I spent some time on West Broadway this week dropping off fliers for Give & Take // North Mpls (details below). For new followers, we (Works Progress) produce this event, billed as “Where happy hour meets show & tell”. There’s a bar, and the entertainment comes from what everyone present knows and wants to know. We tested out the format at 16 events in 2009 and 2010 in one venue, and now we’re seeing how it works in different settings.
The model feels intuitive to me by now, so I sometimes struggle to describe what the point is, and it needs to succeed on its face as an entertainment event anyway, or we’re sunk. But if you’re still reading, I’ll let you in on the social engineering motivation behind it.
I want you to get out of your social comfort zone and out from behind your computer. The collective impact of how selective we can be in how we socialize is that we’re getting more and more polarized as a society, and we all think it’s an external problem. We have lost a lot of social institutions, true. But if you ridicule other people or feel hate for your political opponents with any regularity, it’s also internal.
The good news is that we’re still social creatures, and we’re not terrible people (by and large). If you put us in a room together in the right way, we tend to like or at least understand each other in a fairly lasting way. That’s what we’re aiming for at Give & Take. And we want to get the experience right, and open it up for people to start their own city/neighborhood chapter. If it works, it’ll be a new kind of social infrastructure, working at the real grassroots of society - a group of people figuring out what they think of each other.
Back to me canvassing along West Broadway, and a question. Can four white outsiders design an event that works in this setting? It worked on South Lyndale, and it worked in Seward, how about on the Northside? Are we all really the same after all? Yes and no. I walked into barbershops, nail shops, restaurants, and was the only white person there. I walked through a crowd of people outside a foodbank in a baptist church. I walked past more closed storefronts than open ones, and many signs of the recent tornado.
So, I can promise this - it’s going to be interesting. Presentations by neighborhood residents and what’s sure to be an interesting mix of outsiders and locals in the crowd. We’re partnering with Catalyst Community Partners and the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, and we’re having the event in a vacant storefront on Broadway. You should come because it’ll be fun and interesting, and you should support us because what we’re trying to do is important.
Also - talk about burying the lede - there will be pie.
Give & Take // North Mpls
Wednesday, June 29, doors at 6:30, magic at 7
5 Points Building, 2119 West Broadway Avenue
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