There is a link, after the narrative below, to a Google Drive folder which contains downloads you may wish to use in your organizational meetup.

 

STARTING A DISCUSSION GROUP

 

 

Background:

 

I belong to two discussion groups.  One meets twice a month at a city Parks and Recreation building, and the other meets once a month at a restaurant.  The second group meets, also, once a month for a social get together.

 

While working in England, I saw two pub/restaurants which on alternate Tuesday nights held a Trivia Night or Discussion Night meetup.  I, also, saw a group that held a weekly book club meetup on a commuter train.

 

Pick a venue:

 

You can start up a group to discuss American Voter’s Guide to Basic Economics at your religious organization, civic club, community action group, social club, political group, volunteer fire station, etc., or as a group independent of another organization (e.g., meet at a public parks and recreation center, public library, restaurant, coffee house, etc.).

 

Typically public recreation centers and public libraries provide meeting rooms at no cost.  Additionally, public places, such as these, will include announcements of your discussion meetups in their monthly newsletters.  On the other hand restaurants and coffee shops provide a more social and inviting atmosphere.

 

Whatever approach you take, you will both enjoy yourself and learn something about how your country operates.

 

Announce that a group is forming:

 

You can use the announcement board at laundromats, libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, the newspaper’s community events calendar, meetup.com, or any other means for calling together folks who will be interested.  I suggest you post your announcements in several different places.

 

A simple announcement will work, such as:

 

Calling all Citizens

  • Want to vote knowledgeably and responsibly?

  • Want to participate in the rebirth of America's democracy?

  • Want to meet new people and develop new friendships?

Join us at _______ on _____ evening at _____ o’clock for a meetup to discuss:

American Voter’s Guide to Basic Economics – Discussion Guide 1.

This is our first organizing meeting; come find out if this is something you will enjoy!

(NOTE: You will not need a copy of the book for the first meetup.  You can purchase the book for the second meetup.)

 

The organizational meetup:

 

At the first meetup, you will need to introduce attendees to the discussion guide and explain the structure of future meetups.  Directly after explaining the meeting structure -you might hand out copies of the review of a “Relocation of a US Manufacturing Operation to China” from Section A of Chapter 2 (you can download for printing via link to Google Drive provided on this website) allow ten minutes for folks to read the section, and begin a discussion.  If people get a taste of the action – they will become excited about joining. Be certain to tell attendees how to find this website and how to obtain a discussion guide.

 

Provide a reading assignment for the first general meetup.  The assignment should include a review of the Penny Money Flow exercise in Appendix B of the book.  Teaching tools are available on Google Drive to facilitate this review.  The tools include:  

  1. A "download and print" practice set for Appendix B, and

  2. PowerPoint presentations in video format (two part presentation requires total of 22 minutes to review).

  • The PowerPoint presentations can be used for self-education by the group facilitators, or

  • If the necessary video equipment is available - the videos can be used for review in the group meetup session.  

 

It is advisable that the group members complete the Penny Money Flow exercise.  However, it would be adequate to simply follow the transactions, depicted in the worksheets for the first couple of days.  A group member with some bookkeeping or accounting experience would be a good candidate for either leading the group in completing or in reviewing the first couple of days of activity as depicted in the exercise.  Note: If, for example, fifteen members participate in the first meetup, only eight will be needed to complete the exercise – the others can observe / then all can discuss.

In the organizational meetup it should be decided "by whom, how, and to what depth (review first two days [already completed in Appendix B] or attempt to complete an additonal two days using the practice set provided on this website)" the review of the Penny Money Flow exercise will be executed.

 

The meetup:

 

Meetups I have attended last from one to one and one-half hours.  These groups meet once or twice a month.  As mentioned above, one group I currently associate with meets for discussion once a month and a social get together – dinner, drinking night, or picnic - once a month.

 

The discussion can be led by one, or two alternating designated facilitators (minimum of two is recommended for backup), or the facilitator role can be rotated amongst the group members – coordinated by a group coordinator (probably you – if you are the one organizing the group).

 

Discussion meetups go well when five to fifteen people participate.  Since all members will not attend every meetup, you should shoot for a membership of eighteen to twenty people.  If the group becomes too large – suggest that someone start up a second group.  If you end up with two or more groups and if you schedule social events – the groups can combine for the social events.

 

Make it happen:

 

Whether you undertake this project by yourself or with a friend – you will have a great time and expand your circle of friends – go make it happen. 

 

 

 

TIPS

 

  • You will need to regularly remind the group (probably one week in advance of each scheduled meetup) to both read the material and attend the meetup or social event.

 

  • The group will attract newcomers over the initial twelve weeks and then on occasion over the years.  It will be necessary for these newcomers to review Chapters 1 & 2 to enable them to participate knowledgeably in discussions of the material in all subsequent chapters.  Therefore, you should plan a meetup(s) every three months in the first year to review Chapters 1 & 2 with newcomers.  Subsequently, two such meetups per year, or only as needed will be adequate.

 

  • In addition to holding catch-up meetups on Chapters 1 & 2, you should encourage newcomers to read all chapters on structural economics.  Discussions of the Keystone Pipeline project, Social Security, minimum wage, etc. will take on a totally different character if held by those who understand the structure of the system versus those who do not.

 

  • In addition to posting notices about your group, placing flyers announcing the group on the reception table at events held by organizations, such as the League of Women Voters;  American Association of University Women; Republican, Democratic, Green, etc. party (also, party headquarters); hiking club; and etc., is a good recruiting method.

 

  • The meeting structure can be what you are comfortable with. 

 

I have attended a couple of discussion meetups that start with a short presentation of the subject matter (members took turns putting together an outline of the subject matter (i.e., a section of the book)), speaking about the matter – following the outline, and then the floor was opened to discussion.  This approach approximates a classroom environment and has the advantage of covering the subject for those who have not read the reading assignment prior to attending the meetup

 

The primary group I participate in is made up of retired seniors.  They come to the meetups prepared.  The meetup lead for the day speaks for five to ten minutes on the subject, may or may not have an outline (usually, not), and we quickly jump into discussing the subject.  This structure is less formal than the classroom approach.

 

  • You can start your group out with a more formal structure, and then later switch to a less formal structure.  You are not stuck with the structure you start with.

 

  • Depending on several factors, including but not limited to – number of meetups per month, structure of the discussion, depth of the discussions, whether or not the group discusses any of the citations, etc. – it should require from twelve to thirty-six months to cover the book.  Discussion Guide 2 should be available in early 2020.  Your group can fill in the gap between books, if necessary, by discussing current events and relating these discussions back to the material learned from discussing Discussion Guide 1.

 

  • Ask two, three, or four different participants to comment on each discussion point (detailed in the book) or question as listed in the book; then open the floor to general discussion on the topic.  This approach will get everyone involved.

 

  • Designate a timekeeper who will hit a bell or simply say “beep” when a member exceeds an allotted time to speak (two or three minutes are typical time limits).  The facilitator can, if others do not have something to say, come back to someone who has been cut-off by the timekeeper. 

 

 

 

"START A GROUP" DOWNLOADS INCLUDE:

 

The same narrative, as above, plus handouts and a Penny Money practice set, as well as instructional videos are provided in downloadable form via the Google Drive link:

 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19nM95Y7HrW82xh71AWYbVqrhVV7CGGm6?usp=sharing

 

 (The link ties to a folder – RETHINK ECON GUIDE 1)

 

RETHINK ECON GUIDE 1 contains five folders:

 

  • RETHINK START A GROUP

  • RETHINK DISC GUIDE TEXT SCHDS

  • RETHINK DISC GUIDE APPENDICES

  • PENNY MONEY FLOW WMV 1

  • VIDEOS

 

The folder RETHINK START A GROUP includes three files and a folder:

 

  • RETHINK START GROUP.pdf

  • CHAP 2  SEC A.pdf

  • APPENDIX A.pdf

  • RETHINK APPN B Penny Money practice (folder)

 

The folder RETHINK APPN B includes 7 files related to completing the money flow exercise.  NOTE: Your group (or you, if you are an individual reader) may wish only to review the first couple of days of the money flow and not complete the exercise – this is OK.

The folder "PENNY MONEY FLOW WMV 1" includes six PowerPoint slide shows in video format.  There is Part 1 and Part 2 in each of three sets.  The video sets vary in density for use on various equipment:

  • Penny Money Flow Part 1 PPT Comp and HD 960

 (for use with computers and high definition video equipment, including television).

  • Penny Money Flow Part 2 PPT Comp and HD 960

  • Penny Money Flow Part 1 PPT Internet and DVD 640

 (for use with Internet and saving to DVD).

  • Penny Money Flow Part 2 PPT Internet and DVD 640

  • Penny Money Flow Part 1 PPT Portable Devices 320

 (for use with portable devices [smart phones, tablets, etc.])

  • Penny Money Flow Part 2 PPT Portable Devices 320