In the spring of 2013, four OpenIDEOers from Singapore, New York, Palo Alto and Barcelona came together to explore how they might help their local communities build the social connections often required to make real impact happen. It was through this locally-focused, global collaboration that the OpenIDEO Meetup community was born – a worldwide collective of switched on individuals committed to finding solutions to OpenIDEO challenges in collaboration with their local community.
In the past two years we’ve seen designers, teachers, social entrepreneurs, business professionals and students self organize in cities around the world to research, dream up and implement new solutions to challenges posed online at OpenIDEO. Meetup participants are curious, optimistic and open-minded, and bring the magic of OpenIDEO’s online collaborative community to life. Over the course of the last year, our OpenIDEO Meetup community has hosted over 500 Meetups, with an estimated 2,000 participants in over 54 different cities worldwide. Wow!
As our Meetup groups continued to learn and grow, we quickly realized the need for a way to recognize our most enthusiastic, committed and passionate OpenIDEOers– our Meetup coordinators – responsible for leading the charge in their cities. In 2015 we launched our pilot Meetup Community Fellowship Program – a collaborative, one year volunteer fellowship, currently available to past or current coordinators of Meetups looking to ignite their local community to create global change. In 2016, we are encouraging all coordinators up engage at the Fellowship level as communities continue to grow around the world.
Our OpenIDEO Meetup Coordinators are engaged members of their community with a knack for connecting people. They thrive off of collaboration, see challenges as opportunities and are ready to roll up their sleeves to be a part of the solution. They maintain the local drumbeat of this global movement and spark creativity within their own communities by facilitating Meetups, cultivating relationships with like-minded individuals and forging partnerships with organizations that are taking action for social good.
From a four person experiment to nothing short of a community powered, grassroots movement, our OpenIDEO Meetup communities are quickly becoming hubs of open innovation in their cities, universities and organizations – and it's just the beginning.
P.S. Stay tuned for the second part of this series, where we’ll be featuring stories (the good, the bad, and the hilarious) from past and present Meetup participants, facilitators and fellows. Have a great story about an OpenIDEO Meetup you attended? We want to hear from you! Share it here for a chance to be featured in our second post!