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The Startup Life: On Tribes and Building Community

On Sunday night, the ten winners from our farm-to-table raffle gathered at Dena’s house for dinner. Some folks already knew each other, but others did not. There is something special about a randomly assembled group of people sitting around a table for good food, conversation, and little else. With the exception of one moment when I not-so-subtly encouraged “instagramming, tweeting, status updates, and any other general praise using the hashtag #groundworknb,” the smart phones were quiet.


Bringing together a tribe at the dinner table.

Leading a Tribe

I’ll try not to brag, but the food was excellent (thanks to many hours of testing and prepping!) and more than one guest commented, “You guys are in the wrong business!” I’d argue that we are precisely in the right business. The farm-to-table dinner is exactly what Groundwork is all about: building community.

While I was gathering my thoughts on this blog post, I re-watched Seth Godin’s TED talk called The Tribes We Lead. In it, Godin says that leading a tribe is all about finding people on the fringe and giving them a space to connect and go somewhere. Godin says the world is full of dispersed groups that yearn for connection. The tribal leader’s role is to recognize these groups, fulfill their yearning, and provide them with the space and direction to create a world-changing movement. I couldn’t have described the Groundwork mission better myself!

Groundwork in the kitchen

Working together is always more fun.

Taking Social Media into the Real World

I’m something of an internet marketing junkie, and what I love about social media is the way it connects people and ideas. As a blogger and independent documentary filmmaker, I often wonder: how the hell would people read or watch anything I make without the internet?

Seriously, the ability to self-publish, self-promote, and to otherwise sidestep the big industries is a huge development in our lifetime. Anyone who has a strong message, a decent amount of talent, and an incredible amount of tenacity can build a movement on the internet.

And yet, I’ve always felt internet community building to fall a bit short. It feels really good to get a nice comment on a blog post or a pat on the back via Twitter, but in order to generate world-changing momentum these connections need to move into the real world. And that’s why we’re starting Groundwork.

Groundwork harvest

Harvesting is hard work!


I’ll bring it back to the farm-to-table. Finally, after many months of legwork and blogging and behind the scenes madness, Dena and I had a real-life experience of bringing people together. We sat them down, fed them, and watched. Connections were made. Laughter happened. The Groundwork community was finally being born!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the farm-to-table dinner on Sunday. And to those of you who are members of our tribe, waiting for a space in which to connect, we promise we will have some exciting news about the space soon! The New Bedford tribe is about to begin…

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