This is an opinion editorial by Tali Lindberg, a mother, co-founder of Free Market Kids and host of Orange Hatter: Bitcoin Podcast For Busy Women.
Typically, Bitcoin meetups come in two types: “BitDevs” and “plebs”. In the former, coders gather to discuss technical developments in the Bitcoin ecosystem, and the discussions are heavy on jargon and complicated concepts. At the latter, Bitcoin enthusiasts gather to discuss current events in the Bitcoin space and offer beginner-friendly seminars. In our travels, my husband Scott and I have attended many of both types of encounters.
Recently, however, we found ourselves in a meeting that turned the typical rulebook on its head. Let me take you on a journey through that evening and maybe inspire your Bitcoin groups to do something similar.
‘This will be different!’
When Scott and I went to a meeting place in Winchester, Virginia, we were greeted by two giggling little girls at the door. They pointed at us, waved at us, and then went inside. Scott and I smiled and thought, “This is going to be different!”
Walking after a few moments, something unusual awaited us again. There was a cacophony of drumbeats and loud notes on a small piano at the front of the room, opposite the entrance. The same two girls who greeted us at the door excitedly said, “We’re having a concert!”
They both laughed and wiggled in their seats, bobbing their heads from side to side in time to their music.
The organizer of the event, Gary Krause of the Shenandoah Bitcoin Club, walked up to us, extending his hand, welcoming us to the meeting that night.
He explained that several families had RSVP’d for the family game night and, despite the rain, he hoped we would have a good turnout. As we chatted and waited for the guests to arrive, one of the 5-year-old girls grabbed both of my hands and pulled me to the front of the room where she danced and danced on her tiptoes with her hands raised above her head. forming an arc.
“Come on, follow me! You can do it!” her little voice encouraged me. The other little girl played the piano as an impromptu accompanist.
The first family to arrive came with a baby and a 3-year-old. The baby was immediately removed from the mother’s arms by a family friend, who dared and jumped the baby while the adults greeted each other. The baby’s older brother approached the little girls who had stopped performing until now and the three immediately realized a secret game and left.
One by one more families came. More children. More noise. More laughter. And we hadn’t even started playing games yet!
‘I wish these were real Bitcoins!’
When the pizzas were delivered and we were all seated, I looked around and realized there were more kids than adults at this Bitcoin meetup. Their ages ranged from the full spectrum of childhood: from the wide-eyed 1-year-old to the mature 17-year-old.
We set up two game tables. I wasn’t sure how it would work, with some of the kids being so young. At my table, the children ranged in age from 5 to 9 years old. I explained how to play HODL UP as best I could to such a young audience. Thankfully, there were two parents standing by to help explain the game to their children. The younger ones didn’t last long. Soon, they got tired of hearing the rules and asked to be forgiven. My table was left with two adults and three children between the ages of 7 and 9. At Scott’s table, the kids were 13 and older.
The game began and the children quickly grasped the concepts. After just a few hands, they knew that getting their bitcoins into cold storage was the only way to protect their income. They played good naturedly and reacted with lots of exclamations and frustrations when they won or lost bitcoins.
The guy sitting next to me kept saying, “I wish these were real bitcoins!” showing the accumulated tokens on his wallet card. Isn’t that what every Bitcoiner hopes to hear from their kids: that they want to HODL some real bitcoin?!
At the next table, where older children were playing with some adults, wins and losses elicited even stronger responses! Their game took longer, as each player aimed to win and took their time to evaluate strategies.
When both games were over, all the children dispersed. The older kids pulled out their phones, the younger kids left the table to run around the room, and the baby was handed to another dear family friend who was lying on the floor, holding the baby above her head in a pose Superman.
The adults, who learned the game mechanics and strategies from the first game, engaged in a new game, determined to HODL even more bitcoins on their second try.
Looking at the scene around me, I felt like I had stepped into a warm Hallmark movie. What made this evening truly remarkable was the inclusiveness. Families stayed together, chaotic as it was. Children were not asked to sit still or sent to another room. Bitcoin, in all its complexity, was demystified through a simple game in the most natural, family-friendly environment. There were no harsh lectures about how bad our fiat system is, how the government is printing money, or how bitcoin has an unstable dollar exchange rate.
A simple but crucial solution for everyone that night was to secure their bitcoins in cold storage. No lectures, just a fun-filled evening where even the youngest players learned the most critical lessons.
Bitcoin is for everyone
Coming back from Virginia, Scott and I hosted a fun family event in the park with our Bitcoin meetup, the Kentuckiana Bitcoin Club. Instead of having our date at a pub, restaurant or office, we chose to have it at a local park where there is a playground and a volleyball court. While the setup made it a bit challenging to hear Zoom’s great presentation about Bolt 12, it was great for families of Bitcoiners to meet. The kids ran back and forth from the playground to the table where the adults were sitting, and that was fine. Children learn through osmosis. Our work is always just planting seeds. Who knows how the seeds will be watered and how long it will take for them to germinate? We only know that our job is to plant seeds, especially with children.
So what’s the takeaway here? How can your families include your Bitcoin meeting? Instead of the meeting taking mom/dad away for a few hours each week or month, what if the whole family was involved? What if spouses met each other and children played together?
I’m not suggesting that all Bitcoin meetings involve the whole family. There is certainly a place for technical debates and discussions of current events, but perhaps once in a while (once a quarter or twice a year), families can get together. After all, Bitcoin is for everyone. We must spread and plant the seeds far and wide, starting from our homes, with our families.
This is a guest post by Tali Lindberg. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.