Pre-pandemic, Emily Hope Dobkin — the founder and one-woman show of Denver-based Betterish — used in-person interactions to create bridges between strangers and show that there are more similarities between us than differences. With a professional background in community engagement, Dobkin’s launched The Meet Cart as an extension of Bettrish.
The Meet Cart is a mobile structure intended to facilitate conversation between strangers through games and activities. Now, as businesses and companies around the world are moving virtually, so is Betterish. Only a year old, Betterish creates participatory experiences for community-based organizations to meaningfully connect people.
In a time where we are forced to isolate from large gatherings and community events, Dobkin quickly turned a fan favorite and The Meet Cart staple — Seven Second Stories —into a way for anyone to connect with people around the world.
“I realized people were experiencing social isolation and loneliness and The Meet Cart is all about social connection so that was my automatic response, how do I bring The Meet Cart to a virtual space?” she said.
Meetful Mondays, Betterish’s new way for strangers to unite through Zoom, connects people through an online version of Seven Second Stories. Picking up on trends throughout this new virtual era, Dobkin also facilitates online happy hour for companies, birthday and graduation parties and soon to come virtual dating. She says the format remains the same, but the prompts for various events are endless.
“There are really interesting things that come out, initially, the scribbles are funny and then we get into a rhythm and people find it’s less about what they drew and more about how this is sparking a story between them,” Dobkin said.
Using word of mouth, social media and newsletters, Dobkin has gone from a virtual test run of Meetful Monday’s with friends to not knowing anyone in the next session. She says social connection is important for sparking joy and creativity, but also to help reflect in a time of uncertainty.
Jumping into a Zoom call and playing games with strangers might be out of your comfort zone, but according to Dobkin, it is beneficial for mental health and emotions. Meetful Monday’s provides a platform for a light-hearted way to make connections with people you never would have been able to before and reflect on life in an unprecedented time.
“So the word Betterish, which I clearly made up, is taken from the idea that things don’t need to be the best, and things clearly aren’t the best right now,” she said. “I feel like we’re in a time where we’re being forced to acknowledge the little things right now more than ever before, that is one of the root concepts.”
For Dobkin, the goal of Betterish and the new pop-up social community she is creating is to encourage us to have better days. Through community collaboration, Dobkin and her Meet Cart aim to bridge the gap between disconnect to help “unfamiliar people become unexpected pals.”