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March 23, 2012 / Ben Simon

More on the kitchen table summer campaign

I’m currently doing a bit of travel to seek out smart people to get ideas for both our summer campaign and our distributed organizing in general, and this week led me to a discussion with some old colleagues currently working on the Obama campaign (thanks guys!).

Some great thoughts came out of it that I don’t think we’ve touched on yet. Specifically, we came up with a set of questions that need to be answered and thought through as we’re getting this off the ground (along with an assortment of other thoughts, which I’ll get to at the end). Some of the bigger questions are:

Who are we asking to lead?

There are two main potential structures for our kitchen table events — peer-led or parent/guardian-led — and the way to promote and talk about those is pretty different. We need to do both, but it means that we’ll need to tailor our messaging to the medium, and not just assume a one-size-fits-all approach will work.

What’s our support structure?

No matter how we do this, event hosts & participants will have questions that cannot be answered by how-to guides & FAQs alone. Are we getting a group of super-vols, poised to answer questions in realtime during the day of action? Or something else? Either way, we need to be ready.

What’s our follow-up ask?

In the classic house meeting model, hosts of one meeting try to get attendees of their meeting to then go off and host their own. But, that’s not really what we’re after, here — it seems like what we really want is for people to, based on their original events, essentially form those groups into “teams” of sorts, who will continue working together through the summer (or longer).

What’s the goal of the event? Or, more precisely, how do we accommodate different goals?

This has a few different parts. First, there’s the basic idea that there are a few different reasons why you might want to have friends/your child’s friends over hack & learn some webmaking (or, different goals you have coming in).

One is the idea of getting together to have fun, with the specific thing you’re making being somewhat incidental — this could use one of the Hackasurus missions, for example.

But another is where the goal is to address a specific problem — maybe it’s a group of 15-year-olds who started a band and want to make a website, or maybe a few friends who want to do something to help out in their town — and where the goal really is to make a very specific thing.

Now, both of these are models we definitely want to support, but there would probably be differences in how they would be structured and how they’d be pitched so the people who have a problem they want to solve recognize they could do it through one of our events.

And, finally, since what we’re really trying to teach is a tool or language to get you somewhere else, we need to create ways for affinity groups to join up, who want to use these events for their own purposes (so, not just appealing to webby groups, but to groups who could benefit by doing something webby).

A couple other thoughts

One key insight is really that the promotion we’re doing (at least for the kickoff of the summer campaign) is almost purely about hosting, rather than attending. The informal nature of the events is such that we aren’t asking people to have strangers into their homes, but rather to create the event they want, with whoever they want to be there. That definitely changes how we should talk about the events and build the campaign — in part, at least, in that we shouldn’t start small by just asking some select group to host, but also in other, still to be discovered, ways.

Another really interesting idea (which it’s likely too late for this year, but summer 2013?) is if we could be developing a fellows program, essentially a service-learning program for CS majors, to be able to help teach kids to code for their summer, in exchange for some sort of credit. Might be unworkable for any number of reasons, but could be a neat idea to explore.

And we also talked about how much of an asset partnerships will be, both within Mozilla and outside of our community. I’m particularly hopeful that ReMo could be an enormous help with something like this — time to get talking!

Finally, as a side note, people seem to like the Kitchen Table branding for our low-bar events. So, perhaps the naming there was not so temporary…

Picking a bunch more brains next week — looking forward to where this goes.



Leave a Comment
  1. Alina Mierlus (@alina_mierlus) / Apr 3 2012 7:01 am

    Kitchen Table is not a very common name (at least related to the event concept) in many parts outside North America.

    So, we may hack the name for the Barcelona low bar events (concept is great though) :). Before branding an event, would be great to get feedback from various webmakers around the world.

    • Ben Simon / Apr 5 2012 10:26 am

      Hey Alina — thanks for the feedback. The truth is that it’s not a particularly common name in North America, either; we’re just going for something that indicates “informal” (and are very happy to have people hack it however they’d like).


  1. What are we working on? HTML5 power tools. Webmaker branding. Youth teaching youth. StoryThing. Summer Code Party. | o p e n m a t t
  2. Webmakers and community leadership component – Engage, Empower, Influence | Alina Mierlus

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