I’m gonna flip this around for a second and describe a different scenario: multiple of times a month we have someone show up with clear “business” intentions…and that’s really that they just wants to pitch everyone on their startup. They’re here with business intention (at least in their mind), but they’re going to be a disruption. We rarely have to tell them flat out “no” but instead we tell them what our expectations are, and invite them step up to those expectations. Some people head elsewhere, to be another coworking space’s problems. Others step up to that high bar, and become great community members.
See what I’m getting at? That kind of behavior maps across all kinds of sectors. There’s bad actors everywhere. Some are worse than others, but it really depends a lot on the person/people, their cultural expectations, and what they understand is acceptable.
Now, politics is interesting in a different way, and the last 18 months (and even more recent 6 months) have given me a strong taste of that in a new way. In the wake of our last election, I was met with BOTH sides of the conversation.
I had people telling me (mostly in private) how thankful they were to have a community of likeminded people to turn to during a confusing, difficult political situation. We had members organize amongst themselves to protest. We had members collaborate on forming PACs. Organize fundraising (I think we collectively raised over $10k during the holidays across a few different efforts).
In a lot of ways, it was super inspiring to watch people become active citizens in the context of our community.
I also had people telling me (mostly in private) that they felt like politics had become the dominant narrative, and they were frustrated by it. They missed the other conversations, or found it harder to find signal through the noise. It wasn’t even “that person has views that I disagree with” (that did happen a few times, but that’s called being an adult) it was more “can we talk about something other than politics?”
I talked with those folks about ways to boost the signal on non-political topics. In most cases, they were pretty quick to recognize that the best way to boost signal is always to create more signal. Do more of the stuff you want to see more of, talk about more of that stuff, and that becomes the dominant narrative.
Another way I’d look at this is that if a single group with ANY interest (politics, startups, whatever it might be) is able to come in and permanently disrupt your community, then maybe you have work to do on making your community more resilient. Or give your community more credit for being resilient. Or both.
The #1 mistake in community building is doing it by yourself.
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On Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 2:58 PM, Eric Datanagan [email protected] wrote:
Anyone have experience with allowing political groups to become members. Politics can be a very touchy subject which I could forsee potentially disturbing or upsetting community members. The focus of our coworking community is growing, sharing, and networking with business, not politics. I’m curious how others may have or would handled this.
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