Sunday, September 11, 2011

Meetup: a 911 story

I have attended quite a few Meetup group meetings but never knew the background of Meetup.  Immediately after posting the last story of Cantor Fitzgerald, I found this in my inbox:

Fellow Meetuppers,

I don't write to our whole community often, but this week is 
special because it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many 
people don't know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.

Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles 
from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought 
local community doesn't matter much if we've got the internet 
and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I 
hoped they wouldn't bother me.

When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors 
in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to 
neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they'd normally 
ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each 
other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being 

A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring 
people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was 
born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet -- and 
grow local communities?

We didn't know if it would work. Most people thought it was a 
crazy idea -- especially because terrorism is designed to make 
people distrust one another.

A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months 
after 9/11.

Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it's 
working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups, 
Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups... a wild variety of 
100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common -- except one 

Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to 
neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me. 
They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and 
motivate each other, they babysit each other's kids and find 
other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace 
together. They make friends and form powerful community. It's 
powerful stuff.

It's a wonderful revolution in local community, and it's thanks 
to everyone who shows up.

Meetups aren't about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it 
weren't for 9/11.

9/11 didn't make us too scared to go outside or talk to 
strangers. 9/11 didn't rip us apart. No, we're building new 
community together!!!!

The towers fell, but we rise up. And we're just getting started 
with these Meetups.

Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ)
Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup
New York City
September 2011