As of February 18th, we have 261 members.
They range in age from 34 to 87, though most are between 45 and 70.
About 75% are single, divorced, or widowed. Very few have small children. More than 70% self-identify as introverts.
Finally, a high percentage of those members who self-identify as introverts consider themselves to be ‘extroverted introverts’ — people who function essentially as extroverts when they are with a small group of people who make them feel comfortable.
Note: A similar but separate group for men will launch in late 2020.
I’ve been connecting potential friends, as a hobby, for more than thirty years. It’s a passion I inherited — probably genetically — from my mom.
About ten years ago, I started toying with the idea of introducing potential friends on a larger scale. But I didn’t do anything with the idea until December 2018, when I turned fifty. Turning fifty gets you off your ass.
I launched Warmhearted City a month later.
Read the rest of the story.
It’s hard to overstate my mom’s influence on my friend connecting.
She spent her whole life sprouting, fertilizing, and thinking about friendships.
She’d also hold frequent, reliably over-the-top friend-connecting parties, complete with presents for attendees.
Mom's stories of friendship.
She had hundreds of them. The first one I can remember her recounting was about Deena Stutman (known to my sister and me, when we were kids, as ‘Aunt Silly-Billy’).
Mom met Deena in coach on a transatlantic flight between New York and Berlin, in 1969.
Mom was returning home to Berlin, solo, with me in tow, after a trip to introduce me to several of her friends back in the States. Deena was starting a solo European vacation.
I was only a few months old and apparently crying my head off. Deena, in the row behind us, peeped over the seat and offered to rock me to sleep. My mom took her up on the offer and, as legend has it, I slept.
Now, the story might have ended there. But not with my mom involved.
She had a hair-trigger ability to portend inevitable friendships between people. Between folks she knew who hadn’t yet met — and between her and folks she’d met only moments before.
She was convinced that she and Deena were going to be great friends for the rest of their lives. And she was right.
Deena passed away in 1996.
My beginnings as a friend connector.
I first started introducing folks myself during my first week in college, in 1986. My fellow, newly-minted freshmen were, of course, all suffering from a sudden friend deficiency. And, darn it, I was going to find ones I thought would hit it off and introduce them.
Thirty-plus years later, I’m still at it.
What keeps me going.
Every time I hear a story from folks I’ve introduced, I get a rush of adrenaline that can circulate for days.
For example, in 2012, I arranged a picnic lunch for two unacquainted moms — and their toddlers. Right afterward, one of the moms sent me this picture:
Four years later she sent me an Instagram video of a trip they took to an art museum with the kids (my apologies, but this is just a screen shot; the video is a minute of the two little ones harumphing at how long they’ve been forced to look at art).
That video had me in a fantastic mood for at least a week.
How Warmhearted City works.
Gatherings are always for groups of four.
Every Friday, I ask each member to tell me whether they’re up to dine out sometime Monday through Sunday, and, if so, when.
Once I have the week’s availability grid filled in, I do two things:
First, I look for pairs of members available during the same time slots who I know have had a good time talking with one another at past gatherings (I know this information because I ask for feedback from each participant after every gathering). And I make sure those pairs are invited to the same gathering. This way, people who have a good time talking can get to know each other better, going forward, without having to arrange one-on-one friend dates.
Second, I make sure that everyone else into groups of four, making sure I can repeatedly answer this question in the affirmative: “Will this group of four all hit it off?”
After all the groups of four are assembled, I pick out the restaurant for each group.
Why it’s called 'Warmhearted City'.
I believe that our cities feel warmhearted if we spend ample time in that city with people we truly like and like us.
The goal of Warmhearted City is to surround each member with a hand-picked tribe of people who’ll inspire, engage, and provide safe harbor for them.
I go for quality of food first. And I typically pick out restaurants with reasonably priced items so members can save or splurge as desired.
Restaurants in this category members have dined at include Park Burger, Pizzeria Lui, Linger, Damascus (the one in Littleton), Bua, Piatti, Yum Yum Spice, Watercourse, Tacos JR, Star Kitchen, Fire on the Mountain, American Elm, Daughter Thai, and Ash’Kara.
However, if I assemble a group of four and realize they all like fancy restaurants, I’ll offer to arrange their get-together at someplace more extravagant.
One person in each dine-out group picks out an episode from a podcast, and everyone listens to it beforehand, often on the way to the restaurant.
Sometimes the group will launch into the discussion of the chosen podcast right at the beginning of the meal and talk about it for two hours straight, but, more often than not, if I’m doing my job, the folks at the table find each others’ stories much more interesting than the podcast.
A few podcasts groups have discussed:
This American Life, The Allusionist, The Daily, 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy, Armchair Expert, The Infinite Monkey Cage, Hidden Brain, On the Media, Making Sense, Desert Island Discs, 99% Invisible, The Slate Political Gabfest, Science VS, Invisibilia, and The Bugle.
Membership is $28 per month.
And you can test drive membership, for a month, for free.