Web site gets joiners into the community

Courtney Garrard looked no further than Meetup.com when he was the new guy in town hoping to connect with locals.


The social networking Web site helped Garrard, 41, join an outdoor adventures club that has grown from 100 to 500 members since he became the leader in 2010.

"(Meetup.com) is a way to network with people with like interests locally and get out of your shell," Garrard said.

More people in the Augusta area are finding out about the online bulletin board, which has spread to 45,000 communities since its creation in 2001.

The Web site connects people online so that they can meet offline. Building relationships face to face helps improve communities, according to the Web site.

"People gravitate toward feeling like you're part of something," Garrard said.

Outlets for meeting other people were difficult to come by when Garrard moved from Atlanta to Augusta four years ago.

"It was a godsend," he said. "It feels like I've known these people for a long time."

The Augusta Adventure and Activities Group meets several times a month for diverse activities including zip lining, kayaking and caving, Garrard said.

The group is not limited to outdoor activities, he said. They recently went to a GreenJackets baseball game and met for a board game night.

"We really try to be everything to everyone," he said.

People make suggestions on the group's Meetup.com page. The Web site helps members build a calendar, make notification of events and post pictures afterward, Garrard said.

Other groups in the Augusta area include book clubs, mothers' groups, animal protection organizations and grassroot political activists.

Suzy Ranier, 38, the organizer of the Augusta Hiking Group, said Augusta's presence on Meetup.com lags behind other cities that offer diverse activities.

"I've seen a big growth," Ranier said. "Augusta is becoming more receptive to it."

More than 100 people have joined her group.

A typical hike to trails in Mistletoe State Park and Blanchard Woods Park in Columbia County gathers between 10 and 20 people, she said.

The group also meets Tuesday nights for a walk and occasionally for dinners or social activities, she said.

"This is where people go to meet people now," Ranier said. "It's right at your fingertips."

Tote bags are a necessity in the summer
Get involved
  • Visit www.meetup.com.
  • Sign up to become a member.
  • Search by topic, interest and ZIP code to find a Meetup Group.