The image of the lone, independent man who can go it alone and doesn't need others is so deep in our culture that most adult men find that they have no or very few close, intimate relationships; and most of those are with women. We find that when we look in our heart of hearts, we really don't trust men and we have little sense of brotherhood. Our culture has very few images of positive masculine authority. How many positive images of older men do you carry inside you? How, then, can we find a positive sense of maleness, of our own masculinity, if we do not have positive, caring, and intimate relations among men?

Since recorded history men have formed into groups to hunt, to judge, to decide, and to delve into the mysteries of life. We have found that forming men's groups supports us as individuals to find and express the deep masculine energies within us in healthy, life-giving ways. So part of the mission of Vancouver M.E.N., is to encourage the formation and maintenance of men's groups and the development of a larger men's community.

The purpose of this Handbook is to provide guidance and direction for the first five meetings while a men's group is forming. It is designed to do the following:

  1. Help the men in the group get to know each other.
  2. Explore some of the things that can be done in the group.
  3. Come to agreement on the group's purpose and procedures.
  4. Help individuals decide whether they want to belong to this group.

The handbook is designed for leaderless, self-managing groups but it can also be used by a group facilitator.

The next three sections of the Handbook (2, 3 and 4) introduce you to some aspects of group dynamics, to issues specific to men's groups, and provides some recommendations for how to begin your group. We recommend that you print and distribute those pages to all group members.

The rest of the book contains a sequence of activities for the first five meetings of your group. We recommend that you chose a different member to facilitate each of these meetings, and only they read the section on that meeting before the meeting.

Before you hold your first meeting, decide who will facilitate it and give this handbook to him.