Leader Newsletter 2021-02-22


Hey friends 🦕

Matthew from Hack Club HQ here. This is the fourth edition of a semi-regular email update I send to club leaders. This email series has now graduated from a "semi-regular experiment" to a "semi-regular program" 😎. To celebrate, I made a medal for it. Yay!

All previous updates are available here. If you're receiving this email for the first time, welcome to the club 👁

Scrapbook posts with the clairebookworm emoji. Every post contains generative art and is captioned with "pringle"

The best online club meeting I've ever attended was a workshop Claire (a club leader in California) ran on making generative art. I try to tell as many club leaders as I can about this meeting, because I know a lot of you are struggling to run compelling, high-energy online club meetings right now, and Claire's workshop is a perfect example of one. But... most of you have never heard of Claire's workshop. Isn't that a problem? If Claire's workshop is a potential solution to a problem that all of you are facing to some extent, shouldn't you be able to run that workshop without first having to be lucky enough to know it exists?

zach in 2016

Last week, I found this interview with Zach from 2016 (the very early days of Hack Club). In it, Zach describes the clubs program as a "club-in-a-box". For some reason, I had never heard this specific term, but I think it's perfect, and I want it to be part of our branding again. This got me thinking: if the clubs program is a "club in a box", could I add something to the "box" that would fix the issue I mentioned above?

The workshops are a great resource—and, thanks to the workshop bounty program, we have years' worth of workshops available to you now. But the workshops are only a piece of the puzzle: they help club leaders find compelling content to run in their clubs, but ultimately it's up to the club leader to figure out how to make it compelling—and during the age of online meetings, that's harder than ever.

So, here's a proposal: Meetings.

whiteboard session describing the 3 types of meetings you can run

(View a larger version)

A Meeting (name suggestions welcome!) is a special kind of workshop. It's made up of 3 parts: 1) a full recording of an actual club leader running an actual meeting in their actual club; 2) "editorial notes" written by me and/or the club leader dissecting the meeting, explaining what made the meeting "work"; 3) "cooking instructions", or step-by-step instructions for running the same meeting in your club; and 4) all resources the club leader used (e.g. slides the club leader made, or a link to a workshop on the Workshops page).

Imagine you're a brand-new club leader. You don't know how to run a coding club, but you know you want to run one, so you apply to Hack Club in hopes that we will help you. On the onboarding call, I show you the workshops in the "Start here" section, all of which have a Meeting accompanying them. After 6 weeks, you've run 6 fantastic meetings, and you feel confident enough to run a workshop without an accompanying Meeting. Eventually, you gain the confidence to write your own workshops for your club, and you turn the best ones into Meetings, so that other club leaders can run them too. This is where I eventually want to end up.

Personally, this would have been game-changing for me during my first year leading my club—but I'm sharing this with you because I want to hear what you think. Would this be useful for you? Why/why not? Let me know by replying to this email or DMing me on Slack.

I'm going to start reaching out to club leaders to help me write the first Meetings and see if this concept really works. If you would like to be part of this, please let me know.

That's all for this week. See you soon 💫

-✨🚀👁 Matthew


  • ☁️ Here's the view from the office in Shelburne, VT today view from the office. it's cloudy
  • 🎧 Wayyy too many people are sleeping on Jean Dawson. His album Pixel Bath is a rap/rock/pop/shoegaze genre-bending masterpiece. He'll be big one day.
  • ❓W7XX+QG Duckwater, Nevada

(P.S. I'm not using any fancy software to send this email—I literally just BCCed you in Gmail. If you don't want to keep receiving these emails, or you aren't running a club anymore, just reply and let me know.)

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