Like 4-H for adults, Green Wizard lodges & Ruinmen's towers
I live in a small city in which I find it difficult to join or generate community. A large enough population leading to anonymity by default, combined with most residents just doing their usual 9-5, combined with me being introverted and not already part of a religious group has me feeling like there is neither a way for me to contribute my skills/interests nor to learn more from others.
I joined the university extension's Master Gardener program in hopes of both learning more about gardening AND sharing my plant-geeky enthusiasm with others. In reality it hasn't quite lived up to my hopes. I'm required to present university research-based information and there are distinct channels through which to do that. The typical audience for MG information is middle to upper class, well-educated whites in spite of the fact that our population is at least 1/3 latino. I haven't seen an effective bridge to cultivate relationships with immigrant gardeners who may have experience gardening in dryland regions and there's only one project that I know of that focuses on bringing gardening to lower income folks who might benefit from greater food security.
So that hasn't panned out, exactly.
I looked into Odd Fellows and Masons (or Order of the Eastern Star, since I'm a woman) but I'm not so interested in "merely" a fraternal order that's involved in philanthropy, though that's noble.
I can't tell you how often I think about - and hear from others that they'd love - something like 4-H for adults. 4-H is also run by university cooperative extensions but it's only for kids 18 and under. It's structured so that the kids use Roberts Rules of Order to make all club decisions. It relies on adult volunteers to run projects that kids sign up for and there's a method of tracking what they learn so that they can see the results of their efforts. Projects are diverse (depending on what volunteer leaders can offer) and range from raising livestock (or showing pets if that's what the kids have access to), woodworking, cooking, cake decorating, container or other gardening, fiber arts (knitting & sewing), robotics, and photography. I'm sure some clubs have other projects ... my oldest daughter did archery, for example, through 4-H, etc etc.
I was thinking of doing a little reading up on the history of 4-H to see if I could glean info about how the founders went about founding it. How does one up and start a fraternal order or a community education organization?
I'd love (LOVE) to be part of a group that twice or three times a year listed group opportunities for things like woodcarving (spoon making!), fermenting, spinning/knitting/weaving, beekeeping, etc. A small group of people who come together, having contributed to the whole by attending monthly meetings and paying a small amount to go into organizational coffers, who have skills to share and who want to learn from each other sounds like an amazing thing.
I could see this fitting into the grange system, perhaps - or being started from scratch?
What ideas might you all have about such a thing?