The first meeting of the Unlikely Collective was from 7 to ~10 PM on Thursday, 08 February 2008, at The Daily Buzz coffee shop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA.
The event invitation described the Unlikely Collective as "...networking based on the exchange of knowledge and ideas...[This networking] helped us create many projects and many of the connections in the last year.This is a networking event to which we'll be inviting, and encouraging you to invite, progressive thinkers, idea people, network weavers, entrepreneurs, adventurers, philosphers, people who should know people you know..."
There were eight people at the 08 Feb meeting, which was not widely marketed or communicated. Better to start out small than to have 50 or 100 people show up and be disappointed because the event was too chaotic. The next meeting is expected to have 15 to 20 people. It would probably work well to target a monthly participation level of 30 to 50 people if two or three people in the Collective will take it upon themselves to make sure all people new to the event get connected with a couple people on their first visit. Because collaborative networking is not an inherent trait for most New North people, it will be helpful if Trudi, Grant and a couple others take the responsibility to be aware of who the new people are at each meeting of the Unlikely Collective. Some newcomers may be highly capable of effective networking in an unfamiliar setting or group, while others may return to future Collective meetings only if a couple appropriate introductions make their first visit fun and worthwhile for them.
Even with the small group present at the first meeting I didn't hear all the topics of conversation. The ones I heard ran the gamut from inline skate marathons and party planning to building websites, biofuels, Fab Labs and TechShops, where to get funding, organizing a regional barter group and organic foods and farming. Lots of opportunities to meet new people, to learn from others and to share what you know or are highly interested in.
One of the discussions involved the Northeast Wisconsin Economic Opportunity Study (NEW EOS) from a couple years ago. This study had some interesting and persuasive presentations on how and why the New North needs to change in order to survive and grow. The NEW EOS is online for those interested in reading it, or you can probably get a hardcopy version of the study from the Bay Area Workforce Development Board or the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, two of the sponsors of the study.
In addition to the Unlikely Collective meeting in Green Bay on 08 Feb, there was another New North informal networking meeting for entrepreneurs scheduled for the same evening in Appleton, Wisconsin, at the Riverview Country Club. It sounds like the Appleton meeting will be planned for the first Thursday of each month, which is also the meeting night for the Unlikely Collective. At some point it might be interesting to see if we can connect the two groups via the internet and devote a portion of the meetings to remote participation between the two meetings.
Trudi A and I talked a bit about the concept of spreading the Unlikely Collective spirit throughout the New North. She's still interested in doing that, so in the spring and summer we'll be making connections with entrepreneurs and innovators in other parts of the region (Door County, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Wautoma, Two Rivers, etc) to encourage others to host Unlikely Collective meetings in their community. The goal of this region-wide initiative is to help create a culture of collaboration, networking, entrepreneurism and innovation throughout Northeast Wisconsin.
Next meeting for the Unlikely Collective is at 7 PM on Thursday, 06 March 2008, at The Daily Buzz coffee shop in the Bellin Building, 130 E. Walnut Avenue, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Hope to see you there, and feel free to bring one or more "progressive thinkers, idea people, network weavers, entrepreneurs, adventurers, philosphers, people who should know people you know" with you!
P.S. -- parking on the street is free in downtown Green Bay after 6 PM; much better than Appleton!