Memes are among the most popular forms of communication nowadays. When it comes to conveying a message, nothing is more effective than captioning an image, at least in the eyes of the internet-prowling community. It was within this culture that the DC Council Commune was born, a place for BBYO friends to share memes about BBYO. “Originally, it was just four friends from three different chapters,” says founder Matthew Hernandez. “We wanted to make memes about DC Council, so this was a convenient place to do it.”
When the first meme was published on April 2nd, 2019, none of the four friends could have envisioned what the group chat would turn into a place where 27 people representing 11 chapters discuss the happenings throughout the Council, by using memes, discussion, and polls. What makes this group of 27 so instrumental, though, is the power they hold: five Council Board members (out of 12), 15 current or former Chapter Presidents, and 78 combined chapter board terms (and counting).
To address why such a large chunk of members in the group chat are in BBYO leadership of some sort. According to founding member, Ben Cohen, “People find it funny to express ourselves in this way and to discuss what’s happening, and you have to be active in the community to understand what’s happening. He further elaborates that “We are among the most active and influential people in the Council, so it’s natural for us to want to discuss what’s going on.”
The actual topics of the chat vary wildly, and recent discussions center on who will be in the conversation next year, as 17 out of the 27 current members are seniors. In addition to that, other subject matters include the World Series, the Divrei Torah memes posted weekly by the Council Shlichim, both members of the chat, and various other BBYO related topics.
Jordyn Green says the community so special because “there is so much passion and love for BBYO in one place. We all want the best for DC Council, even though we may have different opinions on issues or decisions.” Green continued to say how the different perspectives the various members bring different chapters helps everyone understand contrasting and similar viewpoints.
Indeed, opinions can differ wildly on certain subjects, and no subject caused as much drama and debate as to the discussion over whether to have a Chapter Sustainability Leader for the 2019-2020 programming year. The previous year saw a failed experiment with implementing an Ozer(it) position on Council Board, and detractors saw CSL as a continuation of that position. However, supporters contended that the position would not hold as much power as was intended for Ozer, and would benefit struggling chapters in the Council. This argument led to significant infighting within the group, along with the creation of several smaller group chats in support of each side. Eventually, though, the sides agreed to disagree, and the conflict was peacefully resolved.
When asked why she thought the group was able to come back together so quickly after such a significant dispute, Jenna Bloom mentioned: “the fact that we all respect each others’ viewpoints and know that we just want what’s best for others.”
Green agrees. “We all remembered why we loved BBYO in the first place, and how we all appreciated the commune more than being invested in a silly argument that we had little control over.”
Any place that welcomes open discussion, honest opinion, and fun is sure to be popular amongst those who inhabit it. The DC Council group chat is one of those places. Though disagreements may exist, the ultimate purpose of the group rises above the noise. It allows those within it to create, share, explore, discover, and communicate about what binds them all together: a shared love and passion for BBYO.
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