Thursday, May 6, 2010

Goals, Like Foals Also Grow Up: An Orange County Tale

As the newest member of MoHOC, I don't know how qualified I feel to speak about our house's communal goals, so I am building on the dreams and aspirations of my fellow members. As I've written before our house is born out of the founding resident's dream of creating a more cohesive Jewish community where prior there was none. She started her own organization growing it more that 400+ members. Her efforts translated, easily, over to the creation of MoHOC. She was able to start a house with a robust membership base and take it from there, but in the 10 months since the inception of the house, what's changed?

Needless to say, we started off, per Rae, as a sort of party house. We have a great location and it is a big draw to bring people in from all parts of the urban sprawl that is the OC. Problem with that model is that it isn't sustainable; there is an inherent level of "shallowness" to the experience. It is only possible to have 2 minute interaction with the myriad of people present; we created for ourselves, a community of fast food friends. Now the time has come to change that model. Rae put it very well when I asked her how her goals and dreams for the house have changed, "I realized that while big parties may be fun, real relationships are started in smaller more intimate groups, so I have shifted away from always throwing big parties and instead tried to bring smaller groups together to facilitate new relationships…".

Our house's growth does have consequences, small drops in attendance, and a need to become much more creative in our programming. The attendance issues, Mitch our other roommate says, "People get used to having these massive parties, but not have to really interact with everyone else; as we get more intimate in the level of our interactions people are forced to actually get to know each other for better or for worse. It's like getting started on a new healthier diet; it can be a pain but when you see how good it makes you feel you keep coming back for more…".

Couldn't agree more with both Mitch and Rae, as our programming shift to a more focused "narrative" our job is to teach our members just how nice it can be to kick back with a small group of friends as it is to live it up for a night. We need to facilitate more conversations, help those that are shyer bust into groups; we are working harder to create the community that we always wanted. Of course it is more work for us, but in the long run we too are making closer friends, allowing us to be more that hosts, cooks, and cleaners. Inserting ourselves into the community allows us to not only help bring others together, but bring us closer to them as well.


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