A small idea for big change: Coffee and Calendars

Ever found out about an event or project in your town only after it was happening? Ever wish you could have helped with something, or helped stop it, if you only knew it was coming? 

See, even in a small town, we don’t keep each other informed like you’d think we should. Rather than each of us remembering who all might be interested (which we forget to do), why not just get folks together and compare organization calendars once a month or so? 

How would you do this? 

  • Invite some people to coffee. People like members of your town council, your chamber of commerce, your school board, or your county government. Any organizations related to yours. 
  • Ask them to bring their organizations’ calendars.
  • Go somewhere together and get some coffee.
  • Let each group go over their calendar and tell what they have going on.  

That’s all. Just share coffee and calendars. Yes, declare it as an official public meeting of each group if the law requires. Whatever you need to do to stay legal, but keep the coffee discussion itself informal.

Once you have it up and going, open it up to all kinds of community groups, local boards, leaders, churches, organizations, clubs and everyone. Have them bring their calendars, too. 

The only goals (at first) are to share what you have planned and get to know each other. Coffee and calendars. 

Later, people will naturally start talking about maybe cooperating or doing shared projects or noticing that they have shared goals. Then even later, maybe people can talk about aligning their own goals and efforts with more of the community.

It will all start with just a few folks sitting down for “Coffee and Calendars.” 

Your homework: Invite one person from a different organization in your town to join you for Coffee and Calendars.Forward this story to them and suggest a specific day next week to get together. 

I was thinking about whether it makes sense to invite the newspaper or other media from the beginning, or if that would make it too awkward when it was still in the beginning stages. Hit reply and let me know what you think. 

Calendars and Coffee is one of the ideas that gets a mention in my conversation with Joe Borgstrom. He explained how Michigan state government departments get together monthly, and how it has changed things over a couple of years time. That’s just one tiny part of what Joe and I talked about. You can listen to both of the podcast conversations here: 

  1. Joe Borgstrom talks Main Street and growing small towns 
  2. Joe Borgstrom talks Placemaking in a practical way 

You can shape the future of your town,

PS – Another small idea that could make a big difference is a Pop-Up Fair downtown. Deb Brown and I will help you.