the tactic toolbox • the scheme suite • the manuever manual • the blueprint bundle • the playbook pack • the approach arsenal • the strategy suitcase • the resource repository • the tactic toolbox • the scheme suite • the manuever manual • the blueprint bundle • the playbook pack • the approach arsenal • the strategy suitcase • the resource repository • the tactic toolbox • the scheme suite • the manuever manual • the blueprint bundle • the playbook pack • the approach arsenal • the strategy suitcase • the resource repository

How to organize spaces that feel awesome

Written by Jaclyn Chan and Jacky Zhao

Picture yourself entering a Socratica session. What do you feel? What do you want the participants to feel? How do hosts ensure that Socratica remains inclusive, beginner-friendly, and a good time?

  • Balance is key – people want to be in spaces where they feel like they can bring their full self. This means seeing people that they can relate to. However, this has to be balanced with making sure we aren’t including people tokenistically.
  • Non-tokenistic inclusion – while we want to have people from all races, gender identities, and majors represented, Socratica aims to be inclusive beyond mere representation and cosmetic gestures. Inclusion is not just about avoiding discrimination or having people of different backgrounds to check off some boxes; it’s about actively promoting and celebrating the differences that make us stronger and more innovative as a collective whole. See how-to-organize-a-symposium on how to make diversity show up in different ways.
  • Accessibility – We want Socratica to be accessible – financially, mentally, physically, socially. Organizers should take note of mobility concerns, dietary preferences, or any specific needs and take efforts to accommodate them without imposing. They should also think about the schedules and habits of their target audience. Are they students? Hosting near or on a campus makes it easier for students to access the event. Are they working adults? Hosting on weekends and after work hours in places easily accessible by public transport make it easier for folks to get to the venue.
  • Physical space – Think about how the tables and chairs are placed for intros and demos. You want to create a space where people can naturally gather to chat and move freely amongst the crowd to talk to lots of people. Look out for furniture placement that makes it hard for large circles to form. Where is the snack table placed? Is it in an area where people can stand nearby to chit chat during breaks? Think about the sound levels in the space. If you have access to a speaker, play some lo-fi music throughout the sessions.
  • Lighting - This is very venue dependent. If your Socratica sessions are hosted during the day, ideally find spaces that let in natural light. If the sessions are happening at night, try to find spaces that feel cozy and don’t have harsh fluorescent lighting. While we want folks to get great work done, we also want people to feel good in the space they are in.
  • Directly reach out to great people: Tap people on the shoulder to come. Don’t just send them an invite link or blast it on your socials, but personally ask them to come. This helps both the hosts and community members feel like they have a stake in helping set the culture/vibes
    • “An important aspect of design is the degree to which the object involves you in its own completion. Some work invites you into itself by not offering a finished glossy, one-reading-only surface. This is what makes old buildings interesting to me. I think that humans have a taste for things that not only show that they have been through a process of evolution, but which also show they are still a part of one.”
  • Use structure as guidance - Sessions have a defined structure to guide the overall schedule, however we don’t want to be too rigid with this. We encourage folks to work on passion projects and work that isn’t related to their employment or school. We hope participants are excited about finding passion projects to work on that fit into that structure, but sometimes people will work on things related to work or school – and that’s ok. We are striving to create an environment that makes space for passion projects but we don’t want to dictate what people can work on.
  • Language - The language you use to describe the sessions and host are part of the overall brand (see: how-to-organize-a-symposium. The language should match the vibe of the event (or the aspirational vibe). For most Socratica events, they are meant to be inclusive, beginner friendly and a fun time – so the language should reflect that. Imagine you were being invited to a fun event, how would you want it to sound? Since Socratica isn’t a high commitment, high barrier to entry activity, aim to use language that sounds more like you’re inviting a friend rather than hosting some exclusive
  • Introduce people, be a host! Especially when your community is newer, as a host, you will need to be extra involved with helping people get to know each other. Read through the lu.ma (or whatever application/RSVP capturing method you use) and take note of what folks interests are. Introduce people with similar interests! The most important part of a strong community are the people and how connected they feel to each other. Help fast track that by actively introducing folks you think would get along together.

How to make newcomers feel welcome

Written by Anthea Tawiah, Om Gandhi, and Bruce Wang

  • If you don’t recognize someone, a good rule of thumb is to assume it’s their first session – ask if it’s their first session, explain what this space is, who it is for, how it is set up etc.
    • Explain what these sessions are to clear expectations from the start.
    • This is an uncommon structure of event, it’s high interdisciplinary do-what-you-care-about-ism, so people come to it with many confusions & assumptions based on who / what they’ve seen about it elsewhere.
  • Showing each new attendee they belong here just as much as you do.
    • There is an art to doing this without creating a power dynamic (i.e. avoid making the newcomer feel like you are above them because you are “in charge”). Be a genuine friend.
  • You want everyone to feel welcome, not tokenized
    • The nature of tech bro culture, can often people from underrepresented groups” feel welcome enough to show up, demo. Sometimes hosts feel inclined to focus energy on them to really try to get them to come back for future sessions (i.e. push them to demo). This is good (because diversity is good), but we don’t want people to feel tokenized, or that they’re desired here because of these “statuses”.
  • Make sure they have a great conversation with at least one person
    • Introduce them to other people! It makes a big difference in their experience having met other welcoming people beyond the hosts.
    • Loop them into conversation groups and have newcomer introduce themselves!
  • Give them responsibility. It’s nice to have a reason to be somewhere
    • If newcomers mention cool ideas/events they want to do, encourage them and connect them with resources. This can really make them closer to the community
  • It feels special to come to the sessions for a second time and people remember your name, it adds significantly to that feeling of being part of something.

How to help people level up

Written by Binalpreet Kalra, Anson Yu, Anthea Tawiah, Joss Murphy, and Jake Rudolph

From the outside, it might seem weird that people are willing to give their time to organize. The truth is, organizers actually stand to benefit the most from the sessions.

But, how do we sustainably cultivate a group of organizers that consistently show up to contribute to a version of the world they believe should exist? At the end of the day, you want the people who want to help make the community better, not those solely looking for a position of authority. The goal is to help good people become powerful, and powerful people become good.

This means you’re now in the business of leveling up people — aka, help them realize they had leadership potential in them the entire time.

  1. You want the people who are excited to be there + make others feel welcome (already doing the host-like things without being one yet!)
  2. Tapping people on the shoulder, and opening them up to a space they can take initiative in. From organizing warm up circles, to hosting a session, to hosting a term.
    1. Need last minute helpers for an event? Text them. Want someone to let people in at the door? Ask them.
  3. Gassing people up when they help out – e.g. express public appreciation like “They are so awesome, they helped us bring up pizza without asking”. Saying good things behind their back gives other people a green light to ask them for help, and makes people feel even more involved.
  4. Ask them their thoughts on a new idea you’re trying out! Organizers are in the same shoes as attendees at the end of the day. Show them their presence matters. Help them build confidence/trust within themselves - eventually, they’ll be ready to approach others with the same curiosity and care.

Common failure modes:

  • The VP-ification of hosting - This is especially applicable in a university setting. People may flock to the prospects of having an “exec position” or label to put on their resume. Avoid this by never establishing titles.
  • Not having a balanced host team - Our leadership should reflect the diversity of our attendees – this applies to interests, profession, age, ethnicity, gender, etc. The first step to achieve this is to be intentionally balanced when tapping attendees on the shoulder to help out in smaller situations.
  • Having the same hosts lead for too long - They should transition to mentorship positions after ~4 months, max one year) – everyone should be doing work that feels fun / exciting / challenging to them.
    • You can’t level up if you’re stuck in the same place and you’re keeping other people from growing in the ways you have benefitted from hosting – don’t stunt growth.

How to maintain the vibe

Written by Kai

There’s also a version of vibe maintenance that’s about “how do you build an institution that is long-lived but dynamic?”.

This section is in the works, but some sneak peeks

  • Sugar cabinets
  • Healthy turnover
  • Fun fund
  • Effort-gating