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Spring Blooms in DC’s Historical District

Spring has officially arrived, and with it comes sunnier days, warmer weather, and plans of weekend getaways.

For residents in Washington, DC, spring also signals the arrival of one of the city’s most iconic sights– the famous cherry blossoms. Since 1912, when the mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC, the trees have symbolized the enduring friendship between Japan and the US.

peak bloom

In DC, the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is a huge event, with crowds rivaling those of NYC’s Times Square. The blossoms are only considered to be at full bloom for a 5 to 6 day period, and at “peak bloom” only for a single day, making the sight all the more special.

The Washington, DC History & Culture Meetup, a Meetup centered around exploring the rich culture of the DC area that boasts 3,474 members, recently took advantage of this spring spectacle with a Cherry Blossom Friday Night “Peak Bloom” Walk. Seventy-one “Washingtonians” met up to take the nearly 3 mile walk around DC’s Tidal Basin, the focal point of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, passing historical sites like the Jefferson Memorial and MLK, Jr. Memorial along the way.

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This is the second year that Organizer Robert Kelleman has taken the group on this walk. Attendee Jimisha, a DC resident for over four years, but first time cherry-blossom viewer, said it did not disappoint. Others cited the breathtaking beauty of the flowers too, as well as the amazing company of their fellow Meetupers.

Whether you live in the DC area and are able to catch the blooms before they disappear or not, the Washington, DC History & Culture Meetup’s Cherry Blossom Walk is a great reminder for us all to get out and smell the flowers!

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Keep Calm & Color On

Go into any bookstore and you’ll realize that coloring is no longer just for kids. Almost overnight, coloring has become an immensely popular adult activity. In the madness of everyday life, coloring gives us a chance to slow down, relax, and reconnect with the simpler things.

Mad About Coloring! Toronto recognizes that coloring doesn’t just invite calmness, but also community. With more than 400 members, Mad About Coloring! hosts monthly Meetups, where members can connect with other coloring enthusiasts. Held at local Toronto restaurants and cafes, members can express their creativity, while building connections with others, often over a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee.

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Mad About Coloring!’s organizer, Yvette, makes sure that each Meetup is a unique experience, offering different themes and a variety of locations. Yvette encourages anyone who’s interested to attend, noting that the only things you need to bring are “your enthusiasm, creative urges, and feel-good attitude.” Everyone is welcome.

Meetups like Mad About Coloring!, show the world how simple passions can be the ones that connect us the most. Perhaps, in the not so distant future, we will actively choose paper over screen, pencils over keyboards. Until then, Mad About Coloring will continue connecting Toronto, one doodle at a time.

new tech seattle

‘Give First’ in New Tech Seattle

With nearly 10,000 members, New Tech Seattle is currently the largest tech-focused Meetup in the Pacific Northwest and has become a cornerstone of the tech community for the region. New Tech Northwest, which is comprised of Meetups in Seattle, Eastside, Tacoma, Portland, as well as a newsletter, has over 21,000 members in total.

New Tech Seattle prides itself on its ‘give first’ attitude, where each member hopes to contribute to the community before expecting a return. Their 500+ attendees each month come together to create a one-stop social stop for tech professionals and fanatics.

We recently got to chat with Brett Greene, New Tech Seattle’s co-founder and current organizer. Greene co-founded New Tech Seattle with Red Russak in 2013.

Meetup: Can you tell us a little bit about New Tech Seattle’s ‘give first’ culture?

Greene: We believe in building relationships at our events rather than looking for business transactions. This means that a new person at an event feels like a new neighbor at the neighborhood bar-b-que. We learn what you’re interested in and try to help you move forward with your tech career, company or life. It’s a much more fun and fulfilling way to live and network.

The members of our community take ownership in creating a culture where we care about others before taking actions to get what we want. That’s giving first.

M: What are some examples of your proudest moments with the Meetup?

G: There are many small proud moments that add up like people in the community getting jobs, finding co-founders, starting events like Here Seattle and Puget Sound Programming Python, and other ways they take action based on making connections and being inspired at our events.

My proudest moment was being invited to participate at the Tech Meetup at The White House. That was totally unexpected and allowed us to share our experiences, learn from others and be recognized as a Meetup making a difference.

white house new tech

M: Can you share examples of current community outreach initiatives?

G: Outside of the events, we’re doing two really cool things. The first is that we’re building ongoing partnerships with Union Gospel Mission sending Search and Rescue vans of tech leaders, organizers, employers and techies from our community out to help our homeless friends. There are additional initiatives we’ll be rolling out to expand on these efforts. The second way we’re giving back to the greater community is working with SeattleWorks to connect individuals and tech companies in our community with hundreds of volunteer opportunities across Seattle.

Last year, our community raised over $4,000 for STEM education for underserved minorities and women as part of the Geeks Give Back campaign. Those funds were matched by a local investor before going to the state of Washington where they were again matched. This resulted in contributing over $12,000 to scholarships for kids who need the support.

M: Can you give us a snapshot of what is coming up for New Tech Seattle?

G: We’re very excited about our 4th annual special event with the University of Washington happening in April. This is our biggest event every year because we partner with UW and hold New Tech Seattle on campus. The New Tech Seattle regular community mixes with computer science and engineering students.

This year may be bigger than the previous largest crowd of 1,000 people. A past highlight was one of the past presenters selling his company to eBay months after presenting at this event. It’s a fantastic time and expands our community further. The more diverse our community is, the richer the experiences are for everyone.

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Their Meetups happen on the 2nd Tuesday (Seattle), 2nd Thursday (Tacoma), 3rd Monday (Portland), and 3rd Tuesday (Eastside – Bellevue, Redmond & Kirkland) of every month.

Nashville Hiking Meetup

Nashville Hiking Meetup

This February, the Nashville Hiking Meetup, accomplished a mammoth achievement: their 3,000th Meetup! How’d they do it? Organizer Kelly Stewart says, “Just like running a company, you have to create fantastic products–or events in our case, build a loyal leadership team, and focus on customer service.” The Meetup has been going strong for ten years and currently boasts a hefty membership list at 10,599 and counting.

Browsing through the photos and reading about some of the Meetups they’ve got planned, it’s apparent that they deliver a mixture of warm company, snacks, adorable dogs, serene trails, and lots of laughs. It’s obvious that members love to take in everything that nature has to offer. But in addition to soaking up the good stuff, this Meetup knows the importance of giving back.

(c/o Mike Hicks)

(c/o Mike Hicks)

Through frequent ‘Tails of the Trail’ Meetups, members donate their time by walking shelter dogs on long hikes, in an effort to socialize them and provide them with valuable exercise. The main objective here (other than enjoying the adorable company of the furry friends) is to help reduce the stress and unease that these dogs incur through long periods of living in shelter kennels. Providing these dogs with the opportunity to stretch their legs also stretches their life spans. The end result: euthanasia rates among these animal shelters decrease as a result of happier, healthier dogs.

Connection with the earth and some of its cutest creatures lays the foundation for the desirable “product” that this Meetup’s members seek time and time again. The next time you’re in Tennessee, try the Nashville Hiking Meetup on for size.

Photography Meetups: A Snapshot

Here at Meetup, we are constantly working to build new features and improve existing ones to better serve our diverse community. Some Meetups make frequent use of onsite messaging, while others prefer to share ideas in message boards. One of the best parts of working at Meetup is getting to see all of the unique ways Meetup groups make the platform work for them.

Recently, we spent some time digging into how Meetups in the Photography category make the most of our platform. Photography Meetup groups are notoriously good at keeping their members engaged both offline and online, so there’s a ton to learn from them no matter what the scope of your Meetup may be!

 

Photo Contests

Tokyo Visionary Photographers Meetup

(c/o george p., Tokyo Visionary Photographers Meetup)

It should come as no surprise that Photography Meetup groups love our photo tools. They create tons of photo albums documenting Meetup events and projects that members are working on together. But they don’t stop there – they use photo albums to host photo contests. While each Meetup group has their own style of contest, one thing remains the same: the interactive and (friendly!) competition of photo contests are super effective at keeping members engaged.

 

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(c/o Houston Photowalks Meetup)

Photography Meetups are built around creating and sharing images, but that doesn’t mean that members shy away from the written word! In between Meetup events, members of photography Meetups stay connected by commenting on photos and events to share tips, thoughts, critiques, or just to chat. This is an awesome way to keep the community alive and to keep connections between members strong.

 

Photos of Meetups

The New York City Digital Photography Meetup

(c/o lynman91, The New York City Digital Photography Meetup)

You don’t have to be a member of a photography Meetup group to take photos! One of the biggest reasons that members don’t come out to Meetups is because they just don’t know quite what to expect! Meeting up can be nerve-wracking at first, and using photos to give new members a super clear idea about what they can expect is an awesome way to ease those first-time jitters. Not only do Photography Meetups share photos from projects and shoots, they’re also great about snapping shots of the Meetups themselves. Seeing an album full of smiling faces is sure to make any newcomer feel welcome.

 

Varied Meetups

Sonoma County Photography Meetup

(c/o Sonoma County Photography Meetup)

From photo walks that allow members to rediscover their city, to studio sessions and workshops where amateur photogs can step up their game, and even the occasional happy hour, photography Meetups know that hosting a variety of Meetups keeps members coming back for more. Meetup fatigue is common when there’s only one type of gathering repeated ad infinitum. By playing with venues and activities, members are more likely to feel that each Meetup will be a unique experience not to be missed.

So whether you’re long-time organizer or you’ve just started your first Meetup group, there’s a ton to be learned from Photography Meetups on how to keep members engaged and excited. Have some more tips of your own you want to share? Let us know! We’d love to chat 🙂

Meetup joins tech companies to stand with Apple

Meetup believes our members have a right to privacy, security, and transparency: values which underlie the fabric of the internet. That’s why we joined 16 other tech companies (representing more than one billion users) to stand with Apple against government overreach and to protect the privacy and security of our members. Together, we filed an amicus brief that argues the government should not be allowed to force Apple to make software to break their own security.

Member privacy and security is a priority for Meetup, and something we’ll champion inside and outside of Meetup HQ.

(For those who haven’t followed the case closely, you can read all about it in Wired.)

Political Meetups

As a platform that specializes in grassroots organizing, Meetup is a natural fit for political campaign supporters.

Every election season sees new Meetups popping up all over the country (and world) for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike.

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Photo from The Democratic Socialists of America Meetup

Some Meetup veterans may remember back in 2004, when people around the country self-organized through Meetup to help Howard Dean’s campaign grow as the first presidential candidate to mobilize through a major internet presence.

Dean’s rise from a small-state governor to a serious contender for the Democratic candidacy showed how powerful individual supporters can be when they gather face to face to support their candidate.

During a primary season especially dominated by interest groups and super PACs, it can be easy to feel individual voices aren’t being heard.

Campaign supporter Meetups are helping individuals to launch local communities that amplify their message and build momentum for the candidates they feel represent them the best.

Here are some ways a local campaign supporter Meetup can mobilize behind their candidates:

  • Debate and caucus/primary watch parties: Gather at a bar or a home to watch results roll in or discuss the debates
  • Canvassing: Partner with your local campaign office or make your own flyers, then hit the streets
  • Fundraisers: Host a bake sale or plan a lavish gala — whatever it takes to raise funds for your team
  • Rally!: Make posters and bring your community to a local rally or travel to a major convention to make an impact

Find a Meetup for a movement or campaign that means something to you and your community, or start your own.

In the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Be a Doll, Give a Doll

The Black Doll Affair community is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with chapters across the United States. Their mission: “to change the way black girls are perceived and, more importantly, perceive themselves.” 

The movement has received national attention as a past recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award for their efforts.

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In celebration of Black History Month, they partnered with Macy’s to host a very special “Be a Doll, give a Doll” event, where members got dolled up in their favorite Black Doll T-shirts to “Be a Doll”, and give back to the community by bringing black dolls for donation. It was a huge success.

In their words: “This is where black girls grow into their true essence and awesomeness! This is where black gives back. This is where Black Dolls have more fun!”

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“I started Hackers and Founders Meetups years ago as a way to find people similarly interested building tech startups.  Who knew that helping entreprenerds connect over beer would strike such a chord with people because Hackers and Founders Meetups have now been held in 115 cities and 45 countries and over 250,000 people have attended HF events.

Since then, we’ve protested laws that threatened to break the internet, we’ve worked with the White House and Mayor Bloomberg’s office to help immigrant entrepreneurs get visas to launch their companies in the US, we’ve become advisors to law schools as well as the SEC on problems small businesses have.

Amazing things can happen when you meet people and pay it forward for years.”

Jonathan Nelson, Organizer

Meetup Fair

creativecollisions

Meetup is proud to announce a very special partnership with The Tech Museum of Innovation’s Creative Collisions program to bring you the Meetup Fair.

The Meetup Fair is an evening mash-up of superlative local Meetup groups from Quidditch Players to Doodlers, Technologists to Pop-up Singers, Filmmakers to Consciousness Hackers.

Creative Collisions is a series of programming sponsored by the Swanson Family at The Tech Museum of Innovation, designed to bring together makers and shakers of Silicon Valley for one-of-a-kind experiences.

Join us on February 16th to connect with creative leaders from your community and experience the diversity and wonder of San Jose Meetups featuring:

It will be a night to remember, showcasing Meetups in the valley about most everything, and for one evening, you’ll find them all in one great place.

We hope to see you there!