Neighborhood Opportunity Network

Supporting one another in a time of crisis

Getting on the Same Plane with the Same Destination!

Posted by frankieblackburn on October 5, 2010

When we first embarked on the Neighbors Campaign (now referred to as the Neighborhood Opportunity Network Initiative), we often referred to the effort as one in which we were building the plane while flying it. Along the way, we discovered that some of us had slightly different (or very different) ideas of our destination and some of us were not even on the same plane.

So, in an effort to move closer to a shared vision of change, the key leaders of this initiative spent 16 intense hours together during the month of September, building relationships, sharing specific visions, crafting common goals and outcomes, making requests and negotiating with each other around how to share our power and our love, going forward. (see blog post on our use of a Power and Love framework! I highly recommend it.)

We are making progress! Yes we are!

We are pleased to report that we not only agreed on a common vision and destination, we also agreed on specific milestones we want to reach along the way and on how we will talk about this journey with others. (See the outcomes framework, posted on the blog). This is no small feat, given that the group of 18 people included social services providers from government and three large nonprofits, a faith community liaison, diverse community organizers and a local funder. (see list of participants posted under the resource section of the blog).

We are all committed to and can actively communicate about four outcomes:

  1. Residents and Service Professionals are Co-Investors in Neighborhood Opportunity Networks
  2. Real and Sustainable Access to Services
  3. Thriving Neighborhood Centers
  4. Thriving Neighborhood Networks of Mutual Support

Envisioning proposed outcomes in real life; how will it work?

As one of the designers/organizers of these 16 hours, here are some of my reflections. By the way, three others have been asked to share their reflections, each from a different participant perspective.

Some things we did right:

  • Insisting on an 8 hour session on a Saturday and insisting on meeting weekly for three weeks – time, space and momentum.
  • Asking a sub-team of diverse perspectives to prepare a draft framework.
  • Providing a healthy mix of relationship building and taking action.
  • Creating welcoming environment for each session, with lots of subliminal messaging on the walls (big grin!).

Some things I would change:

  • Participants went door knocking together prior to the beginning of the sessions.
  • Neighbor corps graduates and community connectors participated, in some shape or form.
  • Holding each meeting in each of the three Neighborhood Center sites.
  • Creating better documentation of comments, stories and reflections – as the process unfolded.

My biggest new awareness:

  • You can’t expect things from people and institutions if you do not make a clear request.
  • People are more capable of opening up than we give them credit for.
  • In group process, let everyone speak, going around the room one by one.

My most joyful moments:

  • When a key leader and partner on the direct services side said,  I have been moved from thinking it is more about neighborhood networks and less about services.
  • When one the people more resistant to the group process said, I really like the posters on the while; they kept me grounded when I couldn’t focus on the discussion.

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