This second Vancouver Annual Men's Group Summit was organised by Tristan. It took place on January 24th, 2016 at John Ince's residence.
The e-mail invitation and Craigslist ad read:
One or two men from groups in and around Vancouver are invited. If you would like to attend, please contact Tristan (no later than January 22nd) by writing or phoning him via 604-200-73** (not SMS). The meeting address will be given in the reply. Your contact info will be shared with the other attendees for networking purposes. There is no fee.For those interested in partaking who live further from Vancouver we can try to set up a video link through Skype or otherwise.
…and included short biographies of Tristan and John.
The Craigslist ad returned one response, of a man in Mission, BC. He had never attended a men's group, and was declined for that reason, and was given links to various resources for finding a group, or starting his own.
The personal invitation e-mail was sent to 32 men. 10 Replied with a confirmation of attending, of which 2 wanted to bring along a friend. 2 Cancelled at a later time. 2 Men responded with interest, but informed not being available that day (of which 1 had received the invitation forwarded). 7 Men declined. 13 Never responded. The meeting had a total of 12 attendees, including Tristan (who moderated the evening), and John. There were no no-shows.
Nobody partook from a remote location, so there was no need to have a Skype session running.
Groups and organisations that were represented were: Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE), Knights Without Armour, Mankind Project, Manology, Men In The Mirror, SFU Advocacy For Men & Boys, VancouverMensGroups.org, Vancouver Radical Aliveness Core Energetics, and three more with no public presence.
Topic 1: Commitment
Some men's groups have members leaving, or members attending only sporadically.
- Idea: give people a role, a purpose, a sense of accountability.
- Discuss when men arrive late.
- Implement an opening ritual to move men to a sacred space.
- Offer a clear expectation for the meeting.
- Q: What makes someone a good facilitator? A: Experience. A: Someone who takes group attendees where they want to go, as opposed to where he wants to take them.
- The differences between open versus closed groups.
- "Men are silent and solitary by nature."
- Sponsoring: it might be advisable to match new group members up with an existing member for a regular check up ― a concept borrowed from Twelve-Step programs
- The consequences of having leaderless groups versus those with a facilitator.
- A personal tone is good, in group promotion and internal group communication.
- A note about group dynamics: using a talking stick could perhaps result in rigidity.
Topic 2: Recruitment
What are the best practices when trying to expand a group (or programme)?
- Social Nodes: mind those individuals with a high number of social connections
- Word of mouth is good.
- It could be worth spending a hundred hours finding the right words for promotional material.
- Teach men to invite other men.
- Address big topics such as shame, purpose.
- Demographics: younger generations might require new approaches. Illustration: the Mankind Project was designed by baby boomers.
- Perhaps men's groups (and men's work in general) are just not really 'liked' by the rest of society.
Topic 3: Creating a centralised network
- The summit attendees agree to start a facebook group.
Topic 4: More ideas for promoting men's groups
- The available media is lacking. We need more documentation, documentaries, interviews, articles.
- Can we get psychotherapists and other counsellors to send us new men?
Topic 5: Comparing group culture
- The summit attendees describe how their own groups are run, their principles and activities.
- Remarks about various member backgrounds, such as immigrants.
Topic 6: Demographic constants (and differences)
- A consideration of fixed characteristics of men (and thereby potential men's group members) across generations, cultures and sexual orientations.