This is for the July 2017 Carnival of Aces: “Ace-ing It Up Offline”
For a few months I led a monthly ‘Ace Walks…’ event through my local ace meetup group.
Oh, there were various reasons. First of all, at that time, I wanted more frequent offline ace meetups. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the way the local meetup group has worked for a long time is that there is a three month cycle – one month in Berkeley, next month in San Francisco, following month in the South Bay, repeat. I go to most (though not all) of the San Francisco and Berkeley meetups, but I have never been to the South Bay meetup because it’s not worth it for me to take the train down there (this is ironic, because I was living in the South Bay for part of the period of time I was figuring out whether or not I was ace).
Furthermore, the Bay Area ace meetups tend to center around the East Bay. That’s because the main organizers live in the East Bay, and the East Bay has more than 3x the population of San Francisco (even if you combine San Francisco and San Mateo County, there are a lot more people in the East Bay), so it is very probable that there are more aces in the East Bay than in San Francisco. However, those of us in San Francisco would prefer to have more meetups over here. I knew that some of the aces living in the East Bay did not know parts of San Francisco away from the downtown BART stations very well, so I wanted to share my city with them.
Another reason is that the regular meetups tend to happen in cafés and casual eateries, where one is generally obligated to buy something from the business providing the meeting space. This is fine, but I wanted the option of meetups which did not require people to spend money at the venue (people still have to spend money on transit, but they have to spend money on transit anyway). And even aside from the (non)commercial aspect, I just wanted a wider variety of ace social activities.
Yet another reason is that I was doing it at a time when I was immersing myself in San Francisco history and going on a lot of City Guides walks (BTW, if you visit San Francisco, and you enjoy exploring city streets, I recommend taking at least one City Guides walk – if you have trouble moving up and down slopes, I recommend the “Historic Market Street: Path Of Gold” tour because it’s one of the flattest of the regular tours). For example, I led a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge shortly after reading a book about the history of the Golden Gate Bridge, so I was able to pepper the group with trivia (such as the three times the Golden Gate Bridge was almost destroyed – the most ridiculous near-destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge was during the 50th anniversary celebration when so many people packed the bridge that they could not move and the bridge flattened out, and if the weight capacity had not been increased by retrofits in 1986, the weight of all of those people would have broken the bridge).
I ended up leading about 5 walks (I don’t remember the exact number). Unsurprisingly, aces who live in San Francisco were more likely to show up than anyone else. Sometimes a lot of people showed up, and one time, only one other person showed up.
Incidently, my blog post “The Fake Ruin, the Real Ruin, and the Ruin in Waiting” was inspired by the Ace Walks (though it was inspired by the places we walked through, not by the aces themselves).
Looking back, I have really fond memories of the experience. I’m not sure how other participants felt.
Why did it stop?
Well, the proximate reason I stopped leading them is that I started travelling more, which meant that I was not necessarily in San Francisco every month, and planning my own travels made me less incline to plan walks (for example, this post is scheduled to go up almost exactly around the time I plan to depart for this trip). And nobody else proposed their own Ace Walks. And once I fell out of the habit…
Also, I am not as intensely interested in increasing the frequency of local ace meetups as I was before. I’m not sure why.
I think it’s be nice to have the Ace Walks continue, though at this point, I think I would prefer it if someone else led them. However, maybe I’ll get around to leading some more at some point (I’m more likely to do this if aces in the Bay Area nudge me to do it).
My group meets monthly and alternates between doing an activity and a cafe type setting. The activity is to keep some variety up and different way to break the ice. The cafe is generally a low cost option as usually enough people get something that not everyone has to. We’ve found this seems to strike a reasonable balance and keep interest and appeal up without people getting bored. The activities can be a good way to try things in the local area that you may otherwise not consider.
We’ve also got the benefit of four people running the meetups now. In general I’ve found the longer you run and attend meetups the less you get out of them over time and more likely you are to reduce attendance. For organisers this can mean reducing frequency of the meetups if there is no one else available to run them (burnout can also be another factor for organisers).
Yeah, there is just one person who does most of the organizing of the local ace community here, but I don’t want to speak on her behalf (if you’re reading this, feel free to comment!)
I didn’t know you were doing ace walks! I love walking tours. And totally would have gone if I’d still been in the area. Whenever I asked people what they wanted to do at ace meetups, they always said “eating”, but I also appreciate activities where you don’t have to buy anything.
The regular Portland ace meetups take place in a mediocre pearl milk tea shop, because they have a lot of space and don’t care about groups lingering. When i used to plan meetups, it was more in the spirit of providing a community resource, but now that I’m trying to just make friends for myself, i tend to gravitate to groups where people share more interests. Strangely, it feels like I get older while the average age of people at ace meetups stays the same.
Whereas I feel there are more older people coming to the meetups than before, but maybe the Bay Area and Portland are different.
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