This year at The Square, we’re going to be starting a club. To be more precise, we’re going to be starting a club about starting more clubs. We hope we’ll see clubs popping up all over about every sort of thing—about walking + talking, stitching + bitching, about big ole thorny problems—or about nothing much at all. Jump down this page to see a few of the groups we’ve started already (some of them you can even sign up for). (You can also download our concept document here and add to our club-a-palooza brainstorming document here, including telling us about existing clubs that like all sorts of people to join them.)
“I’ve never been much of a joiner. We hear that a lot from new people that come in. But I think whatever your burn is in the world, there’s something out there for you.” —From the feature film “Join or Die.”
So why all this group-ish-ness afoot, you’re cleverly wondering? We think that hanging out with each other in our hometowns might just be how we’re going to save America (and ourselves). We’ve believed that since we were founded 17 years ago by an unofficial “club” of a few friends who disagreed on politics but liked each other anyway. Ask yourself how much time you spend really talking with friends or acquaintances who disagree with you ideologically? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is “hardly ever,” so how do you really know you hate “those people” so very much? Right?
And now, especially now, too many of us are sad and lonely and angry. We wonder when was the last time that some of our sad and lonely and angry neighbors were invited to join up to much of anything?
Healing what divides us in America doesn’t have to be a slog — it can be with good music in the background, a beer in your hand and laughter all around. We’re convinced that if we turn this experiment in self-governance around, it will be because we got up off the couch and joined something or other, preferably that included people who aren’t just like us.
“In the background of the American story behind the presidents and wars, recessions and boom times, scientific breakthroughs and social movements—are clubs.” —from “Join or Die”
Here are just a few of the clubs that popped up and built America: Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Sewing Society, Detroit Athletic Club (and the Banjo Club at the Detroit Athletic Club), and (of course) Ben Franklin’s famous Junto, that met on Friday nights in Philadelphia to debate philosophy.
So—in this proud American tradition—here are our first clubs, below. Give Cassie a (polite) yell if you’ve got one you want to add to the list with your “Beautiful Dogs & Their Beautiful Owners Club” or your “Coffee Roasting Unicycle Club.” Give Liz a (friendly) holler if you’re just trying to figure things out and you want a little club-coaching.
Let us know what interests you: Stay in the loop as we add new groups here.
1. Nicole Everett and Patrick O’Bryant are hosting a podcast club. Nicole and Patrick are so cool that you shouldn’t care if they’re hosting a “Watch Grass Grow” group, you should sign right on up. Starting Tuesday, 9/26 the “Hot Pod Club” will meet biweekly at 5:30pm at Red Eye Midtown. 1125 Thomasville Road. Booyah. Let Leon know if you’re interested in joining them.
2. Jessica Lowe-Minor is hosting another podcast club. Again, RUN (don’t walk) to join this one. It will almost certainly include coffee… or tea… or wine. Regardless of one’s choice of beverage, it will be a chance to libate (moderately, liberally, or conservatively) and talk about keeping/saving the Republic. Which is a big job, so it requires us to stay hydrated. Interested? Contact Jessica.
3. Liz Joyner (founder of The Village Square) and Lea Marshall (Leon High School theatre maven) are hosting Civic Stitch n Bitch. Here’s the official promo language straight from Madison Ave: Bring your knitting, needlepoint, or a snack. Or just an open hand to hold to a wine glass. We’ll hang out. One rule, we only “bitch” about the ways that our civics isn’t working for ALL OF US (it’s a countercultural mental exercise). We’re going to stitch up this ugly ole divide, whether it’s with yarn or relationships. You should know that Lea and Liz are political opposites with a very long friendship where they’ve figured out “the power of and” (and a bunch of other things they’ll likely “bitch” about). Meets 7 to 8:30 pm these dates: September 20, October 18, November 15 and December 13. Email Liz if you want to join in.
4. Bill Mattox is hosting a Dinner Club (it’s already filled with previous book club attendees—you really should join a book club. Bill is our Official Book Club Sherpa so you’ll want to know him—he’s led us as we’ve talked about The Righteous Mind by our hero and colleague Jon Haidt (about 10 times now). If you’re interested in learning more about hosting your own dinner club contact Bill.
5. Bill Mattox is also leading a book club on “Collective Illusions” by author Todd Rose (starts 9.12; Tuesdays at noon), who is joining us for Dinner at the Square on Tuesday, October 17th. It will meet on Tuesdays around lunch time: Sept 12, Sept 19, Sept 26, Oct 3, Oct 10. you want to join him (you do), sign up here.
6. Thursday Think Piece Club. (We know it will be on a Thursday; not sure about the rest). We plan to be running small groups all year to discuss three think pieces, beginning with the David Brooks Atlantic piece that inspired our “Ending The Cycle of Mean” God Squad program this year — “How America Got Mean.”
7. NEW ONE, hosted by the fabulous Kate Kile: A Walk in the Woods with Village Square, the first Saturday of the month @ 9am — picking 3 trails for Oct – Dec.
8. The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling Podcast Club (details forthcoming).
9. We love the idea of Sunday Night Supper Club. Let us know if you’d like to start one.
“Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association. —Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America”