How You Can Get Started

If you’re on your own

If you’re on your own and you want to get started, you can check if any of the existing congregations are open for new members. Or it might be simpler to just start practicing with your first crew. This can be a fairly small commitment. For example:

  • Think of 3 or 4 people you know that might be interested in getting to know each other at a slightly deeper level.

  • Invite them to a time-bounded experiment: a sequence of peer-coaching meetings. Each meeting will focus on one group member.

  • Use the Case Clinic method to support each member to get the group’s perspective on a challenge they are facing.

  • Wrap up the experiment with a retrospective meeting where everyone can review your time together, discuss what you liked, what could be improved, and decide if you want to keep meeting together.

See for example this report from Jarred Filmer's experience starting crews in the rationalist & Effective Altruist communities.

People usually enjoy the experience in a proto-crew (if they can overcome the friction of scheduling a regular time to meet). After the first sequence of meetings though, it’s common to decide to split. That’s normal, people have many competing commitments and packed schedules.

A time-bounded experiment gives everyone a way to leave the group without losing face or causing offence.

If your first group disbands, try again with another group. You will probably need to rearrange the membership a few times to find the right "chemistry", i.e. a match in interests, values, schedules etc.

Once you find a crew that has the right chemistry, you can experiment with many different practices: co-working sessions, peer-coaching, take an online course together, go on a road trip, start a co-op... at each retrospective meeting you can make adjustments and navigate towards the process and outcomes that make the most sense for everyone.

If the crew decides to keep meeting, try to decentralise responsibility as soon as possible; it should feel like "our group" not “Jenny’s group”. Share basic tasks like scheduling & hosting the meetings.

Once you’re comfortable working at the crew scale, you might want to start a "congregation" (think of it as a dating pool where many crews can form).

If you’re in an existing network, community, or organisation

If you want to introduce microsolidarity to an existing medium- or large- scale group, it’s strongly recommended to start with a single crew first. Together you can strategise, distribute the workload, and renew each other’s enthusiasm when things don’t go according to plan.

Look for opportunities to initiate small groups inside large-group activities. For example, if you frequently find yourself on a Zoom call with more than 6 people, see how the dynamic changes when you spend a little time in breakout rooms ("let’s breakout into small groups for 20 minutes and come back to compare notes"). If you have a company retreat for 30 people together for a week, add a daily meeting with small groups of 4 or 5.

You can host a "practice program", a sequence of meetings where people can get a taste of some of the core practices of microsolidarity. After the program, if there are many people interested in ongoing practice, you can initiate a “crew formation round”, a bit like a speed dating event where potential crewmates can get to know each other. For inspiration see the Enspiral Pod Formation Process.

Starting a congregation

Probably the funnest and most effective way to start a new congregation is with a physical gathering: a few days spent together in a beautiful location, deepening relationships and initiating collaborations. (Though the pandemic has proven it is also possible to initiate new congregations with only digital gatherings.)

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