain areas as meeting points, places to go if you want to start particular conversations. "Congregate under the oak if you want to talk about forest activism, the big picnic table is a gathering place for vegetarians, ..." Often, people simply need an invitation to make connections, and a little organization can go a long way to get people with similar interests to start great projects.

Send us your ideas!

We've just started putting together this guide, and welcome your participation.