Following the success of Michael Albert's tour in the UK this Autumn, PPS-UK, London Chapter, held an introductory event for those that had expressed an interest in the organisation by giving their email address at the end of or during talks held in London. Other chapters did the same locally. This blog looks at how the London Chapter worked to encourage new members following Michael's tour.
Deciding to hold an introductory event
The existing members of the London Chapter met to have a "post-tour meeting". The agenda of the meeting focused on discussing the lessons we could take away from Michael's visit here and considering how we would use the list of names and contacts obtained at talks to encourage those who had expressed an interest in PPS-UK to be active members.
At the meeting (which was held at the London Action Resource Centre) we agreed that we should hold an introductory event for potential new members. As we were at the venue at which we would hold the introductory event, we were able to schedule in a slot for the introductory event immediately.
Whilst most members of the group thought that the introductory event would be a good idea some thought that it could be conceived of as pandering and that potential new members should simply be invited to our next executive meeting (which is rather administrative in nature). It was suggested that people who want to get involved would (and perhaps should) seek to do so without encouragement.
The majority, however, talked of their personal experiences as indicating that an introductory session might be very well received and welcome. I spoke of being disillusioned by various other left groups and how this disillusionment can create an inhibition about joining a new group. I think this to be especially true when one is not given the opportunity to socialise, informally meet the people within a new organisation and able to discuss overarching beliefs, goals and visions with existing members in an open and welcoming manner. As such, we voted to hold an introductory event.
Organising the event
We agreed that one of the existing members would draft an email (covering topics we discussed and agreed upon at the meeting) which the others members would then consider and revise. We agreed that the email would be sent to the potential new members (that had expressed an interest in us during Michael's tour) and existing members. The draft email went through some revisions.
The email that we eventually sent gave a brief outline of PPS-UK's aims and objectives, outlined the current projects members were involved in (by hyperlinking to the relevant groups, forums and events on the PPS-UK website) and gave details of an introductory event at which attendees would have the opportunity to further understand our objectives, get to know the current members and contribute in short workshops on the four spheres. In order to entice attendance, we also said that we'd be providing snacks and drinks at this event.
The attendance at the introductory event was good – there were up to twenty new faces and some older members (that had not been active for some time) also re-surfaced.
The event was held during an afternoon on a Saturday a few weeks ago.
A. Introduction 3.30pm-4pm
We started by introducing PPS-UK and then asking people to introduce themselves whilst also sharing their own views as to why they thought vision was important. This seemed to be a good ice-breaker.
B. Workshops 4-5.30pm
One of the existing members then talked about the four spheres briefly.
We then split up into two groups.
One group had two existing members facilitating discussions around PARECON and PARSOC.
The other group had two existing members facilitating discussions around the kinship and community spheres.
The facilitators swapped groups half way through the workshop process so everyone got to discuss all four spheres.
I felt the workshops to be productive and engaging.
The facilitators had prepared handouts on the four spheres.
C. Summary 5.30pm+
We then had a break for snacks and drinks, eventually re-grouping.
At the re-group one of the existing members asked everyone to share their thoughts on the event and also to given an indication as to whether they'd be joining the London Chapter, what they'd like to the London Chapter to get involved in and to give any other feedback.
The responses were very positive. Many people had lots of interesting ideas about how to move forward. The discussions continued at the local pub.
As a result of Michael's tour and subsequent emails and introductory event, we've encouraged older members to become active again and new members to join.
Currently, our objectives remain thinking about the most effective ways in which we can get involved with actions around the impending austerity measures, building coalitions and links to cooperatives, maintaining momentum in terms of diversifying our membership (and reaching out to local people) and considering the ways in which we can further define the structure and organisation of PPS-UK.
It's great to have more people on board to help us do this.