New Directions Blog

Creativity, Collaboration, and Networks

This blog shares ideas, stories, and insights about using creativity, collaboration, and networks to promote sustainability. Unless otherwise noted, blogs are written by Beth Tener.

20 September 2015

The Meaning in Meetings

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Facilitation

A few weeks ago, in the small talk before a meeting started, I was talking with a woman about our respective work. In reference to my work as a facilitator she said, “ugh, I couldn’t stand all those meetings!” I understand her reaction, particularly if you are used to the rather boring and tedious way many traditional meetings are run. It made me think of the story of the stonecutters all three doing the same job, one irritated and bored who saw his job as hammering rock, the second was a bit more motivated seeing how his stone cutting work was one part of creating a wall, while the third, who was most inspired, said “I’m building a cathedral!” The same work, imbued with a larger sense of purpose and meaning, created an inspired attitude to the work.

27 May 2015

Building a Shared Understanding of How Systems Work

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Strategy

Kick-Off Gathering of United Way Collective Impact Initiative

I’ve just returned from the kick-off gathering of a collective impact initiative with the United Way of Greater New Bedford. A series of three community gatherings for input (as described in this blog) and other meetings with stakeholders led us to focus of how can we help families thrive, with a focus in one neighborhood. We just kicked off a “Catalyst Team,” which included about 25 people representing many facets of the community and various roles/perspectives about the challenges families face in the neighborhood. For example, participants included neighborhood residents and leaders, as well as people from the school system, police, immigrant assistance, the city’s economic development department, social service agencies, housing authority, local businesses, health care, the local leadership development program, and more.

13 March 2015

Boston Schoolyard Initiative: An 18-year Success Story of Collaborative Structures that Scale Impact

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Strategy

An Interview with Kristin Metz

“The story of the Boston Schoolyards Initiative is one that needs to be shared and spread!” This was my thought after hearing a keynote speech by Kristin Metz about this initiative at the New England Environmental Educators conference last fall. Kristin graciously accepted my invitation to interview her for this blog.

For background, the Boston Schoolyards Initiative (BSI) was a public-private partnership between the City of Boston, public schools, and private foundations that created a collaborative structure and process to design and fund schoolyard spaces for play and recreation, outdoor classrooms, and curriculum integration at schools in Boston. The initiative ran for over 18 years, transformed 88 schoolyards in collaboration with local communities, with a total of $20 million invested. Thirty-two outdoor classrooms were built and 3 education programs trained 850 teachers. It’s initiatives reached 30,000 children a year. The BSI web site has lots of information and “before and after” photos of transformed schoolyards.

26 January 2015

Collective Impact at a Community Scale: United Way of Greater New Bedford

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration

United Way organizations around the country are reinventing the role they play in their communities from their traditional role of fundraising for social service agencies through workplace campaigns. As this paper, Charting a Course for Change describes, United Ways are serving as a community convener, engaging local partners (e.g., residents, businesses, local government, social service agencies) to collaborate to make more substantial progress in key areas of education, income and health. This approach to collaborative community change draws on the framework of collective impact – where diverse actors in the community develop a shared vision, connect and coordinate action and measure the results over time.

10 December 2014

Using Events to Close Triangles

Written by Janne K. Flisrand, Posted in Facilitation, Networks

We have been experimenting with a technique to encourage and strengthen network connections at conferences. In this great blog post from our colleague, Janne Flisrand of Flisrand Consulting, she shares how it works and her experience using it at a recent conference. Janne is a network building facilitation consultant, based in Minneapolis. This is cross-posted from the Flisrand Consulting blog.

I’m supporting an emerging network, one focused on energy efficiency, water, and health in affordable apartment buildings. Recently, we had our first big in-person gathering of network participants. Because networks consist of personal relationships, we incorporated connecting activities.

The Closing Triangles Drawing, an idea I got from Beth Tener, was the run-away favorite.

[12 3 4 5  >>