Crew Formation

CC-BY-SA credit Richard Bartlett @

A Crew is a small group up to about 8 people growing trust in each other through emotional & economic reciprocity. Crews are always designed for intimacy, and may also produce an output (e.g. a software product or an activist campaign).

How is Crew formed? We're not sure. Richard suggests the best way to meet your Crew-mates is in a Congregation: a larger gathering of people with some shared values and medium-high trust.

The following is a collection of patterns for people to support each other in small peer-to-peer mutual aid groups:

  • Pods: personal-and-professional development in small groups, a new practice in development at Enspiral. Comprehensive resources here. (For more on this: listen to the recording of the Crews/Pods session at Enspiral Summer Retreat 2019; and this update 6 months later.)

  • Case Clinic is a peer-coaching method from Theory U. It has a practical output (helping someone with a challenge they're currently facing), and it tends to produce a lot of insight and interpersonal bonding. It's an excellent place to start, you can get a long way in one meeting.

  • Feelz Circle: 3 processes for sharing emotional care between friends/ comrades/ lovers.

  • The Circle of Trust approach from Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage and Renewal. Includes some guidance for cultivating a safe space for vulnerable conversations, plus great descriptions of why this is valuable.

  • Pods and Pod Mapping by Mia Mingus for the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. In this context, your pod is "the people that you would call on if violence, harm or abuse happened to you; or the people that you would call on if you wanted support in taking accountability for violence, harm or abuse that you’ve done"

  • Metagame Mastermind: a kind of stoic crew. 3 people, 3 week sprints, 3 commitments (one life practice (e.g. meditate daily), one renouncement (e.g. no sugar), one gift to the world).

  • Action Circles ( by Be The Change Earth Alliance)support people who want to change their life to be more ecologically sustainable. They have a comprehensive best practice guide for convening these circles, including sample agendas, facilitation and communication tips, etc.

  • Faerie Rings (by the Scuttlebutt software community)

    Documentation currently focusses on how to do matchmaking to form crews within a congregation. Faerie Rings are mostly "get to know you" spaces for people who are participating in a big distributed project, but don't have many opportunities to connect face to face.

  • The Elephants long term personal development for Crews, focussed on goal-setting and accountability.

  • Working Out Loud: a guided 12-week process for peer support in small groups, suitable for workplaces: what am I trying to do? who is related to that goal? how can I contribute to them to deepen our relationship?

  • Stewardship peer support system for Partnerships.

  • How to give feedback in a small peer group. Written by Manuel Küblböck for a professional context, but the principles apply transcontextually.

  • How to host an Empathy Circle - a simple group process to strengthen your empathy muscles.

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