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Progressive Organizations Mixer

Planning Time3+ weeks
Group SizeAny
Staff #3+
Event DateAny

Activity Overview: Networking and intergroup cooperation can often be awkward. You're comfortable with the people in your group and the way they function, but working with others requires you to reset your personal and organizational pathways. A progressive mixer allows you to network with other like-minded people in a fairly causal way. You can get an idea of how big this will be by assessing the size of your school and its activist population.

Planning timeframe: Coordinating with other groups can be difficult, especially because you need to accommodate different meeting schedules. To get people interested, and to solicit help, you'll want to at least float the idea to other groups at the beginning of the semester.

Coordinating: The most important initial task is to get other clubs to commit to it. Your group leader(s) should talk to other group leaders, build lines of communication, and then get them interested in the mixer.

After that, the mixer itself is pretty simple. You'll need to coordinate food & drinks, icebreakers and activities, getting the word out to members of clubs, and setting an agenda. Either one group can take charge, or planning can be parceled out to coordinators from different groups, but they need to keep in touch with one another.

Material requirements: The space you hold the mixer in should be a room centrally located on campus, in order to make it easy for everyone to come. The mood of the mixer will very much be determined by the room you pick - for a more business-oriented meeting, choose a conference room. However, a mixer ought to be more convivial; see if you can find a place with chairs and couches, as well as space to eat and socialize.

Food should be relatively inexpensive, palatable to a wide range of people, and easy to eat. Pizza and hors d'oeuvres should work, but be sure to offer something for everyone, especially people with allergies and dietary restrictions! (You can ask group leaders about this beforehand). Don't forget plates, napkins, cups and plasticware.

You can ask attendees to bring business cards or flyers.

Cooperating Organizations: You'll want a variety of groups who share similar goals and values to yours - organizations with feminist, environmental, LGBT, labor, anti-racist and democratic concerns are all viable options. Be open to new groups and groups you haven't collaborated with. Your school may already have an activist resource center for just such like-minded groups.

However, since you are meeting to share common concerns and causes, don't invite too wide a variety. Andrew Cederdahl of the USC Columbia Pastafarians writes, "the point is to establish a relationship with other groups in the hopes to work together on issues. Bringing in groups whose values are too antithetical to your secular group will only create conflict and probably not accomplish anything." You can collaborate more effectively with these groups (e.g. Campus Crusade for Christ) in a setting where your differences are the point, such as a debate or a shared service project.

Suggested Walkthrough

  1. As mentioned, your group leaders should initiate contact with other group leaders, and after establishing lines of communication they can bring up the idea for a progressive mixer. Be sure to emphasize your groups' common aims and values, as well as the opposition you all face, particularly from the religious right.
    1. Your pitch should make specific reference to the commonalities between groups. However, avoid hostility towards religion generally - your allies may well be religious themselves, albeit more moderate believers. Focus on how religious fundamentalism is antithetical to all of you.
  2. Ask interested leader to talk to their clubs, and gauge members' interest. This is designed to be a casual, unofficial get-together, not something that needs to be voted on. Even if some members don't want to come, any interested members are invited.
  3. Planning the event can either be done by one group or multiple groups. If a group is particularly excited about it, feel free to give them the reins. Working with coordinators from different clubs can work, and will make sure that everyone's concerns are met, but can be more difficult. At the very least, after initially suggesting it your group should step up to take charge - if other groups want to be involved, you should include them in planning.
  4. After securing a space and getting food and supplies, you'll need to set an agenda. This should include some group introductions as well as icebreakers, but don't get into action items - this is designed as an event to get to know other groups on an individual level.
  5. Check with group leaders and make sure they remind their membership about the mixer. Do this ahead of time - some groups only meet monthly! Ask if they can send out email reminders as well. Make a Facebook event, and have the admins of other groups invite their members.
  6. Something to help loosen people up (without alcohol) are icebreakers that aren't tedious, boring, or grade-school. Ask your group members for ones they enjoy. "Deep Fun", an activity packet for the Unitarian Universalist youth organization, lists a number of exceptionally good ones.
  7. With luck, your mixer will go well. Make sure you clean up afterwards. Thank your coordinators and everyone who came!
  8. You may want to make the mixer a regular event every semester. If so, try and make a committee that will take on that responsibility, and possibly work on other intergroup affairs.
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