if you are as old as me you may remember the stereo mcs? the title of the session i spoke at yesterday at new parish was a nod to their track of the same name...
anyway all that to say that i thought it might be worth adding some of the references i mentioned in the talk for anyone interested. unsurprisingly people at the conference are focused on getting stuck into good in their local neighbourhoods and seeing them transformed. i think that's wonderful. in my session i used a four bits of network theory to suggest that networking can add an incredible amount of richness to the local. they were as follows:
1. small world theory - i have blogged about this before and in fact say more there probably than i did yesterday. but the thing to pay attention to here is the huge benefit of people who are connectors - they take the time to connect elsewhere and through them all sorts of riches flow into the locale. the example i used was clean for good and how the connections made by the person whose idea it was enabled so much richness to be added in to enable that dream to become real.
2. lifecycles of emergence - margaret wheatley's article lifecycles explains how she thinks networks change the world through a fourfold process - name- connect- nourish - illuminate. this is so helpful. i felt described by it when i came across it. i also combined it with margaret wheatley and deborah frieze's wonderful work in walk out walk on. this video gives a pretty short summary of how it works. the example i used was peter dearman's incredible dearman engine. in thinking about how to shift from oil dependency he has invented an engine that runs on liquid nitrogen. to get this brilliant idea developed required walking out of usual solutions and walking on to new ones and finding others to journey with him and of course facing huge challenge on the way but it's happening. the story is told in the incredible book we do things differently
3. thick networks - when i read george monbiot's article on changing society through developing thick networks of participation i thought this is exactly what church at its best should be doing and participating in. i have since read his book out of the wreckage which is totally brilliant and i cannot recommend it highly enough. it's worth it for the chapter including thick networks alone. in community transformation someone starts something light touch, easy to get involved in that connects people together and produces good relationally, in health and wellbeing - a running club, or a local allotment. then another initiative starts which connects to another and another. invariably some of it will involve food and eating together, making and doing. it’s important that plenty of initiatives are easy access, and include those with low resource and social confidence. transition towns starts, a local energy company, a local veg box scheme, a friendship lunch for lonely people. what monbiot says is that gradually a thick network develops, a dense participatory culture that is attractive and relevant to everyone. If you can get that to 10-15% participation in a community you reach a tipping point. lambeth researched how they develop - lean and live projects (don’t cost much, trial and error, opportunities for micro participation, developed by collaboration). out of these can generate business, social enterprise, hybrids, and he reckons you can get to that in around 3 years. the other resource i mentioned in this area is the amazing stir magazine. i have now read the last three issues and been wowed by it - if you are interested in changing your community and especially reimagining the economy it's a must read. the example i thought about was ealing and the number of ways i can see this beginning to happen.
4. sods and mods - this is a bit of network theory from the missions world which i have written about and made links to here - the point is that if you are a pioneer as well as being involved in your local pioneering get connected to a sodal network or community who gets and supports what you are about. the example i used for this is cms and its network of support for those in pioneering mission.
this thinking about networks can be applied both within the locale - i.e. networking with others locally, and more widely to make connections in networks beyond the local that can enable gifts to flow in.