Scheduling a Private Meeting
Your group may want a private meeting as part of a series of meetings. You may consider inviting close friends to your house, or meeting at a restaurant -- maybe a picnic in the park if the weather is agreeable.
You might also want to meet privately with public officials for an off-the-record discussion about drug policy and the drug war. Others private meetings: a society of treatment professionals, or event at a ladies' club. The public isn't invited.
Journey for Justice: Palm Harbor, FL 2003
For example, during the Coalition's 2003 Journey for Justice, a couple with a grown-son in prison invited us into their home to meet and talk with two other couples, people they've known since childhood. We helped them explain to their friends the issue of the drug war and mass imprisonment, information they took in mostly because they cared about their friends.
A private meeting has distinct advantages for everyone. Unlike a public discussion, private meetings won't include media representatives and publicity. In the comfort of a living room, or in a ‘closed-door meeting,’ it is often easier to ask questions one would hesitate to ask in public.
Community "After" Meeting: Spokane, WA 2006
Another meeting on that 2003 Journey was with prison officials in New York State, guaranteeing we heard honest, if sometimes critical, comments about November Coalition's mission. Where we go, people don't always agree with us. Where you live might be the same. Private meetings have some advantages and should be considered valuable as public education.
Intimate meetings, face-to-face, provide a quality of learning for everyone not always attainable in large, public gatherings.
November Board Meeting: Colville, WA 2007
Another example of a successful private meeting is a dinner party where local activists can meet each other. At another private meeting, spring of 2003, our hosts invited various friends to dinner -- young activists who feed hungry families in an urban southern town, a labor organizer, a feminist, and a physician. Each had ample opportunity to share stories and experiences. It's during such times that everyone usually gains in understanding about how issues link and interact.
Hosts of other private meetings found sentencing reform activists from groups whose missions overlap or harmonize with ours.
We're hoping, of course, that private meetings boost your confidence and everyone's interest in public meetings! Though less formal than many public events, plan them with purpose.