Generating ideas, connections, and action

Elissa Perry's blog

Momentum - The Title

Momentum 2008 thus far, has been a terrific gathering. Well worth the time, in fact, exponentially so. I have so many notes and thoughts though that I've finally come up with an approach to lite digestion and sharing. My plan is to go topic by topic as the event was structured and talk about what resonated. I begin with looking at the title followed by the premise for bringing us together.

The Title

Wikipedia describes Momentum as the product of the mass and velocity of an object (p = mv) in its classic definition.

This all makes sense to me. And for a moment this morning, I wondered as I recalled and heard people talk about the experience of grandparents that propels them forward - a strong hand in the small of the back - and about visions of a different world that draw others forward into an imagined future, does momentum come from experience or from hope? It only took a few minutes to realize that both are necessary for momentum to matter at all and momentum is essential.

Wikipedia also tells us that Momentum is "a conserved quantity, meaning that the total momentum of any closed system (one not affected by external forces) cannot change." So are the systems we are trying to impact open or closed? If they are open then what are the external forces that are effecting them and in what direction? What does this mean for a sector? What does it mean for how we lead?

John Edwards spoke about breaking down silos, the intersection of systems of oppression, and the necessity of national leadership in the opening plenary session on Sunday night. But I'm getting ahead of myself! Stay tuned for more!


Greetings from Momentum 2008 put on by the Tides Center. The format this year is inspired by TED and is packed with inspirational folks. Stay tuned for missives from the gathering. In the meantime, checkout the conference site and its WiserEarth page.

Social Media: Changing How Change Happens

The power of social media for change is being talked about and leveraged all over the place.

  • John Fontana's recent post on Network World highlights the value of "citizen" engagement, social media and web-based networking in the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.
  • Clay Shirky's recent book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations talks about how social media has removed or lessened many of the barriers to self-organizing (and in my thinking lessened the relevance of the nonprofit model so that many things can be accomplished with "adhocracies"). The book itself has a blog too, where readers are active commenters.
  • The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) and Beth Kanter are facilitating a wiki project to develop a social media curriculum specifically for nonprofits and change initiatives called Be the Media: The Social Media Empowerment Guide for Nonprofits.
  • And, over at NetSquared - Remixing the Web for Social Change, there's a veritable cornucopia of stories, examples and how-to's regarding social media and geared for nonprofits and change initiatives.

    Indeed, social media is changing how change happens. So what does this mean for leadership development - how programs are structured and supported, how are people recruited and selected, what's included in curriculum and how do we evaluate? My general instinct is that the term "leader" will be thought of as a fixed definition of a singular individual less and less. And we will talk more and more about leadership as a context-specific process exercised both by people and groups of people at different points in time. What is nonprofit leadership for 2020? What do you think?

How to Create a Stronger Nonprofit Sector?

Over on Perspectives from the Pipeline, the blog of ever insightful nonprofit leader, Rosetta Thurman, Rosetta is addressing the question of how to create a stronger nonprofit sector. Her answer? "It's the people, stupid."

She outlines three opportunities we need to examine and pursue as we move from crisis to action concerning leadership in the nonprofit sector.

They are:

  • A Renewed Sense of Individual Responsibility
  • Accommodation of Innovative Ideas
  • and, A More Inclusive Model of Leadership

It is a thought provoking post, check it out now.

Social Media Learning Circle

photo of Elissa taken by eekim

The Social Media and Leadership Learning Circle had an initial meeting on May 16, 2008 in the Bay Area. read more »

Online Activism and Social Change

Over on the NetSquared Think Tank Blog (net2thinktank), Britt Bravo is asking the question "Is Online Activism Good for Social Change?" (She will be posting answers from around the net after May 20th.)

My immediate gut reaction is yes, online activism is a useful tool for social change. But then, I quickly waver over to "no," as when I sign a petition on a website, and think I have done something meaningful toward making the world a better place, that's a bit of a problem. Have I actually had an effect, or do I look good on a grant report and like an engaged potential member/donor to a development team? read more »

"New" Architectures and Change: A Bay Area Discussion on Leadership and Social Media

The social web is a brand new way of doing very old things with still emerging implications. The nature of change has always been connected and collective but our recent history and the infrastructure of the nonprofit sector and our social change organizations has been much less so. We as a people, and our communication tools, are on a path to bring the individual and the collective back into balance and planning for this is both impossible and necessary. A document in progress examining this shift is available here.

Join the Bay Area LLC on May 16th, 2008 (save the date!) to discuss this topic live and in person at the next Bay Area circle gathering.

Evaluation Wisdom - an overview of evaluating leadership development programs

If you would like to learn more about how leadership programs evaluate their outcomes and impacts, e.g., what outcomes and indicators they define, what approaches, methods, and sources of informati read more »

News from the Evaluation Circle

Handbook of Leadership Development Evaluation

The Handbook of Leadership Development Evaluation is now available! The Handbook provides broad and practical information about how to conduct leadership development evaluations using a variety of approaches. This companion site includes the book's introduction, a summary of each chapter, and links to resources that are mentioned in each chapter. The Handbook was edited by Kelly Hannum, Jennifer Martineau (both with The Center for Creative Leadership), and Claire Reinelt of LLC and brings together a collection of outstanding leadership development evaluators from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors to share their learning about leadership development evaluation design, implementation and use in different contexts. read more »

Creating Space VII - 2006

At Creating Space VII, the Evaluation Learning Circle hosted three sessions. Click on the links below for more information and resources. read more »

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