Nourishing Networks Overview
Vision: Passionate people everywhere are working with each other in profound new ways to tackle tough challenges. Together we are weaving the latent talents, time and imagination of all community members and organizations into a net so tightly woven that no one can fall through. We are building collective ownership for community well-being.
Mission: Working within network principles and rolls, communities are building increasing capacity to tap local wisdom, harness new resources, and engage the talents and will of its people to identify serious gaps in need and ways to fill those gaps.
History: Beginning in 2010, Hopelink led an effort to research community awareness of and attitudes towards local hunger. The results led to the formation of an intriguing model of engagement and action. Nourishing Networks recognizes that the key to a hunger-free King County rests in the hands of citizens taking action in their communities. This model supports passionate and diverse community members in self-organized, self- sustaining ways by connecting new and existing local projects to a larger network of people and organizations.
After learning of the extent of hunger among the children within Nourishing Network communities, those involved developed a profound sense of ownership of this issue and have very quickly formed new relationships and new levels of service to reverse this serious situation. These newly formed networks have brought together several hundred people from diverse sectors and cultures sharing their ideas, experience, resources, and existing work to help leverage the will of the community in new and deeply personal ways.
Nourishing Networks Institute: In July 2012, the team working on the development of Nourishing Networks transitioned from Hopelink to a new entity called the Nourishing Networks Institute–now a part of the Center for Ethical Leadership. The Institute’s work is to continue developing this promising model and to support communities in building local Nourishing Networks that will build collective ownership for community well-being.
There are currently five local Nourishing Networks in North and East King County convening regularly, as well as an emerging regional network. There are many other communities in the region considering their interest and readiness for a Nourishing Network.
Definition of Nourishing Networks: Nourishing Networks is based on using principles of working in networks to create a highly interactive and inspiring way for people to open to a different model of working together. For example, rather than trying to conduct a formal needs assessment that leads to a strategic plan, the approach is to gather knowledgeable people from many different sectors to share what they know about the need and the work that is underway. From that collective sense making, people identify leverage points, opportunities for collaboration and gaps that need to be filled. Then each person decides what they will do, based on the gifts that they have to offer and what has moved them to take action.
These are our core principles:
- Trust the Community: Those who are in a community are in the best place to truly understand the needs and gaps and should take the lead. Those who show up know enough, have enough, are enough to do what must be done while respecting everyone who is part of that community.
- Focus on Relationships, Not Just Task: When we focus on relationships we have a better understanding of people’s gifts and the unexpected ways that they can be offered. We recognize that everyone in the network benefits by knowing and helping each other– this is an effort built on mutual reciprocity.
- Collective Sense Making: When people from many different perspectives come together around their passion and concern for community, share what they know and cooperate, we learn what we need to know to take effective action.
- Work from Passion not Obligation: When people work from a place of being called, of finding what is theirs to do, it liberates energy and provides focus on what is possible.
- Put on Offer, Rather Than Seeking to Control: This is about people offering ideas, solutions, and resources that they believe can make a difference rather than people trying to control or tell others what they should do. Decisions are made by those doing the work.
- I Make the Net Work: When each person takes ownership for doing the part that is theirs to do, together we can do what is needed. This means making the commitment in front of your community to name what you will be accountable for – however big or small.