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An idea for post grads (21+) to spend time with 50 + adults while sharing common interests, a love for books and film. Time spent together has the potential to create community and friendships. Growing friendships can lead to opportunities for bi-directional mentoring in an organic way.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

Sharing common interests with folk of any age creates community and with that opportunities for sharing of one's time, energy, skills, and knowledge about many different things.
7/31/14  Updated with experience map.

                              INTER_G Book Film Club

I threw out a few titles for this idea, to the women with whom I share a passion for books and film.  They did some editing.  This is what we collectively came up with.    "A Night At The Movies Book Club"

After brainstorming with Lisa this weekend we changed the name to
" Inter_G Book Film Club" to highlight the intergenerational aspect of this club.  I would love to get feedback from the community on the new name.

We have been sharing these evenings for three years.  The beauty of this IDEA for this challenge is that our group is multigenerational, we are already doing it, it is evolving and it is easy to start up.  When we started we had three 27 year olds and the oldest in the group was 57.  We were a group of friends of friends who love books and film.  Amongst us is one mother daughter pair.  The daughter who was 27 at the time brought her mom into the group.  The 27 year old was/is the dance teacher of the group's founder - now a 50+.  The group could just as easily have included 24 year olds and 70 year olds.  One member moved out of state but when she visits she joins us!  We have two new members this year.   

As time has passed what started as a book + it's film,  "reading, and watching in each other's homes club,  has morphed into some other great things as well. 
1-  Attend a reading by an author, followed by reading one of her books + discussion  - Toni Morrison - "Home" 
2- Read a novel followed by watching a documentary of the author's life. Jose Saramago - "Blindness" -  and the film "Jose y Pilar." 
3 - Read a contemporary novel in anticipation of a film that is coming to the big screen - "The Life of Pi." 
4 - Going to the cinema because talk was the film was going to be great (it was) -  followed by choosing a book + film to read and watch. 
"The United States of Amnesia" -  documentary on the life of Gore Vidal.   Now reading "Myra Breckinridge." 
 5 - Shakespeare -  Coming this fall!  King Lear - to read followed by attendance at the theatre. 

Favorite book so far -  too many great ones to say.  
Favorite film = "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"  Just amazing! 

There is potential here to include older seniors in a meaningful and practical way.  As a group provisions can be made to help older seniors attend meetings or outings.  For seniors who have problems with their vision they can still participate in the group listening at home to audiobooks.   One can also use a portable projector making the in home experience much like the "big screen" at the cinema.
For seniors that are at home more often than not, this can be a great opportunity to socialize, attend cultural events, and to share ideas with others with similar interests but with perhaps different points of view.  

Loads of potential here.  I have tapped into the "youth" in the group several times for advice on online technology and social media.  I have asked questions about youth culture as it pertained to ideas I have had for various projects including on OpenIDEO. 
One 61 year old member is starting a new film editing business.  She has been in consultation with the youth in the group as she chooses a name that resonates with their generation.  Apparently referencing home movies did not.   

Skill swapping is also a possibility.  Jes brought this into the conversation.  I suggested it to the group and discovered that it has already started.  One member has been teaching the other to needlepoint.  We plan to explore this idea going forward.


What are their needs?  What incentives can be used to entice them to join?  What motivates them?  What benefits will they get from participating?

This group is looking for networks, professional and personal.  They might be job searching, considering different career paths, apartment hunting, looking to make new friends.  A book club can provide them with a built in network from which many other connections can be made.  Interacting with older folk can offer possible connections in their personal and professional lives.  Older folk are established members of their communities.  They can offer suggestions and build bridges for youth as they start new lives on their own.

Millennials are also motivated by community service as we learned during the research phase of this challenge.  They are socially conscious.  Up mentoring is a natural by product of an intergenerational book club.  Spending time together, sharing knowledge and potentially skills.  If this is an interest it can be built into this community in an organic way.

Building an additional service component into the club can also be a motivator.  
Periodic donations of books to Better World Books – An organization that collects and sells books online to donate books and to fund literacy initiatives worldwide.

Literacy Project –  Join a local literacy program as a group.  Share the responsibilities of helping others learn to read.

Quotes from youth in our current club:
"I think what makes our group so special is how comfortable the experience of our book group is - we get together (usually at the end of the weekend), spend a few minutes catching each other up on our lives, have a few snacks and then relax and watch a movie. I love that there isn't that pressure in our group and I think that it opens us up to have deeper connections."   

"I think our group is special because of the relationships formed here. We've been a great support to each other and have been committed to the group for how many years now? 3.5 years?  It's a great way to bond over a common interest.  We all have a lot in common (I'm pretty sure 50% of the group at any given meeting is comparing their UNIQLO leggings). The beauty of our group is that even if we didn't have personal things in common the books and the outings we go on is a forced commonality that still creates a bond and a relationship."  

Post grads that relocate for work/education are a special group.  Without a local community they are looking to build connections across all age groups.  There are 3 youth in our book club that relocated from Kansas to New York after college.  
"As someone who moved to NYC and didn't have family nearby, it was really great to have an ongoing meeting and therefore connection with a group of women from different generations. I think young NY transplants would feel the same." 

Older adults are motivated connection,  by the opportunity to share common interests and to enjoy stimulating conversation.  They may be looking for companionship and new friends. 
Seniors of any age also might relocate for retirement as pointed out by Jes in our conversation via the comments.  This group in particular is searching for new friends, new connections.
Skill swapping, particularly access to information on technology, can be a byproduct of intergenerational friendships.   If highlighted this can be a motivator for older adults to join an intergenerational book club.   The opportunity to go out to cultural events can also be a motivation to older seniors, as the youth in the group can assist them.

This week in conversation with 80 + year old seniors, at their “Let’s Talk” weekly lunch, they said this about the IDEA. 

“I like to know what the younger people think.”

“We were discussing amongst ourselves how we are losing friends and therefore losing connections.  It is important to make new connections.  I like the idea.”

“Intergenerational groups have many benefits.  It is always a benefit because you learn from each other.  There is an exchange.  Yes they know more about technology but there are many things they can learn from us as well.”

One participant was vocal about her disappointment in a local program that services seniors.  “They focused on bringing high school students into the organization.  I did not like that.  They are too young.  They are too close to childhood – impulsive.  It is all about themselves and their friends.”  
When asked how she feels about a group of young adults/post grads – “Yes I would enjoy spending time with young adults, very much so.  They are open to others and their ideas.  It is not only about their own group.”

How will different age groups access these book clubs?


They will find these groups via a variety of means, social media being important here, but other means of connection will also be important.
See scaling up below.

will access a variety of information sources, including social media and Meet Ups.

Older Seniors
This week I met with a group of older seniors, 80 - 92, and it was clear that they would only find these groups via existing vetted resources, or word of mouth.   This group will be the least likely to seek out the activity but will benefit greatly from it. 
How would you find a group like this?
"I would find it here, at the JCC." (Jewish Community Center)
"Alumni Groups"
"The Rabbi"
"Dorot"  (Senior Program in NYC)
"The Sunday Senior Program at John Jay College."
"My friend will invite me."  "My granddaughter will tell me about it."

What are the different scenarios that users may experience?

Meetings at one’s home to watch a film based on books that the group reads.

Meetings at the cinema to watch films based on books that the group reads.

Meetings in a backyard – watching on a screen with a projector at night, or on the roof of an apartment building.

Meetings hosted by a local bookstore.  Members read the book and see the film in an event room at the store.  Discussion and socializing after the film.

Meetings at a local community center.  The community center hosts the group, advertising in their programming.

Meetings in a church/synagogue – Groups started within the community, publicized on their community newsletter.   Members can build several groups and meet on site or in their homes.

Skill swapping can develop naturally over time, as pointed out by Leigh and Jes.  This can be in the area of tech, as well as craft, cooking, home repairs, learning a new language - anything.


In Real Time -
Speaker Phone
Chat/ Computer 
Video/ Google Hangout

Not In Real Time -
A Web Hub - an online community book club.  Jes suggests this and it is an intriguing idea.   As with OpenIDEO one does not have to be online at the same time to participate in a community.  
Email Group
Letter Writing – the real thing – ok, not technology,  and not in real time, but this can be awesome!

The idea of a toolkit as a resource for groups to start their own Inter_G Club has been suggested by Charles.  Interesting thought!

Use Facebook.
Produce and post a video that outlines the idea and what the possibilities are.  Produce and post a downloadable booklet to accompany the video.   (Mirroring the bk/flm club idea!)

Thinking about how the Facebook community will be able to submit their own tips, as they build their clubs, and include it in the booklet.  (Thoughts?)   Tips can be periodically highlighted on the page as well.  (Great ideas from Meena.)

Building a toolkit, video/booklet, is potentially a fantastic mentoring opportunity!


Inter_G Book Film Club will be a +1 movement.
Everyone is asked to invite a friend, youth or senior to join the group.  It would be great if youth can invite a +50 and vice versa but we are open to all possibilities.


Brainstorming with my group,  we came up with several ideas.


Invite group members to post images of everything!
Create a hashtag.     

Image Ideas: 
Group meetings
Group outings
Books read
Films seen
Spread the idea amongst their networks via comments attached to the images.

Share the idea on Facebook.
Share with friends and alumnae groups.
Post ideas about how to start a group.
Post movie reviews.
Post video links to interviews with authors, actors, directors.
Post links to local venues that are hosting a club.

4H – Partner with 4H attracting alumni that are post grads.  This group is committed to community service making them an ideal organization to partner with.

Organize local Meet Ups using the internet to attract folk who want to connect in this way.  Meet in public spaces, make an announcement, capture others who happen to be passing by to spread the word.

These organizations are active in many communities worldwide.  Alumni utilize them to network, socially and professionally.  Meetings, forums, events are often intergenerational.  Publicize this IDEA on a Class Facebook page, in the online alum “Newsletter” and in the Quarterly Journal.  Put it in a post on “Class Notes.”  Suggest it as an idea for groups abroad, as a way to network with current students studying abroad.
Spread the word at Reunions!

Local community centers often have programming for both youth and seniors, making this is an ideal place to bring participants from each group together for this IDEA.

Faith based organizations also have programming for both groups, another natural site to build such groups.

Attracting sponsors can become a mentoring activity as youth and +50 members work together on this project utlilizing online resources, social and business skills.  (Charles)

Partner with large chain bookstores to host clubs and to screen films in their event spaces.  After the screening there can be a discussion, wine, and socializing.  Bring in authors to do readings have books that have been or will be made into film.  
These events can bring in new customers and it is a good place to capture book lovers of all ages.  (Lisa)

Partner with local bookstores to host clubs. 

Partner with online book communities, such as Good Reads, spreading the word about this IDEA.  Community members can announce in their comments their interest in joining or starting a local club. (thoughts on this???)

Charles suggests that groups can write online reviews for books and films.  This collaboration can be a mentoring activity.  Posting these reviews online will also spread the idea for the Inter_G Bk/Flm Club.
Posting reviews on Amazon as part of their Amazon Affiliates program is a potential source of revenue, which can be used to offset expenses incurred by the club.  The revenue can also be used to make a charitable contribution to literacy programs - for example:  Better World Books.  This can also be a mentoring opportunity as members of the group work on this project together.

Community libraries are a great place to start a club.  Seniors often use the library.  This is an opportunity for youth to invite seniors to a local club.

Approach existing programs and ask them to spread this idea.  
This week I met Marcia, an 87 year old from NYC.  She attends a senior program every Sunday at John Jay College in New York.  The programming includes lectures and also film screenings.  This is an opportunity to expand on this.   Activate the college students, recent alum, or other local post grads to start a club and incorporate the already existing film screenings into it.   

The challenge sponsors, for example, can post this idea in their employee message boards.   Encourage new young hires to start groups with seniors at a local community center, a local lunch program,  at an assisted living community.  Millennials want to work for companies that have service programs creating impact.

BUILD ON EXISTING NETWORKS - as suggested by Jes
Craft Groups – knitting clubs
Local Theatre Groups
Civic Neighborhood Associations
Sports Clubs - Cycling, Running, Football

Organizations that Fundraise for Specific Causes – some of these might have existing book groups.  Hadassah is one example.  Expand the idea.

These groups already meet up.  They have common interests.  Bring another dimension to these groups and ask them to +1 to build an INTER_G Book Film Club.
The initial idea was to target Post Grads and Older Adults.
The idea lends itself to these two groups particularly well in terms of needs and benefits.  It can also be expanded to other targets.

Aaryaman  points out that the +1 model is particularly good for college students as they are happy to try new things "if they have a friend to go with them."  
Incentives, Motivators and Benefits
Free food  
Access to career networks
An opportunity to become a leader/facilitator which can be highlighted on a resume
Connection to the local community

College students want to partake in leadership activities as well as network with potential future professional contacts.  Aaryaman suggests organizing a network event/ book club informational meeting with alumni around a particular industry.  One student can motivate other students to join becoming a leader for this event.  In this way one can join a club with a network of potential professional connections.  As a youth leader of a club this can be a highlight on one's resume.  Connections can be built in a club which brings together students and alumni with similar interests.  Using the +1 model the club can expand to bring in other folk of different backgrounds who are friends of the core group.

Jes points out that in countries other than the US, university students often live at home, or in small apartments close to campus.  They are often isolated socially.  A book club such as this can serve to offer connection to campus life as well as the local community.

Study Abroad - For students who go abroad to study a book club can offer connection to the local community in a way that they may not otherwise have.  It can build language skills and bring opportunities for friendships with folks of different ages.  This is an opportunity for alumni living abroad to connect to current students as well. 

Although not intended to be a women only idea clubs can be women only by design of the participants.

Leigh suggests that a club like this can suit women of all ages.  Connecting via social networks, social media, and professional networks can potentially launch this IDEA far and wide!

Building this idea out was truly a group effort.  Thank you all!

Special thanks to Lisa and everyone in our NYC Inter_G Book Film Club! 


Who are the target users of your idea and how does your idea speak directly to their needs, life stages and goals?

Included in content above.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

Included in content above.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

One assumption here is that a 22 year old will be inclined to join as was a 27 year old. I would need to ask the 22 year olds whether this is the case.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

What great ideas do you have to spread this idea? What organizations do you think might spread the word or create "spaces" for clubs to meet? Great branding/logo/signage would help build the idea.
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Team (7)

Bettina's profile
Aaryaman's profile
Aaryaman Singhal

Role added on team:

"Enthusiastic, generous, and has helped build the idea!"

Jes's profile
Jes Simson

Role added on team:

"Great insights and enthusiasm!"

Leigh's profile
Leigh Cullen

Role added on team:

"Great researcher, talented designer, amazing collaborator. Uses research to build the project. We have worked together before. It was fantastic."

Lisa's profile
Lisa Spiegel

Role added on team:

"Lisa is the the founder of this book club!"

Toddi's profile
Charles's profile
Charles Dence

Role added on team:

"Great insights and builds."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Hi Bettina,
Congrats on many of your ideas making this shortlist! Excited for you.

What I love about this idea is that 1) it's completely organic, 2) it builds off of a preexisting network of friends -- where levels of trust are established and skills have been swapped, 3) the club theme has mass appeal (who doesn't love either movies/theater & books!)

It sounds like you've had some conversations about this challenge with your book club. A chat with them about types of skills they'd like to swap could get pretty interesting.

Let me wrap the brain around this & see if I can brainstorm some additional outreach methods!
All best,

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Yes! Leigh welcome! Excited to collaborate with you again! This is going to be fun. All ideas welcome!!!
I love the idea of purposefully swapping skills. Will propose it to the group and get some feedback.

Welcome to the team!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

and thank you for the congrats!

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Hi Bettina,

One thought on how to get the word out there about your group is to create a formal Meetup for it:

How to create a Meetup:

1) Startup a Meetup

2) Post the agenda and discussion points on the Meetup

3) Then, you could ask your group members to officially join the Meetup

4) You could ask your group members to each find someone to +1 (add to the group). Youth could +1 youth. Older adults could +1 other older adults. OR, you can experiment to see how successful youth +1'ing an older adult is (and vice versa).

5) Your group may be willing to share info about your Meetup via their social media networks

6) And then hopefully the group spreads into other cities and other "A Night at the Movies Book Club" pops up in Chicago, DC, etc.

Just a thought. :)

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks for the suggestions and outline. I am going to check the link.

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Hi Bettina,

This thought crossed my mind this weekend. At its core, your idea has the potential to be wide-reaching as a women-supporting-women professional growth network. If you open the group up to women of all ages, and encourage both online dialogue (perhaps via a Meetup, or a Linked In group, or other social networks) and in person dialogue, I can see how all kinds of links and networks can spin off this that propel young and older adult women forward.

Perhaps framing it this way could open up even further opportunity areas for you as you prepare to launch it.

All best!

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Potential areas for exploration -- to get that word out there!
-- in-person Meetup type gatherings
-- in a publicly accessible area where others can join in impromptu -- a neighborhood pool, farmers' market...
-- online dialogue and agenda via Meetup type of group
-- Linked In professional groups
-- Facebook groups

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Leigh! Thanks for all your great ideas!
I was thinking a Meet Up in a park would be great.
Kind of like an announcement!

Using Facebook and Social Media is part of the plan. See the updates above. I brainstormed with Lisa this weekend, as well as with other of our NYC group, via email and phone.

Can you explain how to do online dialogue via a Meet Up? Is there a way to communicate with others in the groups online?

Although I primarily see this as targeting Post Grads I have had some great ideas regarding college kids from Jes and Aaryman and now from you regarding opening it up widely. Will review and revise the post to be more inclusive - at least as a preliminary idea.

Keep the ideas coming!

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Hi Bettina,
Super developments! Your idea is taking many great shapes.

Re your question above, here's an example... You could post goals and updates in the paragraph intro to your Meetup like this:

And active discussions occur on the group's message board:

A user can have these posts go straight to his/her email as individual emails. I'm pretty sure digest format is also an option. Community organizers (yourself) can reach out and welcome new members and can send out updates via email.

Here's another example:

All best!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks for the links Leigh. I did not know that Meet Ups had this type of online component. Discussion boards and announcements are a great suggestion to scale the idea by getting the word out. I will include this in the project post!

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Well done Bettina! I love this whole concept because it can spread organically and has so many levels at which it can take root and grow. And it appeals to a spectrum of age ranges. Best of luck! :)

Photo of Charles Dence

Bettina, excellent idea! I really like the +1 suggestion and the fact this can be set up around many diverse interactions, location, subject, community etc.

For motivation/scale, what if the members of the book clubs joined together to write reviews of the books they had read. They could also participate in the Amazon affiliates scheme whereby any books they recommended and linked to Amazon earned them a referral fee? It might not be big bucks but could pay for overheads.

Alternatively a local bookstore or other business could sponsor the group. Attracting sponsorship or setting up the affiliates scheme together could be one of the mentorship projects that the 15/25 and the 50+ team up to secure?

They could also collaborate to write movie reviews, if anything the link on the review could be another method of outreach back to the idea of setting up a movie/book group.

Photo of Lisa Spiegel

I think that Barnes and Noble would be a natural for this. Bookstores are failing, so a new program might bring traffic and press. They could stress the importance of face to face interaction rather than cyber connection. This could build on the already existing author talks at BN. It would also be wonderful to get current authors whose books have been made into movies to attend the screenings and book clubs.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi all.
Charles I like the way you link different aspects of the project to each other. The suggestion that setting up sponsorships and affiliate schemes becomes a mentoring project is a great way to see the whole picture. I like the idea!
Any financial reward could also be donated to a charity - either one that the group is already affiliated with, or the group can choose to donate to a literacy project for example. I think this idea can be a draw for millennials. Participating in something that is already a way to give to others, and adding on an additional opportunity to support a cause they believe in - it seems to fit with their values, as we learned in the research phase of the challenge.

Writing reviews of books and films can also be a mentorship project, as older adults negotiate the online workspace?

Lisa - Great comments. Getting authors in would definitely bring attention to the clubs as well as being an amazing event!
Any thoughts from the film/cinema side?

Keep the ideas coming!!! Thank you.

Photo of Charles Dence

Bettina, yes I was thinking writing reviews of books/ films can also be a mentorship project as older adults negotiate the online workspace.

What I like about your wider idea is that it could use an online element, offline, or a mixture of both as a channel to link the users and as a platform for the actual projects.

Do you envisage providing the 'tools' for an Inter G event to take place, how does a Group get off the ground? Is there a need for a Group starter kit or guidelines, what could be in them? How are they delivered?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

I must say you have great builds! I had not considered a toolkit but as the idea has built out it is an intriguing idea. Some groups will find their own way but for groups that need structure, or that start up within an organization a toolkit might be a great way for them to see the big picture - all the possibilities!

This might be something to consider putting up on a Facebook Page. Might be fun to produce a video and accompanying booklet, mirroring the bk/flm club itself?
I will give it some thought. Would be great to get some input from friends on the ground and within openIDEO on this as well!
Thanks for the idea!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Found this toolkit online which might get you further inspired in this direction: Though lots of potential avenues you could take for this. And you might even encourage folks to submit their own tips and you could have featured tips which get highlighted from time to time? (I like the notion that tools & toolkits can continue to be iterated – sometimes PDF's aren't the easiest way to do this)

Photo of Charles Dence

Bettina, glad you like it. I think a Facebook page, how to video and a 'crowd sourced' booklet are great ideas for tools that help enable the connections you are hoping to make.

Making the how to video introducing the book club idea is a potential mentorship project opportunity?

Sounds like you and Lisa have a ready made group to prototype and test with. Is it worth drawing/writing out a storyboard of the key interactions for marketing and hosting an Inter_G group to build out a structure and fill in the gaps?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks for the link and the suggestions guys!

Photo of Jes Simson

Hey Bettina, another great idea! I love how you have used a common interest to pull people together and build a community and then leveraged off that community to bring in 'mentoring' elements. It seems really natural and would lead to a sustainable group.

I also love the home based element. As someone who has lived in many different cities away from my family and friends, this looks like an incredible way to collect a really close network of friends in a new city. Perhaps this could be also be a really good model for older thans and younger thans who have relocated to new towns and cities for retirement / education? Especially for younger thans who become homesick and older thans who have moved away from their own family?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thanks for your comment Jess!
Thanks for pointing out that seniors also move house - ie: retirement - and like youth who relocate for school, they might be attracted to the potential for connection/community a Club like this offers. I was not thinking about Seniors as a group on the move, but they are very much so. In the USA many adults relocate to more affordable, sunny locales. Many choose to live in retirement communities. There are social committees/ newsletters in these communities and the communities often network which might make it easy to spread the IDEA. Will think about how to bring youth together with seniors in this particular ecosystem. What platform, or communication mechanism to use specifically in this situation?

I agree with you about students who have resettled for education. I studied abroad as a student. Check out my second comment under Toddi's comment below. I suggest an idea to build a Club like this into Study Abroad Programs, as a way to offer students opportunities to encounter the local culture more directly. I would be interested in your feedback on this idea.
From my experience, as an undergrad, I had more free time on my hands when I was a Student Abroad than at my home college - it was a lighter load- giving us the opportunity to explore which was very much the point from my perspective. I would have had time to read extra books and socialize in this way. At my home college I think I would have been too distracted with studying, social life, college stuff to join a club. Any thoughts on this? Aaryaman has been offering me some ideas/insights around college students today and what might motivate them to get involved in a Club like this.

Please post any other ideas you have. Would love to hear them!

I loved your post about your grandfather! Thanks for sharing!

Photo of Jes Simson

This could work really well for Study Abroad and exchange programs Bettina. I also went on exchange (to Edinburgh, Scotland) for a year during my undergrad. It was an incredible experience, but it was very difficult to find a family away from home. Like you, I also had a lot of time on my hands (although, with Europe on my doorstep I travelled as much as I could). It was the first time I didn't work 20+ hours per week while studying and I had a lighter course load. I also think that my experience would have been heightened had I been able to meet and connect with more locals.

You could also tap into the large population of international and interstate students who move to new cities for University. This might work really well at Universities where there isn't as much campus life / on campus living so as to help people create new ties in their new communities. Universities in Australia can be quite different to those in the States. Most students still live at home or live off campus during uni (we don't have the same culture of moving to a different city for college and rent is incredibly expensive here). On campus living is limited and really expensive. International students often live in tiny apartments off campus. This can make it incredibly difficult to build a network once you arrive in the city.

I also think that this would work well for recent grads who have moved cities for jobs (as you flagged in your original post and discussed with Toddi). I too moved cities for a grad position and found it really difficult to build up a network in my new city given the crazy and unpredictable hours I was working as a lawyer (I also moved to one of the most isolated cities in the world, which didn't help). Long and the short of it is that I tried to find communities like this so that I could quickly build a network. I also needed to build a network that didn't mind if I couldn't commit to every meeting or cancelled at the last minute.

You could also build these networks around other shared interests like making / craft / DIY / musical groups. Finally, this could work really well for groups who collectively want to help a particular cause or charity (which could lead to great skill transfers, as each member can bring their own unique skill set to the group).

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Thank you! Great input.
Question - How did you go about trying to find communities like this when you were in the new city working as a lawyer? Where did you look and why? Could help me figure out where to place the idea.
Also - I love the idea of placing the Book Club with a group that has formed around a charity. This is a potential network to build the club into - something like Hadassah for example, a women's organization - international - and they have local chapters. Women meet to fundraise but they do it in all sorts of fun, interesting and educational ways. They might have book clubs already. Starting this Book Club within an organization might be a great way to encourage intergenerational meetings.
Not sure what you mean by a skill transfer in this context - ???

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Hey Bettina, so excited to see this idea (and all of your others) in the refinement stage.


When I was a lawyer I did a few different thinks to build my network. (1) I always lived in share houses. This meant that I always had house mates around me when I was home, which I enjoyed. I also got to meet their friends. (2) I tapped into my work network (I started in a grad program and I was lucky enough to work with some great people who I became friends with. In turn, they introduced me to their friends). (3) I caught up with other people from my city / university / friends of friends who had moved to my new city. (4) I volunteered at an artist run gallery space (helping to set up shows, pull them down, bar tending opening nights and gallery sitting), they were really flexible with how much time you volunteered which worked well with my work schedule. (5) Sport - I joined a morning and weekend cycle group, again you didn't have to show up as the group was really big so it fit into my schedule. You can also chat with people while you cycle (6) Attending classes - I used to try and get to life drawing classes. This meant I could meet people with similar interests. (7) I just talked to as many people as possible. (8) Say yes to as many social group things as possible - try it out, something is going to work.

Basically, I found that you have to go with quantity over quality and then try things until you find things that work for you. This didn't always work. I would go into crazy periods at work and erode all of the inroads that I had made (it's hard to maintain and build networks when you don't have free time for long periods of time).

As for finding opportunities, they came in weird and wonderful ways. Sometimes you have to actively seek out opportunities in specific places (so I actively tried to find a share house and went to bike shops to find a bike group). Sometimes, opportunities arise out of conversations that you have with people (I used to visit the gallery that I volunteered at, they mentioned that they relied on volunteers so I signed up). Other times, you actively network (so, working out who has friends who have moved to the city and then getting them to hook you up.)

I think that the way to build a network will really depend on the subject matter and the group's intended membership. A logical way to find members for a book club could be to partner up with a local bookshop or library. You could also approach people because of their interest in the subject, so finding ways to approach lit majors who have entered the corporate world and want an escape. Word of mouth would probably work quite well here.


I think there are a few ways that a multigenerational group formed to help a cause could enable skill transfers. Given that the group will be working together to achieve a goal (eg: raise money, awareness, solve a problem etc) then each member of the group will probably bring something unique to the table. One member might be really good at thinking of different ways to raise money, another member might be really good at getting the word out via social media, another member is really good at financial record keeping and building budgets. Members of the group could then help each other out in areas that they are not so familiar with. Perhaps members could even have a preference for the types of skills that they want to gain and share.

If the group lacks a skill that they need, but a few members really want to lean that skill (for arguments sake, let's say they want to know learn how to tell stories via videos better), they could work as a group to learn those skills (by finding an online course or finding someone in their network who could teach them).

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Jes. Wow! Thank you again for great input. I have read it a few times but need to organize it and capture it in the post.
For me the target group regarding youth that I feel, and it seems from the comments others agree, that would jump at the idea to join are those that have relocated either after uni or for work. I appreciate all the activities you did to meet people. How to get the word out to seniors who in this specific instance might be the initiators of the group, being local and able to pull people into their lives. Youth moving might not know seniors - although they could approach them in specific locals - like senior homes or organizations where they participate in activities. From that site they can meet and then take the clubs out of the "building" and into their homes. Does that make sense? I will do a flow chart to start incorporating all these points of contact.

So I think the next phase will be to brainstorm on how to get the IDEA out.
1) I am putting up a Facebook page - hopefully with some help - sometime this week.
Maybe I can get organizations to tag it onto their pages? Is that something that works on Facebook? (I am not on Facebook - always thought it might be too public since I work with youth and families. I am going to revisit that. I need/want to get more into social media now.)
2) Meet ups - do they have them in Australia? Do older adults attend as well as youth?
3) Network - I will ask Paul Reader if his "Network" idea will function as to spread new ideas between the organizations that he is networking.
4) Bookstores - Yes I agree with that. Approaching local ones and big chains.
5) Online book sites - I was thinking of approaching Better World Books. Are you familiar with them? Since it has been stated many times - (check out Selina's research post on Forbes Magazine) that Millennials are motivated by service to community, and they are empowered by doing so, I was wondering if suggesting to the groups that they involve themselves in literacy in some way -
I am going to bounce this off my group. Donation to Better World Books as a way to give back - recognizing how much we receive by being in this club, how much books mean to us, and how important it is that every child has the opportunity to learn to read. Maybe a bi yearly donation of books from our libraries that we are ready to part with or plan to donate anyway. Thoughts?

Other thoughts to get the IDEA out to scale it up?

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Hey Bettina, I'm sorry I've fallen by the wayside for the past few weeks, I've had some family stuff going on. It's so incredible to see how this idea has flourished!

Firstly, I love the new name. It is loose enough that it can be hacked to meet a particular group's needs (eg: NYC Inter G Film & Book Club / the Romantics Inter G Film & Book Club / the Explorers Inter G Film & Book Club) yet specific enough to bind any different groups together.

It's also really exciting to see you test this idea in the real world.

With regards to the online thing - it might be interesting to develop a website hub where people can discuss books in their own time and share skills . One of the best things about online communities, as we have discovered via OpenIDEO, is that we don't all have to be online at the same time to build a community. General Assembly usually do pretty interesting online book clubs, see:

However, you have focused on off line groups for good reason - I think that off line groups are a phenomenal way to build communities and relationships between people.

And now for your questions ...

Do you still need help developing a Facebook page? I can help you do this. You need to join Facebook if you want to be a site admin (which will allow you to edit and build the site). Alternatively, you could start this off as a blog / website (using wordpress, tumblr, wix) and then ask your network to send out links to the site.

Meetups organised on the website meetups aren't a thing in Australia. However, we do have ordinary meet ups, organised by community groups, posted on community notice boards and organised by friends.

I also think that donating to a charity, like Better World Books, is a really powerful and motivating factor. Better World Books is really aligned with what the group is actually doing (in that group will create books that need new homes). It might be powerful for the group to work together to find any other charities they want to collectively support.

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Oh , I just had another thought. It could be interesting to tap into existing charity events like "the Novel Challenge" to build and scale groups (and involve a social element that is all about giving back).

The Novel Challenge is an adult read-a-thon challenge that raises funds for MS Australia. It compliments the MS Read-a-thon which gets Australian kids to get sponsorship to read books during July (I remember doing this for years as a kid). In the lead up to the read-a-thon, there will usually be quite a lot of PR and ad spend - so it could be an appropriate way to reach and engage participants. For the Novel Challenge, see:

It could be interesting to create book clubs that respond to, discuss and engage with particular global issues - and then donate the physical books to Better World Books.

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Jes, hi! Sorry for the delay getting back.
Glad you like the name and I like the way you have added on to it! Very sweet!

A web hub sounds intriguing. Something to think about as the idea develops. I agree that this web hub/OpenIDEO has brought many people together, and yes we are not online at the same time. Using it makes you realize that it can build community. More to think about!
Thank you for offering to help with Facebook. I am on the site now and considered putting up a page but have not had time. Would love your help going forward if/when I do. Thank you!!!

I looked at the Novel Challenge. Something like this would be special and I think a great way to get the word out!

All great ideas! Thanks Jes.

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I like that this encourages organic mentoring.

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Thanks Aaryaman! Any ideas on how to encourage youth to join/build a club like this in your community? All ideas are welcome!

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Hi Bettina,

In my experience, college students are full of energy and hope about the world. They are willing to try new things if they have a friend to go with them. College students are also suckers for free food. Maybe providing pizza and soda would get them to participate initially. It might also be helpful to reach out to movie clubs at a nearby college campus.

College students are also looking for opportunities to get to know people who have worked in jobs/industries they want to work in. Maybe providing some background information about the older people in the movie book club would draw students in as well.

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Thanks for your thoughts here! What do you mean by movie clubs? Would that be a good place to gather a group, serve pizza, and introduce this IDEA? I am not sure that this IDEA is well suited to college kids in general. Would be terrific if they were. My gut says they might be too enmeshed in their college life, busy focusing on particular assignments, and socializing with each other. Not sure they would want to read "another book" during a busy semester. I was thinking more about after college. What are your thoughts on this?
Your other point about networking is well taken. Not sure about pre selecting a group based on their professions. Interesting idea. I will think about it and perhaps interview some +50s about it. Sharing a passion, developing connections/relationships - this can lead to introductions to others overtime who might be in a field that the student is interested in investigating. Connecting to anyone becomes network building. A book club member might have a son in the field one is interested in pursuing for example. In my Club one of the things that I love is that we have such varied backgrounds. Once in the work world where so much of one's time is dedicated to one field it is refreshing to enjoy time with others bring a different perspective to shared experiences. This however might not excite 19 year olds as much. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to thrash out motivators and incentives for why folk of different generations might join a club such as this.
Great input Aaryaman. Really gets me thinking!

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I think college students aren't busy because school is very time consuming but are busy because they try to take on a fair amount of time commitments outside of school as well. So this could be one of those commitments.
I agree though that most college students wouldn't be interested in something like this but if you get a few, it might be worth it. I guess I'm not really sure how effective it would or wouldn't be to market to them.
I think people recently out of college, especially if they are new to a city, are likely to attend events like this.

Yes I agree with you about networking. I didn't mean to have an "engineering" or "teaching" or any other profession-specific book club. I meant that if you take a diverse book club and mention the professions of each person in the club, you provide incentive to college students or recent grads (whose interests align with just one book club member's interests) to attend. Did that make sense?

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Hi! I really appreciate your thoughts around this IDEA! Thank you. Yes what you have written makes sense. I agree. Having common interests can entice one to join a group.
Any other ideas that might entice college kids? What about suggesting that they join with a friend or a few friends? Perhaps I suggest that a group of college kids initiate a group and invite some seniors to join? Rather than an outside force pulling them together/ in. We can figure out how to do that. That will give the college kids some control from the get go. Maybe they can target seniors that work in organizations or businesses that interest them? I wonder if for college kids it would help to have seniors actually put together a small statement about their interests to better match with each other. Could be an option.

I agree that one of the biggest target groups for this IDEA is post grads - they are in a transition and want to connect and network on many levels. If they have moved they would be even more likely to want to connect.

Thanks for your insights! Really helpful. Keep them coming please!! If you have the impetus share the IDEA with a few friends and post any feedback you get!

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Bettina, I'm glad to help!

Enticing college students... They are looking to partake in leadership activities to build their resumes. So if you can partner with a student organization in which someone is in charge of setting up these meetings, that entice that person to go and recruit others to come.

I think suggesting joining with a friend is a great idea. It's always easier to try something new with a group or friend than on your own.

Initiating a group and inviting seniors to join may also work. I feel like seniors may need fewer incentives to join than youth. And allowing them to invite seniors they share common interests with would be interesting.

Here is a model (slightly altered to fit the situation but very similar to what already happens) that student organizations I've been part of have used to connect students to professionals.

There is a student group. Let's say it's the Student Nursing Association. They hold regular meetings and conduct community service events on a bi-weekly basis. They also hold social events and networking events for their members. The association has a board including a president, VP, treasurer, social chair, and volunteer chair. Many college organizations like this one already exist although they cater to different groups (engineering, business, science, etc.) or no particular group.

Members of the organization join to make friends, give back to their communities, and talk to other nurses. The board members ran for those positions to help their members achieve their goals and/or for gaining experience that will help them in job interviews.

The organization could create a social event that they invite senior nurses to. Members go to talk to senior nurses, socialize with their college-aged friends, and eat the pizza the club is providing for anyone in attendance. The students and nurses talk with one another, exchange contact information. The event is successful, and becomes a regular club event.

Often students will see this is an opportunity to grow their networks and gain some insight about what the nursing profession is like. So I think the challenge is to make sure the seniors are being mentored as well. I think if this is emphasized to the contact at the student organization, it can be done. E.g. We students will help them with X, Y, Z while talking to them about their work experience and career path.

This model is a little different from the original idea because it leads to less organic mentorship and the interaction is designed as being transactional (I help you with technology and you tell me your story). Perhaps this model can be tweaked some or these events can be used as a spring board to invite youth to book club events or as to transition from not talking to the book club model.

Keep asking questions as you think of them.

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Wow! I am learning so much from our conversation! I will review and I am sure pop back with more questions soon!
I added you to the team! thank you....

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Hi all,
I am the founding member of the book/movie club. It has been a great source of enjoyment, community and cross mentoring for all of us. Brava to Tina for thinking about it as scalable so that others can enjoy what we have. Lisa

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Welcome Lisa! So happy you have joined the conversation. Looking forward to brainstorming soon!

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and thanks for coming up with this idea in the first place! as you can see it has resonated with many!

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I love this idea and would join if this was available to me. Community Centers, libraries and local publications might also be a good conduits of information about such groups. Taping into the CSR of corporations who are focused on community and aging issues might inspire corporation to join the movement. In terms of needs, benefits, incentives and motivators that Meena suggests, I can easily see the need for connection for both groups. I moved to WDC, Chicago and NYC in my 20s without any friends in either place and would have joined a group like this. I hope you're inspired to spread the idea!

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Hi Toddi. Thanks for your comment! I do think that both groups have a need to connect. Exploring the idea of community centers is a good place to start. They often sponsor book groups. My aunt belongs to a club/ "ladies group." Might be a place to start a conversation about what would motivate them to join a multigenerational group.

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... and I would add that as a student living abroad for grad school in my mid 20s I also would have joined a group like this. An opportunity to get away from the intensity of studying and being with students that were all focused on the same thing - that would have been great! It would also have been a way to enter the local culture in an organic way. Might be an idea to share with youth studying abroad and American programs that bring students abroad. Build a local network as a way to integrate students with the local community. A great opportunity to work on language skills as well I would think.

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So awesome to hear about your experiences with this, Bettina. Inspiring!

In terms of scaling up, might be good to think about the needs, benefits, incentives and motivators for each generation for joining groups like these. What levers might be pulled to encourage more groups and more members? And are there existing platforms which might be leveraged for scale? (eg. Meetup. What else?) How might folks who are interested in this kind of thing find groups like yours locally? We're excited at the possibilities of turning this into a global movement!

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Thanks Meena! I will start to make some lists - writing/thinking - see what I discover for the above. I will tap into my fellow groupies for suggestions and thoughts on building this out as well! Glad I went with my intuition and shared this here!