I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Where are all the dudes?  RSS feed

 
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I'm starting to think I'm crazy. (Yeah, yeah - I hear you guys - "starting?! - you're already there! )

I volunteer a fair amount of my time to organizations that I believe in (including this one). One thing I've noticed over time is how few men show up for volunteer events. Is it just Phoenix or is it other places too? Is it the kind of event that determines if men show up or not? This is what I thought but I've organized events you'd think would appeal more to dudes than women but....more women show up.

Now let me make this super clear - I'm not saying that NO men show up - they just tend to show up in smaller numbers.

Examples from just the past few weeks:
--2 water harvesting events - 1:3 ratio men to women (these are implementations of water harvesting features, digging infiltration basins, doing the outdoor plumbing part of greywater systems, installing cisterns)
--Water harvesting stewards committee - 1:4 ratio men to women (planning committee for water harvesting programming and events locally)
--Shade tree program volunteers 1:3 ratio men to women (educating people about the energy savings of properly sited trees and assisting with tree give-aways)
--Neighborhood cleanup 1:7 ratio men to women (this includes stuff like driving trucks around and helping people move large items to the bins, monitoring and helping to unload at the bins, helping elderly/disabled with yard cleanup, etc)

Other events I've participated in where you'd think there'd be more dudes:
--neighborhood tree plantings including digging holes, delivering the trees, mulch, tools, etc.
--low income neighborhood refreshes (painting house exteriors, doing very basic repairs, removing trash/yard waste, painting over gang graffiti, etc.)
--Habitat for Humanity work days
--helping to set up community or school gardens

***Caveat: All statements below are in terms of broad generalizations and/or speculation - critiques welcome. Please start your critique with "I think"***

I've pondered several factors that could be the culprits but have found them lacking. Some of them are:
--for hand's on stuff, I think maybe there's an "I already know how to do that, why show up" factor. OR, the opposite - "because I'm a dude, people are going to think I already know how to do that and I've actually never lifted a hammer in my life and that's embarrassing".
--for plant-related stuff - this may be seen more as "women's work"?
--are most men less community oriented (I would actually hate to think this). If men are less community-oriented - where is their focus?
--are men more busy? I would tend to think that women are more busy - especially those with children.
--is there no status in doing volunteer work? Is status what is desired?
--Is there something that women get out of working together that many men do not? Do women get more out of the "feel good vibes" of volunteering than men?
--are men involved in other types of volunteer work that perhaps I'm just not seeing. For example, several men are pollinators, volunteers and stewards on this site. I think we looked at the split and it was 1:1 ratio men to women (well done Paul!) So is online moderation more appealing to men maybe?
--is it a collaboration v. competition thing? (how many more men show up at sporting events?)

I'm asking all this not because I want to add fuel to the men v. women argument. I ask these questions because in trying to engage the community with permaculture-related activities, we are primarily reaching women and having women show up at events. How the hell do we reach men? If you're a dude - what would make you show up at an event? Most of the events I'm talking about are hands on events. WHAT AM I MISSING?

And, off the topic a bit - Guys, if you're looking for a partner that shares your values - get your butt to the closest permaculture community event!


 
master steward
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I Think...

You said "And, off the topic a bit - Guys, if you're looking for a partner that shares your values - get your butt to the closest permaculture community event! "

How many single women are at these events?

This could be your hook?

Find a way to advertise to single dudes that this is the place to pick up chicks!

Seems that there are a lot of dating events going on all over the country.

Then again this might mean that the gals may stop showing up?

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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There are a LOT of single women at these events - maybe up to half the women there!

You may be on to something Miles!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Hmmm....thinking more about Miles' comment.

These volunteer events do occur as "non-predatory" to women. One is not there to "be seen" - quite the opposite as one is often covered in dirt or other debris of some sort. So it occurs as a fun gathering of people doing something productive.

Years ago, there actually was some smarminess by a guy who was a leader in our local permaculture community. He very quickly put people off and indeed, women stopped showing up and there was a break down of sorts in that fewer volunteer events were held and those that were held were poorly attended. These events are pretty much "leave your ego at the door" kind of things. He brought his ego and then inflated it and strutted around. Meh. Imagine people screaming and fleeing in all directions...
 
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I can only speak for myself in comparison to my wife.

In our life I plan only the exact things I control. This usually involves the soccer teams I coach for my children, my work (both at home and as a slave to the man), and the handful of things I do for personal entertainment (sports and music for exercise and creative release). This leaves me precious little time to do much else. Admittedly I don't do a lot of looking for volunteer opportunities.

I'm very much a think-plan-do person, not so much a 'what's available? Let's see...' person. My wife will scour the internet to see what's available to do from festivals to sales to events to volunteer opportunities. Almost all of my volunteering has originated with her searches. I think this may be a primary difference between men and women. If we get an idea we want to try something we'll do the researchon that narrow topic, but generally don't do the research to see what we want to try.

Hope that makes any sense at all.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Charles - thanks for that insight. I can actually see that applying to several couples I know including my parents. It kind of occurs like that old joke about how men and women shop differently. Men will go out for one specific thing, get it and come home. Women may go shopping for something specific but can also enjoy browsing for other interesting things.
 
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If you're a dude - what would make you show up at an event? Most of the events I'm talking about are hands on events. WHAT AM I MISSING?

Not speaking for myself here, but a way to make it more appealing for men:
Have a whole pig BBQ roast, a keg of beer, and a big screen TV with either a good football game, or NASCAR event.
Wouldn't get much work done, but a hell of a big turnout. LOL

Dudes, you should be paying attention here. A great opportunity to meet chicks who aren't afraid to get down & dirty, doing meaningful projects. Gucci purses take back seat to fruit trees and other sustainable landscapes. Women with true values, not hollow values. Somebody that would help you reach your goals, rather than being a distraction along the path.

 
pollinator
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The event around here are WAY improportionate. Lots and lots and lots of dudes, often older dude to a few females. The few ladies who show often get creeped on by the dudes. So here the problem is opposite. We need more kick as chicas involved. It makes us dudes work all the harder.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Dudes acting creepy can take a toll on female participation - that's true.

As far as pigs, kegs an NASCAR go - I think the women would roll their eyes and consider it "more of the same" like at home. However, I will say that the more food provided the more work gets done. Too bad we can't have beer at these events!

It's funny - having grown up on USAID projects, if you wanted to move forward with your project, you got the women involved. I think Mollison and Lawton say something to the same effect.

Landon - maybe we need to have a dude/chick exchange. Although, if your dudes are acting creepy, they can stay put!
 
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All the young dudes... it the same everywhere

 
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I wish we had that "problem" up here.
 
pollinator
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Just by way of observation (my own experience of this is pretty ambivalent), might there be an urban/rural difference? The OP reports a female majority in urban Phoenix, whereas two others in (possibly) rural WA and MT report the opposite. So the question becomes, what are the CITY men and the COUNTRY women doing?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Interesting observation, Alder.

Edited it to add: I wonder if folks in more rural situations find themselves following more conventional gender role division of labor. Whereas in urban areas, men might not have grown up building/fixing stuff and don't feel comfortable doing it. And women in cities are often less tied to gender roles and want to know how to do this stuff because it's cool and empowering?

Obviously this is a gross oversimplification but it could be happening?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I forgot to mention that it happened again today. Just got back from a hands-on workshop with Watershed Management Group's Green Living Co-op. We were installing guttering and the rest of the plumbing for a wet install cistern and also the overflow infiltration basin. 1:2 dudes to chicks.
 
Sam Barber
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Alder that is an interesting concept but when we have workshops we generally have a fairly wide spread group of people that come here. I think that at this stage in the game at wheaton labs we are doing a lot of Infra-Structure building right now which seems to have a dominantly male interest. This was shown in the last two workshops we had both were at least 80-90% male.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Alder Burns wrote:Just by way of observation (my own experience of this is pretty ambivalent), might there be an urban/rural difference? The OP reports a female majority in urban Phoenix, whereas two others in (possibly) rural WA and MT report the opposite. So the question becomes, what are the CITY men and the COUNTRY women doing?


Yeah, plus we have very little in the way of young population in general (I think the median age of my county is somewhere close to 50 with about 8 % in the 18-25 demographic) But we are almost completely lacking young women. And pretty much all of the ones that stuck around started families early and are raising kids.

Or at least that's been my experience. I admittedly have been rather lax in attending group events in the last several years, but its a small enough community that I'm sure I would have heard if there had been a massive influx of hardworking babes.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Just for the sake of clarity - people showing up for these events are not necessarily "young" either. At this past weekend's install there were at least 3 of us (myself included) in the 50+ range, lot's of 30s and 40s and maybe two in their twenties - the youngest was a dude - maybe 24ish? We've had a fair amount of people even older - including my dad (7 and my neighbor (she's 87!). Phoenix is not a "young" city. Lots and lots of retired folks. The water harvesting installation in Tucson get lots more "young" types (under 35) as it's a BIG college town. Even there though, there are usually more chicks than dudes.
 
pollinator
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Sam Barber wrote:Alder that is an interesting concept but when we have workshops ...


Ah, but a workshop is not a volunteer event.

For volunteer events or orgs I've seen a 2-1 ratio too. There may be some corollary with the relative lack of women doing epic shit.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Cj Verde wrote:For volunteer events or orgs I've seen a 2-1 ratio too. There may be some corollary with the relative lack of women doing epic shit.


Is that 2-1 men to women or 2-1 women to men?
 
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Hahahahahahahaha, I have definately had men come to my events lookin for single ladies. Once I had a really funny guy at a seed saving workshop I advertised on meetup.com who seemed very shifty and I couldn't figure out why until; he told me the only reason he came was to meet some woman who had RSVPed and looked hot. When he found out it was one of those fake profiles spammers make to lure guys to porn sites he told us he has no interest in even planting a tomato, never mind fermenting tomato seed goo! Hahaha, we had a good laugh. He was an apartment living, fast food eating guy looking for a date!

We have a mix of men and women at events, probably skewed a bit towards women. Maybe 65% women? Men come as part of a couple, women are more likely to come alone as part of a couple. Child centric events are strongly skewed toward mommies but this has changed from 100% moms when my teenager was a preschooler to maybe 25% dads.

(I don't use meetup for the farm anymore!)
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Matu Collins wrote:Hahahahahahahaha, I have definately had men come to my events lookin for single ladies. Once I had a really funny guy at a seed saving workshop I advertised on meetup.com who seemed very shifty and I couldn't figure out why until; he told me the only reason he came was to meet some woman who had RSVPed and looked hot. When he found out it was one of those fake profiles spammers make to lure guys to porn sites he told us he has no interest in even planting a tomato, never mind fermenting tomato seed goo! Hahaha, we had a good laugh. He was an apartment living, fast food eating guy looking for a date!


Oh ick! ICK!!! Just reading that gave me the heebies! {{{shudder}}}

Reminds me of the male pigeon who's always hunching up to female pigeons only to have them scatter and fly away. Doesn't stop him from hunching up on the next unsuspecting lady though... Hope springs eternal.
 
Cj Sloane
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2 women/ 1 guy but that's only if you exclude school stuff which leans even more heavily toward women.
 
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There's always more women at the things I'm involved in,
and I think there's got to be some major gender-role business going on.
Not in a 'we must change this sexist situation' kind of way,
I think it's just the reality that women are the generally main domestic food growers/prepares and childcarers in my culture/generation.
Times have changed-my nana wouldn't have dreamed of invading my grandad's potato patch!
Charles Tarnard wrote:
I'm very much a think-plan-do person, not so much a 'what's available? Let's see...' person(....)
I think this may be a primary difference between men and women. If we get an idea we want to try something we'll do the researchon that narrow topic,
but generally don't do the research to see what we want to try.
I think it's as simple as this; there's some pretty hardwired gender differences and these are reflected in volunteering.

I've found quite a marked difference between 'one-off' working bee-type things (often some guys)
and ongoing, 'come every week' volunteering (lots more women).

For example, every week volunteers and kids cook lunch for the whole primary school,
as well as preserving food from the school garden and donated goodies.
This group is entirely women, aside from occasional help from a couple of guys.
It kinda ticks the 'chick box': cooking, regular volunteering, primary-aged kids, daytime commitment...

Tuesdays is gardening with the kids.
I've always been vaguely surprised there aren't more guys, since there's lots of er, 'manly' activities involving pointy objects, tools, hauling heavy stuff etc.
But it also has the 'chick box' stuff, bar the cooking.

People use volunteering as a pick-up opportunity? Cripes. The horror!





 
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So , I googled the question 'Why more women than men volunteer" . Most responses were similar to this explanation by Astrid Sheil , PhD :


"I had a few unformed ideas, but I decided to use a lifeline first and call my psychologist friend, Dr. Val Hannemann, in Flagstaff, Arizona.

“Val!” I caught her out of breath, as usual. She was hauling hay to feed her four horses. “Hey, I have a serious question for you -- why do women volunteer?” She took a few gulps of air, leaned against her fence, and replied, “Oh, there are as many reasons as there are horse flies on a salt lick.” There’s a charming analogy, I thought.

Val continued. “Women volunteer to make social contacts and expand their sense of community.” I liked that concept -- expanding their sense of community.

Val rambled on. “Women like to hang with other women who have similar interests. So for example, if you have a passion for scrapbooking and you can volunteer at a scrapbooking convention, you’re going to feel like a pig in --” “Mud?” I replied quickly and then asked, “What are some other reasons?”

I could hear Val reaching into the recesses of her Jungian-trained brain. She said, “Women are hard-wired to be engaged in their communities. Volunteering connects women. They share, they compare, and they adopt new strategies to make a difference in the world -- their world.” This certainly explains why The Women’s Conference is growing exponentially. Women from all strata and walks of life are coming to this year’s conference to share, compare, and adopt new strategies on how to be -- as First Lady, Maria Shriver describes it -- “Architects of Change” in their own lives and in the lives of others."

This strikes at the heart of it I believe . The tendency to form social groups is more innate {or ingrained} in females . Men can get along in groups very well if a firm set of goals and tasks are presented clearly . Football and work crews are examples of why men would even gather together in the first place . Marketing is the key . Perhaps a seperate plea is required for the men folks . "Able bodied men needed to complete a water saving project for your childrens future . You can make a difference !"
 
pollinator
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I think....

Although I[m not a completive type of guy, competitive event may be the way to go.... kinda like a lumberjack / TimberSports event but permie style, digging holes, building hugelbeds, etc. Add food, or a food / cook out competition as mentioned by others is a great idea. Checkout this short video of a nettles eating contest.... all men.

 
Miles Flansburg
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I have been thinking about this for a while.

I , myself, volunteer very little. The only time I really did was to be a master gardener and that was awesome.
It was during a time in my life when I was younger, with young kids in school and a working wife. So I had time to myself on my days off, while they were at work and school.

I also do not feel very comfortable in groups, it takes a lot of energy for me to do anything in groups. I do not follow sports, and I do not have a group of guys that I hang out with.

I work a lot, trying to pay off debts, raise a family. When I do have time off I try to spend it with my family or on projects that have fallen way behind.

So I guess I really do not have time to volunteer. I wonder if this might be common to other men?
 
wayne stephen
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I can echo Miles refrain . My goal in permaculture is first to create a little wiggle room . Then possibly a volunteer window may open .
 
pollinator
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To borrow the three most important words from 'Little shop of horrors' ! ''FEED ME Seymour !'' You have to remember the largeer working dogs need about twice as much
as a small dog, the Large Guard Dog eats about as much as the smaller but still large working dog, sometimes its nice to have large muscles on the job, nether of the top
two will show up for a tea tray and a a bowl of greens ! Big AL
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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First of all, Al, I'm can totally see you sipping tea from a delicate china cup...

OK - maybe not.

The events do have lots of snacks but don't serve meals.

And I'm glad you've resurrected this thread - I'd lost it (the thread, not my mind) for awhile there. Still gathering my thoughts around it.
 
pollinator
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Jennifer-

Were these events publicized as volunteer events, or opportunities to learn (workshop), or both?

Thanks!
Mariamne
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Mariamne Ingalls wrote:Jennifer-

Were these events publicized as volunteer events, or opportunities to learn (workshop), or both?

Thanks!
Mariamne


Good question - the answer is BOTH.
 
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I do think this is an interesting discussion, Jennifer.

Think about all the flak that Diego Footer got for hiring more males than females for the Permaculture Voices conference. These are exclusively people who have boldly ventured out alone into unknown territory, found meaning and returned to share it with us less brilliant folks.

I have spent a lot of my life in action/adventure sports, and the question is, where are all the females? Hang gliding, paragliding, Whitewater kayaking, skateboarding, windsurfing, etc. The cooler the sport, the fewer chicks are in it, my friends would say.

Volunteering could be considered "maintaining the social community". I agree that it is female dominated, and generally, more appealing to more females.

Venturing out into unknown territory is required to become a top level permaculture presenter. Sociologically, there are statistically more men at the top and at the bottom. More men are killed and kill, homeless, drug addicted, insane, criminals, and also CEOs, politicians and top level permaculture presenters. More women are solid, "normal" and healthy, according to generally accepted statistical data. In my opinion, it is generally less frowned upon for a male to be somewhat aggressive, "a jerk", crazy, or out there. It is less frowned upon for a woman to be nice but unimpressive.

The competitive versus cooperative and rural versus urban thing are true statistically as well.

Some of this relates to traditional child raising roles and some of it does not. My wife and I generally fit these patterns.
John S
PDX OR

 
wayne stephen
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The irony of it all ! The men folk who responded in this post are rationalizing their lack of volunteerism . Yet most of us have the words volunteer , pollinator , steward , next to their name . The men who don't also spend quite a few hours volunteering to help Paul infect brains . Go figure .
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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wayne stephen wrote:The irony of it all ! The men folk who responded in this post are rationalizing their lack of volunteerism . Yet most of us have the words volunteer , pollinator , steward , next to their name . The men who don't also spend quite a few hours volunteering to help Paul infect brains . Go figure .


Yep - I noticed that too And I wondered if perhaps doing this kind of volunteer work (volunteer mod) was somehow more appealing to men and why.


 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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John S. - you make some interesting points - but I'd like to keep my main focus in this thread on the following (quote from my first post):

I'm asking all this not because I want to add fuel to the men v. women argument. I ask these questions because in trying to engage the community with permaculture-related activities, we are primarily reaching women and having women show up at events. How the hell do we reach men? If you're a dude - what would make you show up at an event? Most of the events I'm talking about are hands on events. WHAT AM I MISSING?


Basically, I feel that we aren't reaching everyone equally. I'm willing examine that and reach out to the community in general, and men specifically, to find out how we could adjust what we're doing now so that it becomes more equitable. My thinking is that we can always do things better. That's where folks here come in.

I think a lot of the guys have mentioned FOOD! So many, in fact, that I am rethinking the types of food we provide at these events.

So the next question is this. Starting in September when it cools off again here, an org that I volunteer with (Watershed Management Group) will be hosting water harvesting installations nearly every weekend. These workshops last approximately 5 hours. We install rainwater, greywater and stormwater harvesting features. Usually there's a lot of digging in our heavily compacted clay soil, a lot of rock work for armored infiltration basins, installing branched drain systems or laundry to landscape systems, etc. So a lot of physical labor. If it's hot we start at 7 am. If it's in the winter (our cooler season) we start at 8 am.

The workshop usually goes like this:

--First 15-30 mins: Workshop leader introduces him/herself (right now it's just "himself" as our female workshop leader moved away) and describes the project. The workshop participants introduce themselves.
--Participants self-select what role/task they want to do
--Work for a couple of hours, breaking for snacks/water whenever necessary.
--At about the halfway point there is an assessment of the work so far and a break (30 mins or so) to discuss any of the detail work coming up (detail work usually coming towards the end of the workshop) and to answer any questions. Sometimes there are mini "educational moments" during critical parts of the workshop - it just depends on the project.
--the workshop usually finishes at noon or 1 pm depending on when we started.

Breakfast-y/snack-y foods are provided by the workshop host - all are "hand snacks" (no plates or utensils needed): fruit, granola bars, crackers, cheese, muffins, donuts, etc. Often most snacks are of the "healthy" variety. Water is usually the only beverage provided (we're big on drinking LOTS of water here in the desert). Sometimes tea or sodas or homemade fruit juices.

Question for everyone: What types of food/drink would you like to see at a hands-on event like this?

Are there other things we could do to reach more men? What are your suggestions?
 
Posts: 6154
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the volunteer work my husband and I did for thirty years was for a state wide craft organization that had it's origin, main office, one of it's several shops and shows in this town. I think that the male/female ratio of volunteers was pretty even....there was always a variety of work to do....from building to office work....and we all had a financial stake in the well being of the organization. For much of that time we and our peers had young families and the work events would include them.....for us those work days were an opportunity to come out of the valley and socialize a bit with our craft community....potlucks....music....refreshment.........
I consider permies my volunteer time now....and my 'study new things' time, too.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Do any of these events make it on the local news? Maybe men need to see what you all are doing?
How about local colleges ? Any advertising there? Maybe make some connections with engineering or environmental or even technical teachers, see if they might be interested in making some of what you all do part of a feild trip or something?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Miles - excellent suggestions - thank you!

Some of what we do does get on the news. Because Phoenix is SO large, we need to parse it out in terms of area. In my neighborhood, there is a community college and a technical high school - I think both of those would have folks interested in interacting with what we do.
 
John Saltveit
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Hi Jennifer,
It feels like you didn't understand my response to your question. It sounds like you want the answer to the question, "How do I get men to volunteer for my event in Phoenix?"
I would clarify my earlier post that the more you make men feel like they are an unimportant part of a giant organization, the fewer will participate. That' s why not so many men attend church, I think.

The more you make them feel like their individual effort and skills are specifically important for that one individual activity, the more they will feel needed and will participate. Men are more likely to help if they can see that they were chosen to help for specific skills and that their efforts are positively affecting a particular human being rather than an amorphous organization. My local non-profit, the Home Orchard Society, that I volunteer for the most is like that, and we have a lot more men volunteering in our section than women.
John S
PDX OR
 
wayne stephen
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I think Pop Warner Football , Little league Baseball , Boy Scouts , etc . Largely staffed by male volunteers . So , a lack of male volunteers is not really an issue .
Perhaps trying to get male volunteers to appear for a one off event is more problematic than enlisting them in an organization with long range goals . One thing to be said about those civic groups is the clarity of purpose for the volunteer . "Little League Coach" is an easy role to define and attract a volunteer and retain him year after year . Jennifers group is marketing to a fringe population . So , holding on to them is even more important . Perhaps in order to get them to show up for individual events the process would have to be ongoing . Do these desert installations need maintenence ? If so , a volunteer work crew that maintains the established sites may be more likely to show up to put a new one in . As with most endevours 10% of the people end up doing more than most . Keeping those hard workers is more important than constantly attracting new ones .
 
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