||This article's introduction section may not adequately summarize its contents. (February 2014)|
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Members of the movement are called Joinees and collectively they have sometimes been referred to as the Karma Army.
Inspired by a recently deceased relative who had once unsuccessfully attempted to build a pacifistic community on his farm in Switzerland, Wallace put a classified advertisement in Loot, a London classified advertising magazine, asking readers to "Join me. Send one passport-sized photograph to..." This was followed by Wallace's address; he later created a post office box address for Joinees to send their photos to. The advertisement contained no other details. Wallace claims he had no plans as to what he would do when people sent their photos. He originally hoped he could reach and improve upon the number of people who had joined his relative — three (of a desired one hundred). According to Wallace:
"It was a piece of whimsy. A silly half-project. But thanks to a huge and diverse group of perfect strangers, it became something much bigger. I'm still trying to work out how."
Somewhat to Wallace's surprise, the advertisement attracted a large number of people. As the group grew, Wallace was put under pressure by its members to explain its purpose. Having (he claims) had no reason in mind when he first asked people to join, Wallace sought a purpose for his Joinees. Ultimately he presented the idea of performing random acts of kindness ("RAoK"s), preferably to a stranger, every Friday. Fridays thus came to be called Good Fridays. Over time it has become accepted that the day of the week is not important, and that random acts of kindness may be performed whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Subsequent publicity and word-of-mouth has brought his "collective" over 12,000 members. Join Me enjoyed a resurgence in 2005 thanks to Wallace's BBC television comedy series, How to Start Your Own Country, in which he founded the micronation of Lovely.
Joinees regularly meet at "Join MEets," which provide an environment for performing random acts of kindness with other people, and where the Joinees can perform acts of kindness which might be less well received if performed by a lone individual. The meetings are also an important social aspect of the collective.
On 6 December 2003, Joinees gathered for their biggest meeting up to then: Karmageddon. It began at London's Tottenham Court Road tube station. The several hundred participants then travelled along Oxford Street, distributing leaflets and gifts. At the end of the day they retired to a pub. Subsequently many Joinees have organised smaller meetings in their own areas, and several large, annual meets have become traditions. In December 2010 Joinees gathered for Karmageddon 8, at which over £2400 was raised for charity, and random acts of kindness were performed on and for central London Christmas shoppers. The tenth (they messed up the numbering) of these largest of Join MEets is planned for 2011.
In 2003, Wallace wrote the book Join Me about how he started the movement. A quote on the cover of some editions is "It's not a cult; it's a collective" — because Wallace didn't want to associate Join Me with the negative connotations of the word cult. Nevertheless, as his book's sub-title is, "The true story of a man who started a cult by accident," it would seem he has grudgingly admitted that it has similarities to one.
A short follow-up was later published, titled Random Acts of Kindness: 365 Ways To Make the World A Better Place.
- Wallace, Danny (2004). Join Me: The True Story of a Man Who Started a Cult by Accident. Ebury Press. ISBN 0-09-189582-0.
- Join Me website
- The Cock discussed on "Beer in the evening", a website dedicated to pubs