Tag Archive: New Directions Collaborative

July 15, 2015

Living Systems Leadership: Lessons from a Permaculture Master

Open-Source-Permaculture-537x449

I posted the following about five years ago on this site, and have been actively thinking about and experimenting with its core lessons ever since. I have only become more compelled by the need to bring a living systems orientation to work for social change. Curious to hear reactions and what you are already doing to apply insights from and living systems. 

Part 1

Last week I was in the presence of a master.  For more than 25 years, Lauren Chase-Rowell has skillfully and intuitively cultivated the land around her house in Nottingham, NH to the point that it exists in great harmony with the beautiful farm house, people and fauna occupying that space.  Lauren is an ecological landscaper, organic farmer, and permaculture design teacher.  Her home, Dalton’s Pasture Farm, is a vibrant classroom and testament to the possibility of practicing “earth-centered living.” Read More

1 Comment
October 17, 2012

The Butterfly Story

butterfly story

|Image from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center|http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/3903384725|

At the closing of last week’s Vermont Farm to Plate Network Gathering, my colleague and friend, Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative, shared the following beautiful story and metaphor from the evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris.  In it is the invitation that we both feel net work offers – to not simply engage in new superficial ways of working, but to let it take hold of us in shaping a new “genome” for human awareness of and interaction with living systems . . .

A caterpillar can eat up to three hundred times its own weight in a day, devastating many plants in the process, continuing to eat until it’s so bloated that it hangs itself up and goes to sleep, its skin hardening into a chrysalis. Then, within the chrysalis, within the body of the dormant caterpillar, a new and very different kind of creature, the butterfly, starts to form. This confused biologists for a long time. How could a different genome plan exist within the caterpillar to form a different creature? Read More

Leave a comment
August 29, 2012

Encouraging Breakthrough Interactions

During a recent planning session for an upcoming conference on community food security, we had a rich discussion about ensuring that the gathering embody some of the future we are trying to realize.  This included breaking down silos and encouraging boundary crossing of different kinds.  To punctuate the value of this, Rachel Greenberger of Food Sol invoked the words of Cheryl Kiser  – “It’s not about breakthrough ideas, it’s about breakthrough interactions.” Read More

Leave a comment
May 9, 2012

Network Leadership

As I prepare to do a couple of trainings for leadership in multi-stakeholder networks in the New England region (focus being on the skills of facilitation, process design, and managing decision-making), I intend to frame our conversations with some exploration of the differences between traditional organizational leadership and what is required to steward networks towards positive impact.  I begin with the presumption that network form and function are chosen strategically for the ability to accomplish something that could not be done at all or as well through other approaches.  Whether trying to develop a food system to eliminate food insecurity or change an educational system to yield more equitable opportunities and outcomes, the attraction to a network approach is likely due to a desire for some combination of the following: Read More

9 Comments
August 31, 2011

What Makes a Network Work?

networks work

|Photo by Richard-G|http://www.flickr.com/photos/richard-g/3573703421|

It’s been my pleasure to partner with Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative these past few weeks in support of the Vermont Farm-to-Plate Network as it evolves a governing structure to support its goal of boosting local food production by 5% in the next 10 years.  As part of our work, Beth and I are designing and facilitating two convenings that feature stories of successful networks, tips for doing “net work,” and robust conversation about what will work best in support of Farm to Plate.  One resource to which we’ve turned is the Working Wikily blog, which featured a post in May that offers additional insights into what stands behind the successes of the much lauded RE-AMP Network.  In a discussion featuring convenor Jenny Curtis of the Garfield Foundation and consultants Rick Reed and Heather McLeod Grant, a number of points are made that resonate and merit consideration for leveraging the power of networks. Read More

Leave a comment
September 17, 2010

The Power of Potlucks

potluck

|Photo by UU-Jackson|http://www.flickr.com/photos/9240679@N04/2876693936/in/photostream|

This post comes courtesy of IISC friend Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative.  You can find the original post here.

One of the most inspiring speeches we heard at the Slow Money National Gathering was from Tom Stearns, President of High Mowing Organic Seeds. His company is based in Hardwick, a small town in northern Vermont, which was featured in The New York Times article entitled “Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town”. Remarkably, over the last three years, the local area has added 150 new jobs to an existing 500 jobs, spread across many small companies, all associated with the local food economy.

One of the key ways this came about was through strong locally-based business networks. Read More

Leave a comment