Oakland Supper 3/26 || Recap and Reflections

Heyo everyone :wave:

Cam here to report on our first Cabin supper in Oakland!

This was Shirah’s (my partner) and my first time hosting a Cabin Supper, and we’re happy to report that it was a great success :tada: I’ve attended a handful of Cabin Suppers before this one, so it was great to combine previous learnings into this event, and have the learnings from this Supper impact future ones!

TL;DR

In case you want just the headlines, here they are:

  • Vision-setting: Shirah and I envisioned the event beforehand, considering factors like number of attendees.
  • “Would You Rather” Introductions: Replaced standard intros with “Would You Rather” questions, creating a fun atmosphere.
  • Table Arrangement: Two tables were used to encourage intimate conversations among guests.
  • Meal Preparation: We cooked but plan to simplify food preparation for larger groups in the future.
  • Parent-friendly Environment: The event was accommodating to parents, making them feel safe and welcomed.
  • Is Oakland or The Bay a neighborhood: They plan to host more Oakland-centric events to cater to local residents.
  • RSVP Issues: Despite efforts to ensure attendance, one guest didn’t show up due to late communication.
  • Guest Contributions: Guests were asked to bring something representative of their culture, with mixed results.
  • Stewardship Responsibilities: Felt the need for more detailed & easily navigatable systems to support Stewards

Let’s dive in…

Prep

Vision-setting

Shirah and I sat down together to envision what we wanted the event to be like, which I’d recommend every couple do before hosting a Supper. Asking questions like:

  • How many people?
  • How do we want to welcome them?
  • Do we want to curate the conversations or let them happen naturally?
  • Date and time?

There were many others, but they all provide answers to the core questions of “Why are we gathering and how do I want it to feel?”

Event

“Would You Rather” Intro Cards

Shirah and I don’t love the standard “Name, location, favorite x” intros, so we decided to write 10 silly “Would you rather” questions and put them in a cup for people to pass around, introduce themselves, and then answer the question.

Not only was it really fun, it also had the benefit of creating inside jokes between everyone right at the beginning. I overheard Rebekah at the end of the night talking with Lauren and referencing one of the WYR questions and they both laughed, which meant that the laughs and connection that these questions prompted at the beginning were also present at the end, which is amazing!

We like conversation cards, but they don’t work great for introductions, so this felt like a perfect happy medium and we’ll definitely use it again.

Group Notes

Shirah and I are total Notion nerds, so we created our own prep page to house our tasks, notes, and ideas for the event (in retrospect, should’ve just been located in the Cohort 0 page. But Shirah doesn’t have access to that yet, so we need to fix that).

Anywho, this page had all the details for the event and I ended up creating a section for notes I took throughout the evening. Documenting the references, IG accounts, and other tid bits that people mentioned throughout the evening.

You can see the actual section here, but after a bit, I realized this should’ve been a shared Notion page that everyone could add to throughout the evening! It would’ve been a collaborative way to store the topics and threads that were brought up throughout the evening.

I’m going to setup a new “Gathering” template in Notion that will be the perfect place to create a template for both event prep + communal documentation

Tables

We thought having 2 tables was ideal. Longer tables inevitably lead to feeling split between various conversations happening at the table, which is best to avoid. So we used 2 of our tables (1 was my poker table haha) and split up the 3 couples that came together, which ensured everyone got to know people they didn’t know before.

This worked out great and we think we’ll continue it for future Suppers. The main thing that we couldn’t figure out how to do was switch-up the tables mid-meal so that people could get to know the rest of the people there

Dinner

Shirah did the heavy lifting of an amazing middle-eastern feast that was a total treat. It took a ton of time to make, and although I tried to help between work hours, a lot of the work did fall onto Shirah’s shoulders. She’s the queen of dank food and everyone got hella blessed her culinary feat.

While home cooked meals certainly add a connection to the food, we’re thinking of cooking for up to 6 people and experimenting with other ways to make more people than that easier. To make Cabin gatherings fun and hassle-free, we’re going to explore a simple pizza situation and funnel the time that doing so frees up towards more intentional social efforts and prep.

Parent-friendly

A major win was that that Lauren and Jon both felt safe and welcomed as parents of a baby, which is something Shirah and I had as a priority going into the supper.

It was nice to have James start to cry (only once!) and have the conversations at the 2 tables still continue and not make a big deal about it. Lauren shared that she felt accepted and welcomed as a parent, which made Shirah and I really happy ◡̈

@jon, would love to hear any more thoughts or feedback on what you think Suppers and Gatherings should prioritize and focus on in order to be parent-friendly.

East Bay vs The Bay

I wanted to test whether or not we could get someone to commit to running the next supper/gathering, and while that didn’t happen, it’s honestly ok because nobody that came to the dinner is actually in the East Bay. We haven’t defined what a neighborhood is exactly, but I know nobody that came to the dinner feels genuinely like a neighbor to me haha

Therefore, Shirah and I want to focus on doing more Oakland-centric events that give some more specificity and proximity relevance to the people who come. I don’t believe SF, Oakland, and Berkeley can all be one Cabin neighborhood. Each is there own, and while people can certainly cross-pollinate, I think each area should have its own Steward.

Logistics

RSVPs

The perennial issue of events: people not showing up.

To address this issue, we did a very clear call-out in the invitation to please let us know if you can’t make it or, better yet, find someone to take your place! I came up with that idea when creating the invite and actually really liked it ◡̈

Still, we had one no-show, but it was actually a planning/communications oversight. I emailed the no-show 20 min after start-time and he didn’t respond until the day after. When he responded, he shared that,

I signed up last minute and didn’t get a confirmation email until “your event starts in one hour” message so I was unprepared to get out there.

So my lesson: make sure there is a night-before message that gets sent + a few hours before the event to ensure everyone is kept in the loop!

Making Requests

While we ended up having more than enough food and plenty of leftovers, we did request for people to bring something (a ritual, game, activity, food, drink, dessert, etc) that represents their cultural background. One couple brought a dessert, but the majority of people either a) didn’t bring anything physical to share but had brought a ritual/game that they wanted to share but couldn’t find a time to share it or b) didn’t have the capacity to come up with one and showed up.

Both options were ok because the success of the event didn’t hinge on them, but I’m curious what the best practice would be in case it is important that people bring something or follow a theme for a future event. Is it just more clear and consistent alerts beforehand? Does it need to be more important to the event?

It was totally fine this time around, but if future events require more than for people to just show-up, that will require

I still don’t know how exactly how to talk about Citizenship and how to get people involved

I’m having conversations with Jon and Matai about this, but I believe we need to invest in setting up a one-stop-shop for everything a Steward needs to make running events seamless. Stewards are essential to enabling the new Cabin Neighborhood vision, so I think Cabin should do as much as possible to make hosting an event easy.

Right now, here’s a list of all the things I’m tracking as a Steward:

  • Notion event pages
    • Steward Event page
    • Cohort 0 event page
  • Google Doc - Email follow-up copy
  • Luma link
  • PNGs for QR codes
  • Receipts

It’s a lot, so I’m excited to work with Matai on building out a system to make all of these necessary components for running an event and supporting Stewards. But beyond that, I feel very comfortable talking about the mission and vision of Cabin, but as a Steward, I still feel very murky on the details once someone says, “OMG I’d love to help! What do I do next?”

Getting clarity on that is essential to ensure the efforts being invested into hosting event

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Wow Cam! That was thorough! Thanks !!

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Sounds like a great dinner. And yeah, agreed about not cooking for more than 6 people. My number one tip for someone who wants to prioritize hosting at a regular cadence (which is the easiest way to form a sense of community) is to order food. We love Thai food since it accommodates vegans, and gluten and lactose intolerants, and you can often find affordable takeout Thai places.

I tend to avoid potlucks because I want to accomodate people with busy days or weeks, who might most benefit from being able to show up for a dinner. I think potlucks are home-y in theory, but in practice feel more stressful for guests, and a lot of guests would prefer to just venmo you for food. Another option is to offer both options: “Please venmo $X to @Y to cover food costs, or bring a dish to share”

Love the would-you-rather icebreakers. If I need a last minute intro question, I usually just default to choosing between two tiny animals. E.g. “Would you rather have a tiny elephant or a tiny cheetah?” And everyone is surprisingly opinionated lol, and debates ensue.

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“Make sure apartment smells nice” :joy: so real.


Reading this by the Boulder Creek.

I really like this idea.

Couldn’t agree more.

I’d also love to hear from Lauren on this and share out what you and other parents have to say. This is such an important thing to design for.

I’ve been feeling the same way about my neighborhood in Boulder vs spanning to Denver. There could be many Boulder neighborhoods too. I think I’ll continue inviting select, high-alignment Denver folks in the event that they want to move to our neighborhood, but I need to focus my efforts and can’t be everything for everyone.

Couldn’t agree more and stoked to keep improving on this front w you.

Don’t forget the feedback typeform, sending out nft stamps…. It really is a lot. Thanks for this candid feedback. Excited to work w you to streamline this down to the most important elements.

Love that you’re bringing this moment into view, it’s so crucial. I’ll keep this in mind as we map the onboarding flow more.

All these thoughts are gold. Thank you both!

:pray:t3: :pray:t3: :pray:t3:

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