is a 9/11 baby

This morning I received the following email from the boss of Meetup (a social organisation I joined recently and regularly attend three groups – at the ridiculously small sum of £3 or £4 a year per group!) and wanted to share it with you.

Fellow Meetuppers,

I don’t write to our whole community often, but this week is special because it’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many people don’t know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.

Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought local community doesn’t matter much if we’ve got the internet and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I hoped they wouldn’t bother me.

When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they’d normally ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being neighborly.

A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet — and grow local communities?

We didn’t know if it would work. Most people thought it was a crazy idea — especially because terrorism is designed to make people distrust one another.

A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months after 9/11.

Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it’s working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups, Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups… a wild variety of 100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common — except one thing.

Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me. They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and motivate each other, they babysit each other’s kids and find other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace together. They make friends and form powerful community. It’s powerful stuff.

It’s a wonderful revolution in local community, and it’s thanks to everyone who shows up.

Meetups aren’t about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it weren’t for 9/11.

9/11 didn’t make us too scared to go outside or talk to strangers. 9/11 didn’t rip us apart. No, we’re building new community together!!!!

The towers fell, but we rise up. And we’re just getting started with these Meetups.

Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ)

Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup, New York City – September 2011

2 thoughts on “ is a 9/11 baby

  1. carolynb123 says:

    Touching? I respectfully disagree. This is revolting. It’s one thing to mention in interviews that the aftermath of 9/11 was the catalyst for a business idea, it’s another to cynically exploit a solemn anniversary by patting oneself on the back for one’s “9/11 baby.” I have yet to read a similar email by a mother who had a real 9/11 baby–you know, the babies who never met their fathers. And I’m so grateful Meetup is helping the world “rise up” from the ashes! As a PR exec, I urge all readers to never, ever, ever tie your business or product promotion to a national tragedy–even if it IS tied to that tragedy! Think about the bus bombing in London and imagine if the tyre company put out a press release on the anniversary and said something like, “The July 7, 2005 bus bombing made us take a look at the way we make tyres. It inspired us to make our tyres more fireproof–and now all of Great Britain is safer and better for it.” Meetup? Throw up is more like it.


  2. morgenbailey says:

    Thanks Carolyn. You have a point but being a Meet-up member I saw the positives of what I and my new friends get out of the organisation, especially at such a negligible cost, and Scott’s first-hand experience of how 9/11 has brought people together within his community. My father died five days before 9/11 so it’s a tough time of year for me too but I’m so fortunate that I had a chance to say goodbye and I would never want to belittle what so many families went through. If anyone else feels this post in bad taste I will gladly pull it.


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