When I first came to Spokane, I didn’t know anyone outside of family or extended family members. In an attempt to meet people, I tried going to local club or group meetings, but somehow never met anyone (or any group) who I clicked with (to say I’m set in my ways and hard to please is not an exaggeration—ask my wife (if she’s still around?). Then I Googled (is it both a noun and a verb?) “Activities for seniors” and stumbled upon the site www.meetup.com.

120px-People_meeting_other_people_(6169707447)Turns out, Meetup facilitates the formation of various social groups through an online forum. Organizers originate a group, gather members, and announce meetings. There is a nominal, monthly charge assessed by Meetup for using this service on their site. Individuals coordinate most of the meetings, but some individuals are associated with a personal business. The later may charge a fee (sometime just for materials used) for attending what is really more of a class on a particular specialty they have an expertise in.

Meetup states the purpose of these meetings is “neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something… .” This site provides a forum for all types of interest groups to communicate back and forth, set up meetings, and finally, get together.  All you have to do is type in the distance you are willing to travel to a meeting and the site will provide a list of all the groups meeting within that area.

When you find a group that tweaks your interest, you can then take a look at a description that tells you the purpose and parameters of the group. You can fill out a bio, look at the bio of other members, and, if you want, text other members. There will be a list of both upcoming meetings as well as a description of past meetings. You will see who the group leader (organizer) is and read their bio.

The topic for these meeting groups is all over the board. Using Spokane for my example, those activities that seem pretty typical would include:

• Hiking and walking
• Photography
• Cooking
• Art
• Reading
• Politics
• Writing
• Business
• Travel
• Computing
• Sports Activities
• Motorcycle Riding
• Bicycle Riding
• Fly Fishing
• Chess
• Board Games
• Sewing

Then there are those activities whose main focus is for people to meet and get to know each other. These include social groups that:

• Discuss religion
• Go out to restaurants
• Go to musicals and stage plays
• Attend various volunteer projects as a group
• Attend movie openings
• Attend comedy events
• Are compose of just single women, single boomers, people 45+, people who have Yorkies (dogs), or nudists

Then there are the groups that some will find off-the–wall or strange while others will think “that’s what I have been looking for my entire life.” These groups have names like:

• Bronies (fans and collectors of Pretty Ponies)
• The University of the Universe (tarot cards, pendulums, aura reading, etc.)
• Craft Beer Tasters (next on my list)
• Pagan Experience (too complex for me to try to explain)
• Preppers and Survivalists (living through the apocalypse)
• Game Development (video gaming)
• Free Thinkers Society (free exchange of ideas)
• Anime Club (Japanese animation)
• Marijuana+ (marijuana is legal in Washington)
• Tolkien Society (discuss writer J.R.R. Tolkien—Mr. Lord of the Rings)
• Psych-k (defeating negative thoughts)
• Butterfly Association (Lepidopterists)
• Bunco (card game enthusiasts)
• Random Fun (just what it says—people looking for fun {this would be next on my list except that they state they are “aiming for an age range of 23-40”—well my ship has sailed on that (that ship was the Mayflower)
• Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditation
• Fur Folk (people [“Furries”] who dress up as anthropomorphic animals)

The only Meetup I have joined so far, unfortunately, is not on the list anymore. I went to a Meetup called “The Conversationalist” which was just what it says, a group of about a dozen people who got together every two weeks to talk about something. The topic was chosen by the organizer and the choice was less about being controversial then it was about just being interesting.

The organizer was also a facilitator and did a good job of getting every meeting going, getting people engaged and involved, and keeping everyone on track. Unfortunately, after about three months, no more meetings were scheduled. I suspect the group leader suddenly had other obligations and didn’t have the time needed to sponsor this group any longer—too bad.

Thing is, it was an enjoyable activity and everyone in the group gradually got to know the other people in the group. If the group hadn’t disbanded, I’m sure at some later date, I would have seen some of the members in a social context. It was a good experience and except for chipping in a few dollars once in a while to cover the Meetup’s monthly charge for sponsoring the group, it cost me nothing.

For the fun of it, I decided to compare Spokane (a city of just over 200,000 people) to New York City (8.6 million), Phoenix (1.5 million), and Flagstaff, Arizona (65,000) (I am familiar with all of these cities in that I went on leave to NYC when in the Navy in Lakehurst, NJ, my parents lived in Phoenix for many years, and I went to college in Flagstaff). What I found was:

—Oddly each of these cities has close to the same number (100) of different, individual Meetup groups listed.  Many were very similar.

—Group size varies widely, but the groups run larger as the cities get larger— Flagstaff most groups below 100 people (more or less)—Spokane most groups below 200—Phoenix most groups below 3,000—NYC most groups below 10,000-largest 15,000 ( a group called “I Wanted to do that…Just not Alone” [I don’t know where you get a meeting room that holds 15,000 people?]).

—NYC does not have the strangest groups on their list—Spokane does (and this is really strange because Spokane is ultra, ultra conservative)

If you think you might be interested in getting involved, just look up the Meetup website for your area. If you live in a small town, you may have to look at what’s happening in a larger town nearby. If you want to join, hit the “Find a Meetup Group” button. If you want to form a group, hit the Start a Meetup Group” button. When you make a selection hit the “Join” button.  Remember, you’re a GEEZER, just go for it!

P.S. My wife has recommended that I start my own group called “Geezers Not on the Run.” I’m not sure exactly what she is implying, but it can’t be good.

Something New: Try Meetup

One thought on “Something New: Try Meetup

  • May 18, 2015 at 10:33
    Permalink

    I would love to join the group that Lorraine suggested you create!
    Sue

    Reply

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