Monday, June 9, 2008

A Tale of Two Meetups

Isn't it annoying how whenever there's two of something, people have to bring out that same old Dickens reference? But how else to catchily convey that I went to two meetups this weekend?
On Saturday, there was AVEN. Or the A-Team. I don't really know what to call it anymore, now that we're trying to draw people in from outside AVEN. Anyway, two people besides me came. We had a grand old time exploring Glen Canyon, fighting off coyotes with baseball bats, and eating a lot.

On Sunday, I accidentally attended a meetup of Couch Surfers. These are people who travel around and sleep on people's couches instead of hotels or hostels. I think there were about 10 people there. The leader of the group claimed that if he set a time and place, people would always show up.

It doesn't take much time to learn that San Francisco is a very transient city, with people coming, realizing it's too expensive for any living thing, and then going. This atmosphere makes people friendly and amenable to meeting new folks. Even the most random groups will draw crowds. If we didn't call our group asexual, but instead claimed to be vegan kebab-makers or Munispotters, we'd probably have more people than we knew what to do with.
It's odd that Couch Surfers can draw a crowd, while something as basic and primal as a sexuality can't (yet). My goal here isn't to make people feel bad or guilty for not attending meetups. Trust me, that's the last thing I want; life is hard enough. The issue lies somewhere beyond what any individual does or doesn't do.

The first AVEN meetup I attended was in November 2006. Four people made it. This was also the last meetup not planned by me, although I really hope someone else plans a meetup soon. Anyway, my logical thought was that slowly, painfully slowly, this number would increase. And that hasn't happened at all. Attendance peaked at six a few months after that, but that was the only time, ever, that a meetup had more than four people (and four is rare-- usually it's two or three). I keep thinking that this isn't working in its current incarnation, and that I need to change it. But to what? It's like banging my head against a wall. There are so many things in the universe that I don't understand. This is one of them. Most of those things, I let them be. This one feels deceptively like I can control it. But maybe I can't.

9 comments:

willendork said...

Never mind guilt, I'm still just pissed I didn't make it. Bah, brain.

I feel you on the frustration, though. I plan a lot of events for the LGBTQ group at my university, and given 1) that we're new and 2) that it's a tiny school, we very rarely manage to draw as many people as we hope. I can talk myself hoarse about how awesome the event is, our genius-graphic-artist-VP can make kickass flyers, and still... if a handful of people show up, we're kissing their feet and feeding them cupcakes. Which... sucks. If I ever figure out the secret to making more show, I'll be sure to share it.

But then, given your experience with the couch-surfers, perhaps it's an issue specific to asexuality? ...A greater anxiety about meeting people or something? Personally, I'm pretty terrified, but as you've witnessed personally, the desperation is trumping the fear (for me) at the moment. People are good.

Anyway, sorry to hear it's frustrating. Hang in there, and if there's a way I can help, let me know.

Ily said...

Hey, thanks much. It's good to know that similar groups have similar challenges, if only because that means we can talk strategy. I'm starting to think free beer, although that might not work in a college-setting (unless you start holding meetings at a frat house...) Kudos to you for planning stuff at your school, it's even more important at the small ones.

The Impossible K said...

This may be a far cry from reality, but someday I'd like to imagine a meet-up being something like SxSW - drawing acts (speakers, but maybe music too?) and showing off talent across the spectrum. We have quite a bit of talent among our ranks, I think. Just taking a peek into Open Mic proves that. And one way to encourage attendance is to make each person responsible for a specific task- especially if the ego is involved (cuz, c'mon, who doesn't like showing off every once in a while?)
Yeah, maybe it is a dream, but I would love to someday turn that to reality... :)

Ily said...

K, that sounds awesome! I'd love to have some kind of convention. I don't think it's going to happen in the near future, but in the general and hopefully not distant future? I don't see why not.

Heidi said...

Oooo, I'm a Couchsurfer! Maybe appealing to a strictly-platonic crowd might be a fun start? Then you've got a chunk of Craigslist cornered as well =)

pretzelboy said...

I think the big difficulty with asexuality is it's definition around something we aren't interested in. So people find out about it, get excited and get a change to figure themselves out, which is certainly important, but after that, interest seems to wane. I think the main things that could keep people around after the first burst of interest is either trying to find a special asexy someone or having on ongoing interest to adding to asexual visibility, education, theory, etc.

Ily said...

Heidi-- interesting idea. Are you visualizing any specific ways to promote that?
Pretzel-- true, that's a hurdle. I guess it's fairly atypical (har, har) that I'm so involved. I've found the visibility/educational things I've done really rewarding, and maybe conveying that to people would be of help. I've definitely been trying to think of simple, fun visibility projects we could do at a meetup-- it's not so easy...

DJ DJ said...

Just wanted to say: hang in there Ily! You're doing an amazing job. Let's get some vis events going and maybe we can get in touch with some new members that way.

Ily said...

Thanks DJ...I feel like that little kitten in the picture- *ehn ehn ehn!*
Indeed, let's do that...