In my neighborhood, there is a grocery store that has fallen into disrepair and is the subject of frequent complaints and discussion by neighbors on our private social network. The most recent discussion thread has about 150 replies, involving at least 90 different people. For the first time, several people independently volunteered that they would contribute to some kind of community effort to improve the shopping center that hosts the grocery store as its main tenant.
I saw this as an opportunity and decided to be a catalyst for action by setting up a public meeting. I shared a straw poll to find the best time of week to meet, which received dozens of responses. Based on those responses and the availability of a meeting space at our local library, I chose a date for the meeting, 10 days from now. I created a Doodle poll in order to choose the best starting time (in a 3-hour window) while simultaneously collecting names of potential attendees (the first poll having been anonymous).
Some have expressed thanks or approval for my doing this but no-one has offered to help me organize or take a leadership role. I'm more than happy to contribute to the effort but it was never my intent to be the sole organizer going forward.
Here's my problem in a nutshell. I want this meeting to be the start of a real, concerted community action that has the potential to grow into an ongoing neighborhood development committee (or even investment cooperative). At the same time, I don't think I have the capacity to be the sole driving force behind that. I want to transition away from the role of point man or catalyst ASAP, and into a role as part of a core group who will commit to regular attendance at meetings and some higher-level responsibilities. What do I need to do during (or in preparation for) this first meeting to have the best chance of building this core group early on?
It's important to me not to walk out of this meeting with the sole responsibility for taking the next step. At the same time, I think I'm the de facto responsible party for running this first meeting and I intend to make sure it remains civil, open and collaborative. It's a diverse neighborhood that's starting to gentrify and there are a lot of strong opinions that will need to be reconciled. How do I find a balance between leading the meeting and inviting others to take on leadership roles?
I'm not fond of bureaucratic antics like electing a president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary and I don't expect the neighbors will have patience for that either.