Decide to become a champion
GIY Champions are people that care about their community and believe in the tremendous potential of food growing. Although most GIY groups are run by a small steering group, it’s the champion that is the changemaker with the initial enthusiasm to get the group going. Typically champions are not expert growers, just people very interested in growing their own and passionate about the idea of coming together with other GIYers to learn and share knowledge.!
The most successful GIY groups are a collaborative effort, where a group of people come together to start and maintain it and share diverse perspectives. The GIY ethos is not wild about committees, titles, chains of office and all round stuffiness – but it does make sense to have a steering group and to get people involved that can provide practical help. For example. one person can do your group’s web stuff, another works on promotion, another tries to organize speakers, another organizes garden visits, etc.
The Marketing Guru - does advertising and PR. Gets great photography from meetups and other activities
The Money Person - Manages payments and maintains records and receipts
The Techie - updates your group page, social media, email etc
It’s also tremendously valuable if you can get an experienced grower involved in your group. They can act as a mentor to novice growers and even give a talk on nights you can’t get a speaker..
The steering group can help to organize your launch event and get other interested people involved. On the night of the launch, you can also ask some people to join the steering group. This can be a great chance to find more folks who are willing to help out.
Following the launch, it’ll help for the steering group to meet regularly to plan the activities of the group. It’s also helpful to continually expand the group. When recruiting, keep in mind the roles that need to be filled - check out the ‘roles box’ on the right side of this page..
Find a venue
Accessibility - Can people who are mobility impaired get into the venue, to the room and also access restrooms?
Parking - Is there adequate parking nearby?
Technology - can the venue provide a microphone, screen and projector? These might be useful.
Natural Light - not a must, but it will be helpful once you take the first photos of your group to encourage others to get involved.
Seating - Check whether you'll have to arrange seating in advance of each meeting.
Commitment - is the owner of the venue excited about your cause and will they be excited to support you in different ways? For example, will they help you spread the word through their social media channels?
A key action in getting your GIY group up and running is to get a venue for GIY meetings or a location for your garden. Typically, GIY meetings take place once a month in a community venue and last for 1 - 2 hours. A key principle of the GIY network is that the meetings should be free of charge, if possible. Getting a venue for free helps keep costs low. If there is a small rental fee, you can cover it with your funding from ChangeX.
GIY Groups base themselves in libraries, town halls, community centers, hotel meeting rooms, coffee shops, restaurants, schools and many other venues. Where you base your group is not particularly important, as long as the venue is comfortable and provides a nice environment for meetings.
You don’t necessarily need facilities, although it’s handy if the venue can provide a projector and screen. If this isn’t the case you could look at renting or buying second-hand models. Coffee, tea and cookies makes for a more sociable meeting. Check if the venue can provide them, or ask members to rotate bringing the snacks..
Prepare for the launch
Picking a date for your GIY group launch is an important step as it focuses the minds of all involved in the run up to the launch meeting. It’s also the point at which GIY groups start to feel ‘real’ for the organizers, with a real-world date to work towards. Here are a couple of simple pointers in terms of when to kick off..
- Leave enough time to prepare for the event and to promote it as widely as possible.
- Think about the season. The end of summer or early fall tends to work well to launch a group so folks can start planting during fall
- Be consistent - Pick a day of the week that is likely to work in your community e.g. the last Wednesday of the month.
Ideas for your Launch
Invite a speaker - A locally known person will get people’s attention for your kick-off.
Do a seed or plant swap - Ask people to bring plants they have to give away
GIY film - Show a short video about the GIY movement
Breakout Groups - Get people into groups to talk about what they’d like to learn
Free snacks and refreshments are always increase attendance!
Once you have a venue and have picked a date, the next step is to promote your event Treat the launch as a powerful opportunity to reach out widely in your community. Start talking to EVERYONE on every media channel available to you.
- Put up posters at your local places of worship, the town hall, community center, shopping center, garden center, coffee shop, sports grounds - anywhere there are potential GIYers.
- Use social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate and spread the word locally.
- Post your launch event on your GIY page on changex.org.
- Connect with other voluntary and community groups in your community - don't be afraid to go and meet these groups, tell them what you're planning and why you're excited about it.
- Get on the local radio, and send emails to local papers for local notice section. They should be interested and will be particularly effective in getting the word out. You'll need to send a press release typically 2 - 3 weeks before the launch./li>
Launch your GIY group
A launch event is a powerful way to get a group started. An event helps create a buzz around the idea of GIY in your community. If restrictions don't allow for an in person-gathering, why not think about organizing a remote event.
Follow Up Checklist
Invite people to your GIY page on ChangeX - Using the “Invite Friends” functionality you can invite people to your page on ChangeX.
Create an email list or text chain - Depending on how people want to stay in touch, you might want to add additional tools.
Post an update to your page - After you’ve invited people, post an update telling a bit about what happened at the launch event. Add a couple of photos. If any questions stayed open, ask them now.
Encourage people to share ideas. Some people might be more inclined to share their thoughts and ideas online than speaking up at an event. So give people another chance to add their thoughts.
To get conversations started, it helps to ask clear questions like: “What would you like to do at the next group meetup?” and “What’s the first growing project we could get started together?”
- Welcome - Explain important things about the venue (where the restrooms are), ask for permission to take and share photos of people if you have a photographer.
- Circulate attendance sheet for contact details, including cell phone number and email addresses.
- Show the GIY video
- Explain the purpose of GIY and tell your own story of why you got excited about the idea. Give others a chance to share their stories.
- Group breakout session (around 20 minutes)
- Collect ideas from groups
- Tell everyone about the next meeting and how to engage with the group in the meantime. Ask people about their preferred ways to stay in touch.
- Say thank you and invite everyone to stay longer, continue talking and get to know each other.