I came across an interesting organizational approach in an Incommons newsletter. Incommons is an outreach tool of the Bush Foundation, which supports community solutions through online resources. They passed along information about “Network Weaving,” an approach to leadership that requires the hands of many instead of counting on a few people to push an initiative forward and make things happen.

I find this latter mode of leadership increasingly challenging in the face of some of the complex problems we're facing today. Fewer and fewer people are involved in creating or changing systems that provide the foundations of our public and private lives. We are participating less in these important conversations, waiting for someone else to come up with solutions and then effectively deciding their fates by rewarding or denying them financial support. With less involvement, we are often left to decide which marketing campaign is most appealing.

The network weaving approach focuses on bringing more people into the conversation by helping others become leaders, bringing in new voices, and connecting across divides - not by getting people to agree but by getting them to agree to experiment. Solutions are then developed and implemented, which is where the heavy lifting still comes in, but the groundwork has theoretically has been laid to make that piece easier. And community is built in small, diverse, energetic (and project-oriented) interconnected groups, rather than in traditional top-down hierarchy, which can get stagnant pretty quickly.

You still need someone to provide that interconnection, but it’s more of a churning function than implementation. We’re doing something like this at our church, where a group of leaders has been meeting for a year or so to understand needs and mission. This conversation interacts with our church cabinet to develop short and long-term goals that are then carried out by the commissions and congregation.

I mentioned previously the Starling process in the Creative Enterprise Zone where a group came together over a couple meetings to develop a business and strategic plan for Pop-up shops on the corridor which addressed several needs: providing temporary space for potential start-up businesses, revenue for property owners and activity to previously empty storefronts. They were supported by the D12 Council but did most of it on their own with great success.

I believe some version of this is the future as it’s the way younger generations like to engage. Social media is certainly a part of it as well, but if we want to bring new ideas, energy and people into our musty and outdated systems, we need to find new structures that allow for flexibility and creativity. They have to be more accessible, faster and more effective. Network weaving sounds like it’s an approach that could deliver those results.  The world is definitely becoming flatter - if we don’t change our systems, they will simply be bypassed.

D12 – This Saturday is the Home Tour, which is a major fundraiser for the Community Council. The tour is this Saturday, October 6 from 10:00 to 3:00. Advance tickets are $15 and are available at Bibelot on Como, Micawber’s,
the little wine shoppe, and St. Paul Classic Cookie (on Territorial). Day of the tour, purchase tickets at Park Midway Bank on Como for $20. Get your tickets now for $15 at www.sapcc.org/hometourGive & Take is coming up a week from tonight, Oct. 10, from 6:30 – 9pm at the Mattress Factory building at 558 Vandalia. What do you know? and what do you want to know? are the two questions that will get everyone engaged in this creative and fun free event. Join in with neighbors to socialize and listen to short presentations on creative enterprises over a refreshing beverage from the cash bar.

Schools – if you go to Davanni’s tonight in Roseville, you can help contribute to the StAP Elementary School. You need to bring in a coupon, which you can find here and print up here, 20% of the total sales between 4-8pm will go to the school…to keep up with all that’s happening at the school, check out their new blog, it’s great…Murray’s Parent Association is sponsoring a parent forum on the school science fair next Monday at 7pm in the school library. The science teachers will talk about how you can help your students with their projects and answer any questions…Como High will host a College Planning and Financial Info night this Thursday, Oct. 4 from 6-7pm…Their homecoming week and parade was apparently very successful with over 150 students taking part in the parade. As far as I know, the late night pranks were limited to relocating a few lawn signs and TPing student some homes. Como has done a great job of making that week a fun and safe experience for the entire community.

StAPnotes – there will be a Victorian “interactive mystery” at our branch library this Saturday presented by the Red Ribbon Steampunk Club. You can arrive at any time between noon and 2:30pm to start the game. Sounds like fun, for more info, please call the Library at 642-0411…the Norman Borlaug Food & Hunger 5K will be run or walked this Saturday starting at the St. Paul Campus to benefit Second Harvest Food Shelf. Borlaug was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and U of M graduate who has been credited with saving more than a billion people from starvation. For more info check out this link…Jill Kottke is looking for volunteers to help with the Como High Golf fundraiser this Saturday. It should be a lovely day and a good cause. Contact Jill if you can help…Music in the Park Series is kicking off its season with the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin performing quartets by Mozart, Lutoslawski and Beethoven this Sun, Oct 7, 4pm. Their sound is described as combining "warmth, clarity and a sense of drama on a human scale."  For info contact the Schubert Club…Mary Hamel shares a wish list from a local nonprofit called Alliance Housing.  

Okay, that’s plenty for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.