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  • Writer's pictureWomen+ in Design PGH

W+iD: Gathering Makeover

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

The COVID pandemic may have changed the way we gather, but it hasn't changed our fundamental human need for social connection. In our latest Culture Club (formally known as Breakfast Club), we gathered at TRACE Brewery's Coolship Room and Courtyard to take a deep-dive into Priya Parker's book, “The Art of Gathering.” In her book, Priya argues that

"the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive - which they don't have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved."

A human-centered approach to gathering creates more meaningful and memorable experiences, regardless of the number of people attending or whether it’s for work or play. Based on our “Pop-up” rules, W+iD members gathered over an intentional hour and a half to reflect on personal past and future gathering events, how the book had transformed our perspectives on gathering, and the tools we will use in our own future gatherings. Our format was as follows:

6:00 PM: Welcome + Pop-Up Rules

6:00-6:15 : Order Beverages and Snacks

6:15PM : Intentional Large Group Introductions

  1. Describe a successful (or unsuccessful) gathering you have attend or hosted.

  2. Has there ever been a time when you didn't want to invite someone to a gathering you were organizing, like a meeting or a wedding, but felt you had no choice?

  3. Like Parker says, sometimes a good controversy can be a positive thing. Have you ever brought some spice or witnessed how conflict can invigorate a gathering?

6:30 PM: Purposeful Small Group Breakouts

  1. Discuss past event (photo you brought along) and your future event (worksheet)

7:00 - 7:30PM: Regroup + Meaningful Mingling

  1. A good host practices generous authority. Generous authority is the use of your power for the good of the group to help it do its work. How will you use your authority as a host moving forward?

  2. Every gathering contains a social contract within it, whether implicit or explicit. Know what yours is and help the guests decide if they want to be a part of it. How will you prime your guests to set them and the gathering up for success?

  3. Reflecting on Pandemic Era Inventions: hat did we learn, create, or try anew during the pandemic that we want to bring with us (or leave behind)

One of the hardest parts of our gathering was "accepting that there is an end." Overly excited for our first in-person gathering for our Book Club, conversations could have quickly gone through the night, however, we reminded ourselves:

"When we vaguely try to extend our gatherings, we are not only living in denial, we are depriving our gathering of the kind of closing that gives it the chance of enduring in peoples hearts."

The conversations during the evening were inspiring, pushing us to be more thoughtful about how and why we get together. We ended the evening discussing our potential next gathering, taking inspiration from Francois Pasquier's "Diner en Blanc," with a W+iD spin. If interested in such a gathering, please reach out to the W+iD group - we are always open to new ways to connect with each other and expand our perspectives.

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