How does change happen? I saw a book in the airport about microtrends and how they give a glimpse of the possible future. Microtrends are new behaviors, actions or directions that are just starting to emerge but have the energy and excitement to expand into something significant.
I’ve long thought that dramatic and rapid change happens when we see the opportunities in new microtrends and work collaboratively to support and spread those new directions.
Some of the microtrends I see are:
- Antiracism work, dismantling white supremacy culture, understanding structural racism: dismantling Racism – Resource Generationhttps://resourcegeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/…/2016-dRworks-workbook.pdf We can’t collaborate effectively if we don’t know how to be peers.
- Youth leadership: https://climateemergencydeclaration.org/climate-emergency-declarations-cover-15-million-citizens “An estimated number of more than a million people in ca. 130 countries demonstrated at about 2200 events worldwide on March 24. “
- New approaches to clothing: “no new clothes” pledges, upcycling clothing, groups making thousands of shopping bags from cloth scraps and used clothing https://boomerangbags.org; https://sew-seamless.com/the-pledge/
- Healing and arts driving change: Resonance Network is convening healers and artists to identify collaborations and ways to build community.
- Governance networks and participation: food policy councils writing policy for city sustainability plans.
- New community places and spaces: maker spaces, community and school gardens, co-working spaces, libraries adding functions like showers and PO Boxes for homeless people.
What microtrends do you see? Let us know in the comments below.
How can we help these new directions go viral?
Communities of Practice
One of the most powerful ways to amplify an emerging trend is to virtually convene groups or networks around the country (or world) who are working in this area as a community of practice where they can share what they have been learning in their local project(s), get support for challenges and learn more about building expanding networks of networks. This information could then be distilled and shared broadly to other communities so that they can quickly implement and adapt the new strategies.
I feel that supporting these types of communities of practice is one of the most important ways foundations can increase their impact.
Another way to expand your approach is to find other communities who want to experiment and try out your strategy and then set up virtual sessions over a six month period where you can share what you have done. These sessions should also help people plan and strategize how they can adapt your ideas to their community. Having the sessions last over a six month period will give the communities time to try out specific steps, them come back to the group and talk about their successes and challenges. This is like the community of practice idea described above but with newbies. You can do this if you add $15-30,000 to grants you apply for to cover the staff time to facilitate these sessions and coach individual communities between sessions.
Another version of this is to turn what you have learned into products that you can share and/or sell to others. The Food Corridor did this when they developed a Shared Kitchen Management Tool.
Another final way to accelerate the expansion of emerging practices is to provide support for network support structures. In addition to resources for communities of practice, networks around emerging areas need to develop communications ecosystems for expansion. This is a huge gap in that platforms that fully support self-organizing and the sharing of curated information do not currently exist. But patching together the use of zoom, google docs, discussion groups such a Facebook groups or Buddypress, slack and email/enewsletters is a start. Another support that networks need for expansion is training/information in skills such as:
- using self-organizing strategies to expand your network
- Facilitating deep reflection so that your strategy is continually improving and making breakthroughs
- developing information toolkits from your practice and experience so that others in other communities can adapt your strategy
- Identifying existing networks that may be interested in helping their projects or communities try out your strategies and having conversations with them.