I’ve noticed that for many people with a cloth diapering (CD) shop in their community, the shop quickly becomes the local hub of the CD community – much more than being just another retail location, it becomes a local source of information and support.
So what do those of us who have no local store do for community (besides planning roadtrips around our favorite out-of-town diaper shops? Please say I’m not the only one!)? Of course, we can (and overwhelmingly do) use the internet, but recently I ran into issues that seemed better resolved on the local level, so I called a cloth diapering meeting. The response was amazing!
Here are a few tips for those who would like to call a local meeting in their own community.
BEFORE the meeting:
1. Get the word out.
This is the most important thing you can do for a successful meeting. Consider spreading the word via your local play, church, homeschooling, and LLL groups. You might even put up a notice at your local co-op. I held our meeting at my home, therefore, I did not give out my address publicly; instead I advertised only through local parenting groups. Interested moms were encouraged to call or email for directions.
2. Schedule wisely.
Take into account school schedules and local events when scheduling the meeting. Don’t set it for 2:15 if the local school lets out at 2:30. You’ll never get a perfect time for everyone, but some times will be better than others.
3. Let moms know what to expect, and what they should bring.
For example, you might suggest bringing old diapers FSOT, extra detergent purchased in bulk (Country Save, anyone?), favorite diapers from the stash for Show and Tell (most of us haven’t seen every style available, and this is one way to get our mitts on different brands without singlehandedly depleting the in-stock inventory at Kelly’s Closet).
4. Put out a call for the local crafty mamas.
We hit the jackpot on this one, finding a local mom who creates custom diapers, covers, inserts, you name it. And…. she has a snap press! What an asset to the local CD community.
AT The Meeting:
1. Put out a sign-in sheet.
Keep email addresses of those who cloth diaper in your community, what systems they use, how old their children are, what detergents they like best… All of this can come in handy when planning a laundry detergent co-op, staging the next meeting, or selling off your old stash.
2. Provide snacks.
Nothing fancy, but age appropriate snacks for toddlers are nice (soda probably won’t be appreciated).
This seems obvious, but especially if you have a younger baby, you may not have had to child proof to the extent required for a curious 2 1/2 year old. Be sure to let parents know, as they come in, what areas are not child safe.
4. Play it loose, but know what you want to accomplish.
I had a whole list of things I wanted to cover, but I had one issue I really wanted to address, and it was the main reason for calling the meeting. We have atrociously hard water here, so I did a bit of research. I called the city to find out just how hard our water is (600-800ppm, by way of comparison, 100-200ppm is considered hard). I then called Kim at Rockin’ Green for some great advice (more detergent, not less, and use Calgon). She also offered to make a custom batch of detergent for the moms in our area! At the meeting I wanted both to share this gathered information, and to get suggestions from other local moms on how they were dealing with the water issue.
We didn’t really get to anything else, but that’s okay. I hit the most important topic to me, and now we still have things to talk about at the next meeting!
5. Give enough time for the meeting.
We initially planned one hour, and moved to two hours by consensus, which was perfect.
The best part of this cloth diapering meeting? Almost every mom at the meeting thought she was the only one in town cloth diapering. By the time we left, we knew of at least a dozen in town. We are petitioning the local co-op to carry a cloth-diaper friendly detergent. We have someone locally to do snap repairs or hook-n-loop to snap conversion. And we know who to call if we need a new-to-me, gently used wool cover or some red-edged prefolds.
All in all, it’s been a great success.
Have you ever held a cloth diaper meeting? How did you get the word out? What did you talk about? Do you have any DOs or DON’Ts you’d like to share?