What kind of community building event does *everybody* love?

Over on the coworking Google Group, a question arises:

“What are the best activities to bring people together in the community?”

Community events are tough. How do you host an exciting event that doesn’t leave people out of the room? Is everyone starving for a hackathon or a pitch night? Will your gallery showing put off all those who don’t have a fine eye for the arts?

When in doubt: food. Consider this: It doesn’t matter what everyone does for a living, we’ve all gotta eat. It’s something we all have in common and you shouldn’t hesitate to capitalize on it. There’s a reason why the kitchen in Indy Hall is as large and easily accessible as it is, and that’s because food is easily the lowest hanging fruit available to bring people together.

Trying to think of how to pull people into the same room? At Indy Hall, we run a lot of events that circle around getting together to eat (or drink, though more creatively than just a happy hour). Feel free to pull from a list of events that we’ve run in the past, and will surely host in the future:

  • The N3RD ST Farmers’ Market (weekly)– Last year, members of Indy Hall pulled together to host and support a weekly, community farmers’ market. Good for our immediate community, great for the city at large. It’s a means for us to get out of the clubhouse and remain a community.
  • food lover’s potluck (monthly) – Farmers and patrons of the N3RD ST market brandish wine and a homemade dish to a monthly dinner held at Indy Hall. A chance to taste locally grown goods, a chance for farmers to gain love and loyalty from their neighbors.
  • beer tasting – A step above happy hour in terms of focus, a tasting promotes conversation over a pint. Beers fans rejoice, beer newbies have a place to begin.
  • coffee cupping – Just like a beer tasting, less alcohol and plus caffeine. Try hosting a cupping that sees your community choosing which coffee beans you’ll be ordering in the future. Bonus: forming a relationship with coffee providers has yet to prove a bad thing, offer a personal invitation to local roasters or café owners!
  • Scotch night (annual) – Look, there’s a reason why we host this one only once a year. Scotch night offers more than just an evening of imbibing fine, foreign spirits – it presents an opportunity for members to work together to afford the really good stuff. The group of members who split the cost on Macallan 18 become bonafide heroes.
  • pizza party – Just like scotch night, sans scotch and substitute ‘za. Last week, we sampled 18 pies from across the city, a hell of a way to branch out of own respective neighborhoods to try something another member boasts as “best slice in the city”.
  • Night Owls “stone soup” dinner (weekly) – Every Thursday night, we host late night coworking sessions for those of us who require moonlight to provoke productivity. A dish is proposed the day prior, attendees bring an ingredient so we can prepare the meal together.
  • ice cream social (weekly) – Did you know that the small scale, hand-cranked ice cream maker originated in Philly? Wikipedia tells me so, and I’ve never doubted anything I’ve read on the internet. Nothing says TGIF like an ice cream tasting on a Friday afternoon, and members are quick to douse praise on the confectioner like sprinkles on a sundae.

Foodie events can be wide open to absolutely anyone interested in joining for a meal, and they grant easy opportunity for contribution. Nearly anything food-related can be made into a BYO event, which means anyone who joins can share a sense of ownership, adding a very literal contribution to the table. A BYO event offers a way to provide for one another, a means to celebrate those who have provided for us, and opportunity to open up with one another.

And it’s no coincidence that the act of preparing food and eating at the same table often results in conversations that allow us to step outside of our careers, shedding formalities we often abide by during the workday. No doubt about it, It’s easy to get to know someone over a meal.

Trying to spark shared ownership and collaboration in your coworking space? Start at the dinner table.

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