Launch Host Your Own Thoughtluck

Hosting a Thoughtluck:

Anyone can lead a Thoughtluck, but hosts need to lead with a mindset of creating a safe space for guests to enter and feel welcomed at home. This environment can begin to be fostered through small acts like putting up signs at the door, welcoming guests and giving them nametags, introducing new guests to old-time guests, and facilitating a safe space through groundrules and open-mindedness in the introductions and conclusions. Hosts should not feel alone and should designate roles to others in the community (ex: someone to send out reminders, or welcome guests, or take notes in the meeting). All duties should not fall on the host but the community.

Set up a Facebook Group or Email List:

If it hasn’t been created, start one on your own or email Emily Harburg (eharburg@gmail.com).

Pick a date:

Set a regular date each month (Recommended: meet on last Sunday of every month, or pick common date pattern).

Set a location:

Ask people to host in their homes. Work on finding different areas in the city and reaching new neighborhoods. Apartments or homes with rooms that can allow for smaller groups to congregate in are helpful.

Vote on a Theme:

Facebook allows you to set up polls where all members can vote. Set up a poll to allow people to vote for their favorite topic. Chose micro-topics that have mode depth and are a bit more controversial (or at least that have different opinions). Send out articles to read or a video when applicable. (Recommended: Post poll on the first of every month.)

Create an Invite:

Create a Facebook Group or e-mail to invite people in your community. Encourage attendees to invite others with different perspectives from their own and from different ethnic/gender/religious backgrounds. -- see example here.

Food/Cutlery Sign-Up:

Create a Google doc where attending guests can sign up for what food items they want to bring for dinner. Leaders can prompt on the form with what types of items are needed. Recommended items include:

  1. Cutlery
  2. Plates
  3. Napkins
  4. Cups
  5. Appetizers
  6. Main course
  7. Dessert
  8. Drinkds

Remind:

Send a reminder (via Facebook or e-mail) on the morning of the Thoughtluck to remind guests to come and any final location directions.

Prep Materials:

Recommended materials include:

  1. Nametags
  2. Big paper pad or white board for writing
  3. Printed or hand-written questions for discussions
  4. Pens/markers and paper for writing notes in small groups

Thoughtluck Gathering Structure:

  1. Welcome/Nametags/Food set-up (15 minutes): Get settled and food set up. Allow guests to arrive and get situated. Nametags are encouraged
  2. Introductions (15 minutes): Gather guests in a circle and have people introduce themselves. Make icebreaker questions relevant but thoughtful. (Ex: Who is someone you admire, if the theme is on role models. If under ~20 people do short intros. If over ~20 people, just have new people introduce themselves.
  3. Establish Groundrules (5 minutes): Assign one person to set Groundrules with the group and assign someone to monitor to ensure that all rules are being kept. Recommended Groundrules include: Step up, step back Assume best intention Safe space
  4. (Optional) Storytime (5 minutes): For harder topics it can help to have one person share a personal story of how this topic matters to them.
  5. Explain Discussion questions and structure (5 minutes): Host reads through discussion questions and gets people into small groups. Encourage guests to group with people they don’t know and who have different opinions than their own or are from different communities/backgrounds.
  6. Dinner in Small Groups (30 minutes): Guests gather in groups or ~4 to discuss questions together and eat together (Idea: have people switch groups after 15 minutes?)
  7. Dessert Break (10 minutes): Allow guests to break and get dessert, move around and have a break from talking.
  8. Closing Circle and Dessert (20 minutes): End with people sharing key takeaways from their small groups and big learnings together. Allow for discussion
  9. (Optional) The Afterthought: Allow guests to talk more and help clean up (music helps here!)

Post:

Post photos and key takeaways from the discussion on Facebook group or in another setting.