Social Teams for Fun and Building Community
By Kathy Keleher
At Bay State Commons, we have always said that we are constructing our community before we ever construct our building. One of the ways we have done this community building over the long development process is through social events—and the teams that rotate in organizing them each month.
We started our social teams in 2015, when we divided the members into three teams of four or five. Before this, Jim and Peggy, who have been with us almost from the start, used to host the membership for a home-cooked meal and to watch funny videos. With the teams, the idea was for each team to cook together and plan any entertainment.
The teams’ work gave members a chance to get to know each other in a more informal setting than our business meetings. We met at each other’s homes and had picnics in parks. We also invited prospective members so they could get to know us, too. Monthly events have included Halloween parties (with costumes), roller skating, candlepin bowling, mini-golf, a visit to Fruitlands Museum and grounds, board games, and three baby showers.
As our group grew, teams were added. We now have six teams and may be adding another. Once, we played a home version of the TV game show, “To Tell the Truth”: The host asks the participants to write on a card something from their past that no one present knows about them. These are only seen by the host. When the game starts, the host chooses a card and asks the writer and two other people to confer privately. Then the host brings the three people back to the group and they each state, “I did whatever it was.” It may be that one of them picked strawberries on a farm in Norway one summer. So, each of the three says, “I picked strawberries on a farm in Norway one summer.” The audience then asks questions of these 3 people trying to determine who the real strawberry-picker was. When the host determines that the audience is ready to vote, they vote. Then the real strawberry-picker stands up—usually to much laughter.
We found that the discussion that followed each round was an interesting way to get to know each other better. Who knew that one of us had met Mother Theresa, one of us once had blue hair and played in a punk rock band, and one of us once cooked on an ashram in India?
Since we have been quarantining, all our socials have been on Zoom. Sharing a meal was suddenly not part of the gatherings. So, in August, my team first thought we would talk about food and share recipes. Then we decided to cook food and deliver it to our members. Our team of four each had four or five households for delivering food. Each of us made our own dish: Mi-Rang made paella; Dan H cooked dal and delivered it on his bicycle; Lydia made stuffed cabbage; and I made sautéed vegetables with and without chicken.
Then we met on Zoom. It was one of the most well-attended socials. We told stories about memorable meals: one couple each told about the food they cooked for each other when they were first dating; one new member told about spending months in India while in college and getting used to a whole unfamiliar cuisine. This social was so much fun and it led to new appreciations of each other.