The best way to tackle climate change is with others. Start with a friend or two, and make plans to have an event to find other parent collaborators.
House parties are a tried-and-true method of recruiting people to your cause. They are gatherings that are both social and structured conversation so that you can build relationships and figure out whether you want to do something together.
We recommend that parents and grandparents who want to act on climate begin with a house party to find like-minded others and to start to form a team.
We'll help you do this! Drop us a line to connect about it. Otherwise, here are our suggested tips for hosting a house party:
1) Pick a date three to four weeks away. This will give you time to organize and to invite people. Start to draft an agenda for the meeting (we have a template we can share).
2) Think about child care. This will depend on who you invite, but will child care be a barrier for anyone? If so, you may want to find someone to do child care either at the venue or someplace close by. Could you ask a couple of parents to take on the role of keeping kids busy while the rest of the parents talk? Or perhaps you know some teenagers looking for childcare experience?
3) Invite people. This often goes better with a friend, since you can tap into who you both know and make an invitation. Focus on people you think may be interested. You want to end up with a room of 5-15 people, so invite more than that since not everyone will come (and that's ok!). People will respond better to being invited over the phone or in person, but having a small written invite for Email or Messaging Apps is helpful. Gather everyone's emails so you can send a reminder a few days before the event.
4) Start with food and mingling. When people arrive, allow 20 minutes or so for people to have a drink, a snack, and to meet one another. If they don't know one another yet, you may want to use name tags. Introduce people to one another and get them circulating.
5) Facilitate a conversation. Have people sit facing one another, if possible in a circle or around a table. Whether it's you or somebody else chosen for the task, there should be a facilitator to guide the conversation, to make sure people are able to participate equally, and to keep things on time. You may want to show some slides on a computer or projector (and we can supply slides if you want). Here is a suggested flow for the facilitator - the facilitated part should take about 60 minutes.
- Welcome and agenda check in. Welcome people, say why we are all here, and give a brief overview of the agenda and timing. Ask people for their help staying on time and encourage everyone to participate and also to listen respectfully.
- Introductions - sharing our stories. Give people about a minute and a half to introduce themselves and their family and why they decided to come to this house party.
- Convey urgency. You don't need to be an expert in climate science, but summarize the state of play - we are not yet on track for a safe climate for our kids. 'Somebody else' does not have this covered.
- Convey agency. Social change has always happened with small groups of people just like us getting together and getting organized and inspiring others to do the same. Give examples. And, our voice as parents and grandparents is a powerful one.
- Our skills & action ideas. Put people into pairs or small groups and have them share with one another what kinds of skills they have that may be relevant to taking local action and what types of actions they'd be interested to take together. Allow time for sharing back to the larger group.
- Next steps and commitment. You don't need to decide everything at this session, but you do need to convey next steps and tell people you will be asking them whether they want to be involved, whether right now or soon after the event. If you are asking for commitments right now, you may want to have the next meeting date set to tell them on the spot.
- Follow up soon. Within a few days of the session you should follow up with participants to ask them how they felt it went and to ask them if they want to be involved. If you have a critical mass of people who want to continue, you can set your next meeting date and let For Our Kids know you're forming a team. If not, you may want to ask a house party attendee if they would be willing to host another house party with a new circle of people and repeat the process.