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Ask HN: The place have you ever discovered neighborhood exterior of labor?

Ask HN: The place have you ever discovered neighborhood exterior of labor?

2023-05-30 13:30:35

My neighborhood. When we moved in we sat out front every evening, and made small talk with every single person who walked by. Some were caught off guard, some kinda just waved and moved on, but most stopped to talk.

What’s interesting is that people who had lived in that neighborhood nearly 20 years together had never talked, and met for the first time as both stopped to chat at nearly the same time.

Then we started with small gifts, usually food because my wife cooks exotic things for people to try. Now we get random gifts, usually food or fruits or some flower or plant.

Now we have little get togethers inviting each other, text to ask if need anything from the store, etc. And all it took was being willing to sit outside for a couple hours each night and say hi.

I’m prepared for this to be an unpopular opinion, but I’m glad my neighbors don’t do this.

I know my neighbors well enough. We check each other’s mail when they’re away and will help out in other ways.

But I have lots of friends to keep up with outside of my neighborhood — people I have a lot in common with — my neighbors, not so much. If they wanted to talk with me each time I saw them coming or going, I would likely start actively avoiding them so I could get on my way.

You would love my next door neighbors. They moved in the same week we did 2 years ago. We saw them when they first drove up and enters their garage (middle age couple). Since then, nobody has ever seen them. They never have lights on in their house at night. They never answer their door. They never open their garage and drive away. They never have packages or anything else delivered. They only way we know they are still alive is their trash bins go out and are taken back in every week (though nobody has ever seen them do it) and in the winter you can see the white smoke/condensation from their utility vents.

I’ve got a similar situation here in Baltimore. The community I’m a part of here is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We actually have a neighborhood telegram chat of ~70 people where we post about neighborhood events, parties, etc. My wife and I have a great circle of friends within this community and it led us to buy a house a few years back(before the market got all wild). We just had our first kid, and there’s plenty of other newborns popping up so I’m looking forward to seeing them all grow up together!

A little, but not terribly much. Maybe it’s an age thing, I’m not that old (around 40), but I don’t feel weird talking to people I don’t know – I quite enjoy it. In fact, I felt rather sad since the rise of smartphones, because a lot of places I use to get small talk(barber, airport, etc), everyone is busy or feigning being busy. But when people are just out enjoying the air, they are more free to chat.

The biggest thing to put aside are first impressions/biases – ie, treating people that you wouldn’t normally think you’d be friends with the same. As a lot of my neighborhood are older than we are, that was a lot of people. In a way it’s like coworkers, you can’t pick them, but some end up being great friends.

It also helped to have a really outgoing child. She’d go riding her bike around the neighborhood, and a few people stopped by because “the little girl on the bike said I should come meet you guys.”

I will say it was easier, to me, to do so when first moving in. I personally would feel weird if I’d lived somewhere a long time and never bothered to meet anyone, then started acting more social out of nowhere. But that’s probably just in my head.

It’s sad that modern American yards are so unfriendly to sitting in your front yard, but that can be easily fixed, even within the boundaries of over-zealous HOAs or towns.

Just make a cute little “gate” (it doesn’t even need the gate) with flowers at the end of the walkway near the sidewalk, and add in a table and some chairs (or move them out when you go to sit).

Being at the sidewalk vs being 20-40 feet away on a porch makes a huge difference.

I agree. In my opinion, it’s another manifestation of individualism promoted by the capitalist system in the US – in urban design, in this case. Another commenter pointed out how they only see their neighbour when they both walk to or from their car at the same time. It sounds sad to me, but some might prefer it that way.

>My neighborhood

I have a question. What kind of place do you live in? Is it houses that are apart by some distance -lawns/treelines separating y’all etc-, is it houses that are built next to each other, is it duplexes/townhomes etc?

Excellent question. I live in a neighborhood where each house has 1 acre of land, so a couple hundred feet between houses? Maybe 100-150 houses in the neighborhood. Perfectly flat, few to no big trees or shrubs that would obscure a house – it’s in a desert, after all.

What’s funny is I picked it because I was tired of having bad neighbors in my previous city. I told my wife this way, I can have bad neighbors, but at least they’ll be bad neighbors way over there (pointing). Nearly everyone I’ve met in this neighborhood said that they picked it for the same reason. And they are the best neighbors I’ve ever had. So…try to find a neighborhood full of people who want to be away from neighbors?

In a typical evening, how many neighbors walk by?

I used to live in a suburb with literally 10x the density, and the only time I ever saw my immediate neighbors was if we both happened to be walking from our front doors to our cars at the same time.

As it gets very hot here, people generally only go out for walks at two times of day, which makes it easier – early morning, and evening. In a typical evening, we’d probably see 10-15 people go by. Most walking a dog or pushing a stroller around. We don’t have sidewalks here – there’s so little traffic everyone just walks in the street.

This question alludes to thoughts about front-yard design space. As houses get closer together, residents still want both connection and privacy. A raised area (porch, patio, etc), frequently provides this. With a raised porch that goes right to the sidewalk, a resident could move their chair close to the edge to talk to pedestrians or move chair away from sidewalk toward house for less talking.

The playborhood people did a similar thing to GP: “Mike also made another simple-but-radical move: In a neighborhood in which front yards are for admiration only, Mike installed a picnic table, close to the sidewalk, where he and his family often sat, so that people walking by would have to talk to them.”

This worked for me, too (except I’m usually the one walking by rather than the one waving people over to chat).

If you don’t like small talk, a great way to interact with neighbors is to offer your help, e.g. if you see someone doing work outside, gardening, etc… offer to lend a hand!

Southwestern USA.

Which is kinda funny as my wife hates it and wants to move because gardening here is really hard-to-impossible, but she doesn’t want to give up our great neighborhood, so we’re at an impasse.

Thanks, I love the idea of living in this kind of a neighborhood. I have been living in an apartment building for close to a decade now and I don’t know a single person on my floor or in my building. I don’t even know who my neighbor is.

Gardening should be possible in the southwest, but you may have to utilize greenhouses or whatever the opposite of one is. Much of the “desert” will bloom if you pour enough water on it (and drip irrigation does wonders).

But you can’t do a “midwest” style garden.

Right, and we’re used to that style of gardening (and tropical, we’ve lived all over). Here the main problems are that the soil is completely garbage, it never rains, and there’s too much sun. She’s had limited success planting things in large bags full of garden soil, watering every day, and building a system of shades from the afternoon sun – it’s just a big hassle compared to gardening in a lot of the eastern side of the US.

Yep. The first can be repaired, the second compensated for, but the third is the killer. You either have to vastly move the growing season (growing in winter seems strange) or you have to learn new tricks that don’t “feel right” like growing things up against a building to get shade half the day.

Composting can be a great way to improve the soil, but it takes years to really get going. But if you’re going to be there for years …

And maybe you could even get “donations” from neighbors! I know one person who setup compost jars for her neighbors to get more compostables.

I’m not the person you’re replying to, but we did this in an LA suburb.

Among other things that have resulted from it:

One of our neighbors invites everyone over for 4th of July every year. We have a block party where we block off the street once or twice per year. Neighbors have been over for backyard parties, my wife goes to birthday lunches with the wives on the street, and there’s a giant text thread where people ask for help/etc for things.

During the first year of covid, we did a special neighborhood Halloween, where everyone on the block put out bags of candy for neighborhood kids to go house to house and pick up.

> where everyone on the block put out bags of candy for neighborhood kids to go house to house and pick up.

Is this usual in the region, or perhaps did I misunderstand you? Don’t the kids usually walk up to the doors and ring, and then you personally hand out candy to them?

During covid lots of people didn’t want to do a normal trick-or-treat.

So we arranged something in our immediate neighborhood – about 20 houses – to create a bag of candy for each kid in those houses. They left them on the lawn and each family with kids took their turn going around to each house to get their bag of candy.

So it was less “go to random people’s houses” and more “let’s get together and make sure halloween isn’t cancelled”.

Started doing this to a limited extent. For years I’d have never dreamed of doing this, as I did not want to feel obliged to casual acquaintances, i.e. I feared expectation of friendship that I did not want to reciprocate. Turns out most people are just happy to leave things casual. I don’t mind small talk.

Related to why I’ve had limited friendships. I’ve wanted fewer, high quality ones as overshooting my social needs is uncomfortable, and I’m a creature of habit. Used to overcorrect towards solitude and that backfires, but I’ve had friendships in the past where I dreaded having to meet.

Volunteering. And before you brush it out skeptically, like “oh yeah right, those people”, it really doesn’t have to be anything you don’t care about.

I volunteer at a boat house on the city lake nearby, just putting kids on pedal boats and kayaks. I don’t even call it volunteering, I just love kayaks and water.

It’s amazing how your perspective of time and people and service shifts, when you spend some time being “in service” to other people, instead of anxiously counting hours that you’re being paid for — or could’ve been paid for — and maximizing “receiving”.

I’ve confirmed for myself time and time again the advice I’ve read: if you have a busy life and want to increase a feeling that you have more time? — try spending your time for free, for example, volunteering.

I wish this wasn’t brushed off, but when I suggest it, frequently, as a scientifically proven method of improving happiness, well, it gets brushed off. I guess it’s really difficult to relate just how much it can improve your life. Some of the highlights of my entire life have been coaching 3rd/4th grade girls basketball at a YMCA. Yeah, it’s a lot of work at the time, but the memories are priceless, and the benefit to the kids is definite – they tell me, years (and sometimes years and years – with a baby in their arms) later.

I can definitely agree. I used to be very skeptical about how fun or healing volunteering could be. I started volunteering at an animal shelter and beyond being incredibly relaxing – I love animals – it’s nice to switch from trying to optimize my career, code, education to just using my hands to help take care of something and meet new people.

My anxiety has gone down a lot since I started doing this and I was able to meet some new people. Strongly recommend trying to volunteer with something you care about

I think volunteering gets brushed off because in many places it is just a pure scam. The organizations collect money and then charge volunteers exorbitant sums for the privilege of working for free.

I looked at volunteering about 15 years ago and from what I saw then, I have never entertained the thought again.

>In many places it is just a pure scam

Seems a pretty overly strong statement, no? Is there any research in to percentage of non profit efforts that are/aren’t legitimate? Can you elaborate on “what I saw then” that made you think it was indicative of the entire idea of volunteer work?

I have had the opposite experience. All the best people in the world I’ve met have been volunteering for one thing or another. As a young tech guy I’ve provided general tech support to as many institutions around me as need it and I’ve never once felt anyone was anything but earnest. Feels unfair to write so much off. I hope you find an organization you would feel comfortable volunteering for again. It really does provide immense benefit to the mind/heart

I got in with a new “startup” community bicycle hub. They were just getting off the ground so it was pretty chaotic at first. Now it’s humming along and, from a selfish perspective, my mental health is much better spending a couple hours a week volunteering with them.

See if you can look for (or create) opportunities for your kids to practice doing service, and support them. It’s an important part of life, like exercise or intellectual growth.

It’s almost impossibly easy to find volunteer activities if you have kids, everything from daycare to school to field trips to soccer, they’re almost always quite open to volunteer help.

A fitness community.
This could be either a BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) place or even a CrossFit gym. I’ve done both and while I’m not here to promote CrossFit, I am here to say that a group fitness class is awesome for meeting other people and finding a community of people that do something similar as you, but have absolutely nothing to do with your work.

I workout with Police officers, Lawyers, Doctors, Dentists, Stay at home moms, Accountants, Students, other tech folks, etc, you name it they’re all there.

There’s something about “shared misery” that brings people together and builds a comrade. That turns into a community where you start to hang out with them out of the gym/etc.

This happens at any group fitness place where the same people show up at the same time to do the same thing. It’s natural, organic and freeing.

I’ve moved across the country 3 times now and this is how I integrated into each area I moved into.

Yup. I joined a climbing gym. Hanging out with a lot of people both older and younger than you is refreshing. Not much shared misery though when it comes to climbing, always had a blast.

I’ve had the same experience with the BJJ community. Very positive and welcoming, and an incredible sport for training the mind as well as the body.

Some people get turned off by the behavior of certain fans of UFC but in my experience the groups of people who are starting fights in pubs and people who are actually showing up to intense physical training on a regular basis are mutually exclusive.

Or a team.

I joined a rugby team that is open to everyone but highlights lgbt inclusivity in sport. We practice twice a week, have games, and have other events. I’ve made so many good friends from the team it’s hard to keep up with them all.

Staying fit with them is an added bonus.

Reading the comments, I notice a lot of posters seek out tech communities. While I get why a nerd would want to do that, I have a different tendency. Most of my outside-of-work activities are actually not tech related. Sure, I have a bunch of private projects to work on, but I usually do that in single player mode. I picked up a number of “also working in tech” friends over time, and going out with them is still fun and interesting. I also enjoyed the social time at various conferences, meeting likeminded people. But I don’t want to spend my after-work-time and weekends with tech folks by default. That is, simply put, too much of one thing. Stepping out of tech is what keeps the dayjob interesting.

> I notice a lot of posters seek out tech communities. While I get why a nerd would want to do that, I have a different tendency.

Absolutely! I genuinely enjoy writing code at work, but I literally never do it in my spare time. I already spend a greater number of waking hours in front of my computer than I do with my friends and family (or playing music, or mountain biking, or…).

leaving SF was a godsend. I was tired of everyone being in tech and it’s nice interacting with people that are actually diverse and don’t all work in the same industry and have the same mindsets.

-sports: climbing gyms/trips/facebook groups/etc, bike groups (not exclusively biking alone), hiking trips, etc

-drama clubs/local theatre productions
-run clubs: while running is typically fairly isolated, there are social run clubs in cities that often go for a drink (no booze necessary) post-run
-book clubs: random collections of people that discuss a book together
-dinner clubs: sharing food with folks in a way where different people cook for others in turn
-partying: most places have a community of folks that enjoy dancing and/or recreationals

Note that I believe that the strong relationships can come from overcoming a shared struggle, so if you can think of something that’s difficult and with one or more other person/people, you will probably form a community around it over time (co-founders and cohorts are a great example).

At least on the coasts, clubs that do outdoors activities are fairly common. Doesn’t need to be hardcore. There’s the Appalachian Mountain Club in the Northeast US which dates to the 1800s. There are (unsurprisingly) at least a couple different Northern CA/PNW clubs though I’m less familiar with what they offer.

I live in Seattle, Cap Hill. Before I moved here and when I first moved here (from London) people told me that Seattle was a terrible place to make friends and build a community. My experience has been exactly the opposite; this has been the best place I’ve ever lived for making friends and building community, especially as a sober person.

The order of importance, I have found community here in:

– Swing dancing, both classes and going to shows with live jazz bands to dance (I was never a dancer before moving here)

– Lifting (there are great locally owned gyms in this neighborhood)

– Getting to know people who own or work at local businesses

– People who have similar tech interests, that I meet from a mixture of the previous 3 places

Finally, and I think this is a really important thing to do, I try to organize events, either in my home or in any one of the local parks in the summer, where friends I’ve made in different parts of my life all get together and also get to know each other

> Finally, and I think this is a really important thing to do, I try to organize events

This is generally the thing Seattle is missing — people that organize and then tell people to show up at X place on Y date. Most of the time, it’s a million people that all say they would love to hang out more, but nobody ever makes solid plans.

I think it depends on more factors than just location. I am older and live on the eastside of the Seattle metro area, and our neighbors have been generally unfriendly. When we first moved in we invited a number of neighbors to a backyard BBQ, and afterwards, none ever reached back out to us, and even worse, another became extremely aggressive towards us. It’s been over four years since.

We’re thinking of moving, but housing prices are incredibly high and volatile.

Oh! I’m on the east side. I’ve been attending Brazillian Zouk classes, but I’ve been interested in swing. Where do you go?

And I completely agree about event organization! It really introduces you to a wider swath of people than your initial search may have turned up.

Way to go!

Out of interest, do you find many working on software projects at hacker spaces? Each one I’ve looked at online seems to have more of a focus on hardware, electronics, metal/wood working with little mention of software. The caveat is that I’ve only really looked at UK based ones so this may be regional.

I’ve been trying to find a space that has a similar energy as my old university CS lab. There was a bit of a perfect time in my final year, whereafter 2+ years most people seemed to know each other and at the same time everyone was specialising in their degree. So you could walk into the lab and find people working deep in their own game engine code, others would be working on ML models and others may be working on mobile apps or websites. But with a sense of overall camaraderie and sharing of what you’re working on and why.

I suppose it just sounds like I’m describing something like a WeWork but when I’ve attended those they seem much more employee focused and I rarely saw employees of different companies talk to each other.

I also realise that some of what I describe is often fulfilled by talking to others at your workplace, I’m fully remote so I am missing out on that part.

If anyone knows of anything similar to what I describe above in or near London feel free to reach out to the email in my profile!

I remember someone programming some visuals in vvvv for the first time I’d ever seen that at a hackerspace some years ago in Vancouver, BC which was in some sketchy alley where you hollered up at them and they lowered a key on a pulley. I think you might find some interest taking advantage of the fact that there’s so much hardware and electronics around and learning something from them. There’s a likelihood that there is someone in there who could use a hand with whatever they’re doing in there on the software end too.

For what you’re more closely describing I’ve found local programming meetups in a few major cities that happen at local bars and restaurants to be like that, mostly just people coming in and working on their projects (Either personal or together), maybe not on the same level as what you had in uni but definitely worth checking out too.

The church is like a second family for me. I made so many great friends there!

Of course it will not be for everyone, but if you are open to it you can try.

+1 for this. No church is perfect, but my experience is that church is a place where I can go to gather with people from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and needs and come together on some common points: we need more than ourselves to make it through life, we need to be kinder, and we should serve each other.

I have seen my congregation rally around new parents, people with mental health conditions, and other such common struggles. Serving others is a great way to feel that you are part of a community. Church can be a great framework for that kind of thing.

Yes, I’m a practicing Catholic and attend Church often with my fiancee.

Everyone is welcome to even attend Mass (they just don’t receive communion) and participate in activities that we organize. We also have many support groups for elderly, grieving families, young adults and so on.

Additionally, if you want to do volunteer work, contact the closest Catholic Church. You can join pretty much all of the events regardless of your background.

We are not some “exclusive” membership, the doors are open.

Church is great for this specifically because it’s a social group that spends all its time espousing the idea that all men are created equal, therefore ALL backgrounds are welcome. The most important piece of social mobility is knowing those outside of your economic circle.

Example: You need a job, you know your great buddy Bob has a spot that you could hop into, he knows you pretty well and that you’re not an idiot, so he hires you on the spot into a job you never would’ve had the qualification for otherwise.

Agree. Obviously if you’re a staunch atheist or otherwise just can’t stomach the idea of “God,” then visiting a church not recommended. But if you grew up Christian and drifted away, or you can entertain the possibility of a higher power, then I recommend checking out a church as a place to find community.

Denominations are different flavors of Christianity, and which denomination you visit is important. I’m personally a member of “The Episcopal Church,” which I find to have a very small amount of dogma and is tolerant of a wide range of beliefs. The theological dogma can be summarized in the “Nicene Creed,” which is a pretty short list of what the church holds to be true (and even if you as individual differ, TEC is chill about that). After that, members of The Episcopal Church are more united in what they do together rather than what they believe togther – songs, taking communion, common readings, etc. The Episcopl Church is generally one of the more liberal/progressive churches around (we ordain women and LGBTQ individuals into the clergy and perform same-sex marriages, for example).

Otherwise, it’s a nice group of people that I see every week. A lot of churches have a “coffee hour” or a meal after the service, and it’s a time to chit chat with others. They care about me and I care about them, and people check in on each other to see how everyone is doing. When we had a baby, people brought us food, and we always get cards in the mail for birthdays and such. It’s nice.

Since we’re a community of people, we can sometimes work together to accomplish things I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. We run a food pantry and we’ve supported families fleeing from bad situations (and not in abstract sense, but doing the legwork of finding an apartment in town and providing furniture and stuff). One family attends our services, and their kid is about my kid’s age, so we’ve become friends over that.

Again, I know religion can invoke strong feelings, so if the very idea is offputting, leave it alone, it’s fine. But for me, it’s been a community I’ve appreciated having.

I expect sect/denomination has an influence here because my experiences in the past were strictly familial, no one made friends there though there are familiar faces. Once service is over, it was Sunday brunch with family.

At any rate, potential friendship is a weak rationalization for joining a religion when there are many avenues to do this.

I’m a member of my local Rotary, the one I’m part of does a lot of good work around the city. I’m also part of a non-profit, the Chicago Engineers’ Foundation ( that I get numerous worth and connections out of. Additionally a metropolis membership to satisfy different professionals and chat.

However my predominant was going again to highschool to get a MBA, met a ton of those who approach.

What you need is named a “third place”, which has sadly died out in some ways not too long ago. A good way to only meet folks from completely different backgrounds with completely different pursuits.

I joined a local Rotary club twenty years ago (in my mid-40s) and it’s become a pillar of my social health and personal productivity. Service clubs like Rotary (Lions, Kiwanis,etc) are facing an existential demographic crash right at a time when people have a renewed interest in IRL social/community engagement. Fingers crossed that resolves!

I tried applying to my local rotary club online in 2019. Basically just a web form expressing interest. I got an automated email saying someone would reach out in the next 30 days. I was met with complete radio silence. Never heard anything back at all.

I was a Rotary exchange student 20 years ago which completely changed the trajectory of my life (for the better), and was excited to help the next generation with becoming an exchange student. I was also involved with RYLA as a teen.

For a group facing an existential crisis, they didn’t seem too worried about it

Rotarians are… older, and often not good with tech. I’ve been a de facto tech support of mine a few times. They really would see some good overall growth if they invested in that some more.

I don’t think Rotary globally is facing an existential crisis, but it is in the US. It is very popular abroad but has been dying out in the USA.

You’ll find that groups like the Rotary or Knights of Columbus or the Shriners are almost technologically phobic – it’s entirely possible that your automated email came from a web form and your interest was forwarded to an email box of a member who had died years ago.

Phone or in person is often the only way to get things done, unless there happens to be a tech-savvy person involved.

I could see that for sure. At the time I couldn’t find any easy contact info for my local club and thought it would be inappropriate to just show up to the monthly lunch meeting. Maybe I’ll try that though!

That’s interesting to hear. I was also a Rotary exchange student to Japan. It was an incredible experience. I’ve thought about whether Rotary would be a good option personally or professionally but haven’t tried it yet.

I guess I’m a little weird, because while I have plenty of friends (generally former coworkers), I generally haven’t felt the need to be part of a community since I got married.

I like my wife, presumably she likes me, and having a person that cohabits with me that I get along with has honestly done a good enough job at making me feel a connection and purpose.

1- Beer. Way back when I first started working in Portland, a few of us got together after work every Thursday for beer. People moved on to other jobs, but some kept in touch, and over time we built up a nice core of people, maybe a dozen on average, who would get together every Thursday. New coworkers always welcome, and some of those would become regulars themselves. It kind of fell apart, however, towards the end of the pandemic when the nucleus of our group passed suddenly from cancer. We still try to get together, but it isn’t quite the same.

2- Neighborhood. We moved in this neighborhood about 10 years ago when all the houses were being built, and we socialized with the other families buying homes. Now we know almost all of the neighbors within a 5 minute walk. Aside from a couple weirdos, most people are really nice even if sometimes a bit shy. It’s great to be on cordial terms with the people who live around you.

2a- Poker. The guys of the neighborhood get together regularly to play Texas Hold ’em. Not for a lot of money, just to have something to do and people to connect with.

2b- Bunco. The gals of the neighborhood also have a regular gathering, generally audible for an eighth of a mile away, Bunco must be the funniest game in the world.

I joined the Texas State Guard and found a lasting connection with my group. When I’m there I feel like I’m with family.

About half the states have a state guard. The organizational structure is military-ish, but we don’t have weapons. We wear essentially the same uniform as the national guard, and sometimes work with them, but it’s not related to the national guard except that we both report to the governor. The difference is the state guard ONLY reports to the governor and doesn’t have any federal connection.

Since I joined I’ve helped run a shelter after hurricane Harvey and run water distribution centers after the freeze 2 years ago. But most of the time I just do the same thing I do at my regular job.

When I joined they needed programmers. They need everybody, tbh. It’s not hard to qualify.

Bumble BFF is where I found my way into a local queer women’s bookclub that also a is a space to form ad hoc meetups, do hikes, and generally make friends.

Discord is another, oddly enough. The story is a bit messy, but there was an “offical” server attacked to a subreddit for my location (think r/<MYCITY>). That was, frankly, a terrible server, but I eventually found myself migrating onto a splinter server with a few other folks who felt the same way and together we’ve cultivated our own community. Again, the space serves as a clearinghouse for ad hoc meetups, group coffees, GWD[1] teams, groups who go to the musical theater together, etc.

These online spaces are good examples of places that have cultivated norms around high psychological safety. In other words, behaviors that lower psychological safety are seen as destructive to the space. The high psychological safety there means that I can probably meet up with any random person in these spaces and be able to trade some degree of vulnerability with them and actually form meaningful connection.


I’ve found it in Freemasonry. A sense of purpose and brotherhood, community support, etc. Being a part of the fraternity has introduced me to many other aspects of everything, but especially non-technical people. Knowing and being around men that also strive to be a better person, resonated with me. I don’t have enough time to devote to their various projects and meetings, but what I can give, I do; and that is always returned. Friendship, fellowship and like minded goals. Freemasonry is my non tech outside the house outlet. Good experiences.

There is a beautiful Freemason temple about 2 blocks from my house, one of my favorite buildings in the area. How does one get an invite to an event?

Just google the lodge meeting there, go to their website and send them an email.

Contrary to common perception, Freemasonry isn’t a secret – or secretive – society. Usually, they’ll be happy to oblige.

You asked, so I’ll tell you: My local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I’ve by no means been happier in my life, and the sense of objective, neighborhood, and safety has by no means been increased. I will not espouse any non secular teachings right here, that is what the hyperlink above is for do you have to select to go to it.

Probably the most superb half is that it is real and reliable. It is all product of imperfect people to make sure, however you may be onerous pressed to search out extra reliable individuals who present a honest real curiosity and actually care.

Eh, it’s genuine as long as you subscribe to their set of beliefs. This may not be a problem for you, but for folks who care about reality, it could be more difficult.

The difference between this and say, a rec soccer team, is that it’s an all-or-nothing endeavor. You can’t “casually” become a Jehovah’s Witness (or any other religion), you have to decide that your entire life is aligned to those principles.

I’m not knocking it (here, anyway), but I would hesitate to join a religion to make friends.

There are quite a lot of varying degrees of casual believers in religion. I grew up in a family of Christians/Catholics who never go to church, rarely say grace, have never personally read the Bible, but still believe in God/afterlife/etc and have personal beliefs that are molded from religious teachings.

I know at least for the Christian based religious groups I’m aware of, you don’t even need to share faith to be part of the community.

Believe it or not, they don’t get into fist fights when they meet someone of another faith either.

For Jehovah’s Witnesses specifically, this could not be further from the truth [0], and for Christian groups generally, you beg the question here by ceding one must believe in that religion’s concept of a deity/afterlife/etc. Such a belief is extremely hard to come by if not raised in that religion, and even harder if you’re attached to reality’s cause-effect relationships. Not impossible! But hard.

And you’re right; warring religious groups don’t use fists…


Yeah it is, when you’re talking about being a “casual” Jehovah’s Witness.

That’s not a thing. They’re probably among the worst examples of religion as a hobby.

This is a stupidly glib comment. The poster meant that the reality of life as a Jehova’s Witness cannot be gleaned from looking at some document of the religion, and I think you knew that, but decided to take a shot at the Bible anyways because you’ve been acculturated to think that dunking on religion is both correct and acceptable.

Even non-believers have had their beliefs shaped in part by experiences with religion. In the case of joining a religious community, adhering to the dogma is usually important, let alone preferred.

I also have known “Catholic-lite” adherents, but they ultimately identify as Catholic. Anyway some of the minor sects don’t take the distinctions between theirs and others lightly.

My mum some years back got involved in a church (as a non religious person).

She somehow ended up giving talks at church events and got invited to speak out of town (she would talk about subjects such as helping refugees etc).

Eventually though she felt like she was being excluded in subtle ways and being asked to give too much of her time.

I also went to a couplebbible reading events some years back (free food lol) as my gf used to be religious and wanted me to go along.

Everyone was nice, food was good, but I couldn’t get over how everyone in the group would listen to a story (which would literally make zero sense) and swallow it down as if it was a bed time story.

Religion is weird.

> Religion is weird.

I think it’s fair to say that there are people who:

disbelieve x false things x for bad reasons.

Deciding what’s true can be a challenge.

> Deciding what’s true can be a challenge.

It’s not too hard when you hear ridiculous stories and treat them as if they were to happen today.

The one I remember from the church event was about a big guy that couldn’t be subdued and then ended up breaking through chains.

So many questions from a single statement. Everyone else literally sat there and didn’t blink an eye.

As a believer – thanks for the insight! Normative acceptance of bizarre claims must feel odd. I guess there is a passing familiarity with some of these stories in some of these communities that means they are either unexceptional or at least, not the “main game” as supernatural beliefs go — but that must have felt strange!

Most faith communities I’ve been part of have had some form of space for questions and encouraged discussion about stories they have heard. I’ve found probably 1 in 10 people would start a discussion about this and maybe half would engage with it, suggesting community is a big part of the draw but also that for a significant minority, community is centred on some of these “big if they were to happen today” events.

I do think wrestling with our reality to understand the nature of the world is a pretty powerful force for creating meaningful relationships! But this depth can also be uncomfortable or abstract at times.

> It’s not too hard when you hear ridiculous stories and treat them as if they were to happen today.

Maybe it hinges on which parts of the stories you imagining happening today.

E.g., if Jesus rose from the dead next week, I’d find it pretty thought-provoking. If he were merely crucified but stayed dead, I’d cross Christianity of my list of plausible world views.

I.e., a lot really depends on whether or not those miraculous events actually happened.

   but I would hesitate to join a religion to make friends.

Agreed. That isn’t what I suggested. I answered the question asked. Nowhere did I say somebody should attain to becoming a JW to have more friends. That’s the exact wrong reason in fact.

> it’s an all-or-nothing endeavor

I don’t know anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses but certainly there are a lot of religions that are comfortable with people coming by out of curiosity and/or participating sporadically.

I think that’s how most people do it.

That’s right, we choose not to accept blood transfusions. But, “literally expect you to just die if you experience any sort of trauma.” is outright wrong. We strongly value life! We spend a lot of time and resources to understand transfusion alternatives, of which there are many, and we each individually make the decisions as to what types of treatment we will accept.

If you want to find out what we actually believe:…

Let me ask you a direct question, and I hope you’ll respond directly.

Lets say all of those “transfusion alternatives” demonstrably fail, and someone has two choices left: Transfuse or Die; you might phrase that as “Transfuse or Pray”, but either way…

…What then? When all other options are exhausted, the prayers aren’t working, and your last chance to live involves transfusions, are they permissible?

> But, “literally expect you to just die if you experience any sort of trauma.” is outright wrong.

How’s this: “literally expect you to die if you’re in need of a blood transfusion to survive”. Seems pretty much in line what what you espouse.

JW are all or nothing, but lots of other religious communities accept various degrees of unbelief: various Jewish denominations, Quakers, Unitarians, Episcopalians, Western-style Buddhists, etc. Catholicism is officially all or nothing but if you’re born into it, there are a lot of liberal parishes where you’re not expected to actually believe it. There was an Episcopalian meme circulating in the 00s where it showed a picture of the controversial liberalizing American Archbishop with the text “Don’t believe in that crap? Neither do we.”[1] That’s pretty standard among mainline denominations.


Religions are very different. Imagine Islam vs. Buddhism for example. The GP point is a valid one: fellowship alongside a shared set of core beliefs is invaluable. The problem is not all shared beliefs have equal merit.

I could be a white supremacist and find great fellowship with other white supremacists but this would be destructive in the long run, in the short term to others due to my prejudice but in the longer term to myself because those beliefs are objectively abhorrent. But not all shared belief systems are abhorrent.

Instead, groups of people for centuries have found camaraderie exploring what it means to follow a certain historical figure, Jesus Christ. Looking at his teachings you can see that this will lead to vastly different outcomes than following a Joseph Smith, a Muhammad, a Richard Dawkins, etc.

Religious cults prey on the weak. Their entire recruitment ethos is based around offering vulnerable people help in times of need.

Nobody joins for purely the social aspect. “All or nothing” is fairly accurate.

You don’t have to subscribe to their set of beliefs. They are not telepaths, they don’t know whether you actually believe or not.

For that matter, it’s debatable whether or not the believers actually believe things. They probably wonder themselves sometimes. They don’t often make a big deal out of it, if they do find themselves no longer believing… and there is a conceptual framework built into the religion (that of “loss of faith”).

Like the ancient religions, being willing to perform the rituals non-cynically is really the only requirement. You and everyone else already perform dozens of non-religious rituals and think nothing of it. What’s a few more?

I mean, don’t do it if you don’t want to. But don’t pretend the option’s not open to you. Even if there’s a clever believer there that somehow reads your mind, you’re not unwelcome at most of these places even then.

> Eh, it’s genuine as long as you subscribe to their set of beliefs. This may not be a problem for you, but for folks who care about reality, it could be more difficult.

Sounds like any friend/social group that has strong political beliefs too? Was enlightening to see this in 2016 when I shared I didn’t vote for Hillary. Heaven forbid I voted libertarian, was like having a scarlet letter on my chest.

Not related, as politics are a disagreement about forms of reality. Religion necessitates you believe in something beyond reality.

Also good for your friends, they were right.

I’m an atheist that’s generally anti religion, but I think it’s unfair to dismiss OP’s personal experience as an invalid answer to the question.

You could say this community is implicitly a secular one, but OP’s answer frames things within HN’s guidelines.

I guess in the spirit of HN’s intellectual curiosity, we should at least acknowledge alternative life experiences here.

> who show a sincere genuine interest and truly care.

…until you decide it’s not for you and you are summarily kicked out and effectively exiled.

I am glad it works for you but JW acts like cult, and probably is a cult. I’ve seen first hand the damage it does to people who choose to no longer partake.

From this source:…

‘Those that depart the religion are referred to as “apostates” and are “disfellowshipped”, a time period for formal expulsion and shunning, the place members are “prohibited from speaking, and even from saying ‘hi there’ to them”.

Sincere question: when did you join JW, and what was your immediate reason for doing so?

The reason I ask is that there are a lot of people recommending churches (of various kinds) in this thread, and I take it most of the non-religious among us would very much not be comfortable regularly attending a religious organization’s meetings purely for community, while not believing any the things that organization believes. (With the exception of religious organizations that are explicitly accepting of people with any faith, such as Unitarian Universalists.)

To me, it’s sort of implicit in the question that what we are looking for is something you can show up to and get involved purely because you want somewhere to show up and get involved, without people side-eyeing you because of that or expecting something more than that (like a declaration of faith) in the months or years to come.

At least for Protestant Christian churches, there can be ambiguity about the purpose / audience of a church meeting.

Some meetings are intended as outreach to non-Christians. E.g., to present reasons for being Christian, or to let outsiders see what a typical worship service is actually like.

Some meetings (or parts of meetings) only make sense for actual Christians: singing worship songs, testifying what they believe God is doing in the world, or taking communion.

I think a lot of awkward discomfort stems from lack of clarity on these points, and confusion about which attendees are professing Christians.

I was raised around it but decided to become baptized at 19. I’m in my 40’s now. Reason? Life, the world around me, and pretty much everything just made better sense. I feel secure and happy this way, and I like it. I’m plenty open minded, and I’ve studied other belief systems, but I made a conscious choice that I stick to because it makes the most sense to me.

Some people think that because many of us have left other ways behind that we’re fanatical or something- nope, we just found something that makes more sense to us than anything else, and genuinely believe we’ve found the things most others are still looking for- meaning to life, answers to why things are the way they are, and a secure future.

We’re welcoming of anybody who wants to visit and check us out. We expect that if somebody doesn’t want to share in our beliefs that they’ll probably move on, and that’s fine. We aren’t about membership, we’re about showing people what the Bible says about things.

To that end, we’ve re-evaluated the Bible without any pre-conceptions, which is why a lot of other religious that believe in things like the Trinity or the immortal soul look at us as heretical or crazy. But, when we objectively looked at the Bible (KJV originally) we didn’t find those things, so we don’t believe them. Pretty simple really.

My dog, the dog park, and subsequently my neighborhood. If you go to the dog park twice a day you’ll meet people and start chatting with them. Everyone needs to walk their dog so you end up seeing the same crew regularly. Its a great way to meet the people who live around you.

I think the pandemic definitely helped people realize that their job can’t be their only social outlet.

This might be the closest for me. Grew up in choirs and play multiple instruments. Would really love a gospel choir, if one would have me. Will poke around. Thanks!

Volunteer fire brigade. Great way to connect with local community. Also a pathway into experiences and skills you’ll never get anywhere else.

Kids school. Everyone is local, engage with the other parents/etc.

Local dog park. Get into a routine of regularly heading up at a similar time and you’ll get familiar with the others that do the same.

I’ve been doing ground school and getting into flying lessons, but what has been really interesting and surprising was the strong community that lurks just behind the wall you have to climb to enter. It can be a cost prohibitive hobby but a lot of people make it into a career. You get a lot of different types of people and they are welcoming. I’ve done work for people in exchange for for some wet hours on their plane

I would recommend this – you don’t even have to get your license, just start hanging around on weekends at the local airstrip and you’ll find the groups.

Stage Rally (motorsport).

The community is amazing. I’ve had competitors help fix my car between stages, in pitch black, in the middle of the desert.

Volunteering is an easy way to get involved and is really appreciated! You go to interesting, sometimes beautiful places, help run timing, radio, etc.

You can also volunteer to help specific teams as crew. The driver will usually cover all your expenses to get to the rally and feed you. We’re building our next car atm (a VW Scirocco).

Check out NASA Rally Sport, American Rally Association, and CRC for those in Canada. There is never an off season, there are always events.

Note – if you plan to drive – start with RallyCross – and buy an already built car (it’s 1-2x cheaper).

Intermural sports teams – highly recommend.

At the right gym you’ll also find community.

Separately just being a regular at a bar is a very good way to get to know people, again you need to find the right spot.

I’m not religious but I know many people who find community there. Other places I’ve seen friends have success are gaming guilds/circles and fraternities (Mason lodges, etc.)

Speaking of which I grow my friend circle by meeting friends of friends and then developing my own first order friendships with them.

Take matter into your own hands. “Be the change you want to see” basically. For example I organize software meetups at a nice coffeehouse. It started out with like four people a year ago, and now we average ~25-30 each month, and growing. Consistency is key.

P.S. If you live in Seattle, and you’re a software engineer, shoot me an email: abner at handmadecities dot com

You can do this really simply, if you’re willing to eat alone for awhile – just put a notice in appropriate places that you’ll be at the restaurant/bar/whatever every Thursday at 7:00 PM for “whatever topic you come up with”. It’ll eventually grow.

Always had a thing for radio control, so eventually in 2015 or so I had a look online and discovered crawlers (1:10 scale replicas of 4×4/AWD/rock crawlers). There are quite a number available to purchase in ready to run form, and self-build kits.

Lost interest in the geeky side of mechanics and electronics – they’re neccessary to buy, or make a body. Jeeps, Land Rovers and Toyotas seem to be favourites.

The thing I love about it is two-fold – first is building unique bodies never done before, using styrene. Second are the events, where you meet other RC geeks, see everyone else’s builds, take part in comptetions (individual and team events). In France there’s an annual event that runs a pretty sweet Camel Trophy event. SuperScale in Germany is amazing for having the longest 1:10 scale bridge seen in the hoppy. USTE (Ultimate Scale Truck Expo) in Florida USA holds the largest scale RC event I’ve attended/know of.

Axial Fest in the US is also a big deal in the calendar, but I’ve never been. They have a “float you rig” challenge which got me building rafts for my trucks. Herds of fun.

Some of my trucks and build progression at

I additionally get a kick out of constructing homes/bridges/and so forth for occasions – a few of these are right here –

My most bold construct took 5 years to (nearly) full –

I run a Discord with my friend (@moconinja) for people in tech who want to play videogames at night and chill. We don’t like drinking at bars so we built it. So far we have about 10 people, mostly are from Austin, TX but there’re also others from all over the US.

If you’re interested, apply here – I will personally review your application and reach out 🙂


Community living! I’ve lived in various communes for 8 years now. I don’t use the term coliving space as I feel a lot of places that go under that moniker are commercially driven and not particularly community based. The houses I’ve lived in are very rooted in where they’re based, host a lot of events, and (crucially I think) are not for profit – they’re designed to sustain themselves rather than maximize $ for the landlord. This post has a bunch of resources to see if there are any community houses near you:…

Raves, particularly ones that are designed to be “transformative” like Lightning in a Bottle in California.

Music festivals with camping are magical ways to build community and inspire yourself around other like minded and curious people. I never attended these events until a near death experience prioritized my love of dancing in my early 30. Now nearly 10 years later I’m even more convinced this is the way.

Lightning in a Bottle was amazing this year. Something about camping in a harsh environment really brings you closer with your friends, and the whole community there is so welcoming and energizing. Music has been bringing communities together for 1000s of years, and festivals like that really show how true that is.

I’ve found one by going to smaller EDM/DJ sets on weekdays and talking to people – it’s not a huge crowd so people tend to chill and chat. Never ended up going to the actual event – it was more of a local burner/art event, but it was definitely a word of mouth kind of thing

Old school Magic the Gathering / Premodern.
Bunch of dudes around the world that like playing an old game with old cards.
I travel internationally for tournaments once a year or so. And travel a lot within Sweden.

I shovelled snow for the older lady who lived around the corner. She had the same given name as my mother. We talked shop about gardening. Occasionally she would invite my kids over for tea and cookies. We traded books.

Other neighbours would be working on projects in their yard. I offered to help. We get to talking. Some of us had kids around the same age who started hanging out.

I show movies in my yard when the weather is nice and invite people over. We make a big potluck dinner and hang out.

I care a lot about global warming and climate change. One of the biggest impacts we can have as individuals is at the local level. Help out with municipal elections and support councillors who are going to help reduce traffic, make streets safer, help develop community infrastructure, etc. Go to zoning by-law meetings and press for mixed-use neighbourhoods. There’s lots you can do here.

I also play music and enjoy board gaming. I meet other musicians through gigs or friends and we jam together, etc. I’ve joined gaming groups at my local game store on and off when I get into a good game.

There are lots of ways to get out and get local. Start helping people in your community get what they need is a good way to start.

Local weekly pinball tournaments are an amazing way to meet folks and hang out in a low-pressure social environment.

Since the rounds of the tournament are randomized groups of four, every round is a chance to introduce yourself to three other players and learn each others’ names. If you come back regularly, you’ll start to recognize and be recognized by the other regulars. Everyone gets to know each other better at a natural and unforced pace.

I’ve been playing every Wednesday night for about a year, and I like it so much that I’m shifting my work schedule so I can join the same local regulars for a Thursday night tournament at a different arcade too.

I really hope you have the chance to give it a try!

You can find tournaments in your area at:

Volunteer public service organizations.

Some years ago I was looking for an activity to get into that met the following needs:

  * Helps others
  * Physically active
  * Outdoors / in nature
  * Requires specialized skills
  * Gives back to the community

I was entertaining things like the local trail building groups when an article about our local Search and Rescue team mentioned they were having a recruiting meeting the next week. I applied and was accepted.

It’s a highly rewarding activity – literally saving peoples lives at times – with a high-calibre of like-minded people from an incredibly diverse array of backgrounds.

I’ve recently moved away though and in my new area, I’ve joined the volunteer fire department which has a lot of the same features and benefits.

The best thing about getting into one volunteer thing is you find out about tons of other ones; the people who volunteer often do so in various semi-related groups. And you can end up with some really fun volunteering opportunities.

I’ve found a profound virtue, sense of responsibility and selflessness since I’ve taken an oath to be in the company of a distinct group of men in my community five times daily at a maximum (or a minimum, depending on the circumstance).

We don’t gather for the sake of gathering with each other, but for the sake of the shared oath that consists of various practices and beliefs, one of which requires that we gather.

And the venue of this gathering is at enough locations that I can have this experience far from home even. The sense of community is transcends the boundaries of my locale.

I’m a Muslim. The place is a Masjid.

My local Catholic parish. Besides the obvious spiritual benefits, it’s a great place to connect with other families. Also, me and my wife have young children at home that act as a pretty constant source of community.

Same here! Catholic youth group, Emaus group, and i also help the people of St. Vincent de Paul ministry. I don’t have a lot lot of time so I’m not very consistent, but i sure go to at least one of them every week. Highly recommended.

My neighborhood! I got my dog during the pandemic and its been a great way to meet my neighbors and also the people at the dog park (many of whom are also my neighbors). If you start hanging out in the same spots regularly you’ll eventually meet people to talk to.

Having a dog is a huge plus since dogs are generally playful and can be a great way to start a conversation.

My apartment complex has a hot tub. I spent many nights there meeting a few neighbors. From there, some of us played Pickleball. I started noticing a few other neighbors playing, so I started a group chat. Now a bunch of us play 2-3 times per week and the group is growing

There’s a local developer community that hosts meetups every month that I’m a part of. They also have a slack group

I’m in a slack spiritual group. I don’t really care about the spiritual aspect, it’s kind of interesting, I guess. They’re just very thoughtful interesting people and now some of my closest friends

See Also

Struggled a lot. I grew up amongst an extended family of relatives. It was my community. Then I moved away. I also grew up on the internet and spent a lot of time moving between communities there.

I am trying to rebuild some of they now

I live in a very transient city with very little tech industry, which also happens to be a city where half the population leaves every April/May through October/November.

Community has been hard, especially meeting new folks. There have been a few community tech events that have come and gone, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few friends through that.

I joined a gym 4 years ago, and a lot of my friends now I’ve met through that gym.

Expanding on the gym comment. I’ve been going to small gyms for 20+ years and always loved the community there. When our gym shut down for lockdowns, I had enough space and equipment to invite folks to train in my driveway. I now host folks every evening to do workouts. Great for community! We haven’t even thought of going back to a gym even though everything is open again. We like the community that we’ve grown into.

> I joined a gym 4 years ago, and a lot of my friends now I’ve met through that gym.

Is it common for strangers to actually approach each other in the gym? At least here everyone goes from machine to machine listening to music and making as little contact as possible and the few times I’ve been approached was just to ask how many sets I have left. I’ve been surprised just how much that seems to differ from place to place.

I can’t imagine anything worse than going to the gym. What do you do there? Walk on a treadmill like a mouse in a laboratory?

Also, you come back starving because you’ve burned calories, probably eating way more than you should due to being famished.

And it’s also extremely boring. I’ve tried it once or twice, but I just can’t handle it.

Genuinely interested in how some people manage to consistently keep going to the gym.

Regular gym goer for 20+ years here. It eventually becomes difficult not going to the gym, on days I can’t exercise I feel restless, like a dog that hasn’t gone out for his walk.

Food, I eat between 4K and 5k calories per day and I’m close to 10% body fat. I love eating.

Re: boring. Lift heavy, it’s supposed to be challenging. It should require focus and concentration. Don’t use machines, those are boring.

I would never go if it were exclusively for aesthetic, strength, or health benefits. For me it lifts my mood like nothing else, anytime I feel like not going I know it is my I unexercised mind telling me stories, once I start moving weight it’s like changing a radio station in my head and the negative affect fades away.

Cardio exercise is absolutely dreadful. Try lifting weights, heavy ones (after studying form via YouTube videos and verifying that your form is correct on lighter weights). Pushing your limits is neither boring nor time-consuming. 45 minutes is enough for a vigorous workout.

Many people go to the gym as a means of achieving their goals.

If you have health goals in mind, there are a lot of things at the gym that support them.

For example, one friend was overweight and it was recommended that in addition to cardio, he have strength training. He goes a couple nights a week and goes through the strength training stations. He’s lost 7 inches on his waist in the last few months.

Another friend goes for the exercise classes

I did the gym years ago, but nowadays I bought a used stairmaster for cheap and set it up in my house. I read for pleasure and do it while on the stairmaster. I also hike with others frequently, but days I can’t this works for me.

I used to feel exactly like you, until I started for health reasons, and found I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Weight training is the most cognitively demanding thing I’ve ever done, not at all mindless or boring. Using proper form and technique is essentially a martial art, and takes tremendous skill and focus, and can advance in skill limitlessly. As a competitive strongman, I’m also always pushing my skills by lifting and carrying new objects that require different skills and techniques. Some “feats of strength” have taken years of training and strategizing to accomplish. Walking on a treadmill is still boring to me and I avoid it. For the gym to be fun and engaging it needs to be both cognitively and physically demanding, yet possible to accomplish.

If you’re going to a “treadmill” gym, yeah, you’re right. But a small powerlifting or weightlifting gym is different. You have to have a spotter or partner, so you’ll workout with someone while you’re there. And if you’re doing it right, you have more downtime between sets than time working, so you end up chatting and making friends.

World of Warcraft. I met my current lovers in that game. There are a tremendous number of beautiful, sensitive, artistic, and brilliant humans I’ve met in that game.

Local coffee places and bars; like minded people rock up all the time. Met lovely people just today; gonna meet them in an a few weeks for a hike. Never worked for me for focused envs, for instance the gym: too much whining about sports/health and not stuff I actually like.

Embarrassing / dumb q, but how do you actually get to talking with them in a meaningful way? I can imagine with repeats, it’s easier to build up rapport, but I don’t think I’ve ever hit it off so strongly with someone at a coffee shop that we exchange info after one interaction (mine here aren’t super social fwiw)

You didn’t ask me and I’m definitely not suggesting you exclusively go out to bars but if you’re in a nicer neighborhood, especially with patrons that skew older, you can basically flat out ask them for advice like you did here and you’ll usually get a dump truck of it and their personal stories in exchange for your name and buying a few beers. You might even get invited to a backyard cookout that same weekend.

Alcohol is a double-edged sword because it breaks down barriers. It’s your call what you do with the information and experiences it provides. It isn’t too bad if you’re careful.

You can take all that as a way to level up and be more sociable in sober settings like coffee shops. It translates to everywhere. People aren’t different when they’re sober apart from being slightly more defensive due to stress. That’s actually a pretty good conversation starter if done in a non-confrontational way. The main skill is just learning to be genuinely interested in other people. It’s easy to mimic this and return the favor when you’ve seen enough of this kind of attention given to you.

Fostering rescue animals has a double payoff–the animals themselves keep you company, and you’ll meet a lot of people through the shelter or rescue you volunteer at. It’s also one of the few ways to get to hang out with a litter of juvenile kittens.

My girlfriend used Bumble BFF to find friends and the friends she found had partners. We found a community surprisingly quickly. But we explicitly wanted the opposite of what it seems many here want: more friends in tech. We wanted a more balanced community.

Now we have friends we hike with, mountain bike with, ski with, go mushroom foraging, host dinners, play trivia, etc.

I’ve been a member of a number of juggling clubs over the years. If you’re not into juggling, I’m sure there are other kinds of clubs around, but if you’re a juggler or juggling-curious, they’re great. They tend to be super open to new folks, whether they can juggle or not. Often folks would go out to eat afterward [depending on the time of the club meeting]; at one club they even had a weekly movie outing afterward for a long time.

The larger juggling community is great too–there are little festivals and larger conventions all over the world, with great shows but also great social scenes.

I met my spouse at a university juggling club. Neither of us attended the university, but we were both club members, as were lots of our friends [after a while, anyway].

If you’re in a city, get a dog assuming you’re ok with the responsibility that comes with having one.

About 5 years ago my wife finally wore me down and we got an English Bulldog. The friends that we made at the dog park have become some of our closest friends, and it’s great having friends that you don’t work with because you don’t end up talking about work.

I’m not a very extraverted person by any means but whenever I’m out with the dog I end up talking to people I never would have. Especially when I take him to a dog friendly bar (shoutout to DBA in the East Village!)

Open source projects. I am building a side project in Rust and contribute to crates along the way. I also do 3d printing of stuff – I’m building a device to freeze air (co2 waypoint hit, next oxygen and nitrogen) using only thermoelectric chips and all the enclosures etc I’m designing in build123d a parametric cad system in Python. So I have a lot of discord communities that I interact with and it’s been great. Since I started working from home 6 years ago I’ve also built up a network of nerd friends in my local community / neighborhood that I interact with regularly. In fact remote work has let me build a real community in my life. Being very senior your relationships at work can be very transactional. Being locked into a human hamster wheel chicken coop with a bunch of people who need something from me all work day then the rest of my day commuting and being exhausted meant I was very lonely.

For me it revolves around three pieces (1) doing some hobby activity (2) with the goal of socializing, (3) consistently over a period of time.

For (1)- climbing, board games, team sports are all some ways I specifically do this for, but in a large city almost anything you find interesting probably has a group.

For (2)- I think it’s worth explicitly going in with the mindset that you want to be social. For example, I go to the gym for some me time. I have zero gym friends (even though it is a good place to make friends, if you want to). So just showing up won’t be enough IMO

For (3)- community needs investment. Most of the best groups I am in did not provide a lot of value to me for months. So you have to stick it out

As far as I understand as a non-member, but as someone who has talked to one, they are really hurting for new members. I’m pretty sure if you just find a local lodge and email them they’d be happy to give an invite.

Historically, it’s been climbing or other social events for me.

But lately I’ve been working so much I barely have time for anyone or anything besides an occasional climb and spending time with my partner.

My son died at birth in August of 2022. A month later, my wife found a group of 30-some Loss Dads who at the time met monthly via Zoom. I quickly bonded with all the Dads there, despite most of us never having met each other in person. I attribute our strong bond to us sharing a rare and intense life experience, as well as to the fact that it’s still difficult to find support, and even willingness to talk about, with friends and family who have not experienced child loss. Fast forward to today, we have an active Discord server and meet on Zoom bi-weekly. The group has also recently filed for a non-profit status and has raised funds and materials to help grieving parents as well as hospitals.

If you’re a grieving Dad and are looking for support from other grieving Dads, please email me at

Not quite outside of work but separate from my clients and employers. I have found it at my Coworking space.

Sadly, in my experience, few Coworking spaces provide the things good communities provide.

I recommend trying all the Coworking spaces near you until you find the one that feels right.

Like good coffee shops, it’s usually the ones that aren’t part of a chain that are best. High-end interior design, flashy marketing and all the amenities you can imagine aren’t the things that matter.

Sports. I still meet with friends from middle school for volleyball games, and another friend of mine hosts a weekly soccer game. We usually go out for tacos afterwards. It’s a great time

I played tennis in a rec league a long time ago. It was not community but a substitute for light social interaction.

I guess similar things exist for Golf and pickleball.

I grew up in India and now live in the U.S.

Socializing or being a part of a community is surprisingly very very hard.

The nice thing about pickleball is that it’s often drop in play, so you can show up whenever is convenient for you and play with random people. This is indeed a light social interaction, but the people who regular eventually get to know each other. Where I live there is a strong pickleball community.

I know some Indians and Pakistani who play pickleball.

I know rather more Indians who play cricket. I think you have to have critical mass to get a cricket team going though… Not everywhere has enough interest.

Socializing with “in groups” like Indians getting to know Indians is not what I was referring to in my original comment.

I was talking about socializing outside of “in groups” which is what I found challenging.

Crafting clubs. In particular, I found a spoon carving (green wood working) club that was astoundingly welcoming. Attendance is pretty even between men and women and across ages. Pretty diverse ethnically, too.

My wife and I go every month and people started inviting us to post-event activities. We know most of the regulars by name and even people I don’t know recognize us. It’s super casual and everyone is just there to enjoy the outdoors while they work on their projects.

Tennis for me(and ultimate frisbee, although not so much in the past few years)! Tennis is one of the few things I have found where I am completely comfortable going up to a stranger(maybe they are on a court, or have a racquet in their backpack) and asking them if they would like to play sometime. There are also teams one can join(competitive or less so), tournaments, for fun social groups. Its been very wonderful.

It’s not been mentioned yet, but if you play music then going to jam sessions is a great way to meet people. You’re all on a journey together toward improving as musicians which helps things to gel. As a jazz musician I can find a jam session in pretty much any city I go to. If you don’t play you can always go just to listen, watch and be inspired

Open source. I recently started getting back into submitting patches and hanging out on irc/matrix/discord.

I think a lot of the advice like “join the church” or “do an activity” are lost on chronically online people like myself.

For us, it should be “find an online community that makes you challenge yourself to improve”, but it’s hard to articulate that.

I contribute to open source myself, and I agree that it is a good way to socialize and belong to a community.

I just don’t think someone should live 100% online. Having real life and strong relationships is pretty valuable, also for your mental health.

Hobbies. I got into high power rocketry and met people online and then went to some meetups of local clubs in my area. There’s a couple regional events I attend too. It’s nice to have a community of friends with shared interests but not so physically close I have to interact daily.

Might seem like and odd one to some but I became a volunteer firefighter and it has been very rewarding for many reasons but the connection with the community is a big one (most members grew up in the town and a central part of it).

1 – I host a game night once a week. We play Magic the Gathering. Though the group is quite small now (4-6 people) it was quite large pre-pandemic (~20 people). I just asked around at work and the neighborhood if anyone was interested and just sent out a text every week to those who said they were interested.

2 – Monthly board game night. Very similar to #1, but I mention it because it’s much less formal. There’s a small group of neighbors in my little neighborhood. Once a month or so one of us will text the group and say “Who’s up to board games? I can do Wed or Thurs”. Usually have 3-5 people actually show up so far. But it’s been fun.

3 – “Knit Night”. My wife recently joined a group of people who like to do more … traditional style crafting. Mostly crocheting and knitting. Though there’s a little bit of quilting. And sometimes people show up and draw. One time one person did a stained glass kit. But they just get together every other week, take turns hosting.

4 – Band. My wife joined a local for-adults band. A former band-instructor from a local highschool formed it. They do performances in the community 4 or 5 times a year. Apparently these kinds of bands are pretty common. Probably could ask a local conductor at a highschool, middle school, or community college if they know of one locally.




Even when I’m not an active member on some ones, I will carry them with me for ever.

Aside of that, any hiking group I found.

Mountain Biking – you get a really varied cross section of society bonding over a shared love of getting muddy and acting like 12 year olds in the woods. My club’s age range is from 20 – 76, and contains aCardiac surgeon, plumber, retired clown, journalist, a couple of coppers, a rabbit farmer and of course the requisite number of IT workers the sport attracts.

The key to building relationships with people is that you need to spend time with them. A lot of time. That’s a big reason why it’s so easy when you’re young; you’re constantly put in classrooms with the same people.

It works pretty well as an adult too. Take an in person class. Something 1-2 days a week for a couple months. You meet people and you learn something.

Get a housemate or two or move in with some. Make sure they are doing it because at least partly they like having housemates. In other words, you don’t want to move in with silent bob who’s just doing it because of financial reasons. Lots of folks like having housemates for the community.

I don’t — all of my “communities” are through work. Not the answer you’re looking for, but I’ve been working in tech long enough at this point that I’m pretty sure it’s not going to change (for me).

I don’t really even have community through work. There was more of a community when everyone was working at an office, but not to a massive extent.

(Still wouldn’t go back to the office.)

HONK!-style bands – street/brass bands – you don’t need to be good – you can learn an instrument and just hang out and play fun music. Through mine, we’ve played at Mardi Gras (Chewbacchus), Timber!, Burning Man events, Comicons, birthdays, weddings, etc.

The Seattle festival is this weekend, see:


– If you don’t find a community for something you want to do, then start one!

– Local sports clubs

– Volunteering

– Start going to EDM parties – pretty soon you’ll see the same people. Say, “hi”.

– Facebook groups for pretty much everything.

– Do what kids in the 80’s did, and many still do: go to the local playground, and ask if you could also play with them.

You’re not too old, you’re not too “different”. Don’t be a pussy, and get out of your head.

> Do what kids in the 80’s did, and many still do: go to the local playground, and ask if you could also play with them.

I was a stay at home dad for a couple years, and I made a lot of long term friends this way. In one case I saw a guy riding his bike with a 2yo on the back so we chased them down and asked if they wanted to hang out and do bike nerd stuff together. That was almost 6 years ago and we’re still friends

I met a guy in the parking lot of Sugarloaf Mountain here in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, when we were both about to walk to the top of the mountain. (About a 40 minute climb.) So we walked up together. He smiled and said hi to everybody we walked past, it was kind of impressive how good he was at it. It influenced me, and now I try to smile and wave at people when I pass them while I am out running.

My strong recommendation is to find an activity you genuinely enjoy. From personal experience if I go to a meet-up with the mindset that I’m only there to make friends I won’t have any fun, I won’t go back enough time that there’s a chance that I’ll actually form a connection.

Personally, other than school, (mandatory) military services (I really do not recommend that) and work (well, cannot recommend that either when I come to think of it), it’s thruhiking (hiking a trail end to end continuously, usually over weeks or months) where I’ve really felt like being part of a community (or a tribe really).


I used to be feeling very lonely working distant. We moved to a Memphis TN to be nearer to household and I used to be scuffling with feeling like an outsider. I grew up taking part in sports activities and tried CrossFit however hated paying a lot for a health club. F3 exercises are free and I believed I used to be going for the health facet, however the fellowship is what actually caught. Guys frolicked after exercises and it was nice to satisfy so many guys from so many various walks of life.

I’ve heard these quickly become alt-right incubation machines. The “fellowship” becomes “brotherhood” and then you got a cult-militia going pretty easy after that.

There’s no ignoring how the pictures can look externally. For example, I never imagined myself wearing a rucksack for fitness. In my experience though, the community is filled with men from all walks of life, political views, etc. I suppose like any group, its local membership is what most defines your experience. I’ve personally met lots of guys that I would have never met at church, work, etc because I worked out with them at F3.

I mean.. what do you like to do? Go find a community that does that thing. You should already have something you do “for you”, so regardless of whether you connect to the community or not, you’re still getting something out of it.

I would also say to be hyper-aware around communities that try to make a “second family”. They can be fine, but can also lead to some toxic attachment/codependency and result in some gnarly outcomes. Moderation is key.

Reached out to a group of acquittances (with no kids) a few years back to see if anyone wanted to play weekly D&D. 6 years later, I am now happy to call them friends.

Meditation. I got into it by accident when I taught English overseas. Some of the best friends I’ve had came from it, especially on retreats.

Also if you make the community, you grow a community more. This happened when I became a teacher. I don’t do it as much nowadays, though. You could equally have a solid community by organizing events, creating groups or some type of thing online like-minded people can find you by as a beacon of sorts.

So, if possible, finding groups that align with deeply held values you have is a good sign or activities you deeply enjoy. It’s probably good if it’s something outside of tech unless that’s something you mainly 100% care about.

My local gaming group has a number of people who have found community amongst our members. We advertise on our Facebook page so check for a group near you.

Square dancing and running. Both have been wonderful for developing connections and lasting friendships — in fact, I met my wife square dancing, although that wasn’t my intention.

I wasn’t athletic before I started running and I wasn’t a dancer before I started square dancing, so I think an important aspect is stepping out of your comfort zone yo try something new.

Funnily enough I’ve met a couple people in the past through housemate searches (and made friends with an actual housemate).

The common element was that they were all new to town.

One girl declined my spare room but said she’d like to see me again, and one time I told a guy he had some cool pics in his profile, and we ended grabbing a drink and formed a bit of a friend group around playing board games.

So… maybe go house hunting?!

There’s a group on Discord I hang out with that puts together experimental/industrial music compilations for charity. The group is highly creative which is fun and engaging

They actually just announced their next theme today and are looking for submissions that are based on serpents. Their “inspriation” page is like a floating museum gallery (so long as you’re not using IE/Edge)

My yoga studio and sailing community. Nearly every day I find myself at my yoga studio after work to practice. It’s how I met a lot of my initial friends where I currently live. Then, there’s the hobby of sailing which has a rich community where I live. Intentionally I don’t seek out tech-based communities, but ones centered around other aspects of life.

I love

Less for the “i can’t focus without some external accountability”-pitch it seems to market itself as and more for the serendipitous network of people doing interesting things

Note that it’s not really the activity, it’s the people who matters: I was part of several scuba diving club when I was younger: each had his strong points, and the community aspect differed a lot from one club to another..

I recently joined a local Plum Village meditation community as well as a contact improvisation dance community! It’s great to see the same faces every time and making connections.

I started a chess club in my suburban city. It went from 1 person on Nextdoor (who turned out to have developed the original Carmen Sandiego game) and is now a group of 15 regulars. Of the regulars, I would call 4 of them good friends that have since introduced me to even more friends.

Chess isn’t even something we regularly talk about, anymore.

University of Reason and No Agenda Social for online. The rest in the real world, playing music with others, putting on musical concerts of other musicians, garden club, permaculture club. Helping neighbors with their property projects, them helping me with mine.

A university choir of around 80-100 members. Joined as a student and stayed. I now have many friends, many of them from the choir or friends of a member.

After having many Out of Body Experiences (without hacks or chemical hacks), I’ve met people that also did and wanted to know more about consciousness. I met lots of interesting people and long lasting friendships following that lead and finding these common experiences.

I moved back to NYC after a long time away, and to a different part of town than where many of my old friends live, and getting a dog considerably improved my connection with the folks around me.

And of course, as others have said, volunteering.

Sports (both playing in amateur leagues and attending local teams), seeing live music, and participating in local arts collectives. I tried computer related communities (hacker spaces, meetups, etc), but it always felt like it was just work in disguise or people trying to turn fun into resume fodder or networking for professional purposes. So I just try to find people with mutual interests that are orthogonal to my day job.

Joined a fraternal organization. Meets once a month, 8mo a year. Made new friends I’m in touch with most days as a result. Shop around, ymmv, etc, but having a routine that maintains relationships yields benefits by itself.

I’m going to add another vote for volunteering. A lot of people only think of food kitchens and political campaigns when it comes to volunteering, but as a cyclist I’ve made a lot (if not a majority) of my friends while volunteering at events like trail building days, or by helping to set up or tear down for races or other cycling events.


My girlfriend has made a group of very close friends by playing scrabble with them every Thursday for many years.

It seems like it’s a great context to have a scheduled time to spend time together.

When I can, I like to try to find local classes in something. That way you get to see a group of people more regularly, as opposed to one-off meetups. I’ve taken classes in acting, swing dancing, salsa. There’s probably some cooking classes around, and given my local creative writing too. Hope that gives you some ideas.


Any kind of festival. Music festival. Art festival. Craft festival.

Everyone drops their guard and you can talk to them.

Another one you can do: volunteer at a shelter. If you are still hiding from covid, try volunteering for Habitat For Humanity. Less people interaction on the latter.

A friend of mine is an extrovert with a touch of Agoraphobia. (The agoraphobia came on in middle age)

Most of his social life is online games these days like Destiny 2, Dead Island 1/2, etc. He’s happy enough. I did the online circle of friends thing back in the Destiny 1 days and it was fun enough. I’m less extroverted, so don’t need as much social time.

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