Co-Creating Change with Community (Act!)

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Purpose & Preparation

 

Breakthrough- (X1.00)-2Step 1: Creating a shared vision

Process

 

Next Steps

Next Steps: What is special about this Planning Web process is that you can actually take a vision that is very inspiring and poetic, even abstract, and make it into something that is very practical, realistic and achievable.

Now you have learned about this tool, we invite you to use it in real life! Find or create your small group of passionate allies … even one buddy is a start… and start playing with a planning web.

The next step is to convert your vision from this circular group form into an actual strategic plan. This can often be drawn up like a table with a list of tasks and various people taking on particular responsibilities, timelines and priorities. Here is an example of a vision statement, group and strategic plan for a tree planting project.

BREAKTHROUGH- (X0.85)

Now it is time to get practical about implementing those tasks, priorities and timelines.

In terms of taking action, one of the best things to do is to identify some of the actions or items in the strategic plan that are easily achievable. These might be the items that are synergistic or overlapping, where people can collaborate to get two wins for the price of one. Identify where people’s enthusiasm and energy is and perhaps you want to start there.

As you take on these actions, really enjoy and celebrate them, even if they are small wins and achievements. It is also important to publicise and communicate those successes along the way. It is that joyfulness, that celebration and positive reinforcement that can get other people excited and draw them into the project, process or movement.


“A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world”

                               – inscription on a church in Sussex, England, 1730

[Download MP3s: CoCreating Change 1 (Purpose & Preparation), 2(Process) and 3 (Reflection), or you can use the text below to guide others.]

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[Transcript for Co-Creating Change with Community]

Purpose: The purpose of this exercise, Co-Creating Change with Community, is to introduce you to a process that you can actually use with a small group of people with whom you share a passion, an interest, or something that you want to create together in the world. You’ll be practising doing this by yourself today, simply imagining your group of people, so that you understand the process and can focus on your individual vision dynamics. Once again, this is an imagination workout, getting you ready for the real thing! This is also another opportunity to refine your “passion action”.

The purpose of the exercise is to illustrate a few principles in terms of creating widespread social change across society: the importance of finding allies; the power of synergy; and how visioning can be converted to reality.

One of the first principles is how important it is to start where the strength is. This builds on the metaphor of a particular method of bush regeneration called The Bradley Method. The way this works is, rather than taking on the most desolate area of land that needs to be rehabilitated, you find the area that has the healthiest patch of forest and you work from there. The metaphor is that, rather than immediately trying to convince the Mainstreamers, or the Unwilling Laggards (from Tag Team), you can gather together like-minded people, other Change Agents, who you may be able to collaborate with, finding your allies, your comrades, your friends, who you can easily co-create with and form a support network in doing this.

Preparation:

** In preparation for this process, find a big piece of paper that you can get creative on! Perhaps gather a few different coloured pencils or pens, to keep things interesting. **

We invite you to bring back into focus the issue you are very passionate about and just start to scan the connections that you have, or people with whom you think share the same common interest or passion. Start by imagining that group of people, inviting that group of people to join you for a particular project.

One of the other principles that this exercise introduces is the power that a small group can have. Once you’ve found your allies and you start working together you’ll find that you all have particular focuses of interest, you all have different motivations for your passion, you all have different skills and different connections. The synergy of all those things coming together towards a common project creates this amazing potential and power for inspiration and change. It’s that co-creative energy that you can discover within your group, and hopefully also with the Earth and the ecosystems you are a part of. The Earth and its systems can also provide power and inspiration to create change and new innovations in our society.

This process also introduces you to a very simple form of visioning and strategic planning. This is a really important tool, where we can come up with a big vision that we all collectively share and we can go through a process of chunking that down into bite-sized pieces so that we can take concrete steps towards achieving and inspiring our large-scale vision.

It’s called The Planning Web, and was first developed by Peter Cuming of Sustainable Futures Australia in 1996.

Process: In your mind’s eye, we invite you to visualise a small group of people with whom you share a common passion, your concern about something, your wish to make a positive difference in the world. See if you can visualise those individual people as best you can. You might like to jot down their names, or maybe the groups of people they represent, and something about each of those people. To keep it simple, imagine no more than 5 people, and make sure they are real people that you know (even though they’ve not necessarily agreed to join you in this project!)

**Pause here while you write this down, perhaps with some stick figures, around the edge of your piece of paper.**

The Co-Creating Change process takes place over 5 steps. Here is an example of a planning web for a sustainable neighbourhood. You will create something like this for your own vision.

Breakthrough- (X1.00)-2

Step 1: Creating a shared vision

Imagine sitting down with your small group of people and having an idea about something that you want to do together. Some practical examples could be something like creating a one-time event together, or it might be an ongoing project, a new business, or an integrated campaign for social change in regard to your particular issue. So think of a project idea, whatever pops up in your head as an example, and write that in a circle in the middle of your paper.

Now do an imaginary brainstorm around your imaginary group, hearing from everybody about what their different ideas for this project would be. Take a bit of time and maybe next to the names of each of the people that you’ve written down, write any ideas you imagine them sharing about the project.

**Pause here while you do this, writing people’s ideas next to the stick figures around the edge of your paper.**

Once you’ve imagined hearing from each of the individual members of the group, we invite you to integrate those different perspectives into one vision statement. It can be one long sentence or a couple of sentences, describing in essence the core aspects of what it is that you want to create together (see our example below for a tree-planting project). (For the purposes of this exercise, maybe make it a smaller, achievable vision. It doesn’t need to be capped in that way, however you might like to start with a simpler version for your first time using this process.)

**Pause here while you do this.**

Step 2: Finding goals

Take that vision statement and break it down. Separate that overall holistic vision into a list of separate goals or aspects of that vision (no more than 5 or 6 different goals). You see that there are different parts of the vision, different aspects that you would need to achieve in order to create a whole project, a whole vision. (Our sustainable neighbourhood example above shows 8 goals, so we’d want to try and combine some to reduce their number.)

Then take each of the five or six different goals you identified. Write each goal inside a smaller circle around the outside of the big centre circle.

**Pause here while you do this.**

Step 3: Choosing roles

Imagine each imaginary person in your group, taking on one of those goals. Of the people in your group, think about what goals they might be interested in taking on, based on what you know about them with regards to their personal interest, or skills, what sorts of things they would feel particularly passionate about, interested in or skilled to deal with. Write one of your group member’s names next to each goal.

**Pause here while you do this.**

Step 4: Taking steps towards the vision

Just around the outside of your central vision circle, write either your whole vision statement, or some key words from that vision statement, or a summary of that vision statement. You might want to draw an image or a few symbols to help illustrate what you hope to achieve.

Draw lines between your goals and your central vision, to represent the stepping stones or pathways to achieve the vision.

** Pause here while you do this. **

Imagine that you are physically with your team of people, and that this “web” pattern is laid out on the floor.

Imagine them standing in a circle, with each of them holding one of the goals, looking to the centre of the circle where the vision sits. This vision is the thing that is inspiring all of you, and yet each of you are taking on separate responsibilities based on your abilities and interests.

Imagine everybody actually taking a few physical steps forwards into the circle towards this vision. Imagine each person taking steps towards achieving their particular goal in order to co-create the shared vision.

You’re one of those people, taking on responsibility for one of those goals. Whatever goal it is that you are responsible for, I invite you to think of some tangible, important steps that need to be taken to work towards that particular goal.

**Pause here while you ponder this and write some ideas down.***

Step 5: Focusing on synergies

If you are doing this process alone, we invite you to take one more of those goals and imagine taking responsibility for coordinating that goal and standing in the circle, focused towards that central vision, taking on that second goal. What steps would be important to take in order to achieve that second goal?

[If you are actually doing this in a real group of people, ask the others to share the goals they have taken on and the steps to reach their goals.]

**Pause here while you do this.**

Then compare the different ideas for the achieving goals that you and other people have come up with. Are there any synergies or crossovers? In other words, how are you thinking alike and differently? How can you help each other to reach this collective vision? These synergies are often the places to focus your initial energy, because they will be easy wins, easy things to achieve and collaborate on.

Each person in the group needs to be interested in the success, not only of their own goal, but of each others goals. Without the successful realisation of all of the goals the vision itself will not become a reality.

Reflection: What is special about this Planning Web process is that you can actually take a vision that is very inspiring and poetic, even abstract, and make it into something that is very practical, realistic and achievable.

Now you have learned about this tool, we invite you to use it in real life! Find or create your small group of passionate allies … even one buddy is a start… and start playing with a planning web.

The next step is to convert your vision from this circular group form into an actual strategic plan. This can often be drawn up like a table with a list of tasks and various people taking on particular responsibilities, timelines and priorities. Here is an example of a vision statement, group and strategic plan for a tree planting project.

BREAKTHROUGH- (X0.85)

Now it is time to get practical about implementing those tasks, priorities and timelines.

In terms of taking action, one of the best things to do is to identify some of the actions or items in the strategic plan that are easily achievable. These might be the items that are synergistic or overlapping, where people can collaborate to get two wins for the price of one. Identify where people’s enthusiasm and energy is and perhaps you want to start there.

As you take on these actions, really enjoy and celebrate them, even if they are small wins and achievements. It is also important to publicise and communicate those successes along the way. It is that joyfulness, that celebration and positive reinforcement that can get other people excited and draw them into the project, process or movement.


“A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world”

                               – inscription on a church in Sussex, England, 1730


Source: This Co-Creating Change exercise was created by Eshana Bragg based on a strategic planning tool called The Planning Web, originally developed by Peter Cuming of Sustainable Futures Australia in 1996. It has been used for collaborative planning involving up to 200 people – from large city-scale sustainability plans to small projects with indigenous communities in the bush – all with successful on-the-ground outcomes.

 

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