On March 16, inside an old house hidden in a traditional Shanghai nongtang, or alleyway, a meet-up event was in full swing. Dozens of young people gathered and sat around the loft-style room, listening attentively to the speakers sharing lively stories. Most of the speakers came from the fields of education and design, as a perfect fit in to the day’s topic –“Open Education and Public Youth Social Space”.
It sounds a bit like just another TEDx, yet the event, organized by an online youth organization, was dubbed a “Meet-up with Purpose.”
CAPE, a newly established online platform bringing together China’s youth both at home and abroad, is garnering increasing attention through its offline meet-up events. In Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and other major cities, this new breed of meet-up events is drawing more and more young people. They narrate their stories and raise their doubts, look inward while exploring outward, make friends, and seek business partners with similar interests and motivations. More often than not, they are striving for social causes, as volunteer teachers, environmental advocates, and social entrepreneurs.
CAPE is not alone in leveraging online community to drive offline activities. In January, Black Apple Youth and the FOUR Institute, two online communities with a focus on social engagement by youth, both came up with campaigns for a meaningful winter holiday for social good.