Stay focused

 

The key to a chapter’s success is to be focused on the goal.

It is very exciting right now seeing this real explosion happening across Canada (and the world) with so many new chapters starting up and taking a real active approach to being an “active” chapter.

As a new chapter or a young chapter it is crucial that you set up a “core” team of members that will be the building blocks for your chapter’s growth.

This core team is made up of the members that are dedicated to the ongoing growth and activism of the chapter.

This “core team” is different than your “sign up” memberships to your chapter. Signup members to your chapter will come about in most cases, from the ongoing activities that the core team set up and engage in throughout each year.  

A core team will typically be about 10 to 12 members, and that is a very comfortable range. Although it could be larger, say, up to 25 members, but if it gets much larger than that, it will bring with it problems that will start to grow in size as your core team grows in size. Meaning, the bigger your core group gets, the bigger the problems mount down the road.

I have seen many promising and dedicated groups that withered out due to intergroup conflicts quite quickly. It might appear early on that EVERYONE is just dying to get involved but many will eventually either bring in outside agendas or simply drop off. So establishing a dedicated core right off will set you up to become a strong local community presence as you continue to get a foothold within your community.

If you are a newer chapter it is also better to start your dedicated core group smaller at around 3 to 5 people and build on that and create a real connection with each other first.

Stay focused.

As chapters, our goal is to get the information out to the public.

Initially it will be through street activism, and then it will grow into lectures and larger events for the public and your chapters’ “sign up” members as your members (the sign ups) grow. Please notice that I keep referring to “sign up members” and “core members” as different entities.

Many people think that everyone that “signed up” to their chapter’s website was somehow going to come out to every meeting (*a closed door meeting – more on that in a moment) and be active just like them. Now, they might come out once but then not show up again. As members stop coming this creates the perception that people are dropping off or that no one is coming out or that “no one wants to do anything in my town” mentality.

First off, you can only sit around in a room and talk about setting up your own community and making your own garden so many times, but eventually people want to do more.

Also, these meetings that people set up in *closed rooms such as restaurants or coffee shops or pubs accomplish very little. In the end, these “meetings” are just the same conversations with the same people. The public can’t see you and the question always comes up among those that do come out to these meetings is… “we need to do more”.

 

Some very important questions came up time to time and I want to expand on them further as they are very critical to a chapter’s long term success.

The first question was about religion, meditation and spirituality inside The Zeitgeist Movement meetings.

The Zeitgeist Movement is not about religion, meditation and spirituality. These are words that reflect individual conditions of culture, both past and present, and conditions that hopefully in time we will be able to transcend.

Although we realize that people will bring this baggage with them into the movement, it is important that we refrain from letting it become a focus or agenda of the movement, especially for your Zeitgeist meetings and events. And even further: for it not to become a part of a “core” team meeting.

This thinking should not be a part of “core” teams, as the “core” team of the local chapter should be the part of your chapter which is based firmly on the tenets of the movement.  Opening the door to such beliefs from one thinking will just open the door to other beliefs down the road.

More on core teams and core meetings later as well as “general meetings”, both open and closed.

Setting up a booth for events in your city

Check out the Zeitgeist Canada website under “setting up events”

Who should be “speaking” at the event/street booth?

It should be primarily the core team that runs the booth. Other members can show up and watch/learn/participate to their comfort level but the booth is a “core” team project and there should always be core members on hand to assist with conversations.

Again, the core team should be well grounded in the tenets of the movement and that is why they are part of the “core” team.

Your core team will have (or should have) a solid understanding of the movement and the goals and as such won’t bring baggage, so issues of differences among core members will be to a minimum if at all, hence very little to no problems at the core level which will be the foundation to a solid local community chapter.

Your successful chapter will depend on your core members. If it is an “open” group it will not work over the long haul.

How many are in a core group

There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding about this: a core is not the most excited and active chapter members at the time. This will of course always be an ongoing changing situation and so it is not a great way to form a “core” group or to BE your core group.

Members (sign ups) will come and go and excitement will always surround new members at a different level than people that signed up to your chapter a year ago. Also, new members or new “sign ups” will always come out with such enthusiasm to your meetings that you will feel that you have the most dedicated person or persons for your team. But it is at the point that they bring their baggage or they stop coming that has done a lot of chapters in.

Stay focused.

If your “core” team is between this number and that number, ie: 15 to 30 members then that is not a core team. That is just members with many of the same individuals always in attendance. If you’re meeting to plan events and event structure and it is announced on an open forum or Facebook page for all to attend then it is not a “core” meeting. It is a chapter meeting and open to the public and as such will always bring out many of the same people and many other people as well which is why this – between 10 to 20 – always come out.

This is also why differences and arguments arise from open meetings.  A core team eliminates such baggage and conflicts that arise from those “members” that occasionally show up because they, the core members, are knowledgeable in the tenets and on the same page with the movement’s goals. That is to spread awareness through community activism.

What a “core” team does is to plan and execute meetings that will then become open to the public chapter members, i.e: setting up street activism, setting up a lecture, setting up an open Q and A event to answer many questions that NEW members have that can be addressed in this fashion instead of bogging down a productive core meeting geared towards planning productive local activism.

So an effective chapter will have a core team that will meet to set up the OTHER kind of meetings that the members along with any public will then be able to come to. These “other” meetings (not core) are then where these individuals can bring their baggage and ideas…..  ie: “let’s form a political party”…. to be discussed. But these ideas won’t infiltrate your core and as such won’t damage your solid growth as a local chapter.

Also note that active members and core members are also different entities.

Many will be active especially when they initially sign up and show interest.

The core is the team that is there for the long haul. You will know as a core team when to add a new person because they will have demonstrated themselves to you in commitment and knowledge of the movements goals.

Why is all this important?

Simply because we want to grow the movement worldwide and many chapters have started up just to collapse because they lacked structure with which to build from. They died before they even held a first community event.

Is it just awareness? Is that all we are going to do?

If a member brings this up then they are not a core member. They don’t get it. Again this is the problem with open meetings. Most of these people complain about “spreading awareness” but haven’t even hit the streets to talk to the public themselves at all.

If somebody wants to do more, then they can do whatever they want.  But a local community chapter’s goal is to be a community presence and to look for every way to get the name and the message of a RBE out to the public any way then can.

This job of awareness is so massive and important that it can’t be understated. As well, through this campaign of awareness we will be doing the most possible for real change as it is a global shift in consciousness that will, in the end, make the biggest difference.

Stay focused.

If someone wants to garden or make cloths or trade power tools, that’s all great but let them know that they can create any project that they like but that it will be their own project and not a movement project.

In Vancouver we recently created a “projects” section on our website where people with ideas or “projects” that they want to do can create them, post them and if other chapter members feel a connection to this project then they can get involved with it.

So basically we have created a way to address the constant requests by members that say…. “We should do this”…. Or….. “We should do that.” We have set it up so that they can do it themselves. And fully manageable by themselves. Hopefully members will pick up the ball and create the project that they think is important and we will have many projects created by members over the following months.

But as a core team we can’t do everything and since awareness is our main focus we hope that members will be active and actually create and maintain projects that they feel inspired to do, but in the end the onus is on them to create and maintain their project.

Most importantly it won’t detract the “core” team from the goal of the awareness campaign that is our focus.

So we have addressed a few important issues pertaining to chapter members.

By having a weekly (or even a monthly) local community activist, awareness event which is open to the public, then you will provide that place where chapter members, as well as the public, can also come out to see the local chapter as an active force in the community.

One note on that is in Vancouver we don’t get anyone out to our events saying “what are we going to do next”?

This is because they are seeing us doing something and they are seeing the interactions with the public and how the public is responding to us.

If we held “public” events in closed room situations i.e: coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, etc. then we would still be just a bunch of people sitting around talking about “what are we going to do next.”

I can see how that question would continually arise in this type of situation.

This is one important reason why you don’t want to have an open invite to “core planning meetings” because then this question will constantly disrupt your meeting.

Instead, have your core planning meetings become very productive with your core team in the planning of public events/meetings and then invite your members to THESE PUBLIC meetings which can be held on the street. We like to call these events our “Town Hall Style” street events. Because they are very Town Hall style in the way they are set up.  They contain great conversations about the movement, and RBE and many Q and A’s take place throughout the day.

Getting a hall and inviting people out will, in the end, see very few people actually show up from the general public. But when you are out in the public, in a public space, then there is always a lot of interest from those walking by, to find out more about what you and your booth is all about.

It’s fun, it’s productive and it’s visible to everyone that walks by regardless of whether they stop or not.

Other Events that can be planned and held by a core team for the public and members to come to?

Educational lectures

Transitional lectures and discussion evenings

Q and A evenings

Social gatherings

Z Day

Z Fest

Screenings

Etc.

Also, for larger events such as Z Day or Z Fest volunteer teams can be brought on board to assist with setting up such events.  But again this is separate from “Core planning” meetings.

The main priority is on public awareness campaigns with the start of any new local chapter. This is where you will grow from. And it is important to stick to this and let your new members that sign up simply come to these awareness campaign events and not early on infiltrate your core group with ideas of wanting to build a city. I have found that when new members see the positive interactions with the public at these productive street events that they leave just thrilled at what the local chapter is doing. It usually does not go further than that in discussion.

It is only when new members come to a closed pub, restaurant or coffee shop meeting that frustration sets in and people start asking…. “Is this it? What else can we do? We need to do more….”  Avoid this by letting new sign ups SEE more. Let them see your chapter engaging the public.

Also, one last important note on this is that….. MEMBERS DON’T MATTER.

We are not a club.

Members are a result of the core team’s actions at the street level. How many members you have is not reflective of how many are aware of the movement. Also, members NOT being active or coming out to meetings…. well who cares? That is the point of productive public street events.

In Vancouver we sometimes will have a handful of members (members being sign ups, not core - core being the team) come out to the gallery and sometimes we will have 20 or 30 members (not core. Core is always there) show up. Sometimes we will have NO members show up, just the core team will be there. But we always have HUNDREDS of the public walking by and seeing our big ZEITGEIST signs.  We always give out 100 to 150 DVDs to NEW people each week. So if no members show up at all, well we would not miss a beat. Or probably even notice because we are out there talking non-stop with the public and getting great results. When members do show up then that is great.

Where we do get mostly members out is to the events that are not in the public eye such as lectures, Q and As and Z Day etc. Of course these are open to the public but it is only for the benefit of the members that we hold them.  These, for the most part are the preaching to the choir events. So to balance out the difference between getting the job done and entertaining members… we hold ongoing public street events to “get the job done” and ongoing events such as Z Day to entertain the members. And for members that want more we hold lectures and Q and A’s and so on.  As for members who want more than that… we invite them to join us every single week at the gallery at our weekly Town Hall Style street event.

Often times our street event is like a bunch of mini lectures with many conversations all happening at the same time.

So there is something for everyone.

But the core plans it all. And we keep it tight with the meetings so that we can get the job done.

You will find that public street activism and community events will be the most productive events followed by lectures and Q and A’s 3 or 4 times a year and followed up with annual events such as Z Day, screenings and the upcoming Z Fest.

Don’t let your Core meetings get bogged down with wasteful discussions with members that are not core team, but just show up occasionally.

These discussions can take place at the street events and other events such as a Q and A meeting where the sole purpose is to entertain these discussions or topics in a positive manner.

Leave your “core” meetings for the core team to discuss ways to become a productive community presence and to the planning of all the events that you and your chapter will put on throughout the year for your members.

Question: How are you guys structured? What are you doing next?

Okay, this is exactly why you want to have a core group that holds a core meeting.

Even if you answer this question in an open meeting very well, it will simply resurface next meeting when someone coming out for the first time presents it once again at the next meeting.  This question and similar questions will take up most of your meeting if open to all members to attend.

Again, if you are posting your meetings on Facebook or on your forum and giving an address to attend then understand that it is not a “core” meeting and questions such as the one above and others like “what are we going to do next”? will take up most of your meeting.

You won’t need to tell them about the street event that you are doing if the meeting that they are invited to IS the street event.

It is not the goal of the local Zeitgeist chapter to find projects for individuals to do.

First, most of these people just talk a big talk and most will always complain about there not  being enough done while at the same time doing nothing but bitch themselves. This is why a core team is the most effective and productive.

Stay focused.

If people want to create projects, then they can go and do that.

As was mentioned on the last TeamSpeak anyone can do anything that moves them to act. But that is your own initiative. But as chapter core teams we must stay focused on our goal.

The goal of the local community chapter is to be a presence within the local community and to be part of the worldwide awareness campaign that is the movement.

Such awareness can included:

Approaching media to garner recognition to an upcoming event

Holding Lectures and Q and As

Screenings

Z Day

Z Fest

And many ongoing Street events

Also, taking part in other community festivals that happen within your city are just some of the ways that we can work towards greater awareness to the movements ideals.

You will note that the question… “Is that all we are going to do - awareness”? Is usually said by those that have done zero actual awareness and really don’t get where we are as a movement and how important it is that we do everything within our power as chapters to broaden this message to where it will have a real foothold to create the transition that we need.

Question: How do we get more organized on a National level?

By having the most active chapters on a LOCAL level in every city across Canada. This is what will get us noticed.

This focus on each of our chapters becoming an active presence within communities across Canada will be impossible to miss by the media and society at large. It WILL get noticed. This is the power of awareness and getting out to the masses.  Getting the Zeitgeist name so driven into the heads of the public across the country that it is impossible NOT to notice.

This also creates a model from which other countries and other chapters will grow, learn and build from.

Thanks