Lugging pt. 2: Finding a LUG

Sand Castle JediFor those of you who read Lugging pt. 1 or have been interested in finding a LEGO user group (LUG) for some time, this is my effort to help you find a LUG. At a recent event at LEGOLAND California where my LUG (SandLUG) hosted a display, a lot of visitors from the rest of the country and world had questions about how to find LUGs in their home towns. I was pleasantly surprised by all the interest, though I wish I’d been able to provide lugging first aid.

I was lucky enough to have my brother, Andrew, refer me to my local LUG that included people he knew personally. They knew to expect me and my path was smoothed by his sheer nerd fame. I cheated. My brother told me he was sick of me just making comments on TBB and that I needed to start DOING something. For those of you who were not so lucky, I’ve done some research.

At first, I tried compiling a list of LUGs by region and interest, but it just got ridiculously long, which is a very, very good thing. If I could find dozens, you can hopefully find one in your area. Remember though, even if you find a LUG, some cover huge swaths of territory (e.g. TexLUG, TurkLUG, Brickish Association) some are inactive, and others may be essentially an online-only group. Though to the credit of many of the online groups, they’re quite creative and active.

LUGnet logoOne of the challenges of finding LUGs is that they are based on multiple platforms. Some are basically just an e-mail list that the members have stashed away somewhere, some are discussion threads or groups within LEGO communities like LUGnet, some operate within larger online networking sites like Google, flickr, MySpace or facebook, and still others host their own sophisticated websites. Some groups have members and groups on multiple platforms, but use a single platform for group-wide discussions or announcements.

LUGmapA good place to start is the right-hand column on this very site, which has scores of communities and resources listed, including several LUGs. Look through them. See if anything looks familiar. If nothing pops out at you there, go to LUGnet, Eurobricks, MOCpages, Brickshelf or any of the other LEGO-specific “umbrella” sites and browse for a forum, topic, discussion or group that relates to you. LUGnet also has a map (though slightly out of date) that has pins showing the locations of different kinds of LEGO clubs throughout the world, with links to those clubs/LUGs.

If this doesn’t work, I’d search for groups on the non-LEGO networking sites listed above.

Bing logoProbably the easiest (you’ll inevitably get some junk) is typing “lug lego” or “lego user group” into any old search engine. If you want to get super-fancy, type in a city, region, state, province, country or interest as well (though not all), which may narrow your results. Avoid just typing “lug,” it’s too common a word and apparently entering “lug” and a German city name could also result in some fairly interesting, but non-LEGO related hits.

If you’re looking for something that relates to a specific interest area, like Star Trek or trains, change your search accordingly. Most train groups are called LEGO train clubs (LTCs), though that varies too. In some parts of the world, LTCs outnumber general LUGs. Other specialized LUGs will use a word or two to hint at their interest, such as TrekLUG.

If none of the above work and you’re up to some serious sleuthing/stalking, look for hints on other users’ profiles, postings or other things that might indicate that they’re near you, then drop them a quick message asking for guidance finding a LUG, but try not to pester.

LEGO flickrTBB has a fairly large readership, so questions about LUGs are more than welcome and there’s a good chance one of our other readers or contributors will have an answer. I also have a discussion thread in the flickr LEGO group that’s dealing with lugging issues.

Remember, some LUGs don’t have meetings and are mainly internet based, so if you’re thirsting for face to face contact, you may not be quenched at the end of the day. Also, some areas just don’t seem to have active general LUGs, like shockingly enough Chicago and New York City (CLB and NYCLUG don’t appear to be active, though I’d be happy to be disabused of the notion). That will be part 4 of the series, how to start or revive a LUG.

Happy hunting!

Coming soon . . . Lugging Pt. 3: Actually lugging (tips, etiquette, and activities)

11 comments on “Lugging pt. 2: Finding a LUG

  1. wunztwice

    Nice article, I am certainly looking forward to the next one, as we are starting up a new LUG as you ‘speek.’

    Since we aren’t known by many at all I figured it might be worth plugging our LUG (if that’s appropriate here…?).

    EORLUG is a LEGO user group located in Eastern Oregon. Because of the vastness of this region, and the relatively small population in general we basically cover the whole half of the state. We have few members and are always looking for more! Find me on Flickr and shoot me an FM if you are interested (/photos/wunztwice/).

    [and yes, our mascot is Eeyore, get it?...]

    Thanks!!!

  2. TargetBoy

    There anyone in the Albany NY area? Last I was able to find was a Lego train LUG in Syracuse… :-(

    -pete

  3. Pixel

    Don’t forget the other possibility, an active lug that ignores people attempting to become new members.

    I’m looking at you, NELug.

  4. Thanel Post author

    @ wunztwice: Plugging is fine, though PLUG (Portuguese LEGO User Group) may prefer another term ;). I have some friends in Walla Walla I should direct your way. Yes people, Walla Walla is a real place.

    @ TargetBoy: LUCNY covers central New York, but I’m not sure of their exact range.

    @ Pixel: I don’t know about the NELUG dynamics or any particulars, but in general I have heard of some LUGs that aren’t exactly good at welcoming new members.

  5. Nicky B

    Well, I’m not sure If you would know but I have been Interested in joining a LUG group for some time now, and was wondering if you would know if there was a LUG in the Columbus, Ohio Area. Peferably that the main interest is Castle but any LUG name you could give me is Fine.

    Reply Soon~Nicky B

  6. TaltosVT

    Pixel, if you were ignored by NELUG, I can assure you that it wasn’t on purpose. I just found out yesterday that our contact form isn’t working correctly, and a couple of months ago we did have an issue where new member registrations weren’t being looked at by anyone. It was a basic communication breakdown where the five of us who generally look at that stuff all thought that one of the others was looking at it.

    I guess that’s one point to keep in mind with any LUG. They are run by volunteers in their spare time, so things aren’t always perfect.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that not all LUGs are the same. NELUG, for instance, is a little stricter in it’s membership requirements than some clubs. Basically, we welcome anyone over 18 who lives in one of the New England states. I can see how that might be unwelcoming if you are a teen or live in a different state, but those two requirements helps us manage the activities that we do as a club. We also charge a yearly dues (currently about $24 a year). This helps us pay for club assets like our website and trailer, so that no one member has to bear the burden of those costs (which do add up). If we have extra money left over after expenses, we try to give it back to members in various forms (a discount on next year’s dues, a party, or t-shirts, for example). Other LUGs welcome anyone who signs up for their mailing list. Look for a LUG that works best for you.

  7. Thanel Post author

    @ Nicky B: Looks like there’s a central Ohio LTC, and a greater Midwest LUG (GMLUG), but nothing more specific or closer that I know of. I’ve recently been correspodning with a few people in northern Kentucky who are interested in finding or starting a LUG. Some LUGs just involve long commutes for their meetings. They’re often worth the drive. In San Diego, we have people driving all the way down from Los Angeles to SandLUG meetings, even though there’s a LUG up there too (LUGOLA).

    @ TaltosVT: Glad you cleared up the NELUG correspondence issues and shared information about your LUG. Happy to have the input.

  8. JD_Luse

    Of course Walla Walla is real! =)

    I’ve been thinking about becoming involved in my local LUG (SeaLUG) and your posts are pushing me along in that direction…Though, what exactly is drafting?

  9. Thanel Post author

    ^ W2 is particularly real for anybody who went to college or prison there. I’ll leave the case for SeaLUG to a Sealugger, though it generally has a very good reputation. I’ll post my own description of drafts on the next lugging installment, but in the meantime, one of the best descriptions of a draft I’ve read so far happens to be on the SeaLUG website.

  10. gigahound

    Here in Michigan the only LUG I know about is MICHLUG. Unfortunately they operate farther than I care to drive. Also, this post inspired me to check out their information and I found that there seems to be a lot of old information. For instance, several of the names on the list of members have links to sites that are no longer active. There is a link to the LUGnet user group forums but the last post was over a year ago. The main website has a “news” section but very little information. There seems to be a train club within the LUG that is active, but again, not much to go on.

    I don’t know about other people’s experiences but if I were seriously searching for a LUG, it would be difficult to convince me to join one that covers so much area yet offers so little, current, information.

    Just something to watch out for, I suppose.

    Without a central hub of information it is difficult for new FOLs to connect with LUGs. The Flikr groups and large shows/events sometimes appear to be the only thing going on.

  11. aussiechef

    Walla walla sounds like it should be in Australia!?
    We have a Wagga Wagga (so nice they named it twice)

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