Notes on “The Art of Gathering”

post by DavidNash · 2018-12-06T15:48:41.558Z · EA · GW · 6 comments

Contents

  Overview 
  Summary of notes
  1. Decide Why You’re Really Gathering
  2. Close Doors
    
    
  3. Don’t be a Chill Host
  4. Create a Temporary Alternate World
  5. Never Start a Funeral with Logistics
  6. Keep Your Best Self Out of My Gathering
  7. Cause Good Controversy
  8. Accept That There is an End
  Final Point
None
6 comments

“Many of the best things in life happen when people gather. So it’s remarkable how little conscious intent goes into planning such moments. Thank goodness for this book. It opens up new ways of thinking about wonderful gatherings with a delicious confection of smartly-defined concepts and detailed examples. Hosts of all kinds, this is a must-read!”
—Chris Anderson, owner and curator of TED

Overview

Here are some notes on The Art of Gathering which I found to be a really useful book to help add structure to thoughts I had from time spent organising and participating in events as well as adding lots of new ways to improve future ones. Gathering is meant to encompass many things, from dance parties to academic conferences to weekly work meetings, and the ideas in this book can be applied in various situations.

The book points out regularly that these aren’t prescriptive solutions, maybe certain ideas work in certain situations and sometimes doing the opposite will lead to a memorable event. Hopefully there is something useful in here (and in the book, which I would definitely recommend) for anyone who hosts an event at some point in their life.

Reviews here: Goodreads

Summary of notes

1. Decide Why You’re Really Gathering

2. Close Doors

Who

Where

3. Don’t be a Chill Host

4. Create a Temporary Alternate World

5. Never Start a Funeral with Logistics

6. Keep Your Best Self Out of My Gathering

7. Cause Good Controversy

8. Accept That There is an End

Final Point

Keeping the last chapter in mind, take a minute to think about one way you can change the next event you organise to make it more purposeful, and hopefully lead to a more flourishing world

6 comments

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comment by Julia_Wise · 2018-12-06T18:26:33.901Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, I wouldn't have read this full book but these seem like really useful things for group and event organizers to think about! I'm cross-posting to the group organizers FB group.

comment by BarryGrimes · 2019-01-03T10:02:18.269Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks very much for posting this summary David. I've found it very helpful for thinking about ways to improve EA Global in 2019. I read the whole book over the Christmas holidays and compiled my own set of notes which readers may find complementary to your excellent summary:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZFX7g4RrbhUJTrfA4mABn7imcnkc7MqJmYOwdh7Gu7g/edit#gid=245929848

comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) · 2018-12-07T01:08:51.832Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

To the author/readers: Have you made use of any of these techniques in your own events? If so, what did you do, and what effect did you perceive?

The advice here that most resonated with me:

  • Authority as an "ongoing commitment" (being chill is easy, but doesn't work very well).
  • The use of rules (I've seen good things result from phone-free gatherings).
  • My local group's work to anti-normalize "saying you'll show up but then not showing up" (working to make sure everyone had transportation, messaging anyone who didn't show up to individually ask what happened).
  • Making use of "casual time" (trying to slightly steer or suggest topics for conversations that happen before the main event, especially by making an effort to work new people into the conversation: "Hey! Is this your first time? What brings you here?")

comment by ElliotT · 2018-12-11T12:04:30.382Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I read this book, and one chapter in I thought it was too slow and anecdote heavy, and put it down. I persisted because of a friend and found about a third of the way in the quality of the advice and pace really picked up.

If anyone decides to read it, persevere!

comment by Alex_Berezhnoy · 2018-12-07T12:01:34.610Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

David, thank you for a useful summary.

I already use some of the techniques (for example, closed space with chairs in the circle creates more friendly and warm atmosphere, than open space with low density and classroom style chairs).

We've been organizing meetups for 4 month and made some mistakes. Sometimes guests were bored, or they were expecting something else, because we chose improper audience sources. But meetups become better as we learn, and we'll use this advices to make them even better.

For me the most important idea here is to think more about the purpose of meetup and use it as a framework, reflect on it at the start and at the end (I've often started with logistics like timeline or rules).

comment by Naryan · 2018-12-06T21:16:57.705Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Very cool summary, I've sent this to a few groups I'm a part of. I'm selfishly hoping it will lead to even better gatherings in my circles in the future!