A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I (two gray-haired women) went downtown to support the youngsters Occupying Wall Street here in Oakland. The night was wet, but there were plenty of folks out with signs, songs, speeches and goodwill.
David brings particular skill and experience in teaching about and mapping systemic dynamics as they play out at different levels. In June, he gave a wonderful overview of systems thinking to the System Design Team, which included an introduction to the iceberg diagram (see below) that helps people get from more superficial and tactical questions to deeper systemic points of leverage, including awareness of one’s own unwitting contribution to dynamics that yield outcomes that are undesirable or in some sense not optimal. Part of the shift we experienced over the course of these conversations was the understanding that “the system” is not out there, but as Yaneer Bar-Yam says, is “the way we work together.” Read More
“In a sense, it’s not a system until it’s working for the people on the front-line, and above all the parents who need services for their children.”
-David Nee, Executive Director, WCGMF
|Photo by jfinnirwin|http://www.flickr.com/photos/jfinnirwin/5248114004/in/photostream|
Last November I blogged about the launch of a bold and exciting initiative in Connecticut, spear-headed by the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund based in Hamden. My colleague Melinda Weekes and I were engaged to assist the Memorial Fund as it answered a community-based call to step into a convening role to bring relevant stakeholders together from around the state to re-imagine and build an early childhood system “that is accessible and effective in all settings and in all communities for Connecticut’s children and families regardless of race, abilities and income.” This initiative has since been dubbed Right from the Start, a name that has turned out to be quite prescient in light of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s recent comments. Right from the Start builds upon 10 years of work by the Memorial Fund in supporting community-based efforts to promote development and learning for all children. Melinda and I are proud to have been able to make a contribution over the past four years by providing Facilitative Leadership training and collaborative capacity building to more than 200 individuals from the 57 Discovery Collaboratives around the state. Read More
What do I want badly enough to investin pursuing it—in spite of the obstacles and competing claims on my time and attention, in spite of the risks and the guarantees of uncertainty, in spite of the risk of rejection and the possibility of failure?
I have asked this question for a couple of weeks running. I offered a few thoughts from a Barbara Kingsolver quote to get the conversation started: “elementary kindness…enough to eat, enough to go around… the possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.
Spurred on by my colleague, Jen Willsea, I recently submitted a piece for the “Walk the Talk” zine/book project. The organizers describe the project as being about “exploring power and exploitation in nonprofit organizations, alignment of our work with our vision, and what role nonprofits have in radical social transformation…[because] even in the most grassroots and progressive organizations, working on the most radical issues, we may find a deep dissonance between the world we want to create, and what it is like to be working in the organization day-by-day. Read More
Last Wednesday, March 23, my colleague Melinda and I had the privilege of hosting a beautiful dialogue among a select group of Boston’s Black and Latino leaders. Following is the invitation that we sent:
We have all heard the news – the United States will be a “majority minority country” before the turn of the century. The historical significance of this demographic shift cannot be overstated – Americans are already contending with this emergent reality. Black and Latino people have been living side by side for a long time, there are many ways in which ours is shared experience, our histories are profoundly intertwined. We recognize strong alliances and cultural intersections and we also recognize old and new tensions. Read More
Over a year ago, during a network building community of practice meeting, future IISC board member, Idelisse Malave, suggested that I take a look at the RE-AMP Energy Network as a successful example of a multi-organizational network. I made some initial calls to their coordinator and ended up dropping the ball (oh look, a squirrel). Then a few weeks ago I was alerted to a new case study from the Monitor Institute about that very network. And so we have Transformer: How to build a network to change a system, a wonderful report about what has contributed to the successes of a regional network that has been making great headway in reducing greenhouse gas reductions in the Midwest over the past six years. Lead author, Heather McLeod Grant, a past participant in our network building community of practice, renders a great service in elucidating six key and contributing principles to RE-AMP’s success, many of which have great resonance with our experiences at IISC around designing and facilitating complex and collaborative multi-stakeholder change efforts. Read More
As we continue to explore the inner side of collaboration and social change, I wanted to share a few highlights from a recent conversation with my colleague Roy Martin. I met Roy in my role as a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute for Community Health Leaders program sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. He spends his days (and nights!) intervening in the lives of young people who are caught up in the drug trade and gang-related violence. He knows them intimately, loves them deeply, and puts himself out there personally to guide them towards a positive future.