Re: Managing initial public meetings
From: Denise Meier and/or Michael Jacob (dmmjwco.com)
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 00:39:18 -0500

On Mon, 21 Apr 1997, Steven Diamond wrote:

> Our small "nuclear core" cohousing-creating group of three couples have
> decided to hold our first "public meeting" sometime next month. We were
> wondering if anyone would share their experiences/opinions on two questions
> raised at our last meeting:
> 
> 1)  Did you offer babysitting?  We may be having the meeting at the
> university, and we aren't too sure of the babysitting possibilities.
> Collectively we have three kids ourselves, but were kind of planning to find
> a sitter(!) so we can focus on meeting new people, answering questions, etc.
> (So far, the kids--ages 7, 4 and 1-- have hung around the perimeter of all
> our small scale meetings).

We always have babysitting at our general meetings. Early on things worked
out so that we had teenagers in the group who just naturally took care of
the littler ones, and then we started paying them for it. Once the teens
left, we started hiring.

We had several public meetings and for the first set, i drove myself nuts
trying to guess how many people might come with how many children, and
trying to track down enough teenagers to cover, and in the end only 3
children showed up in 4 public meetings. On the other hand, when we had
another orientation, months later, I said 'forget it, no babysitters', and
7 kids showed up and we really could have used two or three sitters. Which
is a long way of saying I don't know the answer to this question. 
Depending on how you're adverstising the public mtg, you could add a line
that says "RSVP by <date> if you'd like childcare". There's a difference
between 3 kids on the periphery of a 6 person meeting, and 6-8 or more
kids at a larger meeting. It's definitely worth it to have childcare if
you can pull it off, and if you expect children to be there.

> 2)  What do you do about handling just-plain-weird or creepy people? Maybe
> some of us are worried about nothing, but perhaps because several members
> are in the therapy/counseling business, there's a heightened sensitivity
> about this issue.  

It turns out we were worried about nothing, no creepy or weird people ever
showed up for us, but what we did is set up a membership approval process
which basically meant we had to say yes to everyone so that we had the
option to say no. (I assume you mean what about weirdos who want to join
your group. If it's weirdos disrupting your public meeting, I guess the
answer is a skilled enough facilitator who can politely turn the
discussion away from the disruptive person...) 

Good luck!

Denise Meier
Two Acre Wood
Sebastopol, CA


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