Web of Change

September 29, 2009 11 Comments

I have so much more to say than I can possibly write in one post, plus I’m just getting back so there is still so much to integrate, so much that is yet to unfold – Web of Change was AMAZING! It certainly was that retreat experience that so many of us are familiar with, the lovely high that comes up when we drop our guard together – yes, it was that, but it was also more than that. Web of Change was also a brief experiment in taking some of the best principles of life online and applying them to the offline world.

Change is of course the gathering call, the convening is meant to foster the intersection of social media and social change. We were surrounded by people who care, and who are also smart, and bold in their thinking. The fact that the convening is oriented to people using social media to make change means that they are inherently familiar with what the emergent paradigm feels like – it is decentralized, self-organized, open source, generous. I’m not saying that every single one of us can now live within this emergent paradigm, but there is an awareness of this transitional moment and an intuitive understanding of it.

I had what felt like the most privileged role in the space, I was asked to lead “the leadership track,” which was really our community building, opening of the heart experience. I was invited to lead our opening and our closing, as well as the beginning of every day. Now, the conference took place at Hollyhock, and Hollyhock is a sacred place – awe inspiring natural wonder and magic like few other places I’ve seen, and so the land itself did most of the work. But I was invited to step into that flow and the participants were completely willing to come along, so there was healing and there was love.

Communities of color were painfully underrepresented, and I know that serious efforts were made to make the convening more inclusive. We kept this awareness at the forefront and I have become seriously interested in doing something about it. I am looking forward to an even stronger partnership between Web of Change and the Interaction Institute for Social Change. My sense is that we have a powerful opportunity to foster a more diverse community at this intersection, and in my most hopeful moments I believe this could even be a space that helps seed a new narrative for how we will be together in the world we want to build.


  • Jodie Tonita says:

    Welcome back Gibran. And thank you for stepping into the leadership space at Web of Change. You have named the strengths, the challenges and the potential of this dynamic community beautifully. And for me, most importantly, thank you for speaking to the pain that occurs when people of color are under-representated in community. It’s a pain I have felt acutely as a WOC organizer. My early approach was to take on the pain head to head — and personally organize around the gap. Although that approach temporarily reduces the gap it — is not sustainable — does not create lasting systems change — because when you stop — the gap widens again. The pain is not for any one person to address — it’s important to share the pain. As leaders we often forget that. For any community to change it has to have a felt sense of the NEED to change. There is a shared responsibility for those of us committed to racial justice and the promise of beloved community to speak to what is possible and where we are in relationship to that… to share both the pain and the promise. To collectively build the vision of the communities we want to create and inhabit and take the collective steps to live into them. Your stepping into this space gave me the freedom to step back and share this journey. Thank you dear friend and colleague.

  • Gibran says:

    Dear J to the T,

    First thank you again for being my connector to Web of Change and also thank you so much for your passion and commitment to racial justice and social transformation – you are the real thing.

    There is so much to say! But I really want to make sure to stress that the heart of my blog was in the beauty and possibility of a truly amazing convening and I meant to do so in a way that still dares to look at reality in the face.

    I have no intention of “fixing” anything on my own, but in community, I am ready to do my part. I’m not sure what it takes for any community to come to sense a need for change but I do bring a certain conviction about the work of liberation. I refuse to wait for anyone to change in order for me to be free, and I approach my work with my community from the same lens.

    I think that what I saw at Web of Change points in a certain direction of possibility, one that – with the right people at the table – has the potential to re-invent the narrative on race and make new things possible. It is just potential, and potential does not catalyze by itself. But love, not knowing and the alchemy of true relationship can make everything new again.

  • Jodie Tonita says:

    You write:

    “But I really want to make sure to stress that the heart of my blog was in the beauty and possibility of a truly amazing convening and I meant to do so in a way that still dares to look at reality in the face.”

    Yes! This is exactly it. And you did just that. Beautifully.

    And the “fixing” was intended to convey my own experience and learning over time and one where I think many of us get caught. In sharing my own struggle *to fix* I hope it serves others.

    Web of Change is a product of an amazing community and powerful intention. I have been blessed to be connected to it.

  • Alia says:


    A most sincere thanks to you for encouraging us to lead with our hearts.

    The intersection of social change, social media, and innovation is a cornerstone of my work. Your work – and the wonderful participation of everyone at WOC – reenergized my perspective and my passion.

    Thank you to the entire WOC community. And thanks again to you for leading with such compassion, humor, and understanding.

  • Curtis says:


    Can’t wait to hear more about what you are learning and how you are going about creating these new spaces!

  • george says:

    I think the list of sites I have collected here would help a lot of the folks I talked to at WOC

    Please let me know if you would like to be a contributor.

  • Gibran,

    Thanks for all of your work at WOC this year. I really got a lot out of your sessions. I came to WOC with a heavy heart and left renewed and ready for work.

    On diversity, I wonder if the diversity-encouraging outreach can be buoyed by looking at who’d we’d like to bring into the nonprofit tech sector, while we’re still reaching out to diverse individuals within it. For instance, perhaps WOC could reach out to iSchools around North America for grad students of color. Or, perhaps reach out to geographic areas that typically aren’t represented at WOC, particularly the Southwest, Rustbelt and Southeast.

    Also, I’d encourage us to look at diversity in terms of perspectives, not only ethnicity, that come to WOC. Where’s the conservatives, the business community, local governments, or young people’s programs? WOC could really benefit from a diversity of voices.

  • Andria says:

    Thank you Gibran and for ALL who have created and participated in WOC…… stepping boldly into this exciting space and for lifting up a striking and persistent gap…eager to learn more!

  • Linda says:

    Gibran, you captured the feeling very well here – amazing group of people, deep community, beautiful setting – and work to be done! And how inspirational to see you work your magic and create the space for us all to walk into with open hearts. Thanks!

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