This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Collective Impact and Kumu Relational Mapping - Creating New Ways of Seeing Our Community

Turns out that it is not just this blog offering a connection to the Living Cities online course to others after it has officially finished. The Harwood Institute also has it featured in an email from April 29, except they just provide the link to the first week and one is on their own after that. One then has the choice to go over the materials provided by Living Cities either directly or through these Kumu maps and blog posts. 

It has to be admitted, as someone pointed out, that these blog posts do contain a lot of material, basically because each Living Cities Initiative module contains so much material. Instead of presenting it in a more linear, narrative fashion over separate webpages, it is being presented here, at least initially, graphically on one map and that is more than one blog post of usually about four pages can handle. Even with a series, there are too many possible pathways that could be taken.

All of this might be made easier by just using the Kumu map without having to go through a blog post or the reverse. This is still in an exploring and experimenting phase right now. One experimental question being pursued is whether putting the major components of the course on a relational map, along with some new additional supporting ones, is an effective means of assisting in the learning of the material. Learning includes not only the acquiring of information but also enhancing the ability for perceiving aspects that could be questioned and finding new insights through previously unrealized relationships. 

In the last NCP post, we left connected to the Living Cities Kumu map centered on the Living Cities blog post How Can We Recapture the Spirit of Community Engagement that Built America? There are connections back to material already covered and to other written resources, a related organization StriveTogether which will reappear in weeks 3 and 5, and a number of examples of Our Work being conducted by Living Cities in this arena. Interested parties can read this material on their own now if they wish but this post will move on to other elements. 

We can now complete Module 1 by visiting Additional Resources (click to focus and double click to center). Actually, merely an empty placeholder, Additional Resources connects back to the Tamarack Institute, which was part of the Increasing Levels of Engagement focus of the first blog post of this series, and to the report, Putting Community in Collective Impact, which is part of the Harwood Institute, Community Rhythms discussion in the second blog post of this series.  We can finish with the webinar, It’s About Community, which helps tie it all together and taking a much closer look at the journal article, Designing Public Participation Processes sometime in the future.

We can start then with a different approach with Module 2. This time emphasizing some of the navigational and visual aspects of Kumu mapping. Going over with the map or clicking with the mouse will reveal related, connected elements rather than depending upon forcing the focus.  Clicking a selected element, the one in the circle will reduce the connections to one degree away and double-clicking will center the selected element. 

It may have been realized by now that it is not necessary to click each link in a blog post that connects to a portion of a Kumu map if you can see the relevant element in an already open map, reducing the number of open tabs.  The blog links are intended to help to more quickly locate relevant elements.  Other tips are revealed further down below.

Module 2 introduces ways initiatives can support community groups as they contribute to a collective impact effort. There is an Intro to the module and course, along with an introductory blog post, “Amplifying the Voices of Community Members in Collective Impact”. We will come back to this particular element later in this post. 

The Four Approaches  for Working with Communities, another junction but this time with a related video, connects to three Organizations that can be spotted on the Kumu map because of their yellow colored circle (mouse over the map to reveal) which in turn are connected to the four different approaches, through either Organization Resources elements in lighter yellow or through a bridge blog post, look for "Network building among community members" in purple.

The Harwood Institute from Module 1, connects to one of the Our Work elements for this module, Creating Shared AspirationsTrusted Space Partners, deals with Network building among community members. The third organization is Nexus  Community  Partners which connects to two approaches via Our Work elements, Leadership training  (Nexus; Urban Habitat)  and  Capacity building grants

Building the Field of Community Engagement is a large collaborative Initiative element colored in a darker yellow/orange, that includes Nexus Community Partners, as well as five other core organizations: Casa de Esperanza, Cultural Wellness Center, Hope Community, Lyndale Neighborhood Association, and Native American Community Development Institute. It connects back to the Week 2 element through two Report elements colored in red. One is Distinguish Your Work and the other is a Case study: Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI).

We can finish off this quick tour of the module with Additional resources, this time  on Asset Based Community Development, as a different type of methodology, element in a lighter green, and a related Journal Article element, in a darker red, “Effective Collective Impact: Through the Power of ABCD and RBA

Here, once again, is the full Module 2 Kumu map, but hopefully this time it is easy to see and distinguish the different types of elements and how they all connect together.  Finding your way to a destination with the map though is not the same thing as exploring that territory. That still requires digging deeper into specific sources and materials. 

Here are some more tricks to make navigating easier in the future. Related elements, connected more than one degree away, can be revealed with the icon Focus button, which looks like a telescope sight, located in the toolbar at the bottom of the map. This can go out one, two or three degrees from the element being focused on or you can clear the focus to reveal the whole map, though you may still need to use the mouse on the map first. 

You can also click on a particular element with the control key depressed, which will reveal the next connected elements. Clicking on 'Nexus Community Partners' in this map, with the control key depressed will reveal 'Building the Field of Community Engagement'. This can be repeated with each revealed element until the end of the path is reached. 

If a particular element does not appear in a specific presented portion of the map, then you can place the name or even part of the name in the search box at the top left corner of the map. Try it here with - 'Distinguish Your Work'.  After locating the element, clicking with the control key pushed down will reconnect it with any other directly related elements. 

Two additional tips, there is an icon button, Zoom to Fit, that looks like two arrows heading toward each other in the toolbar at the far top right of the map. Clicking on that button will center and size the map in question to fit the mapping area. There are also three dots at the center of the line dividing the narrative section and the map section. Clicking on these three will either reveal or hide the narrative section, allowing the map section to become larger with the Zoom to Fit button.

The hope is that these posts help to begin making any inherent complexity related to Collective Impact a bit more coherent. Whether or not the effort is worth the trouble and for whom, cannot be said right now and very likely will take to the end of this series before that can be determined.

I have been following Collective Impact since last year but to be truthful have been somewhat ambivalent about it, thinking that it may be too good to be true and having some potential disagreements with a particular view of complexity. This series is my first time writing about it.

All of this fits in with a larger question or trend of large scale transformational efforts by non-government collaborative consortiums. Other examples include the newly arising The Next Systems Project sponsored by the Democracy Collaborative and another is NetGain: Working Together for a Stronger Digital Society lead by the Knight, MacArthur, Open Society, Mozilla, and Ford Foundations working together. I am wondering how this all fits together particularly within the seams between institutional government, civil society and individual community members. For most individual community members these are outside the normal political processes and administrative systems, crossing jurisdictional boundaries, and go beyond the usual civil society relationships. 

It was mentioned above that we would return to the introductory blog post, “Amplifying the Voices of Community Members in Collective Impact”. Under the narrative section for this element on the left side, in bold is Bridging Module 1 and Module 2.  Clicking on this link will reveal a new map. This map contains material and resources from both Module 1 and Module 2, along with additional new material and resources. Most of the various elements discussed so far are represented though there are a number of new Organization Resource type elements provided. Reading the actual blog post, Amplifying the Voices of Community Members in Collective Impact together with the Modules 1 to 2 Bridge map is intended as suggested above to strengthen the learning and future applicability in designing new Collective Impact Initiatives. 

So far, this has amounted for the most part to skimming the surface despite the amount of material contained in either the blog posts or Kumu maps.  It will be necessary to return, more than a few times. The final design currently being developed is intended to not only make it easy to return later for deeper exploration but to make it possible for others with a cursory understanding of the content and process to go on their own pathways of exploration to find new community paradigms.

Past Posts