Benjamin Franklin organized the Junto, an informal networking club, in the first half of the 18th century. The small group of men - entrepreneurs, inventors, and scientists - would meet each Friday night to quaff ale and discuss business of the week.
The group consisted of working class business owners and operators - from cabinetmakers to glaziers and butchers, shoemakers and cobblers - who were also accomplished mathematicians, astrologers, and physicists.
Being in the time when all of the sciences required a high level of skill in what we now commonly refer to as "the arts" - scientists blew glass and welded and created their own tools, biologists were painters of the highest ilk. These were unsung men of renaissance who invested their money into public libraries and community development.
Later they changed their name to the Leather Apron Society - in respect to the trades that kept economy afloat.
These questions were posed to the members at the beginning of each meeting:
- Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, poetry, moraility, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
- What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
- Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
- Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
- Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
- Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
- What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?
- What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?
- Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?
- Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?
- Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
- Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
- Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
- Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
- Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
- Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
- Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
- Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?
- Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
- In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
- Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
- What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
- Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?
- Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?
So, Here's To our modern day Juntos which still amass around the world. I've recently been invited into one called the Lion's Lair which focuses on business development for young entrepreneurs based in Vancouver.
Here's To the proliferation of new wave Juntos such as the TED talks which preserve the ideals of Socratic centric societies - and look to the future in global development.
And Here's To the friendships and circles where nothing is off the table, everything still feels like discovery, and the beer is always ice cold.