Community Gathering Examples


Here are some examples of things that can happen at a Community Gathering




The first 144 ideas were from
The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America


Definition of Social Capital, by Robert Putnam, Author of BOWLING ALONE and BETTER TOGETHER

 “The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other (norms of reciprocity)

Social capital is built through hundreds of little and big actions we take every day. We’ve gotten you started with a list of nearly 150 ideas, drawn from suggestions made by many people and groups. Try some of these or try your own. We need to grow this list. If you have other ideas, email us.

I, Patricia Mikkelson, conceptualizer of the Community Gathering, have put stars at the end of each activity to show how the Community Gathering can make these things more possible. When people show up at a weekly Community Gathering,knowing there is a free meal, childcare,  transportation, and meaningful/fun activities for the whole family– then they are going to be much more likely to be involved with all of these projects.

*means that an announcement can be made, flyers handed out, this can be listed on a newsletter, and a bulletin board, or you can just talk to a few people about getting involved, or the idea can be introduced somehow.

** means that this event can easily be organized at the gathering

***means that this activity can actually take place at the community gathering

1.      Organize a social gathering to welcome a new neighbor***
2. Attend town meetings***
3. Register to vote and vote***
4. Support local merchants**
5. Volunteer your special skills to an organization***
6. Donate blood (with a friend!)*
7. Start a community garden**
8. Mentor someone of a different ethnic or religious group***
9. Surprise a new neighbor by making a favorite dinner–and include the recipe*
10. Tape record your parents’ earliest recollections and share them with your children***
11. Plan a vacation with friends or family***
12. Avoid gossip***
13. Help fix someone’s flat tire*
14. Organize or participate in a sports league**
15. Join a gardening club***
16. Attend home parties when invited**
17. Become an organ donor or blood marrow donor.*
18. Attend your children’s athletic contests, plays and recitals*
19. Get to know your children’s teachers*
20. Join the local Elks, Kiwanis, or Knights of Columbus*
21. Get involved with Brownies or Cub/Boy/Girl Scouts***
22. Start a monthly tea group***
23. Speak at or host a monthly brown bag lunch series at your local library**
24. Sing in a choir***
25. Get to know the clerks and salespeople at your local stores***
26. Attend PTA meetings*
27. Audition for community theater or volunteer to usher**
28. Give your park a weatherproof chess/checkers board***
29. Play cards with friends or neighbors***
30. Give to your local food bank***
31. Walk or bike to support a cause and meet others**
32. Employers: encourage volunteer/community groups to hold meetings on your site*
33. Volunteer in your child’s classroom or chaperone a field trip*
34. Join or start a babysitting cooperative***
35. Attend school plays
36. Answer surveys when asked***
37. Businesses: invite local government officials to speak at your workplace*
38. Attend Memorial Day parades and express appreciation for others**
39. Form a local outdoor activity group

40. Participate in political campaigns***
41. Attend a local budget committee meeting*
42. Form a computer group for local senior citizens***
43. Help coach Little League or other youth sports – even if you don’t have a kid playing*
44. Help run the snack bar at the Little League field*
45. Form a tool lending library with neighbors and share ladders, snow blowers, etc.**
46. Start a lunch gathering or a discussion group with co-workers **
47. Offer to rake a neighbor’s yard or shovel his/her walk *
48. Start or join a carpool
49. Employers: give employees time (e.g., 3 days per year to work on civic projects)*
50. Plan a “Walking Tour” of a local historic area**
51. Eat breakfast at a local gathering spot on Saturdays**
52. Have family dinners and read to your children*
53. Run for public office**
54. Stop and make sure the person on the side of the highway is OK*

55. Host a block party or a holiday open house **
56. Start a fix-it group–friends willing to help each other clean, paint, garden, etc.***
57. Offer to serve on a town committee*
58. Join the volunteer fire department*
59. Go to church…or temple…or walk outside with your children–talk to them about why its important***
60. If you grow tomatoes, plant extra for an lonely elder neighbor – better yet, ask him/her to teach you and others how to can the extras*
61. Ask a single diner to share your table for lunch*
62. Stand at a major intersection holding a sign for your favorite candidate**
63. Persuade a local restaurant to have a designated “meet people” table**
64. Host a potluck supper before your Town Meeting***
65. Take dance lessons with a friend***
66. Say “thanks” to public servants – police, firefighters, town clerk…***
67. Fight to keep essential local services in the downtown area–your post office, police station, school, etc.***
68. Join a nonprofit board of directors*
69. Gather a group to clean up a local park or cemetery***
70. When somebody says “government stinks,” suggest they help fix it*
71. Turn off the TV and talk with friends or family***
72. Hold a neighborhood barbecue**
73. Bake cookies for new neighbors or work colleagues**
74. Plant tree seedlings along your street with neighbors and rotate care for them**

  75. Volunteer at the library*
76. Form or join a bowling team**
77. Return a lost wallet or appointment book*
78. Use public transportation and start talking with those you regularly see*
79. Ask neighbors for help and reciprocate**
80. Go to a local folk or crafts festival**
81. Call an old friend*
82. Sign up for a class and meet your classmates***
83. Accept or extend an invitation***
84. Talk to your kids or parents about their day***
85. Say hello to strangers***
86. Log off and go to the park**
87. Ask a new person to join a group for a dinner or an evening***
88. Host a pot luck meal or participate in them***
89. Volunteer to drive someone*
90. Say hello when you spot an acquaintance in a store*
91. Host a movie night***
92. Exercise together or take walks with friends or family***
93. Assist with or create your town or neighborhood’s newsletter***
94. Organize a neighborhood pick-up – with lawn games afterwards***
95. Collect oral histories from older town residents***
96. Join a book club discussion or get the group to discuss local issues***
97. Volunteer to deliver Meals-on-Wheels in your neighborhood*
98. Start a children’s story hour at your local library***
99. Be real. Be humble. Acknowledge others’ self-worth***
100. Tell friends and family about social capital and why it matters***
101. Greet people***
102. Cut back on television***
103. Join in to help carry something heavy***

104. Plan a reunion of family, friends, or those with whom you had a special connection***
105. Take in the programs at your local library*

106. Read the local news faithfully***
107. Buy a grill and invite others over for a meal**

108. Fix it even if you didn’t break it***
109. Pick it up even if you didn’t drop it***
110. Attend a public meeting***
111. Go with friends or colleagues to a ball game (and root, root, root for the home team!)**
112. Help scrape ice off a neighbor’s car, put chains on the tires or shovel it out*
113. Hire young people for odd jobs***
114. Start a tradition***
115. Share your snow blower*
116. Help jump-start someone’s car*
117. Join a project that includes people from all walks of life***
118. Sit on your stoop*
119. Be nice when you drive*
120. Make gifts of time***
121. Buy a big hot tub
122. Volunteer at your local neighborhood school
123. Offer to help out at your local recycling center**
124. Send a “thank you” letter to the Editor about a person or event that helped build community***
125. Raise funds for a new town clock or new town library***
126. When inspired, write personal notes to friends and neighbors***
127. Attend gallery openings*
128. Organize a town-wide yard sale***
129. Invite friends or colleagues to help with a home renovation or home building project**
130. Join or start a local mall-walking group and have coffee together afterwards**
131. Build a neighborhood playground**

132. Become a story-reader or baby-rocker at a local childcare center or neighborhood pre-school***
133. Contra dance or two-step***
134. Help kids on your street construct a lemonade stand***
135. Open the door for someone who has his or her hands full***
136. Say hi to those in elevators*
137. Invite friends to go snowshoeing, hiking, or cross-country skiing***
138. Offer to watch your neighbor’s home or apartment while they are away*
139. Organize a fitness/health group with your friends or co-workers***
140. Hang out at the town dump and chat with your neighbors as you sort your trash at the Recycling Center*
141. Take pottery classes with your children or parent(s)*
142. See if your neighbor needs anything when you run to the store*
143. Ask to see a friend’s family photos***
144. Join groups (e.g., arts, sports, religion) likely to lead to making new friends of different race or ethnicity, different social class or bridging across other dimensions ***


The following are suggestions I, Patricia, have made:

146. Start a success team and encourage each other in following your dreams***

147.    Facilitate a music jam session and encourage people of all ages and stages of talent to participate***

148.    Start a free geeks group and make it easy for people of all incomes to get computers**

149.    Start a life-long learning center and have classes for all ages in every conceivable subject***

150.    Have a dance jam where people bring their favorite music to dance to***

151.    Make an effort to include in all activities people who are under served and underheard***

152.    Teach a class in Non-violent communication or some other effective communication technique, and encourage people to start speaking in ways that build bridges of compassion***

153.    Start a listening buddies network so that every single person in your neighborhood has  number of people who can listen empathically to them in times of trouble.***

154.    Organize a neighborhood-wide emergency preparedness plan using something like 3 steps to neighborhood Preparedness***

155.    Start a neighborhoodlink or some similar website to connect neighbors***

156.    Raise funds to help bring in a consultant who can facilitate a three day meeting to help the neighborhood create a shared vision using effective change making facilitation techniques such as Future Search or Open Space Technology***

157.    Start a group to help localize the economy***

158.    Organize a networking group of local business people***

159.    Organize a food drive***

160.    Help single parents with childcare***

161.    Sponsor a 12 step group or other support group for addictions***

162.    Start a mentoring/coaching network***

163.    Have study groups to learn about different religions and foster a spirit of tolerance and understanding***

164.    Bring people of all ages and background together for a sing along***

165.    Organize a talent show where people of all levels of skill are encouraged to share their gifts***

166.    Host a local mic having poetry,music, prose, comedy and drama, encouraging people of all levels of talent to participate***

167.    Host conversation cafes and discuss a wide variety of topics relating to civic engagement

168.    Host study circles and learn more about the important issues that effect us all

169.    Learn more about the importance of civic engagement***

170.    Have book studies on such books as Bowling Alone, Better Together,

171.     Make a list of all the books which relate to building social capital and build a library accessible to all

172.    Inspire people to pay a fee like ten dollars a month to pay a natural connector in the community to do that full time.

173.     I have about 200 more ideas—no time now! (Patricia)