Regular readers will know all about the monthly first Thursday talk and drink-up held at Southwark’s Rose and Crown. The event is a long-standing tradition in the London libertarian scene but has grown into a much larger (and somewhat more formal) affair than it used to be since I took the initiative to organise speakers and accepted ownership of the page on meetup.com. This local tradition is now the largest meetup.com group for libertarians outside of North America which is something I am very proud to have acheived.
There are, however, a few problems. The cosy pub-room is often over-subsubscribed and uncomfortably crowded, and the enthusiam with which the excellent speakers are greeted tends to overshadow the purely social aspects of the evening. In the days when Rob Waller was in charge, the agenda didn’t used to be thrust onto the participants by an organising tyrant, but was more of a spontaneous order. It was from the social-compost of that tradition, not the more formal gatherings, from which the Pro Liberty Party grew. That cosy informality is something that deserves to be protected yet the energy and excitement of the popular talks is a really positive experience as well. Is there a natural way that this can be improved?
The demand for speakers continues to be high and thankfully the availability of great speakers in London is there to match it. Some speakers deserve to speak annually, and others would be too popular to accomodate. The speakers must therefore surely be retained as well, and expanded. As such I am excited to announce that a new series of evening lectures is now planned for a City venue. These will accommodate set-piece talks with seating for around 80 people. Space is there to stand and mingle and seating will be managed to maximise informality around an essentially formal template. The template will be familiar to regulars at London events at the ASI or IEA for example. Hopefully, the best of the Rose and Crown talk-night experience will carry over and this will be the natural incentive for R&C regulars to cross-pollinate and enjoy both series. The private bar might help.
The Rose and Crown talks will not really change. However the temptation to pack in a speaker every month can be addressed in a constructive way – by moving them to the larger venue. More Waller-esque “socials” will take place where the natural need for like minded adult company and drunken philosophising can be satisfied.
There is more to do than simply satisfying intellectual, spiritual and alcoholic thirst. The conventional hunger of a missed evening meal is another opportunity to improve. While booze in the pub is literally on tap and people are happy to buy what they need, food is more difficult. People naturally eat as a team and while it’s possible to find a corner and wolf-down a pie and chips a more communal approach is it’s own reward. This is not prohibitively expensive at either venue but the occasional few dollars of AdSense revenue is not going to cover it and Pavel cannot be relied upon to turn up with crisps every month! There are also other expenses towards which I would appreciate a contribution, both for direct out of pocket spending and my investment of time. I would therefore like to float an idea:
I would like to find 10-20 generous souls to chip in a few tens of pounds annually, as a regular subscription, which I would account for as (taxable) revenue. With this to rely on I can justify better lighting, web-hosting and regular “free” sandwiches, crisps and similar fare for all to feast on. I think this would literally help to energise the debate at both venues.
If this is agreeable, perhaps drop a comment, but I will seek feedback on this idea on Thursday and will follow up here over the weekend. In the meantime, your throughts on all aspects of the above plans is always appreciated.