Archive for Featured

Apr/16/14//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Learning Edge, Networks

Network Development Through Convening

8562448300_2a5c7b1e59_z (1) Photo by Kevin Doyle. Some rights reserved.

 

Conferences and other large in-person convenings provide a great opportunity to launch and further develop networks for social change.  As has been mentioned previously on this blog, and borrowing from the good work of Plastrik and Taylor, at IISC we see networks for change as developing in various inter-related dimensions, including connectivity, alignment, and action. Paying attention to these dimensions of success can inform a variety of approaches to support a more robust, trust-bound, commonly-oriented, self-organizing and (as needed) formally coordinated collective.

Here are some methods to consider for convenings to help feed and grow networks for change: Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/01/14//Jen Willsea//Cities, Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion, Sustainability, What We Are Reading

Re-Imagining Cities

blog_image_recities

At IISC we often talk about three hugely important pieces of context for social change work these days:

  1. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift, from the Industrial Age into an age that doesn’t have a name yet
  2. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas
  3. In 2042 the U.S. will become a majority people of color nation

In this context, as a nation and a globe we are choosing to face or ignore urgent questions about climate change, racism, wealth distribution, violence (the types we condone, penalize, and ignore), and the quality of life that we are willing or unwilling to insist upon for every human being on this planet. It’s quite overwhelming…

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Mar/31/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

What needs changing in here?

Sail Away

This post continues a conversation that Curtis Ogden started last week. (Process is Where Change Happens) It’s a conversation we’ve been having for years at IISC. On one hand, we recognize the importance of understand how thinking shapes the systems we produce and reproduce. And it’s important to understand that inequities and oppression are not just a matter of thinking that can be changed simply by changing our minds. I’ve often been impatient with the “change your thinking, change the world” discourse because I’ve seen it used as an excuse for avoiding discussing the systems dynamics and the resulting inequities they produce. Still, I think there are a few ways in which focusing on the change “in here” can provide power for changing conditions “out there.”

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Mar/26/14//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Feed Your Network

Over the last few weeks I have fielded a number of calls from people who are interested in figuring out how to develop different kinds of networks.  I’m always eager to have these conversations, precisely because there is no single right answer, and it really comes down to a process of discovery and experimentation based on the unique nature of the network and system in question.  That said, I do like to ask people the question, “What are you doing to feed your network?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/14/14//CMcDowell//Featured, Structural Transformation

Liberation Planning

Liberation

Last week Darren Walker opened the Resilient Cities lunch reminding us that not only do we need to work to make cities resilient and sustainable, we must also work to make them just. As I listened to Xav Briggs, Joan Clos, Toni Griffin and others speak, I thought about my work at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and what working to make just cities means for planning and planners. How does one attend to the myriad issues facing cities: poverty, crumbling infrastructure, environmental sustainability and economic collapse? Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/04/14//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Slow Down

Enjoy the Moment

I’m just getting back from a four-week sabbatical, a special gift from IISC after seven years of service.  I grew in leaps and bounds.  A lot of what been brewing inside of me for the last year or two started to come together in a powerful way.  My time off was anchored by a week-long, life changing, couples’ retreat in Mexico.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/03/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Getting in Shape as a Change Agent

Reflecting on Leadership

Four compelling questions came to me via the monthly newsletter of Conditioning Leaders, led by our colleague Madeline McNeely. She’s reflecting on 20 years of work and asking herself some great questions that we should all be asking ourselves as our year gets into full swing:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/27/14//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Love, Networks

Networks-as-Change: The Empathic Turn

In “networks-as-change,” effectiveness is grounded in affectiveness.

In an essay that I continue to revisit, the poet/essayist/novelist/farmer/ conservationist and champion of overall sanity, Wendell Berry, talks about what he calls “the turn towards affection.”  Having spent many years reflecting on and pushing back against the unfortunate demonstrated human tendency to despoil landscapes and “the other,” he takes a strong stand for both deep rooted connection and . . . imagination: Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/24/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Social Innovation

Why Movement Is the Killer App for Nonprofits

Movement

Enjoy these simple and powerful guidelines from Beth Kanter about how movement makes meetings and workshops more productive. This is great advice for getting beyond designing for “brains on sticks” as my colleague Curtis Ogden likes to say.

As a trainer and facilitator who works with nonprofit organizations and staffers, you have to be obsessed with learning theory to design and deliver effective instruction, have productive meetings, or embark on your own self-directed learning path. Learning theory is an attempt to describe how people learn. There are many learning theories and can be categorized in different ways:

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Feb/06/14//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration, Featured, Networks

Networks for Change: Collaboration & Cooperation

Collaboration is “a mutually beneficial relationship between two or more parties to achieve common goals by sharing responsibility, authority and accountability for achieving results. It is more than simply sharing knowledge and information (communication) and more than a relationship that helps each party achieve its own goals (cooperation and coordination). The purpose of collaboration is to create a shared vision and joint strategies to address concerns that go beyond the purview of any particular party.”

-David Chrislip and Chip Larson, 1994, p. 5

success

For a while now at IISC, we’ve referred to the above definition from Chrislip and Larson’s work, Collaborative Leadership, to describe the goal of our collaborative capacity building work.  And it has informed our approach around supporting social change networks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/24/14//Mistinguette Smith//Featured, Love

Time, Love and Secret Sauce

Lens of Love

When we at IISC look at problem or an opportunity, we look at it through the lens of love.  This doesn’t mean we approach the world with rose-colored glasses: it means that we focus on the transcendent possibilities that are apparent when we hold every person in unconditional high regard.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/22/14//Curtis Ogden//Featured, What We Are Reading

Networks and the “Quiet” Revolution

“Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”

-Susan Cain

How Not to Manage an Introvert“How Not to Manage an Introvert” (by Nguyen Hung Vu)

 

For several months I’ve been meaning to read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking.  Having completed it this past weekend, I have both a sense of validation (being one of ever-more introverted tendencies as the years pass) and being able to see with new eyes. IMHO, it is well worth the read, and if the thought of tackling the 300 pages is daunting, you might enjoy a taste via Cain’s TED Talk.

Here I wanted to reflect on some of the insights Cain’s work has to offer collaboration and “net work” for change.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/17/14//Jen Willsea//Featured, Structural Transformation

Lessons in Emergent Alignment

Lessons in Alignment“We have to rid ourselves of the notion that innovation relies on the genius of an individual. We produce and innovate together only in networks.”

- Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire

 This is our second post about the Social Justice Funders Network. Read the previous post here

  • How might women of color working in philanthropy support each other in nurturing our radical selves?
  • How might funders advance racial justice and racial equity conversations in our philanthropic institutions in order to inform our practice?
  • What is the appropriate role for foundations in support of movements and movement building?
  • How might we be stronger allies to and supporters of youth organizing?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/15/14//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Networks for Change: Values Before Vision?

vision |Photo by Christian|www.flickr.com/photos/91048408@N00/322951661/lightbox/?q=vision|

 

For the past year, Carole Martin and I have been co-facilitating a “network leadership program” supported by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund called the Community Practitioners Network (CPN). The overall goal of CPN is to further develop a group of proven and promising leaders as individuals, as a cohort, and as “critical yeast and connectors” (my language, not the Fund’s) in support of community and economic development in a region that encompasses northern New Hampshire, northeastern Vermont, northwestern Maine, and southern Quebec.  Throughout, we have been actively exploring a variety of leadership and network development practices for growing personal and interpersonal awareness, connectivity, alignment, resolve, resilience, and skillfulness.  

In our most recent session, a two-day retreat in Pittsburg, NH, we engaged in discussion about and embodied practice of “vision.” Over the course of the two days, a robust conversation evolved about what makes vision powerful (in light of many uninspiring experiences) and its relevance in a networked world, in combination and contrasted with values. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/14/14//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Learning Edge

The Thrive Workshop

Thrive Logo

When I told Ceasar about the Thrive Workshop he was excited about it.  I remembered that when we interviewed him to become President of the Interaction Institute for Social Change he talked about his ongoing work at MIT.  He described the university as a place that is focused on making things work in the real world.  That certainly is IISC’s orientation.  And it definitely is what the Thrive Workshop is all about.

 

Thrive is not for everyone.  Thrive is for you if you are bursting with an idea and you just can’t get yourself to make it happen.  Thrive is meant to get you started.  Thrive is about getting you out of your head and into the real world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/13/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, IISC:Inside

Making Meaning Together

Leadership

At IISC, we began the year with some heavy-duty thinking. We’ll be writing about those ideas in future posts. Today, I want to tip my hat to my colleagues and to IISC’s Board of Directors. After spending a day on Board business, our Board members spent a day with the staff thinking about emerging new directions for IISC.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/06/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, What We Are Reading

Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

Across That Bridge

The most inspiring book I read in 2013 was Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and A Vision for Change, by Congressman and Civil Rights legend, John Lewis. He built the book around several practices that are essential for social justice work: faith, patience, study, truth, peace, love and reconciliation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/23/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Inspiration

Inspiring Movement Moments of 2013

The following blog post was written by our friend Julie Quiroz  at The Movement Strategy Center.  We hope you enjoy it at as much as we did! 

Remember this spring, when the Associated Press finally dropped the I-word, and youth of color defeated prison-to-pipeline policies in Los Angeles public schools?

Or remember back in February when 50,000 people rallied in DC against the XL Pipeline?  And then in October when the protests of 5,000 young people linked the pipeline, fracking, and the whole mess of fossil fuel development?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/17/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

A Third Way of Work

Stowe Boyd has posted a provocative and largely resonant manifesto on the future of work.  Our ways of doing business are thoroughly obsolete,  “only 29% [of workers] are actively engaged with work.”  If this obsolescence is true for the private sector, it is even more true for those of us who work for justice.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/16/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Empathy + Equity → Justice

Last Friday, Curtis posted a clip by Brene Brown. She argues that “empathy fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection.” I want to take her thinking one step further. Empathy fuels connection. Lack of empathy fuels injustice.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/12/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Thinking Like a Network

Over the past five years or so of supporting self-declared “networks” for change, I have evolved in my understanding of what is new when we call something a network, versus a coalition or collaborative or alliance.  On the surface, much can look the same, and one might also say that coalitions, collaboratives and alliances are simply different forms of networks.  Yes, and . . . I believe that what can make a big difference is when participants in a network (or an organization, for that matter) embrace new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing.  So let me propose that network approaches at their best call on us to lead with some of the following: Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/11/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks, What We Are Reading

Networks That Work

I’ve spent time the past week reading through Networks that Work, a handy and concise resource for developing organizational networks, written by Paul Vandeventer, President and CEO of Community Partners, and Myrna Mandell, Ph.D.  The book lays out some very helpful pointers for more formally constructed networks.  I have highlighted 10 points below that resonate with our experiences at IISC around supporting organizational networks for social change.  My comments and extensions are in italics: Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/09/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Got trust?

Even before I read in the Boston Globe that trust is at an all-time low in the U.S., I was planning to write about trust. Our colleagues at Interaction Associates have been tracking the connection between leadership, trust and business performance for years. Their 2013 Trust Report reinforces earlier findings that higher levels of collaboration, trust within a company are correlated with higher performance.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/04/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Networks and Structural Change

“Ultimately if we are to avoid failure in the most critical work of this century, the deepest reaches of our beings must be brought to bear in honestly reevaluating and shifting the most basic structures of our society.” 

- john a. powell

The following is a textual recapturing of a Pecha Kucha-like presentation that I gave at an ARNOVA Pre-Conference Session in Hartford, CT two weeks ago.  This was part of a 3-hour interactive conversation, co-designed and facilitated with Dr. Angela Frusciante of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, focusing on the power of networks for learning and social change, primarily with academic researchers and philanthropists.

At the Interaction Institute for Social Change, we are in agreement with Professor john a. powell when he points to the need to consider and make fundamental structural changes in our country and communities for the causes of greater social justice and sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/26/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Abolition!

Ok.  That’s a bit of an over statement.  But I was truly intrigued by a German town’s experiment in abolishing traffic lights and codes.  Sounds like anarchy?  Amazingly enough accidents are almost nonexistent.

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Nov/22/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

…and sometimes it’s just hard

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

Recently, four friends of mine lost parents and siblings. Rockwood has had a few unanticipated challenges this year. The ripples of the 2008 recession are still affecting the nonprofit sector, and many organizations are struggling. The instability of our national government in recent months has made things very difficult for many folks.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/20/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Networks and Living Systems Patterns

“The major problems of the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.”

— Gregory Bateson

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Glanzberg.  I had been hearing about Joel and his work from numerous trusted colleagues, including Bill Reed of Regenesis Group and Ginny McGinn of Center for Whole Communities.  Joel describes himself as a builder, farmer, teacher, writer, storyteller, naturalist, and permaculturalist.  And I would add to that, living systems thinker.  Joel has cultivated a practice of seeing and working with patterns of life’s processes, and helps others to do this, for the sake of creating healthier and more whole communities of different kinds.

I was especially interested to hear more from Joel about some of the living systems principles that guide his work, and to think about how these apply to what we at IISC do around network development for social change and focusing on networks as human environments.  What appears in quotes and italics below is pulled directly from Joel’s website; the comments in regular text are my own:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/18/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

The lost art of democratic debate

One of the most important courses I took in college was Justice with Michael Sandel. (These days, anyone can “take” the whole course on video.) In a TED talk, Sandel spells out a way to think about justice and a way to improve democratic discourse. Here are a few highlights from the talk:

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

Remembrance Day

What we now know as Veterans Day began as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, commemorating the end of “The War to End All Wars.” Sadly, World War I paved the way and was quickly followed by World War II. And countless lives have been lost in wars since. Sara Robinson’s description of the relationship between Remembrance Day and pacifism in Canada struck me as a powerful reminder on this Veteran’s Day. Here’s an excerpt from a longer post.

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Nov/06/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, IISC:Outside, Networks

Networks and Changing the Game

Last Friday, I worked with the Network Support Team (NST) of the Connecticut Food System Alliance (CFSA) to facilitate a gathering of over 100 food system and food security activists.  This was the fourth convening in the past year and a half, and featured what have become typical elements of fostering connectivity between people (welcoming and introducing ourselves to new people, learning together, making offers and requests) and alignment around the CFSA vision.  And to honor what has been growing in the network as both a call for and a question about the possibility of collective action, NST members Melissa Spear, Marilyn Moore, and Jiff Martin created the following exercise to stimulate people’s thinking about how the network could “change the game” in Connecticut and boldly advance the state towards a reality where “everyone has access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and affordable food.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/04/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Keeping the People at the Center

Since my recent visit to LUPE in San Juan, Texas, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes LUPE’s community union model so different from most of our efforts (IISC’s and the social sector at large). César Chávez spelled described the core premise succinctly. “From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.”

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Oct/29/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

Breakthrough Public Process

We work in close partnership with the Barr Foundation.  I appreciated this video of my friend Rahn Dorsey, the foundation’s evaluation director, articulating three keys to breakthrough on complex public conversations.  I specially like that Rahn’s understanding that even when the will for change is strong, it takes good process to make a way.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/16/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Networks: Trust, Drive Time and Other Offerings

“Creating a culture of trust in a network can have a big payoff. Why is this so? First, when trust is well-developed in a network, people are willing to get involved in high-risk projects where their reputation and resources are at stake. These kinds of projects usually have a lot of impact. Next, high levels of trust usually make decision making easier and less time consuming. Finally, a culture of trust enables people to accept and work with people who are quite different from them, which increases the number of people working on network activities.”

- June Holley, Network Weaver Handbook

The importance and power of trust in networks for social change cannot be overstated.  Time and again, and despite what might show up as initial resistance, being intentional about getting to know one another beyond titles, official positions, and transactional exchanges reaps tremendous benefit, for all the reasons June Holley mentions above and more.  Taking time and making space to build trust helps people to do the important work of social change and is in many cases an embodiment of the change we are trying to make in the world – when we expand our circles of compassion and inclusion; when we create new patterns of opportunity, exchange and resource flows; when we see and validate previously unrecognized or undervalued assets.

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Oct/14/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Reflecting on Indigenous People’s Day

In middle and high school, I challenged (and most likely annoyed) my teachers around this time of the year. I went to school in Plymouth, MA and wondered out loud why Native Americans would want to celebrate Columbus Day. “Shouldn’t it be a day of mourning for them?” I’d ask. I don’t recall any teacher having a good answer to my question or even being willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.

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Oct/06/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

How will you use power?

We often focus on the understanding of power as a process and as a social construct rather than a fixed asset. As Beth Roy says, “power is not something you have; it’s something you do.”

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Oct/04/13//Mistinguette Smith//Featured, Love

Hospitality as Facilitation

The origins of hospitality as a sacred and esteemed practice are rooted in providing shelter and safety to the stranger.  It is the ancient art and practice of offering your very best to another, with no expectation of reward. Whether you learned this practice in your grandmother’s parlor or at an Art of Hosting workshop, you know that hospitality is the essence of facilitative leadership.

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Oct/02/13//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration, Featured, Networks, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Complete (Social) Capital

Last week I represented IISC as a presenter/facilitator in a “deep dive” session at the Council on Foundations Conference for Community Foundations.  The title of the session was “Complete Capital”and was inspired by an SSIR article by the same title written by Antony Bugg-Levine of the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF). Briefly, complete capital is a framework to help funders and other investors develop a fuller picture of the assets required to address complex social challenges: financial, intellectual, human, and social.

After presentations by Alison Gold of Living Cities (intellectual capital), Lisa Spinali (human capital) and Jessica LaBarbera of NFF (financial capital), and in the light of a couple of helpful case studies presented by Alison and Jessica, I offered a view of social capital that is more complex than what appears in the SSIR article.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep/23/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Where’s the Growing Edge?

Several persistent questions keep us learning and experimenting.

How do we avoid re-traumatizing people of color in this work? Often, people of color in racially mixed learning spaces bear the burden of teaching through telling their own stories. While sometimes liberating, this can also re-open wounds and create resentment at having to prove one’s reality to people who may be reluctant to accept what they have not experienced. And, over time, it can be disheartening to keep extending grace to different people in different spaces for the same mistakes. Racially homogeneous caucuses are one useful antidote. How else can we avoid these dynamics, particularly working in mixed-race settings?

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Sep/20/13//IISC//Featured, Liberation

Resistance

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

We’ve been in the process of setting our direction here at Rockwood. We’re looking at our purpose, our vision, and how we will fulfill our commitments to the world. It’s been an enlivening and satisfying exploration, and as a result, it has become clear that I need to radically shift my role from one of internal management to external relationship building.

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Sep/15/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Ways of Being: Collaborative Strategies

The following post is part 2 of a 2 part series on some collaborative tools and strategies to help us change our selves, change our organizations and change the world.  We hope you find it helpful.  We encourage you to join the conversation! 

We are compelled by a quote from Theory U, attributed to William O’Brien “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Collaborative tools and strategies are only truly useful in the hands of practitioners whose hearts are big enough to hold the complexities, struggles, hopes and fears that accompany the work of transforming racism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep/12/13//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Networks for Social Change: A Developmental View

“If what we change does not change us we are playing with blocks.”

Marge Piercy

At IISC we see taking a developmental view as being critical to effective collaborative and network-based approaches to social change.  This is largely because of the complexity of the issues we are striving to address with our partners and the “adaptive” nature of the work.  It is also because we hold an evolutionary perspective; that is, we see change and development as being part of the underlying dynamic of reality. As scientist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once declared, “We are moving!” And so we are interested in paying attention to and working with evolution as it occurs at different levels – individual, team/group, organization/institution, community, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep/08/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Ways of Being: Collaborative Tools

The following post is part 1 of a 2 part series on some collaborative tools and strategies to help us change our selves, change our organizations and change the world.  We hope you find it helpful.  We encourage you to join the conversation! 

We are compelled by a quote from Theory U, attributed to William O’Brien “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Collaborative tools and strategies are only truly useful in the hands of practitioners whose hearts are big enough to hold the complexities, struggles, hopes and fears that accompany the work of transforming racism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/26/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Art and Implicit Bias

The way Maya Wiley quickly and effectively names the problem that we have in how we deal with racism is truly remarkable.  It takes her two minutes to get across a point that can seem quite complex.  Her Center for Social Inclusion is my client and I couldn’t be prouder of the association. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/23/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Thrive where you’re Planted

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

About three years ago, I noticed a stick growing in my neighborhood a few doors down from my house. It was right at the edge of the curb, angling out into the street. I didn’t pay too much attention to it.

Last summer I realized it was a fig tree. There were little bitty figs clinging to the branches. I was sure someone from the city would come by and cut it down. Clearly, it was a volunteer fig tree. No one in their right mind would have planted it so close to the street and at such an angle.

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Aug/20/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Principles to Live By

The following pst has been reblogged from our dear friend Adrienne Maree. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Adrienne Maree Brown outlines core principles to live by.  I find these powerfully resonant and I continue to invite us into greater intentionality in our practices for creating a new world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/16/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured

Living in Love

We worked with a national network of mostly white social change activists. We supported members of the network to increase the number of people of color at their annual gathering from 5% to 40% in a single year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/13/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

Engage the Future

How to predict the future?  It’s a bit like the alchemist’s dream, ever-seductive wishful thinking.  We can’t predict the future, not with master plans and not with meta-data.  Too many of the problems within organizations have to do with our frustrated wish for someone – ideally “the leader” – to be able to predict the future and to create stability for us. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/05/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

What can we Offer?

It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of the world.

For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small imperfect stones to the pile.

 From Alice Walker’s “Anything we love can be saved”

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Aug/02/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Civil Rights Hero

The following article has been reblogged from our friends at NPR. We hope you find it as inspirational as we did! 

Bob Moses is 78, but he has the same probing eyes you see behind thick black glasses in photos from 50 years ago when he worked as a civil rights activist in Mississippi. The son of a janitor, Moses was born and raised in Harlem. He’s a Harvard-trained philosopher and a veteran teacher.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/26/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Black to the Land

The following post has been reblogged from our friends at Grist.org and features our newest colleague Mistinguette Smith.  We hope you find it as inspiring as we did! 

Gastronomically enlightened Grist reader that you are, you’ve probably participated in a CSA, or at least heard of them. Community-supported agriculture is so common that in many circles the acronym needs no explanation. (Sorry, mini football helmet collectors, we’re talking about farmers who sell “shares” of their seasonal fruits and veggies, then deliver them to members when they’re ripe.) But a pint of locally sourced strawberries says you didn’t know a black man came up with the idea.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/22/13//Mistinguette Smith//Featured, Love

#WhatBlackMenDo

A world that loves, honors and respects young black men must first SEE them.  This seeing is a political act.

I am consciously seeing black men more clearly since my friend Victor Lewis hashtagged the Charles Ramsey story #WhatBlackMenDo.  Ramsey, who acknowledges that he battered his former partner, stepped up without hesitation to rescue the women held prisoner for a decade in a basement in Cleveland, OH. He assumed that he was witnessing a domestic violence situation and intervened because this is #WhatBlackMenDo.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/16/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Kids Who Die

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

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Jul/15/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Monday Blues and a Call to Action

This morning we came into the IISC Boston office ready for a two-hour staff meeting and a four-hour training. We sat down, looked around the table, and began with a question not about what was on the agenda, and instead about what was present in the room. The question was: How does the Zimmerman verdict affect us and our work at IISC?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/14/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

How Do We Grapple with Racial Injustice?

The following post has been reblogged from our friends at The Huffington Post and written by Judith Brown Dianis.  Important to consider during this painful moment of glaring injustice.

It is distressing that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was gunned down last year by a man who saw him as a threat, not because he posed a threat, but because of the color of his skin. We call on the Department of Justice to act on the violation of Trayvon Martin’s civil rights. There is no more fundamental right than the right to live.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul/09/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

A New Paradigm for Leadership Development

Regular readers know that facilitating for the Barr Fellows Network has been among the most rewarding work I have ever gotten to do – here is why, part 2

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Jul/02/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

A New Paradigm for Leadership Development

Regular readers know that facilitating for the Barr Fellows Network has been among the most rewarding work I have ever gotten to do – here is why, part 1

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Jun/25/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Emergence

I’m sharing another great piece from my dear friend Adrienne Maree Brown.  I am absolutely moved by the way she speaks of emergence.  She is spot on.  As you read, I encourage you to remember that evolution “transcends and includes.”  There are aspects of our industrial paradigm that can and should be included as we move towards working with emergence.  How can you apply what Adrienne is talking about?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/21/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

A Journey with the Social Change Institute

The following post was written by our good friend David Roberts and can be found at Grist.com.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Thanks for all your work David! 

Trying to change the world for the better — being an activist, social change agent, do-gooder, whatever you want to call it — can be exhausting and dispiriting, especially for young people launching into it full of energy and hope. What activists need most is … well, money. They’re all stressed about funding.

But what activists need next most is, for lack of a better term, recharging. They need to get together and relax, share stories, celebrate each other’s victories, commiserate over defeats, and get back in touch with deeper convictions and purposes. That’s what gives them the energy they need to keep going in the face of setbacks.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/17/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

We Aren’t the Only Ones

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Jun/14/13//IISC//Featured

Wisdom and Gold

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Jun/07/13//Jen Willsea//Featured, Networks

Social Justice Funders Network

Andrea Nagel and I have been facilitating retreats for the Social Justice Funders Network (SJFN) of Massachusetts for the last year and a half or so. What an honor! Network members include individuals who work at foundations both small and large across the state and who have intentionally created a space for learning and relationship-building across roles, institutions, and issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/31/13//IISC//Featured, IISC:Outside

Facilitating Social Change Institute

For the third consecutive year, Junxion Strategy is proudly sponsoring Social Change Institute at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, British Columbia. This is one in a series of articles about the conference.

 The upcoming Social Change Institute will bring together approximately 100 passionate change agents from across sectors, geography, issues, generations, strategies and points of view for a five-day leadership and skill-building summit.

This experiential convening is designed for high impact and emerging leaders from nonprofits, government and mission-based enterprises who are seeking practical skills and networking opportunities to take their work to the next level.

Read the rest of this entry »

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May/27/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

The danger of a single story

Enjoy this TED talk by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as she explains the power of a single story to define and limit our humanity. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Here’s to telling our many stories in a way that affirms all of our humanity.

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May/24/13//Jen Willsea//Featured, Learning Edge

Finding Focus and Minimizing Distraction

How often do you hear people saying they wish they were better at multitasking? And what percentage of the people surrounding you on the subway or on the sidewalk or waiting in line for something are peering into their smartphones? Read the rest of this entry »

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May/21/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

OPEN Summit US

In January of this year I was privileged to design and facilitate the first ever International OPEN Summit.  Today I’m on my way to facilitate the first ever OPEN Summit US.  The leadership of our nation’s “Online Progressive Engagement Networks” are coming together to support the development of an informal network by strengthening relationships among the people doing this work.  Read the rest of this entry »

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May/21/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Every day is an investment

The following post has been reblogged from Seth’s Blog. He is a genius and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

You’re not lucky to have this job, they’re lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you’ll be making that investment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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May/14/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Inspiration

Lead Me On

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May/07/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

What Strategy Is NOT

Photo provided by Alex Pelayo. Check out the rest of his amazing portfolio here!

This post is Part III in a series on Strategic Planning and Emergence.

Your vision is not your strategy.  Neither is your plan.  Your benchmarks are not your strategy, nor your complicated grids.  Your hedgehog or your very audacious goals are not your strategy either.  Your predictions of what the future will look like, no matter how organized and well researched, are definitely not your strategy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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May/06/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

Great Leaders Great Networks

IISC has had the privilege to working with the Barr Foundation to design and facilitate the Barr Network’s learning activities. See what we’ve been up to!

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Apr/29/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

Deeper Roots

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Apr/25/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Immigration Reform and Movement

Hope you enjoy this article as much as we did! It’s a great illustration of the kinds of connections we need to make between movements–in this case immigrant rights and environmental sustainability–to stand a chance of seeing the kinds of transformation we’re seeking.

Philip Radford of Greenpeace and Bill McKibben of 350.org recently joined the growing crowd of people calling for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/22/13//IISC//Featured, Structural Transformation

Our Fears and Ending Violence

The following post was written by our dear colleague Frances Moore Lappe. We hope you find it as insightful and inspirational as we did.

In his book Violence, psychologist James Gilligan asked a Massachusetts prison inmate, “What do you want so badly that you would sacrifice everything in order to get it?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/17/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

To Boston. From Kabul with Love

We are LOVED. Thank you for all your support.

To Kabul. From Boston with LOVE.

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Apr/16/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

Where there is LOVE there is Life

Our hearts and prayers are with those affected by the tragedy that occurred in Boston.  Though our hearts are broken,  LOVE and compassion will help us heal and move forward.  

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Apr/15/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Social Media

Four Essential Facebook Updates for Nonprofits

The following post has been reblogged from our colleagues at Nonprofit Tech 2.0.  We hope you find it as useful as we did.  Check out the complete blog post here!

Hopefully your nonprofit has grown accustomed to the fact that Facebook is a constant work in progress. That said, some recent upgrades to Facebook Pages have a big impact upon your nonprofit’s presence on Facebook and with the site-wide launch of the new News Feed and Social Graph Search coming soon, many more changes are likely to come.

Before you fall behind, make sure that your nonprofit is current with these four recent Facebook upgrades:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/05/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

Its going to be Alright

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Apr/01/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

Great Leaders Great Network

Being part of the design and facilitation team for the Barr Fellows Network has been some of the most rewarding work I get to do.  It is rewarding because it is beautiful and because it works.  I have witnessed lives change, approaches to leadership transformed.  And I am getting to witness the effect of this work upon the city that I love.  I hope you have the 90 seconds it will take for you to enjoy this video.  You can read the original post here.

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Mar/29/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

The Rest Will Follow

Photo by: Nora Logue Check out her amazing work!

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Mar/26/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

Collaboration for Discovery

In the early days, when “normal” people first started using the web, we saw websites that looked just like our pamphlets.  We used the new technology to do the same thing we always did – until we dared to experiment.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/19/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Inspiration

Crowdfunding Community

When we talk about networks we tend to think scale, we think viral.  But networks are also about community.  Networks can thrive in that mysterious place where the most local intersects with the global.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/18/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Got Bias?

A big shout out to our colleagues at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Their recently released report “State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013” reviews what science can tell us about what implicit bias is and how it works, why it matters and how to reduce it. Here’s a quick recap:

Implicit bias results from the way our brains process data and experience. We’re wired for pattern recognition and our    brains use lots of shortcuts to make sense of the world around us. In and of itself, this isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. But, so many of the implicit associations we make are laden with stereotypes—say, between women and family, vs. men and careers. (Check out the Project Implicit to explore your implicit biases.) We absorb these associations from the world around us and they become part of our unconscious “operating system.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/15/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

No More Experts

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors.

Years ago before taking up the work of leading Rockwood, I was an organizational consultant. I was paid to be right — to be an expert. However, as I sit here at my current desk, I realize how very little I really knew about the everyday running of and caring for an organization. Now I’m not going to disparage or disrespect the work I did during my many years in organizational development, but I must admit that I would be a much better consultant today, having been in this seat for awhile.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/12/13//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Wealth Inequality in America

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Mar/04/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Closing the Presence Gap

The following blogpost was rebloged from our friends at Speaking Presence. We ope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

(This article, in its original form, was written in 2009 and posted on my website: www.riverways.com. I’ve since reworked it slightly and wanted to share it in this blog space. The three people described below are each composites of a number of clients who have come through my public speaking programs and services.)

Jane was bright, experienced, and the only female on her work team. Frustrated, she felt that nothing she said at team meetings was taken seriously and her participation was frequently discounted or ignored. When she came to me, she wanted to become more visible as a strong member of her team.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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/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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Jan/29/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Inspiration

Seneca Falls, Selma, Stone Wall

Something BIG happened on Monday, January 21, 2013.  In his second inaugural address President Obama made an unapologetic link between the struggles for liberation and our nation’s evolutionary thrust.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/21/13//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

We Will Never Forget

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Jan/14/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

OPEN Summit

I’ve been on a whirlwind.  And it began with my facilitation of OPEN Summit.  The first ever leadership gathering of the world’s leading Online Progressive Engagement Networks.  Think MoveOn.org as replicated in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Germany and Papua New Guinea.  The great (and unbelievably sweet) Ben Brandzel had been dreaming this up for years!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/07/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

Six Rules for Allies

The following post has been reblogged from our friends at Community Change Inc.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

Community Change, Inc. is a Boston-based resource for people working for racial justice. Enjoy this resource from their series “Creating the Counter-Narrative, challenging the post-racial, colorblind public discourse on race and racism.” Enjoy this talk by Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance and of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/30/12//Curtis Ogden//Featured, IISC:Inside

Do It Together (DIT)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

-African proverb

This coming Sunday, my colleague Gibran Rivera and I will be presenting at the Connecting for Change Conference (Bioneers by the Bay) in New Bedford, MA.  This is one of my favorite events each year, as it gathers many thoughtful and innovative presenters and participants from local/regional and national/international levels to talk about how to create whole (just and sustainable) communities.  In our workshop, “Are You Down With D-I-T? Skills for Change in a Network World,” Gibran and I will guide attendees through an exploration of the convergence of two of today’s powerful memes – the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement, which seems to be fueled in great part through younger generations and social media, and “collective impact,”  made popular by FSG in its SSIR articles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/18/12//Gibrán Rivera//Featured

Resilience

Andrew Zolli is a long time friend of the Interaction family.  His recent piece on the New York Times, Learning to Bounce Back, reminded me of why Marianne Hughes, founder and former Executive Director of IISC has been raving about his new book on resilience.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/14/12//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

Letting Go, Bringing In

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors.

Winter Solstice is just around the corner. I find it’s a good time to reflect on the past year, and look toward the year ahead. Every year at each of the Solstices, I scan my life and consider what I’d like to let go of and what I’d like to invoke.

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Dec/07/12//Jen Willsea//Featured, Love

Searching for Decolonial Love

What is decolonial love, why must we cultivate it, and how can we practice it? These are a few of the questions that have been turning over and over in my mind since I heard Junot Díaz speak so brilliantly at ARC’s Facing Race conference in Baltimore a couple of weeks ago – decolonial love is a term I had not heard before Díaz used it and now I will surely be bringing it up a lot. Building on Cynthia Silva Parker’s previous post about the conference, I want to share a bit of what Díaz had to say and ask YOU, what would look like if we really really good at practicing decolonial love? I think the implications are profound and exciting!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/04/12//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

When Should We Collaborate

I like to describe IISC as a collaboration shop.  We look at collaboration through three lenses.  When looking through the lens of networks we are acknowledging a shift from “complicated to complex” (see image).  We often rely on the Cynefin framework to encourage an attitude of exploration, a more open attitude than the quest for technical answers that obsesses so much of our work for social change.

I had not seen the overlay of complexity and collaboration that Shawn Callahan articulates so well.  I love the work of our friends at Anecdote, and this blog post is a must read:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/03/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Networks

All our Grievances are Connected

Thanks to Beth Tener for pointing me in the direction of this graphic from Occupy NYC. The headline reads: “Let’s acknowledge the reality: The future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. Our increasingly interconnected world obscures the underlying truth that all of our grievances are connected.” What connections do you see between economic inequality, ecological irresponsibility, concentrations of political and economic power, racism, sexism, and more? How are you making those connections real in your life and your work? (P.S. Click on this hyperlink if you want to see the article that follows the graphic).

 

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Nov/01/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Undoing racism-By Design

On virtually every indicator of individual and community health and well-being, people of color in the U.S. experience worse outcomes and more barriers to success than their white counterparts. Intervening to reverse these trends requires intention and attention: intentionality about understanding the historic and present-day manifestations of racism and attention to effective ways to intervene.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/30/12//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

Stay Open

Our paradigm is our lens on everything.  It is how we make sense of reality.  For example, a deterministic paradigm is a lens that makes you see everything in terms of cause and effect.  It gives you a mechanistic lens with which to make sense of the world.  Determinism can be a really useful perspective – one way of looking at things – but it becomes a problem if it is your paradigm – THE way in which you look at things.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/25/12//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

A Network Speaks . . . of Value

At the second Vermont Farm to Plate Network Convening two weeks ago, my colleague Beth Tener and I facilitated a conversation about the value the nearly 200 people in attendance see the network adding to the food system.  From where they sit, what do they see net work enabling that they have not been able to accomplish in the “old way”?  Here’s a taste:

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