On the fourth episode of our podcast, If You’ve Come This Far, Chris and I interviewed Billy Baker, a Boston Globe columnist and the author of “We Need to Hang Out.” In his book, Baker recounts his efforts to make new friends by getting a bunch of guys together to hang out. Armed with invitations, he hits the streets dropping the notes in men’s mailboxes throughout the neighborhood. One interesting aspect of his outreach was he intentionally targeted men he didn’t know. His goal…make NEW friends. He was a bit afraid. He didn’t know if anyone was going to show up. But he overcame the fear and did it anyways because he believed the benefits outweighed the risk.
Like Baker, for five years now, MenLiving has been inviting men to come and hang out in both virtual and in person spaces. The intention is that these welcome spaces will help men “connect, heal, and thrive.” Not only supporting but enriching the lives of the men who show up. And while we will continue to create these spaces, I would like to see more guys “pulling a Billy Baker” and starting them on their own. I am basically pitching a DIY men’s group.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not trying to slough off our work on to you! We have plenty to do. In fact, we’ll be here to help you. Kinda like “Jim” at Home Depot who knows exactly where everything is and what the right tool is for the job that needs to get done. So, why am I encouraging guys to do this? Well, we think the world will be better with more healthy, intentional, connected men (see our vision!). One big step toward that better world is men coming together and having emotionally healthy, curious, intentional conversations because that leads to real connection. But the world is a big place so if these types of gatherings are not normalized, meaning any man/every man is game for launching one, it will take a long ass time to get to that vision. Make sense?
One last point. I get there can be a weird connotation around the term, “men’s group.” Often ridiculed in tv and film as touchy feely and ritualistic (which can be true 🤷♂️), the idea might creep out the “conditioned” man. So, I suggest call it whatever you want. Do it wherever feels comfortable. Throw in other activities during your time together. The only action that must happen for this to work is the open, curious, intentional convo. Everything else is up to you. Thanks for shopping at the Home Depot!