What is “The Mystic Krewe?”
The MK or the “Mystic Krewe of the Silver Ball” is a social club, in the spirit of Mardi Gras organizations, an assembly of people with similar interests and hobbies that occasionally get together for social events. It is also one-part Makerspace/Hackerspace group and one-part business incubator/consulting/production group. The MK exists for the purpose of socializing, networking and pursuing collective and individual pursuits of a productive and benevolent nature.
It sounds like a Mardi Gras club? Is it?
While the MK is located in New Orleans and take cues from Mardi Gras krewes, it’s not a carnival organization (although it is possible we may add parading to our array of activities in the future).
We imagine the MK as a throwback to the secret social clubs that were prominent and dominant at the turn of the 20th century (as well as “secret societies” that were prevalent many centuries earlier), often populated by captains of industry who desired to create an oasis of inspiring souls to network with, who also ended up proving to be the impetus for powerful business and other interests.
There are lots of precedents throughout human culture on collective organizations. Here’s a blub that appeared in Wired Magazine:
Hundreds of thousands of Europeans belonged to secret societies in the 18th century… in Sweden alone, there were more than a hundred orders. Though they were clandestine, they were often remarkably inclusive. Many welcomed noblemen and merchants alike—a rare egalitarian practice in an era of strict social hierarchies. That made the orders dangerous to the state. They also frequently didn’t care about their adherents’ Christian denomination, making these orders—especially the biggest of them, Freemasonry—an implicit threat to the authority of the Catholic Church. In 1738 Pope Clement XII forbade all Catholics from joining a Masonic lodge…
These societies were the incubators of democracy, modern science, and ecumenical religion. They elected their own leaders and drew up constitutions to govern their operations. It wasn’t an accident that Voltaire, George Washington, and Ben Franklin were all active members. And just like today’s networked radicals, much of their power was wrapped up in their ability to stay anonymous and keep their communications secret.
Although the Mystic Krewe is not a religious or political organization, we do embody many of the other qualities of historical, “secret societies.” We are inclusive; we have specific sets of values; we are a social group, and we are interested in helping our community in various ways.
What is the purpose of MK?
The MK is essentially a social group not unlike other clubs such as 4H, Lions, Elks, Masons, college fraternities, sports clubs, etc. However, it also embodies the spirit of those groups and other “secret societies” that were known to encapsulate “captains of industry” who had significant social, political and economical impact on society. It’s a group of successful entrepreneurs, working class who desire something different, and young/hungry creative types. It’s a group of people who share similar interests banding together to occasionally create/attend events and do things related to their interests and the club’s charter. The nucleus around which MK assembles is an interest in vintage pinball, arcade, coin-op and related disciplines including music, technology, art and electronics, etc. But there’s also a pragmatic and productive angle brewing within as well. Fun + Equity.
Ultimately, we hope that this group will outlast all of us, and be a collective of people with great ideas and great passion that will go on as long as humans do, trying to make themselves and their world a better place.
It sounds like you all have a lot going on. What if I’m only interested in one thing like pinball? Or I don’t feel technically-inclined but am mainly interested in just one aspect of the group. What if I am not into pinball and just want to do tech, music or other things? Would I still fit in?
Absolutely! We don’t expect every member to avail themselves of every opportunity the club provides. Some people participate exclusively for the social aspect, others are interested in business, networking, creative pursuits, etc. Regardless, we are certain even if you join with a solo common interest, you will probably find a ton of things we do that you want to be involved in, but none of that is obligatory. Some of our members just play pinball. Some have no interest in pinball. There’s always something going on that people enjoy.
What is required to become a member?
First and foremost: Membership is by invitation. Contact us and let’s chat. We then schedule a meeting and take it from there.
Generally speaking, we are looking for creative, interesting people who have something to offer the group. There is a general requirement of a modest amount of dues (see “membership” on the top menu) but our main interest is people that are more of a “giver” than a “taker”. We focus on creating long-term value in ourselves and our projects. We seek people who appreciate and are excited about this dynamic. Those who require an instant ROI probably can find other groups more appealing. But in the long run, our members will enjoy the most rewards. The MK is a strict meritocracy.
What are the dues?
Dues are the “life blood” of our organization. The regular recurring income from dues covers the basic costs and funds a wide variety of projects.
Basic membership is $600/year (or $150/quarter or $50/month), or $75/mo for couples. We have a higher, benefactor level ($100/mo) for those with the means, and a lower associate level ($25/mo) for people from out of town or casual supporters. We are flexible though, and in select cases we barter with people for membership via work and materials and donations to the club. But right now, at this early juncture, the ability to pay dues and help support our core projects is most important. And those that are willing will find it’s well worth it!
What exactly do I get for paying dues?
A secret decoder ring, and two 20% off coupons for Chipotle!
But seriously, we could list a bunch of very specific things that people get out/from membership, and the more you read, the more some of these things will become apparent, but we don’t want to attract people with the “What’s in it for me?”-mentality, so we’d prefer to be a little reserved when it comes to detailing the many cool things members enjoy. We want people to identify with who we are and what we’re trying to do. But yea, there are some really awesome benefits of being part of the Krewe. Read on..
Don’t those dues seem a bit expensive?
Actually not really. When you take into account the traditional dues one pays to become a member of a Mardi Gras krewe, which can be anywhere from $500-$5000/year, ours our very reasonable, and Mardi Gras krewes generally have 1-2 events per year and that’s it. The MK offers a lot more value, with more events, often weekly and even daily, and we will probably also end up parading in Mardi Gras at some point in the future too!
Plus, we really do not want to have “super cheap dues” because the quality of our members are not cheap. The fact that we have some members who have to sacrifice quite a bit to pay dues is a special thing, and it means they value very much what we are doing and how they can benefit, and it encourages all of us to make our efforts special and worthwhile. A game on “free play” isn’t nearly as special as one you have to put a quarter into.
Could I pay for just a month or two, or pay occasionally when I am active in the club and not when I am not?
If you are invited to join the MK, it’s an in-or-out type deal. We want long-term friends and associates whom we can build relationships with and work together on rewarding projects. As such, eventually there will be a waiting list for people who join and anyone who suspends membership will not have a guarantee of being able to re-join. The value of our group is much more than a place to hang out or an event to attend. It’s a commitment to help and be helped by brothers and sisters who share a lot of common interests and values. So we want you around for the long term. And you will be glad you are. 🙂
What if I am out of town a lot or don’t live near the MK’s headquarters? Is there still a reason to become a member?
Yes! A significant number of members, including our coveted benefactor members actually live outside of the NOLA area. They believe in what we are doing and what to support the development of this unique group. Even if you only able to come into town once or twice a year, or not at all, you still get your “money’s worth” in terms of value, which extends far beyond physical presence. Our members are a family and we help each other out constantly, in ways too numerous to mention. We also conduct a lot of business “virtually.” When you are invited to join us, you in effect are adopted into another family that takes care of one another. We work together to help members achieve goals regardless of where they are, regardless of whether we’re all physically in the same place at the same time.
What are MK’s core values?
Our members come from a diverse array of backgrounds, from working class to PhD-educated and every socio-economic level in between, but we share some common attributes that we hold precious:
- Curiosity and a desire to learn new things
- Generosity and the desire to share our knowledge and resources with others
- Passion and the desire to do our best at every effort we undertake
- Honesty and the desire to communicate and be understood
- Loyalty to our fellow members
- Tolerant and respectful to all members and their guests, regardless of race, gender, class, religion (or lack-thereof), sexual orientation, culture and social status
- Ethical to hold ourselves to a high standard that our fellow members and community would be proud of
The core values culminate in the concept of Melior Quam Ante which translated from Latin means, “Better Than Before.” It epitomizes our desire to better ourselves and everything around us to the best of our ability.
Can you give me one good reason why I would want to be a member and a good reason why I might not?
You would want to be a member if you want to be part of something really special that is larger than what any one of us might be able to individually-accomplish.
If you are mainly interested in, “What’s in it for me?” and care less about working collectively, or supporting and being supported by others, or feel that empathy for others who are different or less-fortunate is a weakness, then you probably should not join our group. If you don’t get any satisfaction from helping others, you probably aren’t a good fit for us. We are into bettering ourselves, but mainly through bettering the group first and foremost. If you’re looking for some kind of short-term gratification, you may not get as much out of our group. We are into developing long-term relationships and larger projects that take time.
You could say that membership in the MK is, to some effect an “investment” in this group and its future, and those who are part of the group know in their hearts that the best is yet to come and aren’t looking for a short-term payoff.
Many organizations center around specific religious, cultural, social or political views. Where does the MK fit into the “picture” in this respect? Are my particular views compatible with other members or the club’s?
The MK at this time has no official position on any social, political, religious or cultural issues other than the fact that we do not discriminate against anybody based on race, gender, religion (or lack-thereof) or sexual preference. We are a secular group that welcomes people of all types provided they share our common values of mutual respect, a desire for learning, understanding and sharing. We strive to solve problems, as opposed to complain or blame others. We also value the potential of working collectively to achieve goals. Our membership contains a wide variety of people who self-identify all across the social, political and religious spectrum, but we share certain common values that reflect a policy of toleration and respect for all.
What are the advantages of membership?
There are many, and much of that is best described and detailed in personal exchanges with fellow members. But most importantly, we strive to work collectively to help each other as well as ourselves, and we strive to surround ourselves with equally vibrant spirits to make our journeys even more productive and satisfying.
If you want to be surrounded by those that inspire, rather than bore, be empowered rather than drained, to create and improve rather than consume and replace — If you want to expand your horizons as opposed to merely being distracted, you may find our organization appealing.
Examples of membership benefits
Much of what is available to members of the MK in terms of resources, services and information is done so at the courtesy of other fellow members and our desire to help each other and further our respective and collective interests.
In this spirit, there’s a virtually unlimited number of advantages of membership. We are careful to not make any specific “guarantees” because part of what makes participation so special to each other is our faith and desire to “give” more than “take.” But here are some examples of things we do for each other:
- We regularly hold classes and study groups on various subjects from technical systems like video editing to arts, music, trade skills, etc., always with an emphasis on improving our skillset and learning and sharing new disciplines and technology with each other. Core dues-paying members almost always have free access to our classes.
- Members of MK routinely spawn business ventures amongst ourselves, form companies, tackle commercial projects, share profits, and provide charity and community service.
- MK has a dedicated, state-of-the-art video production workstation available to members to work on projects, edit video, etc.
- MK is developing a full-featured machine shop, workshop and electronics repair shop that members may use
- MK is developing a soundstage/recording studio set up for audio (Protools) recording as well as video and live streaming over the Internet
- We routinely host live concerts and various other special events that our members have exclusive access to
- There truly are an unlimited number of advantages when you meet our people and see how diverse and stimulating our members are and our desire to help each other. Every member will have different stories about the benefits they have received through our association, everything from legal advice and representation to purebred puppies, to guitar lessons, employment, access to special events, etc.
Can non-members visit the PinChurch or make use of various club resources?
Generally-speaking, the members’ resources are typically available to fellow members and not the general public. It’s unfortunate that we have to do this, but that’s how we create value for members and bring in the revenue to operate.
However, on occasion we have special events where we allow member guests, non-members and potential members to meet other members and take a tour of the group’s resources. We will also occasionally accept donations to visit our arcade collection to help support its maintenance. Contact us for more info.
Can non-members participate in club activities?
It depends upon the activity but we routinely have events that are open to non-members, including pinball tournaments, classes, and various other projects.
I am from out of town and would love to visit your space and play pinball. Is there any way a tour/access could be arranged?
Typically the resources are exclusively available for members (it’s one of the ways we maintain value for members in order to keep our operation sustainable) however, we do allow visitors on occasion, especially for those willing to make a modest donation of $20 or more per person to help cover expenses. If you are interested, contact us. But also note even if you’re from out of town, you could benefit from being a member and we do have a discounted non-local membership option.
Can I hire the Mystic Krewe to help with a project or job?
Yes. We are open to helping others with various tasks. Our brain trust of talented people cover a wide range of skills. We can fabricate and create things, repair things, build new things, offer consulting in a variety of fields as well.
The Mystic Krewe sounds great, but I don’t think I can afford the dues. Is there any other way I can become involved with the group?
We believe generally-speaking that “anything is possible.” But to be honest, we really do not think that our modest dues are that much of an impediment to joining our ranks for those who are the right fit for our group. We’ve thought about allowing special free membership to people who would be financially-strapped, or willing to barter other services, but we keep coming back to the concept of perceived value. If there is no sacrifice to achieve something, it has less importance. If you have to work to obtain something, it will mean more, and you’ll be more-motivated to fully-take-advantage of that which you’ve tried so hard to obtain.
Plus, our group is full of people who appreciate and celebrate the value of human potential. What makes us special is that we don’t need an immediate return-on-investment. As a result, we are capable of accomplishing more-rewarding, more-substantive projects that others might give up on because they don’t deliver the instant gratification people typically demand. We believe the most-rewarding efforts are sometimes the ones that don’t pay off right away. We seek out fellow members that can see the long-term value of our group and don’t squabble about a modest membership fee.
The Mystic Krewe is not for everyone. We only intend to maintain a core group of about 60 dues-paying members. After this threshold is reached, there will be a waiting list and a more stringent approval process.
So ultimately, we don’t really want to do a “hard sell” to people to become members. We think our work and our people speak for themselves. But we welcome a chance to expand our ranks and see if YOU might be a valued asset to our community.
If you think you would be a good fit for our group; if you have something to offer and love to share and learn; if you are excited about having a private forum where you can be surrounded by other passionate, intelligent, ethical and ambitious people, Contact Us and arrange an appointment to meet up! We’d love to hear from you.
How else can I keep up with what you all are doing?
While our main public web site may not be updated as often, we are always engaged in new and interesting things. The easiest way to see and learn about what we’re doing is to follow us on social media. We can be found on: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Twitch.tv and others. Check out our links page for more.
I Like Everything I’ve Read. I’m Interested In Becoming A Member. What is the Process?
Our group is pretty tight-knit. Most of our members are referrals from existing members. But we also welcome new folks from outside, especially transplants from other areas who are ambitious and enthusiastic and wanting to immerse themselves in a unique new culture.
The first step towards becoming a member is setting up a meeting and getting to know some of us. Contact us and we can arrange that. If you like what we’re up to and vice-versa, you’ll be invited to join. We have a private membership page with other details on the group where you sign up (you’ll be given the secret ID and password to access the page). Once signed up, you are invited to a number of private forums we maintain where members communicate and plan projects. We have all sorts of resources we share, including archives of classes, calendars, a mystickrewe.com e-mail identity and events we are actively planning. We also welcome new ideas and contributions — if you have a skill you can teach us, that’s spectacular. We love to share and learn.