realization: size doesn’t matter

[oh I can only imagine the spammy comments that title will generate]

Tonight I met with a reading group for the Saskatoon Secular Family Network that I help facilitate.  There were only 6 of us (2 of them being under 4), but we had a great time of connecting and sharing ideas/miseries associated with being parents.  Times like these really charge me up, and confirm for me the passions I have for building smaller communities in the larger atheist/freethinking/skeptic movement.

Right now I facilitate 3 groups/sub-communities in Saskatoon:

It’s funny how each of these groups reflect a passion of mine: family, (rejected) faith, and feminism!

When I first started up the SSFN, the first meeting we had had a turnout of over 20 people!  I remember being stunned at how seemingly-popular this group already was, after only its FIRST meeting.  But as cool its first turnout was, though, I really think that it derailed me in my “mission” (for lack of a better term) in establishing these smaller communities in the larger movement.

After such a high turnout, I spent the next several months feeling bad that each consecutive meeting would have lower numbers — I started questioning myself, as if the reason people were staying away was because of something I had said/did in leading these meetings.  Looking back on those first few formative months of the SSFN, I can still feel the frustration and uncertainty.

Thankfully I smartened up, and realized that my perspective was ALL WRONG.  It wasn’t about hosting “big events,” with monthly themed talks and the like.  The *point* of a secular parenting group is to find support among other parents and family members who are choosing similar parenting approaches.

Since that ah-ha moment, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I’m just as happy with a turnout of 5 as I am with one of 50 (though it does help to know ahead of time the 50ish turnouts!).  I recognize that there are amazing connections to be made in the smaller meetings that could never happen in a larger crowd.

And while there are still big, fun events to throw (insert Darwin Day and Camp Hoodoo), I’m just as happy sitting around a table of 4, drinking coffee, and talking about a parenting book with others.

I’m where I need to be.

One comment on “realization: size doesn’t matter

  1. I think this is a great realization. A community is really a group of 2 or more people with some common cause, and provided that the members are getting what they come for, it’s not a huge issue how big it is. Larger communities are nice to have to draw on the resources of crowds, but that doesn’t make small groups of friends any less valid.

    Although we generally advise against it, I think you should cross-post this on Canadian Atheist (linking back here of course).

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