Format: Small Group of 6-8 consistent members meets once per month for a meal and guided conversation.
Setting: Home, alternating between members. Preferably, each member will host at her home at least once. Some members may prefer to co-host at one of their homes or to meet in a public space for a picnic, etc. Alternating homes increases the intimacy among the group and prevents hosting from becoming a burden.
Costs: The meal is paid for by the host (not the corps). Establish that the meal is not a time to go “full Martha”, but rather to make/order a simple, low-cost meal. Think spaghetti and meatballs, rice and beans, soup, etc. Working with the first hosts to ensure that costs and set up are kept very informal and low-cost will help to establish positive precedent. The costs and time involved in making a meal make RSVPs very important.
Promoting Growth: In the fourth to fifth month, plan to add new members and mix existing groups. This will help to limit cliquishness. This could be facilitated through a Large Embrace Gathering mid-way though.
Choosing a Leader: A reliable, approachable, encouraging facilitator is needed. She must understand the importance of community confidentiality and when to seek help outside the group.
Forming Groups: As much as possible, groups should be diverse in age and background. This is not a time to put people in groups with their friends, but rather to mix existing social circles. Invitations to join should certainly be extended to people who do not attend the corps, including friends and family of corps members, staff, neighborhood folks, etc.