How to start a successful group examples

Thanks for reading “How to start a successful group”! Here are a variety of examples that may be helpful.

Example Vision

In retrospect this is probably a bit long. It would probably be better to narrow in on the most important aspects. 

Hello! I am looking for people to work with to create a public and above-ground anarchist group in Eugene that would strategically advance projects that contribute to the community while critiquing current systems of control, educating people about anarchism, and showing an alternative model for a free and egalitarian society.

There are a lot of groups doing great work in Eugene. This group will be different because we will be actively talking about anarchism with the general public, not just amongst ourselves. I think it’s important to dispel common misconceptions about anarchism and advance it as a legitimate way of organizing society. And more than just talking about anarchism, the group will use active projects to demonstrate how anarchist principles work in practice and empower people to take care of each other instead of relying on existing institutions.

Here is a one-year vision I see for this group:

None of this is set in stone. I’m describing my vision as clearly as I can so people who resonate with it can find their way to it. I intend for us to design something collectively that includes what we all envision.

We are a group of dedicated organizers with a vision of social/collective/communal anarchism, looking strategically at how best to promote anarchism and support the community.

Centering Anarchy
We proudly put “Anarchy”, “Anarchist”, or “Anarchism” in the name of our group so that it is front and center. This may stir up misconceptions for some people, but we welcome the opportunity for discussion and to break with conventional stereotypes. We know we’re making a positive impact because we regularly hear from people that our group went against everything they thought they knew about anarchists and that they are curious to learn more and get involved.

Powerful Projects
We work on projects that: 1) Create concrete improvements in people’s lives; 2) Give people a sense of their own power; and, 3) Shift power from government and corporations to people and communities. Projects like a free little pantry system so the community can help feed itself, establishing neighborhood councils where issues can be resolved person-to-person without the city government, or a free ride sharing network so people can be safe getting home. These projects build up resources and power outside of state or capitalist systems and are a living of example of what it looks like when a community takes care of itself without the need for governments or corporations.

Strategic Diversity of Tactics
We believe in a diversity of tactics. There are some things we’ve decided to not engage in because they don’t align with the strategy of the group, like property destruction, lobbying, or electoral politics. But we do not impose that decision on others or judge others for their own strategic decisions. We happily collaborate with other community organizations with different strategies on specific joint events or projects.

Welcoming New People
People attending a meeting for the first time experience a well organized, energetic, and passionate group of people. They can tell that we are working on important projects and have put a lot of thought into the things we do. They know that the energy they put into the group will be well used and appreciated. They appreciate that someone casually approaches them to talk about what brought them to the meeting and what they’re interested in working on. We usually offer new people a small task so they feel needed and excited to come to another meeting. They leave with the feeling that they’re becoming a part of something important.

We encourage and support everyone, not just “natural leaders” or self-starters. Some people were very quiet or uncertain when they first joined the group, and end up starting whole new projects and leading marches.

Effective Meetings
We look forward to attending the high-energy group meetings because they are opportunities to share ideas, make decisions, and connect. We start meetings with brief check-ins so we are fully present, and heartfelt appreciations so we know that we have each others’ backs. We strike a good balance between structure and flexibility, so we are able to get things done while also leaving time for fun tangents and silly side tracks. We celebrate disagreement as opportunities to learn different perspectives and engage in lively discussions because we know doing so will ultimately lead to better decisions and a stronger group. We feel comfortable brainstorming wild ideas or asking foolish questions that we might be scared to share in other spaces. We know we’re all on the same team.

Fluid Decision Making
We have developed a fluid decision making process that is distributed, inclusionary, and collaborative. Teams manage themselves and make decisions based on what they think aligns with their goals. Individuals come up with new ideas, find people to work with, get advice from affected groups, and begin new small projects or teams very quickly. When major decisions arise the whole group comes together to agree on the best path forward. Despite the frequent communication between collaborating groups there is so much happening that there are many happy surprises. Everyone loves it when we learn about an event that we didn’t even know was being planned, or when someone publicizes a resource that we didn’t know was being made.

Together we’ve written a strong mission statement, principles, and vision so that we’re all on the same page. When making decisions, we look at which principle(s) we want to align to. When planning new projects, we look to the mission and vision. It’s easy for us to disagree on specifics or share feedback because we know we all want the same things for the group and for the community and that we are going in the same direction.

Trainings Culture
We regularly organize trainings for people in the group (especially new people) and the general community. We train people how to: empower others, plan strategically, stage creative actions, understand privilege, defend themselves, facilitate meetings, and more. These trainings help build a strong sense of community and shared organizational culture. We’re always looking for new ways to learn, grow, and improve our organizing.

Strength in Diversity
We are proud that we are a diverse group in many respects: race, gender, age, class, ability, sexual orientation, faith, and education. The different perspectives, backgrounds, and community connections are invaluable and respected. We know that diversity is critical to all aspects of our work, and we continually strive to further include and elevate diverse members.

We welcome people where they are at in their current knowledge and understanding. Some people joined knowing almost nothing about anarchism and have become the most eloquent writers on anarchism in the group. Others joined with very little understanding of systematic oppression and have come to dedicate their lives to collective liberation. As long as people are willing to learn, we will support them.

Wholeness
We bring our whole selves to this group. We strive to set aside our egos and the masks we often put on in public places. People share their doubts and worries knowing that the group will support them fully. When someone expresses that they’re feeling a little overwhelmed, multiple people offer to take something off their plate. When we’re working late, someone brings over tea without anyone asking. We dance together after victories, and cry together after losses. People love that can be their full selves in this group in a way they can’t in most other spaces.

Friendships
We’ve formed lots of friendships from working together. We spend time together outside of group meetings at potlucks, birthday parties, hikes, 1-on-1 chats, and more. People have also found comrades they align with to form new affinity groups to work on anonymous projects like banner drops, anti-fascist groups, or guerrilla street repair.

Planning for the Long Term
We set intentions for where we want to be in 5 years and regularly discuss how a project or idea could have the greatest possible impact in the community over the long term. We regularly evaluate and look critically at what we are doing to ensure that it’s what we intend. We are in this for the long haul.

Growth and Expansion
When we started we had just a few organizers and activists, and now we’re attracting a lot of new folks who are experiencing anarchism for the first time.  As our numbers and capacity have grown, we’ve started working on multiple community projects at the same time. This has allowed even more people to get involved, and has attracted people who have different interests into the group. It’s possible that some projects that we’re working on will become big enough to be their own organizations in themselves.

——

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I know it’s a little long, I just kept thinking of important new things! Through writing this I’ve realized how important this group is to me and how fortunate I am to be able to work on it.

If you are interested in working towards this vision please contact me at [email address]. I’d love to talk with you! The next steps I see are to gather those who are interested to write a mission, principles, and vision that will be the foundation for the group. Then we can choose a group name, set up a group structure, decide on a first project, and get started!

Thanks,
[name]


Example First Agenda

  • Thanks for coming & review agenda [5 mins]
  • Introductions [15 mins]
    • Name, pronoun, brief background, favorite revolutionary from history (or some other fun question), what interests you about this group?, check in
  • Visioning [30 mins]
    • (Ask for a note taker)
    • Everyone shares their vision for this group. What are you excited about creating? What’s important to you about being a part of a group like this? What do you want to work on?
  • Gauge interest level [15 mins]
    • It’s important for us all to be on the same page and know where we’re at with this. Some people may be 100% in to start this group, others may not be interested, and others may not be sure yet.
    • Everyone shares how they want to be involved with this group
    • (For example: Co-founder with tons of energy in for the long haul? Just help get things started? Only in town for the next couple months? Want to wait until it’s more developed? Really want to be involved but limited by time commitments?)
  • Next steps [20 mins]
    • Plan some next steps for developing the mission, principles, name, structure, projects, etc.
    • Plan next meeting (when, where, agenda, facilitator)

Example Structure

Example mission and principles: https://neighborhoodanarchists.org/principles/

Example structure (with conflict resolution): https://neighborhoodanarchists.org/structure/

Example safer space and meeting norms: https://neighborhoodanarchists.org/norms

Example security culture: https://neighborhoodanarchists.org/nac-security-culture


Example Kickoff Agenda

[Day & time]

[Location)

  • Opening and welcome (5 mins) – [Name]
    • Welcome
    • Acknowledge Indigenous Land
    • Agenda overview
  • Potluck & Introductions (30 mins) – [Name]
    • First name or pseudonym
    • Pronouns
    • In one sentence: What brought you to this meeting?
  • External Announcements
  • Introduce group (15 mins) – Slide presentation
    • Mission and purpose – [Name]
    • Principles – [Name]
    • Structure
      • Projects – [Name]
      • Teams – [Name]
      • Decision making – [Name]
      • Communication – [Name]
      • Mention other stuff – [Name]
        • Conflict Resolution
    • Security culture – [Name]
    • Questions – [Name]
  • Do visioning process to come up with project(s) (45 mins) – [Name]
    • Review primary projects, secondary projects, and fluid nature of projects (5 mins)
    • Individual brainstorming (5 mins)
    • Small group brainstorming (10 mins)
    • Small groups share ideas with full group  (10 min)
    • Combine similar ideas (5 mins)
    • Voting (5 mins)
    • Conclusion (5 mins)
  • Closing
    • Next steps – [Name]
      • Next meeting
      • Website
      • Email / communication signup
    • Meaningful statement about connection and action – [Name]
  • Hangouts
  • Cleanup

Kickoff Goals What do we want people to walk away with?

  • Want to immediately get involved in the group
  • Time for secondary projects to form
  • Knowing how the group works
  • Understanding supportive nature of internal
  • Handouts of information
  • Know about website as a resource for information
    • Website walkthrough of information (covering the highlights we mention during the presentation at kick off meeting)
  • Know how to get involved. Clear next steps
    • Next meeting date, time, location
  • Having had fun
  • Made a connection with someone
  • Social event(s) to go to
  • Make your own patch / sticker
  • Katherine’s gift bag
  • Feeling like they’re already apart of the group