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Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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John Saltveit wrote: 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.


John - thanks for clarification on your position - it's insightful. Something I should clarify as well - the organizations I've referenced here, either directly (Watershed Management Group) or indirectly are definitely not "giant organizations". They range from small community gardens with less than 100 members, to my neighborhood (395 households), to Watershed Management Group and the Valley Permaculture Alliance who have larger memberships. Of course, all these members are not active all the time - that is the way of organizations. It truly is 10-20% who do most of the work. That's across the board in all organizations, everywhere it seems.

John Saltveit wrote: 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 - can you help me out here with some specific ways that you and the Home Orchard Society go about making men feel valued? For instance, do you/HOS put out a call for volunteers that is worded in such a way as to attract male volunteers? Do you request certain skills that garners you more men? I would truly love to pick your brain on this.

As for "affecting particular human beings as opposed to an amorphous organization" - all of these projects benefit individuals directly. Community gardens benefit the communities they are in, neighborhood events directly impact the neighborhood that these men live in and often specific men as those who are more able show up to help those who are less able (I live in an awesome neighborhood). As for Watershed Management Group - they have three programs going in Phoenix: Community Demonstration sites, Green Infrastructure (note: this project had the most men of any of our projects. Many of them showed up because they were staying at the International Youth Hostel where the implementation was happening) and Green Living Co-op. All of these sites benefit individuals directly as well as fulfilling the mission of the organization.

More later - friends are here!
 
Charles Tarnard
Posts: 337
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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wayne stephen wrote: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 .



Yes and no. There are lots of dads there, but they were probably roped in because nobody else stepped up and their kid wanted to play (I may have some experience with that). I would not be a coach if my daughter had a bounty of coaches to teach her soccer. Now I'm going to retire as a youth soccer coach.

It does bring up the possibility of marketing your events to local middle/ high school students and cordially inviting their dads to come along. That would almost certainly get me out to some volunteer labor event.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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First, we look for interest. One of the women who teaches gardening classes here was complaining that very few men attended her classes. We work with berries but mostly fruit trees. Nationwide, I believe more men work with fruit trees, building, energy, and earth works than vegetables and purpleness, for example. Other nationwide fruit organizations lead me to believe this.

We have events that are of great benefit to the members and potential members: Scion exchanges, grafting classes, the largest fruit tastings in N. America, free bud grafting classes, tours of members gardens, etc. We also have an electronic forum in which the majority of the posters and responders are men. We share information about projects that are challenging. This is very much like permaculture, and some of it actually is (mine for example), but some members use toxins. When we notice someone is returning, we remember them, acknowledge them and ask them what they have learned in their experiments/projects. We often ask them to help out on teaching classes when we notice an interest, experience, or expertise.

We do have more difficulty attracting younger men, because if they don't have a property, many people are not wanting to plant fruit trees for someone else. Also younger guys tend to be much more interested if there is beer, attractive young women and maybe a live band. Also if they can just spontaneously show up rather than be committed to it.

I think one of the reasons that a lot of men volunteer for Little League, Pop Warner, Boy Scouts, etc., is because they know they have the skills to help and not many others, do, so they know they are actually making a big difference. They're not just "throwing away their weekend". Still many more women stay home and take care of kids, at least part time, so to give an hour here or there isn't so much. If you're already working 60-70 hours a week and you have kids, it's really difficult to donate your very little time unless you're crucially needed. A lot of men take their kids' friends out hunting, fishing, rafting, canoeing, hiking, and it's not some formal organization.

Once a man reaches a certain age, say 40-50, he usually realizes that a lot of people helped him and he needs to help out. Sometimes it's mentoring, fixing things for their mom, or a neighbor, someone in the church/neighborhood/Habitat for Humanity. Usually, until he retires, he is amazingly busy with his own kids and projects. Often when he does retire, he realizes that he has a couple of serious injuries/operations and can't do the same physical work that he used to do before he had the time. Many men feel embarrassed that they can't do the same physical work that they used to do, and our society doesn't have much of a graceful cultural way of acknowledging it.

Libertarianism has some great aspects, but one side of it is "I don't have to do anything for anyone else. That's their problem". It's a big part of our culture right now.

I would like it if we found a way to use more cooperation in our society, by understanding how everyone wants to work together.
John S
PDX OR
 
alex Keenan
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Take a step back in time and look at the old garden clubs, community gardens, etc.
Without the support of women most of these clubs and activities would not have taken place.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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John Saltveit wrote:...
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

John, I think that is not only the case for men. Also women want to 'feel like their individual effort and skills are specifically important'.
I volunteer for Permacultuur Meppel (both working at the community garden and helping organise social activities there). Most of the volunteers there are women, of ages from about 30 to 70. Some (older) men come along to have some small talk, make photos, but don't work; some young men (30ish) come when there's a specific activity and their 'muscles' are needed. B.t.w. this is a 'sub-urban' situation.
Many reasons are already in this topic. I think most men just 'do their job' and they have their sports (active or passive). They don't like 'doing things together' as much as women like that. They prefer doing competitive activities ...
So if you want to attract more men, build in a 'competition' in your volunteer activity.
And end the day of active working (and playing) with a 'pot luck' meal!
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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Inge,
I don't think we are in disagreement as much as in seeing different sides of the same question.  You may see our Home Orchard group as competitive. I think none of the male volunteers feel it is. However, it does value the individual style, preference, and efforts of each person as an individual.  I agree that if you want to get a whole bunch of people to do something, it's easier to get women. If you want someone to do a specific, difficult job that not everyone can do, it may get easier to ask a particular man, by acknowledging that he has some specific skills that not everyone has.  A lot of the jobs that people I know ask a man to do are asking men because they don't know a lot of women who would be willing to do it.  I'm not saying that women couldn't do it. They are very rarely competitive jobs, but often painful and dirty and unpleasant, with unknown pitfalls and problems. There is no manual on how to do it.  That's just my experience. It doesn't seem to be about competition, which  I think of as a completely different category.
John S
PDX OR
 
Micky Ewing
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Location: Merrickville, Ontario
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I'm a dude who volunteers, so perhaps I'm not going to have the best insight into why we don't.  I thought I'd share a particular aspect of my experience volunteering, though, which seems relevant.

There's a volunteer-run wildlife garden here in town that caught my eye one day, so I started showing up regularly to help out.  Most of the volunteers were older than me -- generally of retirement age -- and most were indeed women.  This made me much in demand in the "muscles" department, and I enjoyed my status as the big strong man (not many places I would have been so described).  After a while, though, I started to feel pressure from my girlfriend to reduce my participation there.  And one day she expressed her objection clearly: why couldn't I be spending those Sunday mornings on our own back yard?

Fast forward a few years.  We break up (unrelated).  I start volunteering again at the wildlife garden.  New girlfriend.  Move in with her.  Same thing: can't I spend that time working on OUR garden?

Too small a sample to draw conclusions.  Also, it seems to be a bit more complicated.  You see, I also volunteer at a community bike shop. Two evenings per month I help put old bikes back on the road and train people in bike maintenance.  Nothing but support from the GF!  So what's that about?  Gender roles maybe?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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John Saltveit wrote:Inge,
I don't think we are in disagreement as much as in seeing different sides of the same question.  ...
John S
PDX OR

Indeed John, we are not in a disagreement.

B.t.w. something more to think about: all people are individuals. Not all men are identical, neither are all women
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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Micky Ewing wrote:I'm a dude who volunteers

...

Go on doing the good work Micky!
Doesn't your (new) girlfriend like to work in the gardens too? (both your own and the wildlife garden) Then you can spend more time together
 
Micky Ewing
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
Go on doing the good work Micky!
Doesn't your (new) girlfriend like to work in the gardens too? (both your own and the wildlife garden) Then you can spend more time together


Thanks for the encouragement Inge.  And yes, she does like to work on our garden, but time together isn't the issue.  Rather, her objection seems to be to my spending time on something that doesn't benefit us directly, though that doesn't explain why I get a pass on the community bike shop.
 
R Ranson
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Micky Ewing wrote:
Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
Go on doing the good work Micky!
Doesn't your (new) girlfriend like to work in the gardens too? (both your own and the wildlife garden) Then you can spend more time together


Thanks for the encouragement Inge.  And yes, she does like to work on our garden, but time together isn't the issue.  Rather, her objection seems to be to my spending time on something that doesn't benefit us directly, though that doesn't explain why I get a pass on the community bike shop.


I don't know your exact situation but if this was a challenge in my life, I would make a compromise.  I would tell my significant other how important it is to me to help the community - I like the community gardens, I think there should be community gardens, I help with them.  Then I would offer a bargain.  She (or in my case, it would probably be a he) comes to help with the volunteering one week, we do the garden together the next week.  That way her/his concern that our garden isn't getting done is addressed and my concern that I help out in the community is addressed.  And the possibly unknown concern that you're spending time with lots of ladies and they might try to snatch you away, is addressed because she's there to keep an eye on things.  Triple win! 

 
John Saltveit
gardener
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Excellent solution R Ranson!
My wife doesn't really value things like volunteering for Permies, etc. in a real way, although she does theoretically support it. It just ends up being my one thing I get to do instead of anything else fun.   This is the same way that she theoretically values the environment, but never bikes, uses mass transit or gives me any allowance when I do.  These are difficult questions. I have experiences like Micky's I think, and it is hard for a society to evolve into a more environmental situation when people are always directly penalized by their spouses for contributing while their spouses don't contribute.  I think if people could get their spouses to see an activity like this as a group, fun thing, more would participate.  Also , if my kids were ever willing to be involved in anything like this, I think my wife would be more tolerant.
Sorry to be so depressing.
John S
PDX OR
 
Rob Griffin
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Location: Huntsville, United States
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Micky,
I appreciate you being the volunteering kind of guy. 

You have admitted you are a bit younger, so let me try and help you from my many years of experience with women.    Women can be crazy....jealous.   About 99.9%, so if you have mentioned to your girl that you like being the "big strong man" around those women (post menopausal or not it doesn't matter) your girl will think you are living out your natural male instincts and are like the : herd bull, beach master elephant seal, the silver back male (just not maybe silver yet), the herd stallion, the barn yard rooster...and the list goes on and on.  Anyway, she (both of them) were probably crazy jealous and using their feminine wiles to try and get you out of that situation.  I am taking it for granted that you are not being looked at as the "big strong man", beach master, cock of the walk...at the bike volunteer events and therefor they were cool with you being there, but not where any women can faun over you and tell you how wonderful and strong you are (can also make her look bad if she ordinarily did act that way around you).

As for me volunteering, I like to do it but around North Alabama you really have to dig to find permie type events.   Would be so much easier if there was an app for this and you could sign up and it would send you reminders.   That is also one thing I have not liked the permie forum; that being there is no calendar, or easy way, to look at a glance to see what is/will be going on at wheaton labs (or what rooms and cabins are vacant).  Of course I could be totally wrong about this and if someone knows how to easily find that info I would like to know.

Rob  
 
Casie Becker
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Rob Griffin wrote:Micky,
That is also one thing I have not liked the permie forum; that being there is no calendar, or easy way, to look at a glance to see what is/will be going on at Wheaton Labs (or what rooms and cabins are vacant).  Of course I could be totally wrong about this and if someone knows how to easily find that info I would like to know.

Rob  


Your best bet is to look in the Wheaton Labs forums. They're pretty good about announcing when they plan something, but I seldom see things planned a long time out. The Gapper program is a continual thing where they're working on a long list of developing projects pretty much continually. The SEPPers thread https://permies.com/wiki/54140/SEPPers-Program-Excited-Permaculture-Pampering gives you a good idea of what types of lodging there are. This thread https://permies.com/t/55707/Choose-adventure-Wheaton-Laboratories opens with a strong list of things that are pretty much always going on. Comments in the thread can give you more ideas.  I don't know if that helps you any. It was really cool to see when I visited last summer, and there was a lot happening.
 
Rob Griffin
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Thanks Casie,
I browse through all those forum discussions and a few more.   But that takes more time than I like.   I mentioned this to Janet when I was there for the PDC last summer hoping a calendar would get some traction.  But no luck.

I remember Evan did a bunch of short workshops last year over the winter.  I would like to just be able to see at a glance what is going on and coming up in case I can break away again.
 
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