Emerging from the NPI Connections Retreat in spring 2014, the Community Building Action Group, led by Linda Odom, met over the summer to brainstorm ways to facilitate community and strengthen connection between new and veteran members of NPI. When discussing ways to bring members together, the group kept coming back to the idea of utilizing Meetup as a resource to achieve some of our goals. I have to admit that I did not know much about Meetup prior to participating in the Community Building Action Group. Since then, I have been on a crash course, learning what a lot of folks all over the world already know – that Meetup is an incredible online tool to assist groups of people to meet up face to face and connect around specific interests. Meetup’s mission is to vitalize local community and help people self-organize. Internationally, it is estimated that there are over 8 million Meetup members in over 100 countries, over 80,000 Meetup Groups, and 50,000 Meetup events are scheduled each week. That is a lot of connecting! In Nashville, there are hundreds of Meetup groups with thousands of members connecting around a wide range of interests. Enjoy hiking or paddling? There is Meetup for that. Like to eat Pho? You can find others who would love to do that with you. Want to learn how to Salsa or Swing dance? Meetup is there to help you. Meetup can be invaluable not only for facilitating connection among NPI members, but also as a resource for clients who are looking to expand their social network, learn a new skill, or engage with others around like minded pursuits. Research abounds on the mental and physical health benefits of strong social connections/support systems. For those of us, and our clients, who could use some help in building and participating in social connection, Meetup provides a useful tool in our proverbial toolbox.
So, what can Meetup offer Nashville Psychotherapy Institute? NPI has a long history of bringing folks together around a variety of events beyond monthly luncheons and seasonal workshops. Going forward, we are endeavoring to use Meetup as the platform to organize, advertise and RSVP for a wide range of gatherings and events hosted by individual NPI members.
To date, there have been a handful of NPI Meetups, including a Chant Ram concert (of which our very own Kenneth Robinson is a member), a death penalty protest at the Capital, and a new member social at a local restaurant hosted by Paige Holliman.
What are some other ideas for NPI Meetup events? Off the top of my head, here are a few that come to mind:
- – Closely read aloud a clinical article, an idea borrowed from the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society.
- – Screen and discuss a documentary, film or series.
- – Watch a series together – am I the only NPI member that thinks it would be fun and fascinating to watch together and dissect the characters in True Detective or Masters of Sex?
- – Have a “salon” around a topic relevant or interesting to NPI members.
- – Host a book discussion or book club.
- – Organize a letter writing campaign around a cause that is close to your heart.
- – Work in specific ways to further social justice such as protesting around specific causes or campaigning for progressive candidates for office.
- – Attend a community/institutional sponsored lecture.
- – Throw a get together just for the fun of it . . . bonfire season is on us (hint, hint).
- – Invite members to go out and listen to the outstanding musical talent in our town – maybe even your own concert/show . . . I’m talking to you, NPI Musicians!
- – Volunteer, meditate, hike or dance together…
Really, the possibilities are limited only by our collective imaginations, interests and desires. If you want to host a Meetup event, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will make sure it gets on the NPI Meetup calendar. Currently there are 80+ members of the NPI Meetup group. We would love to see that grow to include all active members of NPI.
To join the NPI Meetup group:
- Go to www.meetup.com
- Create an account
- Search for Nashville Psychotherapy Institute
- Ask to join
- Your request will be approved in short order, and you are in!
- RSVP to any Meetups that are on our calendar and that are of interest to you
I look forward to working together to strengthen community, cultivate connection, have fun, and further social justice with all of you!
Sonya Thomas, lcsw
Board Member and NPI Meetup Organizer