Often, when people move to a new town, they look for local organizations and groups to get involved in, partly in order to pursue their interests, and partly to meet people and learn about the local community and area. If the area is lacking groups of interest, these people might take the initiative to set up a group which pursues a certain interest. You don’t need to be a newcomer though, to set up your own interest group, just go right ahead and do it. If you live in a small community, ask people to join who might not usually be that interested. They’ll at least learn something and they might turn out to like it.
A great idea for a local interest group is a woodworking or carpentry group. This is a great way to share tips, designs and pass on skills to younger people and those with little experience. You can work on large projects together, run competitions and do work for the local community such as build and repair furniture. If it takes off, you may even be able to turn it into a small business or a charity. It would be nice to use a community hall or a public space in which to hold meetings and tutorials, rather than the confines of a private workshop. You’d probably need to take a look at Straight Kerfs to decide on which tools to buy and also look at your insurance if people are using heavy saws for the first time.
Sewing and knitting groups work in much the same way and are easier to set up as you don’t need the variety of tools as you would find in a woodworking shop. Again, you can do work for the local community, hold tutorials and competitions.
Cooking clubs are always popular, especially when they are free. These are always made more interesting if your community is made up of people from different parts of the world who can share their recipes and techniques. Again, there are business opportunities there too, if it takes off. A diner is the obvious example, but perhaps a more interesting idea is a catering company. It would make sense for other organizations to turn to a local company to provide the catering for their events. Similarly, members would be likely to rely on your services whenever a family member held a wedding reception or something similar.
Other great ideas include chess clubs, book clubs, gardening groups, music appreciation societies and brewing groups.
When organizing clubs for children, have their safety in mind at all times. You may be able to check with the local police to check that there isn’t anybody involved who shouldn’t be working with children. Adventure and outdoors groups are hugely popular with kids – building tree houses, learning about knots to make different types of rope slides, fishing, canoeing, hiking and even hunting will get kids from all around wanting to join the group. Moreover, the kids will be spending their free time learning valuable skills and learning how to get along with each other and support one another. Compared to their usual routine of spending the entire weekend sitting in front of a games console, such activity groups will have a positive effect on children’s health and lifestyle. You could even include skills such as sewing, washing and pressing their clothes and cooking. If they go on to college, they will probably be the cleanest and most presentable of their friends. If they choose to serve their country, they won’t get caught out during inspection for doing a shoddy job of ironing their kits and polishing their boots!
Remember that there is nobody in this world who we can’t learn something from and that such groups are meant to improve community cohesion. Therefore, your groups shouldn’t be exclusive – anyone should be allowed to come along, whether they seem to fit in or not. If a big, burly outdoorsman turns up to your workshop on Japanese flower arrangement, welcome him in. You might be surprised at what you can learn from him!
Above all, have fun and create an organization that your community can be proud of.