Every month Network Weaver has a virtual Consultants Gathering. In August’s gathering, the consultants were asked to share stories about their own successful and fulfilling network experiences. Below are three stories from Network Weaver consultants in response to this question:“What is a story of a time that a network offered you value and you were excited enough to prioritize engagement with that network? What were the conditions that enabled this?
From Aisha Shillingford
A few years ago I was a member of a national network of people working for spiritual and social transformation. Prior to joining I had become aware of the network and felt greatly impressed and inspired by the way the members of the network embodied practices that reflected the values and principles of the network. I deeply desired to join so I could be part of this community that was walking the talk and making a positive impact in the lives of others. I remained part of the network for over ten years.Reflecting on the conditions that enabled my sustained involvement I thought of the following:– a clear network structure that allowed people to be involved in the network at different levels of engagement and responsibility. – a community of support and accountability – a joyful and meaningful connection to members of the network, true friendships– a clearly and oft articulated purpose and vision – opportunities for learning and for contributing to the growth of others– personal and social development. Self development as well as projects for improving the broader community– a strong sense of ‘we’, a shared identity – clear mechanisms of appreciation and votes of trust. These were shown through increased responsibility and participation in decision making etc.
The network that immediately comes to mind is the network I’ve been supporting for almost 7 years now, Food Solutions New England. Though I am technically a consultant, at this point I am very much a member of the family. It was, in some sense, exactly what I was looking for – a “project” to really sink my teeth into and a community where I could find a deeper sense of belonging.I would say that from the get-go there was something about the quality of the people, the sense of welcome, and of being more authentic and whole with one another that was a draw. People were willing to not just be in their heads, but in their hearts and souls. We shared meals and informal conversation with one another. We shared art and poetry. And there was a sense of truly being in something bigger, a movement, that was larger than any of our individual work. So, trust, authenticity, openness, and compelling purpose all helped. We have also been committed to diversity, inclusion and equity in a number of different ways, so that there is a commitment to ongoing learning and action, which results in being in rooms with people of a variety of different backgrounds and identities, which is stimulating. Over the seven years of work, there have been threats of plateauing and then we come on another challenge: from building a base of trust, to aligning around a vision, to committing to racial equity, to mapping our system to working on complex solutions, to addressing white privilege and white supremacy culture. Never a dull moment? And we have consistently evolved the structure to meet the needs of where we were moving and growing towards.I consider the people in this network to be friends, many of whom would really have my back. In this day and age, that feels like an incredible gift.
The network that comes to mind is an international youth network I have been connected to for 10 years now. Focused on internal development and external social initiatives, the network has spun off several different initiatives led mostly by 18-28 year olds. I think what makes people excited to be involved are:
deep friendships and many different relationships
many opportunities for different experiences to collaborate creatively with one another to develop our practices
collective work that benefits, connects to, and serve others.
There is also an evolving core that brings people back together from time-to-time and shared attention is given to how the economy is developed and the values are practicedRead more stories Monday’s blog post.
If you have a story you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below, or email email@example.com