Recently I met with a local group in Victoria to talk about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. It was more of an informal chat rather than a presentation, but what was interesting about this group was that the meeting was organized through meetup.com.
The web site - Meetup.com - was launched in 2001 after 9/11. As co-founder Scott Heiferman explained, "The primary inspiration was the book 'Bowling Alone', which is by Harvard Sociologist Robert Putnam about the decline of community in America and how people don’t know there neighbors anymore. The Internet does a number of wonderful things, but it treats geography as irrelevant. We still live in a world where the local level is extremely important.".
We hear so much these days about Twitter, Digg, Facebook and other social networking web sites. Meetup.com seems to have fallen by the wayside. But has it? Searching through the site, I was able to find meet ups dedicated to a wide range of topics throughout the United States and Canada. For example, "Aussie's abroad in Houston, Texas" has 63 members. The "Cleveland Art Group" has 141 members. Toronto's "23 - 35 Social Club" has over 1300 members!
What is interesting about meetup.com is that it is the only social networking web site dedicated to bringing people together in the real world. This makes it a great resource for speakers who are looking for places where they can give LEAP presentations. The Denver Global Political Current Events Group has 37 members. The Roseville Neighborhood Watch Group in Michigan has 49 members. Obviously not all of the members show up at each meeting, and different groups have different activity levels. I was surprised, however, to see how active many groups were. For example, the Young Professionals In International Affairs in Washington, DC has 1014 members and has held 133 meetings so far.
Another possible use for Meetup.com is to form our own local LEAP support groups. There seems to be a lot of potential here, but if you search meetup.com you will discover that none of the major drug policy reform organizations are really making use of this resource.
What are your experiences with meetup.com?