Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This Thanksgiving, I'm Grateful to Work At Netcentric Campaigns

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite day of the year. Not only is it a chance to spend quality time with family cooking, playing sports, taking long walks and laughing but it’s a time to be grateful. Each year, my family goes around the table sharing one thing we are grateful for. We often go multiple rounds, and every year at least one person sheds a tear as they share their gratitude.

This year is my first Thanksgiving working at Netcentric Campaigns, so I’m jumping at the opportunity to express my gratitude. So I’m making five rounds around the virtual table today and sharing the top reasons I love working here:

  1. Networks are powerful. Ever since I was a little girl, when I would loan Monopoly money to my best friend so the game would never end, I’ve believed in the power of collaboration. Collaboration between people working on the same movement just makes sense. If we want to fight the nasty problems in our society, we cannot do it alone!
  2. The bigger the challenge, the more excited I am to wake up in the morning. Netcentric Campaigns is uniting people to fight some pretty big, scary topics. We are building networks to fight everything from big oil to racial inequity. Some days I look around and think, “Thank goodness these people are as crazy as I am!”
  3. There are so many more challenges to tackle. Not only are we already taking on some great issues, there are so many more I want to go after. I’m dying for an opportunity to build a network of people fighting for immigration reform in the U.S. There are so many big issues that advocacy networks could effectively take on.
  4. This organization prioritizes the right things. As a veteran of nonprofits, and a witness to the inner-workings of many others, I know they can take a toll on your personal life. Working all day to save the world sometimes means that you aren’t able to prioritize your own world quite as much. Not the case at Netcentric Campaigns. I love that this organization values work/life balance and is just as encouraging of personal goals and commitments as professional ones.
  5. We’ve got an awesome team. We are small but mighty. We’ve got a great group of people who all bring vastly diverse perspectives to the table. I’m honored to work with each person here.
This Thanksgiving, I’ll definitely use up one of my rounds expressing gratitude for a great job that gets me excited to go to work every day. What are you grateful for?

flicker | puzzler4879

Monday, November 17, 2014

People Powered Against the Harms of Fracking

Natural gas is hailed by the energy industry as the future for powering America. But the production of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — also presents significant public health and environmental dangers. As investments in natural gas development expand across the country, so too does our understanding and awareness of its harmful impacts.

No one individual or organization can stand alone against the power of industry to halt the harms of fracking. The fracking movement — natural gas developers and their allies — is well-funded and well-organized. Several coalitions of developers are made up of hundreds of members, from industry giants to local law firms and businesses, who are banding together to grab as much as they can and push for a wild west of fracking for natural gas.

This doesn't mean those working on the ground to combat the dangers of fracking are already defeated, but in order to achieve success these localized individuals and groups must work together. To do so, they need the coordinated support of the foundations dedicated to protecting the communities in the pathway of natural gas development.

fracking, dangers, environment, health, global warming, unconventional gas developmentFor this reason, The Halt the Harm Network was created. This Network will connect and empower leaders at the local and national level to each other, and also to the shared resources and strategies needed to successfully combat the financial and political power of industry.

In 2012, the natural gas industry commissioned a report to provide a risk assessment of social activism related to fracking. Titled “The Global Anti-Fracking Movement,” the report included definitions for “Social Activism Risk Rankings,” the highest of which was labeled as “Significant.” Their definition of “Significant” risks is exactly what Halt the Harm is designed to be:

“Activist groups are well organized and actively network internationally. Campaigns are directed specifically against unconventional gas development. Social activism poses considerable political risks and moderate operational and security risks to unconventional gas development.”

The fracking industry sees well-organized networks of activists, like Halt the Harm, as significant threats. The reason? They know, like we do, that an empowered network of leaders and supporters is the only way industry will be prevented from causing more irreparable harm to communities across the country and our global climate.

The Halt the Harm Network will provide needed services and support to Leaders who are working to halt fracking harms, and will run directed campaigns to generate new Supporters for the movement. Ultimately, the connections among leaders facilitated by the Network will foster collaboration among them.

The tagline developed to describe the purpose of the Halt the Harm Network is: “People Powered Against the Harms of Fracking.” Those people, many of whom are already heavily engaged – and many, many more who remain unaware or ill-informed about the array of harms caused by fracking – need the support and connections Halt the Harm Network can provide them. This network, powered by the people, will enable leaders across the country to band together and halt fracking’s harms.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Seven Elements of a Successful Advocacy Network

netcentric, advocacy, networks, social change, foundations
There are lots of different types of networks. You probably are part of several networks in your own life, from college alumni organizations and career listservs to neighborhood issue groups and parent associations. Sometimes networks are less structured—think about your different groups of close friends and who you interact with in different areas of your life.

Advocacy networks are a bit different. They are designed to bring together many different types of people and organizations to achieve change. Sometimes, these people haven’t interacted before—and on occasion, they have even been rivals.

For an advocacy network to succeed, the players have to both come together and work efficiently alongside one another in order to achieve a common goal. Through our work, we’ve realized that there are Seven Elements of an Advocacy Network that must be accounted for in a network to make sure it succeeds:
  1. Building social ties among the people in a network is a smart and strategic investment, and an essential step in creating trust and working together effectively. Trusting one another allows them to communicate with fewer misunderstandings, makes it easier for them to overcome strategy disagreements, and facilitates collaboration, even when the work of advocacy and social change strains the participants with increased demands.
  2. All networks need a way (or ways) that members can engage in various types of conversations and exchanges. These online and offline channels make up the communications grid of the network, and help participants align work, solve issues and build identity as a group.
  3. A common language reinforces the identity of the network and helps participants work to resolve any conflict. Being able to understand jargon, acronyms, and organization or movement-specific terms and phrases ensures that all members are on the same page, helps cut down on confusion, and makes it easier for members to talk through their problems.
  4. Having a clear vision is a must for any successful advocacy network. It is important to work with network participants to define a clear vision and help them understand the advantages of being a part of the network. This vision ultimately guides the network's culture and helps participants focus their activities.
  5. Shared resources are created when participants contribute their skills, talents, experiences, expertise, services and funding streams so that others may take advantage of their work. This can save network participants time and money, Shared resources not only provide power and value to users, they are often key to attracting participation and creating deeper conversations about governance and protocols for the use of a network. They also enable the network to be more than a discussion or knowledge-sharing community.
  6. Actors are people who monitor resources, create messaging, outline participant responsibilities and receive feedback, and thus drive the activities of the network. Identifying and supporting the actors in a network is very important, as they can then encourage others to be more involved.
  7. Gaining Feedback on network activity is essential to ensuring that leaders and other participants understand the trends, resources and needs of the entire network. Creating mechanisms to provide that feedback should be a priority for any network.
And there you have it: our keys to building a successful advocacy network.  No one element is any more important than the other: The whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts in this case.

In future posts, we’ll dig into each element a little bit more. Have general questions or comments about our Seven Elements? Let us know below!

Image courtesy: flicker | Chris Potter