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3 Ways to Build Community on Your Chapter

Spoon is all about community.

For Spoon, community is more than just a group of people. It's the relationships our members have with each other that create a sense of connectedness and belonging within chapters and across the Spooniverse. It's something that takes effort to build and develop but is so valuable and worth it when you succeed.

Community is a defining factor of the Spoon experience, and it's important to us to understand the people who make up our community and what they hope to take away from this experience. When asked about community, 94% of our members say that it's important to them to feel connected to members within their chapter. One member said, "I don’t play a sport or instrument, but through this I can meet new people with different hobbies [and] love to eat just as much as me!" That's a big deal.

In addition, 31% of our members say their favorite part of Spoon is being a part of a community with others who are passionate about food. They love "meet[ing] people who like food as much as [they] do, and won’t hate [them] for taking pictures of their food a few minutes before they can eat." 

Spoon is a global community of young storytellers shaping the future of food, and we strive to help our members create tight-knit communities at their chapters.

Here are some examples of how Spoon members build community on their chapters:

1. Bond at chapter events and socials

Sarah Kleppe

Socials and chapter events are a great way to build community because it gives members the chance to meet one another outside of a meeting. These events keep things casual and help break down perceived barriers, such as a person's major, year in school, or position in Spoon.

To get the most out of a social, plan an event that includes an activity, such as bowling or cooking, so that everyone has something to do and talk about. It gives members a place to start their conversations and build off of. 

"As a bonding event, our chapter submitted our Spoon appetizer and cocktail recipes we wanted to make, then voted on our favorites. We got the ingredients for these and made them all together at a dinner party! It was a great way to get to know each other and get closer as a team while still incorporating Spoon." — Sarah Kleppe, University of Michigan

Ideas: movie night, escape room, wine and cheese tasting, bowling, board game night, food truck crawl

2. Have fun at chapter meetings

Photo courtesy of Spoon UF

Chapter meetings provide a regular time for members to talk in person. However, that doesn't mean regular meetings have to be boring. Meetings aren't lectures — and should never feel like them.

Instead, meetings should be a space to get members together to get creative and have fun. You can have different presenters and a variety of opportunities for members to participate by discussing your favorite restaurants, playing games, challenging each other, and even having a team photoshoot.

"Last Fall, all the writers, marketers, and photographers had a photoshoot at Hyppo Pop, a popsicle place downtown, [during our meeting]. In addition to the treats (which were delicious), we got to dress up and get 'official' photos taken with the Spoon logo. It was a great way for new members to meet other people and for our chapter to be more legitimate. After the photos were edited and uploaded, my chapter published our Bio page on Facebook and it got lots of hits. Under our photos, we had answers to questions like 'What’s your go-to restaurant in Gainesville?' and 'What’s your favorite food to cook?”' It was interactive, fun, and made for great Insta pics.” — Mackenzie Patel, University of Florida

Ideas: ice breakers, food challenges like chubby bunny and saltine cracker challenge, taste tests, team photoshoot

3. Set up chapter traditions

Team traditions get everyone pumped. Existing members are excited to participate in the tradition again, and new members look forward to their first time. It's a great way to connect everyone on the chapter, even those who have already graduated.

The first step to set up a chapter tradition is to get started. Think about what every member would be excited about — maybe this is a scavenger hunt during the first meeting or a banquet at the last meeting. Once you've decided what you want your tradition to be, start it and take notes. Pass these notes to your next leader so they know how to keep your new tradition alive.

Traditions are also a great way to recognize and appreciate all members. For example, you can give gifts to all the seniors to recognize their work throughout their years in Spoon, or present funny superlatives to all your members. One semester, I got "most likely to be drinking boba during a meeting" which was absolutely correct.

"We celebrate each and every member via 'Nice Things' — an aptly named tradition. We ask members to submit as many nice memories with or thoughts about other members as possible. The leaders compile the 'Nice Things,' and then pass out these papers full of anonymously-written warm thoughts wrapped around candy. Sweet thoughts wrapped around actual sweetness — it's one of the loveliest traditions in our club, and it really serves to solidify the relationships among members.

If nothing else, it's a great way to end the semester on. Whether members elect to return or decide to leave, they get to leave with a physical representation of positive feelings towards them, and that is honestly the highlight of my semester. It's so cute to read things that may have slipped your mind, and it's gratifying to read and know that people remember these precious little moments they have spent with you." — Luna Zhang, University of California — Berkeley

Ideas: end-of-semester banquet, monthly potlucks, superlatives, senior gifts, holiday cookie swap, chapter merch

Community is vital to Spoon members, and we hope you use these strategies and examples to build communities on your own chapters.