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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.

Building coalitions with other groups on campus will help with promotion of your own group, help your group develop as an institution, and provide resources for your group members.

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.

Pick a date that works for most groups involved and start working from there. 

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. Some ideas of groups to reach out to: various science clubs, feminist groups, LGBTQ groups, environmental groups, social justice groups, animal rights groups, and interfaith or progressive religious groups. Take a look at your campus listing of student organizations to find even more. 

After that, the mixer itself is pretty simple. Pick a date and reserve the location. 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. 

To come up with activities to do during the mixer, try setting up a meeting with delegates of represented groups and do a session of the Sticky Note Planning Method. Check out the Unitarian Universalist list of ideas for activities, "Deep Fun".

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! For example, with interfaith groups you'll want to be considerate of religious food restrictions, and you'll probably have a higher proportion of vegans and vegetarians at a progressive mixer. You can ask group leaders about this beforehand so that that all of the bases are covered. Don't forget plates, napkins, cups and plasticware. If an environmental group is present, they might be interested in taking on that part as a green team.

Suggest everyone bring business cards and handouts about their groups.

Most of the promotion for this activity will happen within the partipating organizations. You may choose to advertise outside the groups by putting up flyers, listing the event on a calendar, or sending out a press release

Ask participating organizations to promote the event heavily within their group. 

Cooperating Organizations:
You'll want a variety of groups who share similar goals and values to yours - organizations with feminist, environmental, LGBTQ, labor, anti-racist, democratic, science, animal rights, or social justice 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. Make a list of groups and email them all with your proposal. Your pitch should make a specific reference to the commonalities between groups. Remember these are potential allies! 
  2. Set a meeting to plan the mixer with delegates from each participating group. As stated before, the Sticky Note Planning Method will help you organize your ideas. Alternatively, one group can do all of the planning and organizing. 
  3. Secure your location, food, and other supplies.
  4. Remember that this is intended to help everyone get to know each other, so plan activities with that in mind.
  5. Send out reminders! There may be a lot of groups to coordinate so remind other group leaders and members of your own group about the mixer.
  6. Make sure you clean up after the mixer. Also consider sending out "Thank You" notes to all partipating organizations.
  7. 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.

One of our best resources to find out what works and what doesn't is you - our student leaders! If you've employed a strategy that worked well, let us know about it so other groups can also use that idea. If you've learned a lesson of caution about something we suggest, point out the pitfalls. You can email us at organizer@secularstudents.org!

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