"Welcome to Poetry in the Park on ChangeX! Poetry has the power to bring together and unite so many different people in our community that otherwise may not have met. Poetry as a medium for community engagement has the capacity to change people's lives, and as an art form is vital to developing social capital for the community across all ages, races and abilities. Below you'll find all the information you need to get started!" - Caroline Coyle, Poetry in the Park
At the start you will need to give 1-2 hours a week to get the word out in your community and from then on just a couple of hours on the first Sunday of every month.
Decide to start a Poetry in the Park
The steps involved in organising a Poetry in the Park are very simple, so the most important step is this one - deciding to get started! You don't need to be a poet or a writer, you just need a general interest in poetry and in bringing together members of your community. The Poetry in the Park event takes place on the first Sunday of every month, so that each Poetry in the Park group is meeting on the same day across the globe, and visits can be made between groups. Everyone, of all ages, races and abilities is welcome to take part.
Connect with your mentor
Once you register to start a Poetry in the Park group you will be introduced to your Mentor Caroline. Caroline organises the Poetry in the Park groups in Ireland and will be on hand to answer any questions you might have! She will give you tips to make sure your group is inclusive and welcoming. You will also be given a local Poetry in the Park page on ChangeX, where you can organise your group and promote your events.
Pick a Park
The next step is to choose the location for your Poetry in the Park group to meet. As it states in the name, the Poetry in the Park group meets in a local park! Choose somewhere easily accessible to all i.e children, people with mobility issues and those in a wheelchair. It is a good idea for the location to have a bench or seat available to anyone who might need it. Pick somewhere relatively quiet, i.e not beside a playground, so that everyone can hear the poetry being shared. Under a tree makes a good spot; the Poetry in the Park meet ups take place outside come rain, hail or shine, so a little shelter might be appreciated!
If you are starting your group in the depths of winter and it is extremely cold it might be necessary to find an indoor location to begin with, to give some shelter! Local community halls, schools or places of worship are good (and usually free) places to try.
Pick a start date and let people know
Now is a good time to pick a date for your first Poetry in the Park event! Once you set the date it is much easier to tell people about it, plus, it gives you a little push to get organised, not that there is all that much to do! The best option is for the event to take place on the first Sunday of each month at 2pm, so all Poetry in the Park events will be taking place on the same day. Having a set time each month means people always know when it will be on, and can make sure to keep the date free in advance.
Spreading the word
Tell friends, neighbors and collegues to spread the word with their contacts
Use your ChangeX.org Poetry in the Park page to invite people (you can share the link through Facebook or Twitter)
Put up posters in local shops, community centers and places of worship, or on any other notice boards you can think of
Let people know that they are welcome to bring poetry of their own to share, or they can share poems written by someone else. They are also very welcome to come along just to listen!
Enjoy the Poetry!
When the date comes around, hope for sun, and enjoy the day! Make sure everyone gets a chance to share if they wish to and feels no pressure if they don't. The first event might not have a large crowd but as word spreads the size will likely grow. As the group becomes more established you may chose to pick certain themes each month, but there are no rules on this! If you can't make it to one of the events that's ok, the group can meet without you. The group runs itself now that you have put in the work to get in off the ground. The Poetry in the Park group in Ireland publishes an annual community Poetry chapbook made up of contributions from members of the group, so this is something you could look at contributing to or even making your own one down the line!