Last year it was the St. Louis Illini Club, the local University of Illinois alumni group. (More action on the Facebook page, actually. Nevermind that UI is the alma mater of Andreesen, Levchin, Ozzie, the university decided on some garbage software for the alumni clubs.) A group of about eight of us took a moribund club and flipped it.
This year, it’s the International Space University USA alumni club. After a few years of disrepair, it’s time to put that one back together as well. I ran it with some friends back in 2009-2010, but it has since drifted into inactivity. No one was running it, so… why not me?
Why #1: Why do these things fall apart?
Why #2: Why do I like putting them back together again?
The second one is easier. It’s fun. It’s fun to organize people. It’s fun to connect people. It’s fun to fix things up. There’s some utility—get to meet people, create opportunity—but I’m not even that interested in using the opportunity for myself. That’s all. And for me it fills in something I don’t get at work—getting to lead and organize and strategize and execute. Without it, I’d go crazy.
The first one is easy and hard to understand. Easy: people get busy. Kids, work, etc. It happens. Hard to understand: responsibility is responsibility. If you stand up for something, you should finish the deal. I’m 100% on that either. But the point stands: when you’re being counted on, you must close.
There’s one more reason I like putting together organizations even more than creating a new one. It’s the… archaeological element to it. Find an organization that is interesting, functionally dead but some of the physical (or digital) ruins are still there. Dig through the pieces, try to understand what the people who came before you were thinking, what they were feeling, what they were hoping to accomplish when the invested their time and energy in the organization. Find and save the traditions. Create new ones. Draw a line from where they were to where you are and on into the future. Creating and recreating.
But again, mostly, it’s just fun to do the work.