Archive for February, 2013

Feb/28/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Network Balancing Acts

While doing some research on network evaluation techniques, I stumbled on a very helpful and interesting resource entitled “Network Evaluation: Cultivating Healthy Networks for Social Change” by Eli Malinsky and Chad Lubelsky (respectively for the Centre for Social Innovation and the Canada Millenium Scholarship Foundation).  While it dates back to 2008 (5 years seeming like eons these days), the paper does a nice job of raising some of the inherent and necessary tensions and balancing acts of engaging in “net work.”  I lifted a number of quotes from the paper as a preface to some thoughts about network value, which I laid out according to a framework that I developed (see above) using the work of Peter Plastrik and Madeleine Taylor in their seminal “Net Gains: A Handbook for Network Builders Seeking Social Change.”

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Feb/27/13//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

A Conspiracy of Love

“We have an obligation to wake others up so that they can share their light.” 

- Mayor Cory Booker

It was a privilege to see and hear Newark, New Jersey Mayor and possible Senatorial candidate Cory Booker speak this week.  His topic was education, which is near and dear to his heart, and he began by telling a remarkable story about his parents.  Booker’s mother and father were both born into relative poverty in the south, and both benefitted tremendously from other people looking out for them, extended family and community members.  His father, who was raised by a single mother, was able to attend college in North Carolina because neighbors came together and took up a collection for his tuition.  Ultimately both of his parents received a college education and went on to become successful executives at IBM. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/26/13//IISC//Structural Transformation

Never Stop Believing

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Feb/24/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Collaboration, Featured

Racial Healing

Shout out to our colleagues at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center for their Youth Racial Healing Project—making the connections between health, social determinants of health and racism; making the connections between what folks know, see and feel; and making the deep connections between young people across racial differences.

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Feb/21/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Fire at the Gate

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” 

– Mahatma Gandhi

Winter is certainly a time that can test our resolve in the Northeast.  This winter in particular feels like it has done that on many fronts, including the volatility of the weather and the seemingly exceptional virulence of multiple strains of viruses making their way through the region.  And this is to say nothing of the ongoing personal and social challenges with which many of us are wrestling. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/20/13//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Mischief-Making for Change

“The trickster is anybody who’s a bit of an outsider. They’re the ones who make change. They’re not thinking about making change; they’re almost doing it in a selfish way. But because they’re working outside the rules, they change the rules. Everything around them is always new, everything is an opportunity.”

- Angela Cheng

Over the long weekend, my wife and I spent some time looking through the archives of old TED talks and stumbled upon a great one from humorist-philosopher Emily Levine where she talks about the important role of the trickster in facilitating change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/18/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Networks

Network Organizing

Our colleague Bill Traynor describes essential inputs and outcomes of network organizing. See what you think!

In a recent presentation to the Ways and Means Staff of The Community Builders, we discussed the primary inputs and resulting added value that the Network Organizing practice can bring to a service environment. This slide captures the essence of this.

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Feb/15/13//Linda Guinee//Inspiration

And Still I Rise

Ellen Gurzinsky posted this on facebook this week (in honor of International Women’s Day).? Rather than adding my own words, I thought I’d pass it along here — a beautiful piece by Maya Angelou.? In the spirit of Melinda’s recent posts of wonderful poetry, here’s another gem.  Really – what more is there to say?

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Feb/14/13//Curtis Ogden//Networks

New Forms for Our Better Selves

The following post is taken from a message I recently posted on the Community Food Security Coalition listserv.  I have already heard from a few people and am setting up conversations with them to hear more about what they are doing process and form-wise to advance the work, and look forward to sharing what I learn from them in this space.  While the topic of this blog is networks focused on just and sustainable food system development, reactions are welcome from those working on new structures to address other social change issues . . .

IISC currently works with a number of food system-related initiatives around the country, providing process/structure design and facilitation support to collaborative multi-stakeholder approaches to change.  As we strive for more healthy, just, sustainable, and community-enriching food systems, part of our role is to hold the stake for the “how” of the work, to ensure that it aligns with the multi-dimensional ends we seek, and to fine-tune this to the essence of the particular geographic and social locale (municipality, state, region).   Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/13/13//Curtis Ogden//Structural Transformation

Design and Emergence

Working with numerous multi-stakeholder collaborative change efforts, we at IISC are often invited to help people co-create the structures and processes that will move their complex work and collective development forward.  There is never an easy or readily apparent answer and each case is unique to its particular context and nature.  A quote that I’ve found helpful to quell some of the anxiety that comes up around this work, especially among those who want to rush to adopt a structure that others have used and “get on to the work” (more on this false dichotomy here), comes from Fritjof Capra from the Center for Ecoliteracy.  Capra writes about the importance of recognizing and working the dynamics of life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/12/13//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation, Networks

Conditions for Emergence

The following comments was posted by Gibran as a response to Curtis Ogden‘s Collective Impact and Emergence blog post.  In it we are challenged to think beyond our institutions and think about how to truly impact the communities we work with. 

This is excellent Curtis. It brings me back to one of our most important inquiries – how do you nurture the conditions for emergence? With this inquiry, we are not just saying that emergence happens; we are saying that our best approach is to nurture it. It is a significant shift from a more top-down technical approach.

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Feb/11/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Inspiration

What adults can learn from kids

Twelve year old Adora Svitak called for mutual respect and reciprocal learning between adults and kids. Her TED bio calls her a “child prodigy” but I think that exceptionalizes her talents and perspective and implies that she is very unlike her peers. I think she models a poise and wisdom that is all around us if we just look for it.

Here’s a little taste of her talk.

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Feb/08/13//IISC//Structural Transformation

“We don’t need to make it better”

The following post has been reblogged from our amazing friends at Seth’s Blog. We hope you like it as much as we did! 

Improvement comes with many costs.

It costs time and money to make something better. It’s risky, as well, because trying to make something better might make it worse. Perhaps making it better for the masses makes it worse for the people who already like it. And risk brings fear, because that means someone is going to be held responsible, and so the lizard brain wants out.

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Feb/07/13//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Nourishing Food and Community

“When we are sitting down and eating food at the table, we are at the last part of a long chain of events that helped bring that food to our plate.”

-Bryant Terry, food justice activist, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine; co-author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen

“Every single time we spend a dollar on food, we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want.”

-Anna Lappe, author of Diet for a Hot Planet; co-author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen

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Feb/06/13//Curtis Ogden//Liberation, Networks

Collective Impact and Emergence

I have appreciated the growing literature around what has been called “collective impact.”  These writings from staff at FSG have certainly helped people around the country engaged or aspiring to engage in collaborative multi-organizational change work to develop shared language around some of the important underpinnings of walking this path.  I have also voiced some concerns about what is NOT mentioned in these writings, including some of the critical process elements and experiences that are core to this work.

So I am heartened that in their most recent installment, “Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity,” the authors recognize that Collective Impact is not simply a recipe to be followed and that its unique unfolding is part of its power.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/05/13//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

Change is Hard

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking… People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks…”

This is David Brooks, focusing on the woes of a Republican Party that is struggling to reinvent itself.  But the fact applies to all sorts of change.

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Feb/04/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Inspiration

A Decision Made

I made a decision not to worry.

Ever.

I began to understand that

it was a habit of my mind.

My heart doesn’t worry,

my body doesn’t worry,

only my head does.

I chose to establish a new habit

of consideration and trust—

trust that people are

tremendously resilient

and that the universe

could operate without

my constant nagging

interference.

~ Akaya Windwood

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Feb/01/13//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Generations Co-Evolving

“You want to be engaging with people whose mind is alive, whose consciousness is alive, and who are seeking to create something.” – Carol Sanford

Carol Sanford – Generations learning from other Generations from Choosing 2Lead on Vimeo.

My colleagues and I find ourselves in many rooms with change agents of different generations.  Occasionally we will see conflict arise around differing styles and approaches.  Older generations may lean heavily on the notion that “this is the way we’ve always done it” or that new means and methods (social media, for example) are just a passing trend.  Younger generations may look at their elders as out of touch with the times, lacking in a new analysis, etc.  Thus, even when a common goal is held, an attitudinal gap can result in an unwillingness to work with and learn from one another. Read the rest of this entry »

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