A Fond Farewell...
In October of 2008, the Asheville Ex-New Yorkers Meetup Group™ began with monthly meetings at Bruegger’s Bagels. I was asked to lead the group in June of 2009 and have had the pleasure of doing so for the last 6 years.
AExNY® was featured in newspapers and local magazines. We had regular Saturday and Sunday gatherings. At one point, we were putting on 3-4 dinner gatherings at local restaurants each month. The list of restaurants and venues is way too long to mention. We did movies, art-walks, garden strolls, drum circles, urban hikes and collaborations with other groups.
Then folks from all over the country and even from other countries asked to join. So, we changed the name to Asheville Welcomes Transplants™ to expand our call to fellowship to a more diverse crowd. After all, being a New Yorker is to be a part of a diverse crowd.
AExNY-AwT also became an adjunct to sites like City-Data as folks who were thinking about moving to Asheville would actually add our gatherings to their travel schedule to meet and talk with transplants about their realities of living in the Asheville area. Who would have thought our little group would become a destination?
Our group set the benchmark for safety so members could be confident of the identity of other members when inviting them into their homes or cars. After all, aliases and anonymity are inimical to community.
When I took the reigns back in 2009, there were about 100 Meetup groups in Asheville. Now, there are about 350 groups, many splintering from other groups. The nature of Meetup in Asheville is to be free and non-committal. Okay, the nature of Asheville is to be non-committal. In a town where it is hard to even get a table for 2 and coffees shops are full, not knowing if members are going to show up has made the amount of work to put on events too much.
We never charged for this service. It is rare that any organizer does. The many hundreds of hours and dollars spent creating and organizing these events, visiting with venues, writing and reading thousands of emails and managing memberships was a donation to the community. Take a moment and send the organizer of whatever groups you belong to and thank them for their service to you and the community.
I’m thrilled to say that AExNY-AwT successfully accomplished its mission to connect newcomers and help forge friendships and connections in our members’ new hometown. Many friendships have started and continue. These folks go to movies, dinners, coffee, etc. We’ve had members get engaged. Business deals and alliances began. Folks were always able to get together for a few hours and chat among friends. We brought people together!
I had a chance to look back at the thousands of emails, hundreds of event write-ups and lists of almost 1000 people who have come through the group, either as members or guests. Many great memories.
Over the years, I’ve asked for volunteers, helpers and co-organizers. The response has always been the same. Silence. The previous organizer had the same response. So, I’m not going to ask. The time has come to end this chapter.
Will I create another social group? I’m not sure. It depends on the needs of the community. I am already the organizer of Vibrant Asheville Business™. I also put on events as Co-Chair of the Professional Development & Events Committee for the Land of the Sky Association of Realtors®. For now, I’ll put a place holder in the Asheville Welcomes Transplants™ spot and we’ll see where it goes. Please feel free to email me with your thoughts.
Thanks everyone for 6 years and hundreds of events of laughs and friendship! Enjoy your holiday and your summer!
Your faithful organizer,
May 25, 2015