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.

09 November 2014

Art of the Start: Strategic Questions to Build Focus and Engagement

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Strategic Questioning

As I write this, I am on my way to a gathering of practitioners who work on networks approaches for large-scale social change, sponsored by the Garfield Foundation. We’ll be discussing the “art of the start” – how to navigate the early stages of an initiative. This is timely, as lately I have seen some of the common challenges in this stage, for example:

19 October 2014

Why Blog?

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration

“It still comes as a shock to realize that I don’t write about what I know,
but in order to find out what I know.”

               - Patricia Hampl, I Could Tell You Stories

This quote sums up one of the pleasant surprises I have had blogging: that the process of writing these blog posts is what helps me understand and make sense of what I am seeing and learning in my work. It sparked me to reflect on what I have learned and found valuable in writing this blog over the last three years – about 50 blog posts later (and why I encourage people to blog:)

29 September 2014

Seeing Systems and Getting to the Roots – Lessons from Ferguson

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Leadership

In the stream of tragedies and controversies that come through the media, certain stories seem to “get to me” and I have to follow them further. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the response on the streets, and the response to the response on the streets, was one of those stories. The national and on-line conversation has been both insightful and infuriating.

28 August 2014

Blueprints for Collaboration from Nature

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Collaboration, Networks

Network Weaving Based on Ecological Design

As someone who has long been fascinated and inspired by what we can learn by mimicking nature’s patterns, the field of permaculture feels like one I could study and practice for a life time and never run out of more to learn. Permaculture has various definitions, such as the science of resilience or how to design in ways that regenerate nature, i.e., that not only sustain but restore to leave things healthier than when we started.

19 August 2014

Building Interaction and Networking into a Traditional Conference Format

Written by Beth Tener, Posted in Facilitation

Most of us know well the traditional conference format of a speaker or panel at the front of the room, rows of chairs, speakers offering prepared remarks with Powerpoint slides, followed by some Q&A with the audience. Interest is growing in ways to organize conferences that enable more interaction, connections, and learning among the participants. As with any innovation, some people are enthused to jump on board and try new techniques, such as Open Space, but they need to find ways to navigate and work with those who are comfortable and satisfied with the “way it is done now.” The good news is that you can integrate these interactive formats within a traditional conference format.

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