Do This: Throw a Resource Party


I’ve been a connector for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it stems from being naturally curious about people, but I find it hard to sit next to someone in the dentist’s office and not ask them about their life story so I can mentally sift through my internal rolodex for someone else to introduce them to in hopes they’ll become lifelong friends forever and ever. (Exception: Plane rides. I do not, will not, can not chat for hours on a plane. It’s quiet time. Respect the headphones.) Naturally, it’s the reason I throw resource parties at every conference I attend. (And sometimes, online.) The other reason? They’re easy, fun, take 30 minutes and will, undoubtedly, change the world.

Remember dinner parties? They don’t exist anymore because (1) We think we’re too busy, and (2) We congregate elsewhere instead (I’m winking at you, Twitter). So we spend our weekend evenings glued to the TV or computer, decompressing after our long, hard weeks of socializing-without-really-socializing until we realize it’s Sunday night and we haven’t changed our pants. (Just me?)

It’s a rut that could be lethal for entrepreneurs or work-at-home types. In our ever-connected world, creatives are gleaning visual inspiration online, exchanging ideas in less than 140 characters and producing link round-ups that are as thoughtful as they are informative. These are all rad things. But it sort of stops there, doesn’t it?

In a fascinating read from William Deresiewicz, “Faux Friendship” explains the downfalls of living our lives online, information-hoarding and sustaining e-friendships:

“So information replaces experience, as it has throughout our culture. But when I think about my friends, what makes them who they are, and why I love them, it is not the names of their siblings that come to mind, or their fear of spiders. It is their qualities of character. This one’s emotional generosity, that one’s moral seriousness, the dark humor of a third. Yet even those are just descriptions, and no more specify the individuals uniquely than to say that one has red hair, another is tall. To understand what they really look like, you would have to see a picture. And to understand who they really are, you would have to hear about the things they’ve done. Character, revealed through action: the two eternal elements of narrative. In order to know people, you have to listen to their stories.”

Enter the resource party. Resource parties, are, essentially, little more than telling stories with intention. They are an exchange of information with the unspoken rule that yes, you really do get what you give. They are a commitment to bettering our lives by bettering those around us.

Resource parties are the antithesis of social networking. Because they’re not networking at all, are they? A resource party is the grassroots movement in a sea of Internet supremacy. It’s a circle of actual human bodies, warm and welcoming, exchanging real live handshakes and cheers in lieu of virtual “Likes” and thumbs up emoticons.

And yes, they change lives. They launch collaborations. They build partnerships. They inspire, connect, encourage. And they rekindle the true sense of community that I fear we’ve lost. As Deresiewicz so eloquently wrote, “We haven’t just stopped talking to our friends as individuals [online], we have stopped thinking of them as individuals. We have turned them into an indiscriminate mass, a kind of audience or faceless public. We address ourselves not to a circle, but to a cloud.”

Resource parties rebuild the circle by refusing the cloud. I encourage you to host a resource party in your own community, or even online by using the social sidebar of to see how your friends can help you achieve bigger, radder things. Right now. Please don’t wait.

p.s. Thanks to Bing for helping me host a resource party at Altitude Design Summit.
p.p.s.  Thanks to Amy for this post.
p.p.p.s. The image above has little to do with an actual resource party, except that I like to wear hotpants when I host my own.
p.p.p.p.s. EDIT: Just put together a list of goodies that will help you throw the perfect resource party. Enjoy here!

  • Love love love the resource party idea. I did one online (Alt class) and sniff, missed yours at Alt!

    I think it’s also attractive too because we NEED to connect in a more meaningful way than just RT and “like”. Whether it’s getting together offline or collaborating online or putting two people together, that’s where it’s at for me too.

    BTW, I’m also someone who goes through the mental rolodex – love helping this person fix whatever by connecting with that person!

  • Love this idea, Erin! It bums me out when designers/artists/creatives are sooo protective of their resources. There are a few things I can understand keeping to yourself, but I think that sharing your knowledge with others is so empowering and creates real community. Plus, I love the idea of connecting with REAL people to help one another. High-five for promoting this idea.

    I’d come to your resource par-tay, for sure!

  • Erin – just stopping by to say that I love what you are doing in this space this year, slowing down, being more thoughtful. You are a human sparkler, as Amy said and if even a few people are encouraged to make more meaningful connections as a result of your words here, then BRAVO!

  • I would love to join a resource party! Do you have any suggestions on finding ones? Thanks!

    • @Christine – Start your own! Grab a group of friends and list all the things you need help doing – goals both big and small. I guarantee they’ll either (a) know how to help, or (b) know someone who can help! Enjoy!

  • I keep thinking of throwing a resource party since you first wrote about it, and somehow it always got to the procrastination list. This post was a great reminder and an effective kick in the right direction, so thanks:)

  • oh my goodness this sounds AMAZING! i completely want to do it! a friend and i host a clothing swap party a couple of times a year, and that works great with ladies who don’t know one another. do you think the same concept applies here, or in your experience is it important for the group to already feel connected to each other?


    • @Bridget – I think either way will work! At conferences, I often throw them in the lobby with a circle of random people who don’t even know each other. It’s sometimes even more inspiring to see total strangers springing to help each other out! :)

  • Erin, you truly are a connector and resource parties are the perfect manifestation of that. I think my favorite part about them is the premise: there’s room for all of us. There’s no cap on amazing ideas that can be implemented in this world and we gain just as much from supporting others in making their goals become a reality as we do from realizing our own.

    Several of the people who have been most invaluable to the Equals Project over the last year are friends I first crossed paths with at your resource party at Alt last year. The world is a better place because you help people share their gifts with one another.

    • @Elisabeth – Thank you SO much, Elisabeth. You know I love your perspective on this so so much! :)

  • A little off topic, but I’m curious: Have you ever taken StrengthsFinder? I’d be curious of your results!

  • Wow! This is exactly what I’ve been trying to verbalize for the direction that I want to move. I want to talk with real people about real life. I think there is so much to be learned just from shared experiences. And it’s reassuring to hear other people struggle with the same things. Thank you thank you for verbalizing it when I was unable to. Happy Day!

  • Erin this post is perfect timing for me as its the space I want to be in. I am going to give it a go! I have a real feeling that 2013 is about connections and a resource party is the perfect start.
    I loved your early morning session at Alt, you were such fun and so vivacious it really set the day. Tx

  • This is a fantastic idea! I’ve been toying with the idea of having a craft supplies swap meet, and throwing it with the intention of a resource party would be a great way to connect local makers off-line. I love what you’re doing wrt to consciously slowing down in a fast industry.

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