Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

A (fun) Detroit Experiment / Why 10 people should give me $25

What helps cities and organizations innovate and really thrive is when diverse groups of people get together and share ideas. I want to try something to help that happen cheaply and rapidly: jumpstart parties. Please help me.

I need 10 people at least (well 9, because I will kick in some money) to give me $25. If you're intrigued so far, please keep reading and let me try to convince you. Here's the idea:

The Context
Really cool things happen when diverse - not necessarily just in terms of race, class, and other social identities...diversity includes  groups of people with different experiences, creeds, values, etc. - groups of people get together and exchange ideas. They way I figure it, if we had lots of diverse groups of people getting together and sharing ideas across the city it would lead to some great outcomes: people would probably find dates/mates, businesses might start, people might find jobs, people would make friends...lots of things.

After thinking about it, my favorite (and easiest) way of helping this happen is to throw parties. Not just any parties, parties that have a good mix of people and where there's something to jumpstart a conversation. All the formal events happening in the city are great, don't get me wrong, but I think there's something special and intimate about a smaller, informal gathering where the only expectation is to come, and share something. It's not particularly difficult or expensive either.

So I thought, why not help more parties of diverse people sharing ideas happen?

The Idea
The way I figure it, you can throw a good party for about $75, for about 8-15 people. I want to give people money to help get some parties going. There'd be a few simple conditions, though:
  • I'd give the host $50 in cash to use however they wanted, the host would be expected to spend $25 of their own (or more if they want) to get to the $75 threshold
  • Hosts would invite guests of their choosing:
    • Each guest would be allowed to bring 0-2 friends
    • At least one of the friends each guest brings can't already know the host - this is to promote new people meeting each other
    • Guests would be encouraged (but not expected) to bring something to contribute to the party - a dish to pass, decorations, beverages, etc.
  • Hosts would pick some small activity to help get a conversation going. It can be very structured or not so structured, here are a few examples that I've experienced:
    • In addition to bringing a dish - bring a poem, and everyone takes turns sharing, a poetry potluck!
    • Everyone reads an article of the host's choosing, and the host helps get a conversation started and then lets it go where it may
    • The host gets several bottles of wine and everyone does a blind taste test where they rate the wines and guess the price. The host aggregates the data to see if people's preferences match the price of the wine
    • All members of the party are posed a question / design challenge, they do some brainstorming exercises and conversation ensues
  • We'd share the experiences online
    • I'd setup a tumblr or some blog
    • Each host would be expected to write a post talking about what happened and any interesting conversations or activities which ensued
    • The host would be expected to get at least one guest to write about their experience, as well
    • Any guest would have the opportunity to write a post if they wanted to (not just the one the host gets...and many posts would be great)
    • Pictures / videos would be encouraged!
  • Party Logistics
    • I'd grant out money for at least five parties, but no less than five. If I don't get enough money I'm not going to move forward
    • All parties would happen on one weekend (say, Sept. 20 - Sept. 22). That way the same people probably wouldn't be able to make the rounds at all the parties and more people would be involved
    • To pick the hosts, I'd just try to pick a group of diverse people who probably didn't run in all the same circles. I'd take suggestions of people who are good at throwing parties, too (you could list those below)!
    • The hosts would do all the work planning parties, but I'd help out with solving problems and all the hosts could help each other out if they need ideas (I'd setup an e-mail group)
I need help
This is what I need help with:
  • Please give me your feedback! You can e-mail me (use the contact me box if you don't know my e-mail address / facebook etc.) or leave a comment on this post
  • Give me money (any denomination)! If you'd be willing to kick in some dough, let me know! If we have a critical mass of people, I'll collect the money and make this happen. If you have other ideas, please let me know that too
  • Spread the word! The more feedback the better!
Thanks to all the people who have already chimed in (I e-mailed some close friends about two weeks ago).