We’ve been inspired by the entrepreneurial spirits of Strong Indy—a local group of people who care about building Strong Towns and formed a coalition to help make Indianapolis a more resilient community. Strong Towns member Jim Hodapp who founded Strong Indy wrote about how the group got started a few months ago and I caught up with him last week to hear about what they’ve accomplished lately, including the roll out of their new website. Three great helpful tips came out of that conversation so we’re sharing them with you today in case you’re interested in starting your own group to help build a strong town where you live.
1. Hold regular meetings.
Strong Indy holds monthly meetups which feature a speaker and focused discussion, open to the Indianapolis community. They’re attending by a variety of people—some regulars who come to every meeting, and others who are new to the scene and interested in learning more. Strong Indy also recently added a more informal conversation at a local brewery to their monthly calendar. The first one considered the topic of incrementalism and its applications in Indianapolis. Regular meetings create structure and meaningful opportunities for group members to get to know one another and, most importantly, get things done!
2. Let the need come to you.
Jim Hodapp says a developer recently contacted Strong Indy to get their perspective on a new building plan and to ask for their support (if they like the plan). While Strong Indy initially pursued these sorts of conversations, they’re now letting that need come to them. By listening to what your community’s biggest needs are and putting your group out there as a resource, you can help where it will be most useful, rather than pursuing pet projects that lack community buy-in. Of course, if something is important to your group and there isn’t community support for it, maybe it’s also time to educate your neighbors on why you value that action and why it would help make your town better.
3. Communicate on multiple channels.
In order to stay in touch with members, have conversations within the group and alert people of upcoming events, Strong Indy uses a variety of channels. They have an internal Facebook group for more casual dialogues, and they post their meetings on Meetup.com, which typically brings in a few new attendees each time. Strong Indy also just launched a new website which Jim hopes will be a hub for event info as well as reflections by various group members about how Strong Towns ideas apply in Indianapolis. Use whatever communication channels work best for your members, but try not to rely on just one. A few channels will help you reach new people and make sure a maximum amount of interested parties are hearing your message.
If you'd like more ideas for getting an action group started in your town, please contact Kea Wilson.
How do you organize your neighbors to build a stronger town? Share your tips in the comments.
(Top image from Strong Indy Facebook page)