~~Portland Cross-Pollination Project!~~

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May 22, 2008

First Portland Cross-Pollination Gathering!

As a warm up to the Portland Cross-Pollination Project, brush and I facilitated an experimental evening of cross-pollination. Together with a dozen other interesting changemakers, we brainstormed, shared and linked ideas.

Clearly, there is an emerging group of people who are aware of their roles as links between communities, and it feels great to find a "peer group" with whom to explore some of the challenges and opportunities with still-unrecognized role in social change organizing.

After introductions, we began by brainstorming what kinds of things we would want to know about another community or group, in the context of looking for meaningful ways to link. The group quickly formed an initial list (see left), bringing out some sometimes subtle aspects of a group, like a group's flexibility and interest in reaching out to other groups, who a group already connects with or explicitly doesn't , their stage in the typical organizational life cycle flow, their intra or inter organizational challenges, and how much they value supporting people's personal maturity and growth process as a part of the larger fabric of social change.

Then, in groups of three, we each shared about a community that we are connected to in terms of these brainstormed areas. People then reported back to the full group about their experiences, and brought out some interesting questions, like the balance of what to hear about first, or mostly: a person's individual role and interest in the organization versus the organization's mission, structure, strategies, etc.

Then, we brainstormed "ways to link communities" (right), and then went back to the groups of three to play with the possible links between each other's groups. This session also brought out some intriguing challenges (opportunities!) of linking, such as the desire to simply exchange emails and start sending each other information versus a feeling of information overload and desire to find other meaningful connections.

It was an energetic evening, and as we reflected on the process and discussed next steps, it was clear that there are a lot of very juicy areas to be explored with this idea of cross-pollination. It seems like a lot of people have common experiences and desire for deepening the art and science of this role, and I am excited to see the Portland Cross-Pollination Project develop!!

Click here for the notes!!!

Agenda: first cross-pollination gathering!
intros: why are you here? why are yousmal interested in CP? What does CP mean to you?
intro to CP
brainstorm: what would you want to know about another community?
small groups: share about a community you are part of in the context of the brainstorm.
full group: report back
brainstorm: ways of linking communities
small groups: link 2 communities
full group: report back
wrap up: check outs, next steps, homework!

Why are you here? what is CP to you?

* independant activist for justice/peace--different areas
* responsible citizen w/small groups
* grps interchange ideas from different angles
* public awareness of communities, where are, what can do
* GMO, OG farming, vegan/veg, env. convservation--but many are fragmented. how can we not be fragmented?
* part of many groups--see those connections
* social/economic justice at center of many mvmts.
* living in intentional community showed how to get past fragmentation
* build community person-to-person
* tried to get involved (gardening, sus. community, FNB, city repair, artists) but nothing has gelled
* social reclamation/reconstructon--human ecology
* so many ideas for learning about each other!
* cp is not networking...its different somehow
* my friend things of me as a CP! wow!
* curiosity is my motto
* maybe i don't need to do it all but can connect them all
* i see how one group knows what another needs
* i'm an activist in alot of ways...i see the fragmentation. no-one knows how to work together
* been part of large convergences where many communities had many styles/strategies--saw ways to move through blocks. ecosystem of change--not centralized
* involved in many community projects--see how many follow the same patterns. value is in linking

In terms of looking to link or cross-pollinate, what do you want to know about another community?

* decision-making structure
* values
* vision
* personal involvement
* reputation
* personal maturing (done their own work)
* anything new, novel, interesting, different?
* what are they doing well with and what struggling with
* do they hold trainings/teachings/ways to share what they do/know
* how people plugi n
* what grps they work with--cooperate/compete with different groups, connections and who NOT work with (enemies)
* their resources and needs
* funding sources
* skeletons...?
* how important is integrity...financial based decisions or ethics/values
* flexability to reach out/openness to connections/attitude
* demographics
* how connected to larger movement or not
* see in historical context (institutional oppressions, power analysis over time)
* how measure and monitor success and adherence to mission
* history of group...where in organizational cycle
* learning strategy
* relationship to leadership/power/privelage
* ideology

Sharing about our communities (reflections after small group discussions)

* re: values and vision...we had common threads
* commonality of how to maintain "radical" politics when being pulled in different directions--radical vs. pragmatists
* w/short time to share, we tried to go through each of our brainstorm list--can we have a prioritized list??
* ...or, list is complete and each is important!
* hard to not start w/my own story/role--what is more valuable?
* development phases/growth of orgs...
* the factual nitty gritty frame could hold the other nuances, gives a context
* organize list into categories/template--niches for group
* didn't hear personal skills..relationship of person to group
* --not list of your groups but what you bring to them
* are we linking with a person or a community/group?
* orgs morph over time...people move on

Brainstorm: ways of linking communities, as individuals

* representatives/official liasons
* cnrg--online info clearinghouse
* live vicariously through other people
* google calendar--schedule what's happening and see who went to what
* community event--many groups share
* events that appeal to specific aspects of groups
* events--multi-mode/stack functions
* one community train/mentor/skillshare another, help other community grow
* be members of many communities--unofficial liasons
* orientations/workshops
* go help each other--clean office, paint house
* retreats--address core challenges--deeper work
* parties-social-friends w/consciousness of CP relationship
* asset mapping...online google doc
* link groups through health or other activity-food, childcare
* direct resources--barter, alternative economy or purchasing
* specific short term projects
* get groups together for rally and recruitment event
* common website--vision exchange?

Reflections about linking (after small group discussions)

* idea: using sunday walk to bring recy. groups and kids and bike shops together
* exchanging emails...uh oh...one more email of a group i don't really know vs. concrete link--visit each other
* meeting needs with capabilities/resources
* discovered how much legwork to organized/hold events. cost benefit analysis
* geographic distance but spreading word through sympathetic people. resources within IC's to help groups w/consciousness
* what will be a challenge w/potential culture clash
* time!!! will cp save us time? help refine info and connections...
* what is cp and what can it do for me?
* why do i want to put the energy into this?
* shifting to a bigger picture
* people who have ideas w/o attachment=cp
* "i know someone in my org who would want to be on mailing list of your org, but i don't."

Ideas for Next Steps

* potluck-informal
* reading list
* info table at events--farmers markets
* survey of orgs: would this be useful?
* vision exchange domain
* blog the process
* cross-city cross-pollination
* website/discussion forum
* identifying culture as cp within community

email overload
information management

Pond of future conversations

* why CP?
* more aspects of linking
* linking w/communities you are not directly part of vs. not
* personal experience of cp
* challenges with linking
* "permanent" structures for CP
* more on gifts/limitations of our own work/group
* other forms of cp
* how orgs morph over time
* personal link-grp
* what i can get out of cp

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