by Constance Washburn
In Networks, everyone is a leader, encouraged to connect to others and initiate collaborative action; power is distributed, not concentrated.
~ June Holley – An Introduction to Network Weaving
At the August/September Intensive at River’s Bend, everyone was asked to spend some time in nature to receive Gaia’s messages, images, and inspiration for taking the Work That Reconnects forward into the future. Beautiful teachings, images and insights came to many of us. The image I received was of a verdant and diverse forest with a very strong interconnected root system. The network of roots connected all the trees, providing physical support, a communication system that linked the whole forest, and a means to transport needed nutrients to trees that were not getting enough food or sunlight. As we know, we can learn so much from our living ancestors, the trees.
Fortunately we have the foundational root system of a Work That Reconnects network that has been forming over the many years Joanna has been teaching. Joanna has always envisioned the Work That Reconnects community as a decentralized living system that self organizes and self evolves. So when I introduced her to the idea of growing a more effective inter-connected Network, she was enthusiastically in support. Working together, we can co-create a stronger Network to take the Work boldly into the future.
Eighty eight percent of the respondents to the Facilitator questionnaire said what would help most to realize their vision of the future of the Work That Reconnects would be a network. Eighty five percent of respondents also indicated that they wanted an expanded website for more outreach and education about the Work That Reconnects. (All the responses to the survey available here: https://workthatreconnects.org/facilitator-questionnaire/) Suggestions for an expanded website include: An improved graphic and layout design, a facilitator database which includes descriptions, videos, events, and location mapping, an improved calendar, a facilitator’s blog allowing submission of articles and other media, ability to host webinars and link to social media, a robust resources section that includes Joanna’s teaching videos as well as other facilitators’ teachings, web links, books and training materials.
So what is a Network and how do we grow ours? I looked for answers in Connecting to Change the World – Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact by Plastrik, Taylor, and Cleveland and in June Holley’s Introduction to Network Weaving and Network Weavers Handbook as well as the work of Margaret Wheatley. I learned from them that…
Networks are the only form of organization used by living systems on this planet. These networks result from self-organization, where individuals or species recognize their interdependence and organize in ways that support the diversity and viability of all. Networks create the conditions for emergence, which is how Life changes. Because networks are the rst stage in emergence, it is essential that we understand their dynamics and how they develop into communities and then systems. Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, Lifecycle of Emergence: Using Emergence to Take Social Innovation to Scale, Berkana Institute.org)
A generative network is a social-relationship platform- a human operating system -for spawning activities. It’s a unique and renewable capacity, and this makes it especially useful when taking on complex, unpredictable, large-scale problems like climate change, homelessness, or ……. (Plastrik, Taylor, and Cleveland, p.6)
Networks encourage peer relation- ships based on acknowledging the value of every individual and the contribution they can make to co-creating a better world. (Holley, p.10 )
In Networks, everyone is a leader, encouraged to connect to others and initiate collaborative action; power is distributed not concentrat- ed. And a Network requires inclu- sion of all stakeholders to generate effective solutions. (Holley, p. 10)
Connecting network members with one another is called weaving… Network members do it and so do network coordinators and other staff…The network’s need for weaving never ends, but especially in its early days someone has to be weaving connections and doing it well… you can’t leave it to chance. The work has to be done. (Plastrik, Taylor, and Cleveland, p. 90)
The Stewards of the Work That Reconnects are working to build connectivity within the international community of the Work That Reconnects so that we can support each other and work collaboratively on multiple projects that will enable the Work to help the healing of our world. The initial projects of the Work That Reconnects Network are the Deep Times Journal, upgrading the Work That Reconnects website, and weaving the Network.