March 02, 2009
Heather Classen recently wrote us about the geek scene in Boston, and we agreed that the world needed to hear more. So voila! Please welcome our Boston Correspondent Heather Classen.
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Hearing about NerdAbout via a Facebook link, I saw that Nerdabout covers Austin TX, Portland OR, and NYC … no Boston. what up? Boston is the central nerd hatchery as far as I’m concerned… the nerd “Hub”, if you will. You can’t close your eyes and toss your iPhone without hitting another adventurous knowledge loving brainiac… and here’s how I know.
Looking to meet new people during the summer of 2007 I started wading into the Meetup waters, going to lunches, walks, and whatnot. Met great people and had a nice time, but the existing meetup groups weren’t doing the sorts of events I wanted to. There was a Michael Palin book signing in Harvard Square that I wanted to go to and I couldn’t get any of my regular crew to come along. So I took a chance, opened up Nerd Fun Boston, and posted it. No one came. It was just me and my red meetup sign. But, figuring there weren’t many people signed up in my group by the time I ran my first event I gave it another shot. Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has an open house night each month, lecture, telescopes, so I posted it. And they came. There’s been no turning back.
As I write this there’s 1429 membersin my group.My premise for Nerd Fun was to gather life-long learners together. I ran a bunch of events, and then with the help of superstar assistant organizers (i.e. T.J.) the group gathered steam, and people. Each event we attended recruited more and more members. We even started recruiting people who run the events that we attend. NerdFun Boston is a fantastic group of people from all walks of life. Younger people, older people, single, married, straight, gay, local, visiting, foreign, history geeks, science geeks, astronomy geeks, art geeks, geek geeks, everyone. It’s fantastic.
Things that surprised me about the group:
1. history nerds.
I had no idea there were so many history nerds, I thought everyone would be all about semiconductors and bio-pharm in line with Boston’s biggest industries. Our most prolific organizer, T.J. , started attending Boston By Foot Walking Tours and like the pied piper of nerds, T.J. collected a gaggle of history geeks, including the Boston by Foot tourguides themselves. But, I realized, it’s inevitable in a city with Boston’s past that curious people are going to want to spend time learning the history that’s all around us here. Automatic.
2. transient nerds.
We’re getting lots of members who are here in Boston/Cambridge temporarily, for school and work. It’s perfect for them to attach onto a good group of active curious people and see and learn what there is to be seen here. Scientists and lawyers from Europe as visiting Harvard and MIT students, business travellers from Montreal in town for the weekend, students testing the grad school waters before they commit, again, I’m always surprised by who finds us.
3. my nerds are hooking up.
(Myself included.) Having this completely low pressure way of meeting other local brainiacs has really made dating easy. It’s like being back in college without all the classwork and tuition. Many of us are working stiffs that, until now, hadn’t had that “birds of a feather” feeling of community since our university days.
My favorite recurring event is the monthly Smithsonian Observatory Public Viewing Night, which involves an always interesting lecture followed by stargazing through the telescopes on their Cambridge rooftop. The CfA also has the occassional movie night (i.e. Destination Moon—see below.)
Photo by Aram Comjean
We attend talks and exhibits at the Harvard Museum of Natural History , the Museum of Science , the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Northeastern University Marine Science Center, the Boston Public Library ,MIT Museum, Boston Duck Tours, movies like Coolidge Corner’s Science on Screen series, John Quincy Adams home, cemetery tours, Paul Revere House, the Old South Meeting House and other Freedom Trail locales. The Longfellow House, Lexington and Concord’s historical sites, Science in the News Seminar Series from Harvard’s Medical School . yada yada yada. The list of events is endless. And our memberlist grows constantly as word gets out.
I’m thrilled at the direction this meetup group has taken, I had no idea that there would be so many really great, funny, intelligent, kind, good hearted, fun, adcventurous people out there looking to do the same sorts of nerd-tastic events that I like doing.
But, then again, this is Boston.
If you’d like to join, please connect with us at meetup alliance to collect similar groups across the US, please join the fun.