On 2/11/15 over 30 people who love Lab/Shul gathered at our annual Town Hall Meeting to talk about what it means to build community – and how we will do so, grassroots style, from the ground up. The conversation focused on new ‘membership models’ that go beyond dues and obligation to voluntary and optional.
And beyond that – what is that each of us is looking for and needs when becoming part of a community – and when and how do we become part of a bigger whole – a we?
There will be practical next steps coming soon – and more conversations for all of us to engage with and co-create.
For now – check out the list of brain-storm ideas for new ways of labeling ‘members’ – and read two inspiring quotes from Janee Graver, Lily and JAR- three Lab/Shul friends who were with us this past week – and are part of the growing conversation, commitment and creation.
share holder/redeemer/investor/co-owner/cooks/hearts/activists/spirit giver/
soul weaver/lab shulniks/active participants/community member/
labniks/chosen family/stake holder/
I have been involved in Jewish community life for my entire life and yet this opportunity to sit with a couple dozen people in a room who are excited about innovating an outdated model felt fresh and new. I was lucky to have the moments to spend in both the UJA Seminar and the Lab/Shul Town Hall. It made me appreciate Amichai’s sense of leading through collaboration. And it made me understand why Jews have survived the centuries. When a model can shift and change over time, it can survive.
Still, it is undeniable that money is also necessary to survive. So as we worked our way through ideas and words like: membership, voluntary, zeitgeist, co-creator, season pass, pay2pray, and many others that night I wondered if this is what other grass roots movements looked like. People with flip charts — jotting down ideas, perched on the edges of their seats, listening intently, each bringing their perspective. It was invigorating. Because this is not my first “start up” (by far), the energy in the room was reminiscent. Yet, the concepts we were discussing felt like we could really set a new standard.
What an honor to be part of this big idea! Thank you.
What shone through during the ‘Town Hall’ meeting this past week was what I have sensed about Lab/Shul from the start—that decisions about how to grow are based on an honest assessment of the community as it stands and anchored by an unwavering commitment to principles of compassion, respect, inclusion, and humility. My breakout group discussed the relationship between language—in particular, how we would describe Lab/Shul participants—and how our vocabulary reflects the various ways in which we want people to support Lab/Shul with their time, talent, and treasure. Though we brainstormed a wide range of examples—inspired by everything from Spotify to NPR—I was so delighted to feel them crystallizing under a simple, common theme: that if our decisions about how to grow—and the words we use to describe them—reflect who we are and what we believe, then we will necessarily be presenting an idea about a community that like-minded friends will be excited to support, and we will feel good about the mechanisms by which we ask them to support it.
I really love the poem by the Israeli poet Zelda -‘Every Person has a Name’.
I love it because it lays out the different ways we call ourselves in different situations, different communities. This past Wed. night I got to sit in a room with a couple dozen other lovists who all share the same connection: a love for Lab/Shul and the community of co-creators we’re building together. But what should we call ourselves? Members? Labbers? Share/holders? We experimenters discussed that. And the state of the ‘shul’ with an update from thosejoiners who went to the Synergy convening on traditional vs non-traditional dues structures. And we talked about that too: how do we set up a system that allows our community to support our community in real ways? We players (pray-ers?) didn’t come up with all the answers, but we’ve begun the conversation and we’ll soon know what to call each other. Until then…zeldas unite!
Jonathan Adam Ross