Get Out There
Have you ever thought to yourself, “god, the scene is awful”, or, “how is anyone supposed to meet anyone or make friends in Dublin?”. I’d venture a guess that just maybe you have. What did you do about it? Probably feck all. Well there is a woman in Dublin, called Maureen, who was sick of giving out and decided to get up off her, probably beautiful, bum and do something about it.
The social scene in Dublin can be very limiting and unvaried. There are many different activities going on and dedicated/dynamic women running different groups/clubs. Many events for LGBTQ women are organised around sports/pubs/meals which is great. But I found there are very limited alternative events, organised for LGBTQ women. There are pockets and groups of women everywhere, but we are not interacting with each other much, which sometimes can cause isolation and unintended exclusion in our community.
So, a couple of weeks ago, she started an online meeting spot with the wonderful name, Running Amach, (we do love our Gaeilge). Whether you’re just coming out or have been away from the scene for a while, the scene can be a daunting place to walk into without knowing anyone – something Maureen wants to change.
We all know how overwhelming it can feel to join a new group or walk into an event on your own. It takes great courage. So we will make special arrangements to facilitate entry and integration into the group and make everyone feel welcomed and comfortable. Some members will be recruited to be Meeter Greeters. The success of the group depends on the involvement of each member. Each member is responsible for putting their own personal effort into the development of the group.
Many women use online sites for meeting women and that is fine for ‘one on one’, but there is a niche regarding having more opportunities for meeting up, in a group format. The Running Amach Club will facilitate this type of connection, through the interactive MeetUp website.
I have attended other MeetUp groups, and I could see immediately, how the MeetUp structure would be suitable for the setting up of the Running Amach Club, which is now active online. It uses technology to make organising events much easier. I have organised many events over the years and I know the work involved. The MeetUp structure makes it much simpler i.e. members aren’t contacted individually and informed of an event. A group email will be sent automatically. They can then respond Yes, No or Maybe. Simple!
Maureen is using the internet to connect people but also to get suggestions for places to go, things to do, events to run and so on. This is a group for and run by the women who decide to join. If you can’t make the events, you can always chew the fat with the girls online. It’s your site so do what you want to.
There is the facility to interact with other members, suggest and give feedback about events, run polls and initiate discussion topics. There is also an opportunity for the many dynamic women who are running their own business, to network on the site. The site is private. You can’t access it, if you are not a member.
The vision for the club is that it will be a non commercial and member-run club. I will be forming a committee and there are already several skilled women who have offered to volunteer their services. A committee will help to share the responsibilities of running such a club.
It’s an exciting prospect and she has lots of ideas for the future.
I am trying to have ‘big picture’ visions. The possibilities of such a group are endless It is possible to organise events which may suit different age groups and interests. There is a facility for polling members. For example, one poll is up and running already and each member has the opportunity to vote on what types of events they are looking for: movies, theatre, picnics/BBQ’s, dinners, crafts, seminars/workshop, weekends away, outdoor events, concerts etc. This will give valued feedback to the committee for planning events.
There is one thing Maureen is very aware of and is trying to make sure doesn’t happen on her site. Some internet sites can be hell for newbies. Not Running Amach. This is the whole reason for the group; to make it easier for people to meet and have a good time, not create another place where women feel too intimidated to jump in and join.
It is often not easy for women, who are ‘coming out’, have moved or who are starting over after a break up and it can be difficult, challenging and a very slow process to meet new people. Running Amach can offer support and friendship, by being inclusive, proactive and motivated- TOGETHER. Things for the LGBTQ community are changing drastically, which I think calls for more visibility and involvement. If we want an integrated community, we have to create one, and I believe we can.
To this end, Running Amach will be open to every woman out there with no limitations, once you’re over 18.
Different events can be organised for different age groups. I would anticipate that members may gravitate to women in their own age group but would also be open to meeting members from different age groups. Singles and couples can join. An ethos/culture of respect, warmth, dignity and inclusivity for all members will be expected. There is a facility for barring members for any type of inappropriate/offensive/abusive behaviour.
I would also envision doing some fundraising events for the community, down the road. It is so important for the LGBTQ community, particularly during a recession, when programs are affected by cutbacks. We are also interested in linking/teaming up with other groups. I would like to see weekend trips organised, women in other counties hosting events, LGBTQ parenting events, and of course linking in with other groups/clubs already running. We are all in this together. I would like to communicate with other social clubs so that we are not double booking events if at all possible.
So far, in just two weeks, over 60 women have joined up so there is obviously a need for groups like Running Amach, to give women an ‘in’ to the scene. We are a varied bunch us ladies, so here’s hoping Maureen and her crew of merry women can get us together for a good time.
To log on to Running Amach, click away and enjoy.
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