Winsome Cowboy recently published an article asking whether we couldn't be using Vinemeets for something a little more constructive than meeting strangers and sitting around getting plastered. Naturally, I adore the traditional Vinemeet, and am not at all inclined to see them go away. I agree, however, that there is untapped potential in this brave new world of getting drunk with folks you met on the Internet. We have among us here on this site professional writers of all ilk, scientists, artists, entertainers of all sorts, programmers, you name it. We don't all agree about any single thing, but there are a few traits we all share: an interest in some sort of news or writing, and enough interest in the Internet to show up here, day after day. I have lots of ideas for small projects that could be undertaken within the framework of a Vinemeet (and most of them are legal, too), but that is not what this article is about. This time, I want to talk about something bigger. What would happen if we could create the biggest, craziest Vinemeet of them all?
Honestly, I got lured into Newsvine by the diversity of opinions and experiences shared here. We meet around common themes, but we all bring incredibly different perspectives to them, and I have never known such a wide selection of people anywhere who are also intelligent and educated enough to consistently discuss their opinions in an enlightening manner. In "real life", I am often frustrated by the narrowness which specialization has brought to the examination of most issues. What I think we have to offer, what I think we could do with a Vinemeet on a massive scale, is to bring together a large enough group of brilliant people that we could bypass the tiny window through which the world's most difficult issues are usually viewed. Do I think we could change the world? Maybe not in two days, but through collaboration I think we could make a significant difference in ourselves and other attendees, and from there you just never know what could happen.
This is my initial vision. I picture a huge, open-air meet-up, with multiple tents and perhaps some stages. The central attraction would be a series of planned events, ranging from (earlier in the day) panel discussions about particular topics (i.e. a blogger, a citizen-journalist, a traditional journalist, and perhaps a non-fiction writer discussing the current state of reporting, their various techniques, and what potentials there are in the future), to live performances of various sorts (music, plays, etc.). In the meantime, there would be displays all about, showcasing art of various kinds, perhaps charities that need supporting, information on current events and initiatives. I see all of this happening around a central theme, which needs a catchy phrase to synopsize it, but in my mind goes something like "A comprehensive look at where our society is now, and what we want the future to be" (like I said, it needs a catchier title). I would like to see artists and scientists and politicians talking together about global warming, and what innovative ways they can find to combat it. I would like to see a musician and a computer programmer talking with a psychologist about the future of virtual reality. I would like to see the place where art and politics connect, and I would like the whole damned experience to be transcendent.
I know this sounds impossibly huge. But I always figure you may as well pick the biggest dream you can and try to get there. Sometimes you surprise yourself with how well you succeed. So I think the key to this is to start small and work steadily out. First thing, clearly, would be to get a beginning group of people with diverse skills to begin the planning. I think we would need at least a year to pull off something on this scale. We would need organizers, and we would need to see if we can get the NV staff and perhaps MSNBC behind us. We are going to need people who know how to market this thing, and who know how to go after sponsors. We will need a lot of volunteers who are willing to chip in their skills and use their connections. So right now, we would start brainstorming. As in, I am willing to help organize, I am willing to sit on a panel and discuss pretty much anything, I will throw my artwork up there for people to look at, and I have connections with a couple of organizations who might be willing to sponsor in exchange for a booth. I am also willing to find a location for it here in Asheville, NC, if that location works for people. Like that.
If we start out with what we have to hand, we may be able to slowly grow to the point that we can contact all kinds of people and organizations and simply say look how big this thing is getting...you can't afford not to be there. We can't call the editor of the NY Times today, but in six months we might be in a position to, if you see what I'm saying.
Nothing I have said here is writ in stone in my mind. It's just a starting place for ideas. Obviously, we have to start somewhere. Who else would be interested in the hugest Vinemeet ever? What do you think of my vague premise: too organized, too unorganized, etc.? And the theme, does it work for you, or do you have a better one? If you're interested, do you have skills or contacts you would like to contribute? Just throw it all out there and let's play with the idea a bit.