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Monday, August 25, 2014

How to manage the various cliques part 1

A guy was complaining in one of the comments about not being welcomed or fitting in when he tried to join various groups and committees here in Coconut Grove. I think there are cliques everywhere, I'm not denying that the Grove has its share but the world is made up of cliques. I often think of New England where they say unless you have lived there for generations, you're never really part of the community. Is the Grove like that, too? Here's some funny stuff that has happened to me over the years.

I remember when I started the Grapevine, I didn't have my name attached to it, and no one knew who was writing it. I got an email from one of the head clique leaders (a clique head) of the Grove, and she said, "Nobody knows who you are, why would anyone read the Grapevine?" My response was that people read it for the news. She was being cliquish then, she didn't like an outsider participating. I still have that email. I have lived here longer than she has, almost my whole life, I just never got involved in town events until the Grapevine. Oh sure, My friends and I would attend all the Arts Festivals and bike races and King Mango Struts, but we didn't participate, we just watched. So she was really the outsider (by New England standards), but she took it upon herself to play the part of the mean girl and the clique head.

After I started writing the daily news here, I would of course attend all the meetings: the Bed Race, the Merchants Group, the Fourth of July, the Village Council, etc. I would sit there and take notes to write articles and that's how I started getting into the cliques, not actually wanting to. It all started I believe with Felice Dubin, owner of the Bookstore, who has just become a grandmother (congrats Felice!); I was at a Merchants meeting which used to be the first Thursday of the month at the Glass House, they were giving out jobs to people at the meeting and she called out to me to do something regarding an event, I don't remember what it was but I said, "I'm just here taking notes!" And she said, "No, you do this." And so I did.

From there I would get assigned jobs and tasks at all other events as I moved from meeting to meeting. So basically I think if you just show up, you'll get involved. I wasn't pushy, just the opposite, so maybe the key is to just show up, don't they say that 90% of success is just showing up?

I would show up at meetings and also have not been welcomed; it runs the gamut. One time at a tense  King Mango Strut meeting, I sat in the back taking notes, and someone spotted me from the dais, pointed at me and yelled out, "Tom, you can stay if you sit there and keep your mouth shut!" His exact words. I yelled back,"When have I ever opened my mouth? What do you think I'm going to do, start yelling catcalls from the back row?" I'm usually too involved in taking notes to get up and talk at meetings, I'm trying to get it all down on paper, not be part of the proceedings. I will usually only ask a question if it pertains to the story I'm writing. I'm friendly with the guy today, I don't let that bother me, like the time someone called me on the phone (also from the Strut) and said, "We both have to live in this town, how about we meet to hash out our differences?" I didn't know we had differences, I was just writing the news.

Part 2 tomorrow.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your blog. You do a great job. You do a better job promoting Coconut Grove then all the pinheads getting paid by the BID.

August 25, 2014 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, just imagine how you would have been treated had you not been a fellow baby-boomer, life-long resident, happy to keep his mouth shut.

The old guard in the grove is a terribly unwelcoming group.

August 27, 2014 10:39 AM  

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