What we're about
This is a group for the discussion of life issues, and the celebration of life. Although I would like the group to eventually become democratic, at the beginning someone will have to lead the group, and as I am organizing the group, it must be me. I would like the group to meet every week for an hour. And I envision a group size of from 15 to 25 people, with an average meeting size of around 12. Every week, the leader/facilitator (me, at the beginning) will pick a life issue, for example developing intimacy or coping with loss and will prepare a ten-minute talk about that issue. I may suggest a reading about the topic. Then we will have 40 minutes of discussion about that issue, with members sharing their experiences. The last 10 minutes would be for life celebration: the beauty of the earth and sky, the warmth of human relations.
There are a number of dangers in organizing a group like this, that will have to be guarded against. One is the person who dominates the discussion and makes it difficult for others to contribute. Another is arguments breaking out about politics and religion. Because of this, I want to have some contact with each prospective member, prior to our first meeting. I’m very sorry, but I cannot oblige myself to invite each person who has signed up to the meetup group, to the first meeting. I want everyone to feel safe and respected, and the person who is liable to take more than his or her fair share of the group time, or who will insist on trying to convince others of the rectitude of a political or moral belief, is just not a person who should be there. I don’t have anything intrinsically against political or religious discussions. But both types of discussions can easily get out of hand and make it impossible to discuss personal issues. I would be very interested in a member telling the group how he or she navigates a politicized work climate and in doing so, that person might have to share their own beliefs. But I don’t want anyone else telling that person that his or her beliefs are wrong. Rather, I would welcome others giving advice on how to avoid trouble in that situation. In like manner, I don’t want the group to become politicized, or to reflect a particular set of beliefs about religion. I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome because the group has effectively taken a position on a political or religious issue that is contrary to that person’s feelings on the subject.
I will also be asking members what times are best for the meeting times, and what location would work best for each person. Because I have not formed a corporation, I would not feel comfortable accepting any sort of donation. I am willing to pay for meeting space at the beginning, and if there is sufficient interest we can form a nonprofit corporation and begin accepting donations in the future, to pay for meeting space and incidentals.
I would like our first topic to be communications. I’ve certainly had my share of failures in efforts to communicate, and they have caused me to think long and hard on the topic. There is a great book: I Forgot to Remember, by Su Meck, about the author’s complete amnesia, her coping mechanisms and some of the problems that resulted. In it there is a story about her life before the amnesia, and the boyfriend that she broke up with because some girlfriends wrongfully told her that he was unfaithful. Instead of ever confronting him, she effectively ended the relationship. To me, this story tells us a great deal about the difficulty of communicating in situations that make us feel vulnerable. But there are so many different feelings that can make it difficult to communicate. How can we communicate more effectively? Yes, we could spend forty years, instead of forty minutes, on this subject, but we only have so much time.