I wrote Kathy Bornino of IONS SLO (San Luis Obispo, CA) where I used to live and since I love IONS so much I decided to create one here in Florence.. I asked Kathy a few questions about SLO’s IONS and here is her letter which I will be promoting on the IONS Florence fb page (

Hey Bob,

Great that you are forming an IONS group!
I hope it becomes as inspirational and nourishing for you as it has been for me.
I did not start the group in SLO. I was on the board of the Central Coast Jung Society and the President Jim Skinner told me about an IONS group meeting in SLO. It was started by Bernice Nicholson, a retired Humanities/Art Professor at Poly. She led the group from 1990-95, then decided she had done enough. No one stepped up to her request for a replacement and I did not want to see the group die so I took over.
Over the years we met at various places in SLO: first the Newman center, which Bernice was using and I continued for free, maybe two years. Then I think they expanded to include some Saturday morning program which was when we had met, so we met in the community room of a complex near Sinsheimer park, also for free because one of the IONS members lived there. When that was not available somebody found us at the Unitarian on Foothill which let us use a foyer room on a pass the hat basis. In those days all the monthly notices went out by US mail, for which I asked people to contribute $5 per year for stamps. I never thought to charge for meetings but sometimes a speaker wanted something so we passed the hat. I’m sure it is possible to set up a group with dues, but I just encouraged people to join the Institute because they needed membership.

They used to supply films if your requested them – there was a catalogue. [well I certainly have plenty of films to choose from! – B Banner]

We met in a bank for awhile when Unitarian lost their building. We always looked for a free meeting place but over the years those got hard to come by. For the bank we had to have someone in town to pick up the key on Friday. I took 5 years off when my ex-husband wanted my calendar clear for travel, but after he left I decided the easiest was to meet at my house and not worry about finding a room and I also wouldn’t have to drive to SLO. It gave me good incentive to clean my house once a month (no we never met weekly) and I wanted the fellowship that comes with potlucks.
It was always pretty easy to arrange programs because in the early years of IONS there was exploration into complementary healing. So at least 2 meetings out of the year I would ask some recommended chiropractor, accupuncturist or energy worker to come demonstrate and let people experience their modality.

They were usually glad to share their passion and it was marketing for them.

I would also do 1-2 meetings per year on science and do the more biology oriented one myself and ask someone who I knew had an understanding of physics to help us learn some basic quantum mechanics.

And I would ask people for topic recommendations. 1-2 times per year we would have a thought provoking topic that I just had some questions prepared for and the meeting would be a joining of minds. And of course IONS attracts people who have had psi – experiences – especially now that IONS is researching that more openly – and that is a good topic for meetings.
Now it is easy to put on topics if you have internet because IONS has prepared so many excellent topics  in videos on their website. I especially use the which you can also get to by and from menu at top select experiences and under that Global Gatherings. Those are interactive 1 hour seminars on a topic, complete with discussion points and questions you can download.

And every 2 years there is the international conference somewhere, after which videos of the presentations are available online for at least awhile. I love watching those and picking 1-3 to present in the fall after the conference.
I am not a great person for organizing a board, don”t have patience for meetings and wasn’t too successful when I tried. So I set up IONS to be the least work for myself, so I would never have to deal with burnout. I let the group be any size and fluctuate, so sometimes people came from Santa Maria which is even outside SLO county. If a group is small it can be intimate, which is good. If a group or topic is large then that has its own satisfaction. So you might want to meet where you don’t have to drive so far, perhaps starting in your home and then growing if someone finds a good meeting place half way to Eugene. I wouldn’t want to drive an hour to meetings but that is up to you.  IONS has some great introductory videos from 2-10 minutes or so in length that you might be able to use as you give introductory talks to let people know you exist.
I know you are a master of the internet so you will be able to spread the word.

Is there an IONS in Portland?  If so, they might have some pointers about understanding how to attract Oregonians.

You can also get pointers from IONS website coaching on community groups and there are forums for community group leaders that I confess I never have time for. Receptionists have always been friendly when I called IONS and I am sure the community group coordinator can give you some helpful tips.
Keep me posted on your progress!