Planning Our Community Engagement Tour: Post #2

This post is the 2nd in a series describing Creating the Future’s first “Road Tour,” a two-month community engagement effort that saw our founders connecting with people in communities across California and Nevada in late 2018. You can read these posts from the beginning here.

The Idea
Before we get into how we planned for this 2 month engagement tour, let’s start with the impetus for the trip. Because like many things in life, that impetus was emergent, birthed of circumstances that made the trip feel almost inevitable.

It started with a demonstration project we have been doing with the Nevada Department of Education. That project is exciting, and we’ll share more about it in subsequent posts. For now, the important part is that the project was going to require that our team be in northern Nevada twice this fall, a few days in October, and another few days in November.

Separate from that demonstration project, we have been working with a team to find partners to build out Creating the Future’s programs. One of those team members is in the Bay Area – a few hours drive from Carson City. The other one is in Fresno, a few hours drive from the Bay Area.

Add in the fact that Dimitri and I spend Thanksgiving with family in Los Angeles every year, and you can see how this tour began to take shape.

The Plan
Once we began thinking about taking the mission on the road, Catalytic Thinking guided us from there. Practitioners of Catalytic Thinking will recognize that our first questions were about what the trip could make possible, and especially for whom.

This short video clip talks about why it is so important to consider “for whom” in any action.

The list of “for whoms” included people in the community benefit arena (nonprofit & social enterprise professionals), people working in foundations and philanthropy, corporate leaders, academics, and many more.

For all those individuals and groups, what could be possible if Creating the Future people were with them in their communities? The chart at this link shows how we answered the question for each of the groups we hoped to encounter. As you look at that chart, you will notice that this is not about a “marketing target,” where the question is about what we want those individuals to do for us – just the opposite! This is about what our being there could make possible for THEM.

Importantly, we also asked that question about our own goals. “What could a tour make possible for Creating the Future’s mission?”

The answer to that one was simple – modeling our mission in action. Creating the Future’s mission is systems change, so that the systems we all encounter day-to-day are aimed at bringing out the best in us. Our work is a combination of experimenting – demonstrating what happens when Catalytic Thinking is applied in a variety of circumstances – and then sharing what we learn from those demonstrations.

Sharing that learning was what the trip would be about! Simultaneously, we would be building relationships with people who care about the same things we care about. And we would be modeling what all of that looks like through the lens of Collective Enoughness.

In short, the tour would be modeling the 3 core tenets of Catalytic Thinking.

  1. Our power to create powerful results lies in our power to create favorable cause-and-effect conditions towards our dreams.
  2. The most favorable conditions begin and end with bringing out the best in people vs. focusing on stuff (money, food, education).
  3. Together we have everything we need; it is only on our own that we experience scarcity. (The reality of Collective Enoughness)

We would be accomplishing our mission by activating people to change the systems within which they find themselves.

From there the plan was simple – simple because we applied Catalytic Thinking at every turn.
        – What do we want every stop on the tour to accomplish?
        – Who else cares about what we care about, to help make that happen?
        – What do we have together, that we can build upon to create success?

Simply by asking that second question, our team grew. Advocates in each community introduced us to their colleagues, providing opportunities to share the mission and engage in meaningful conversation. By asking the third question – the Collective Enoughness question – an otherwise unaffordable trip became infinitely doable.

All rooted in that first question of what we hoped to accomplish, for our own mission and for every other life that would be touched along the way.

In subsequent posts, we’ll share details about the questions we asked as we considered the conditions for success for each of our goals for the trip.

For now, as you plan your own engagement activities…

1) What are you intending to accomplish by engaging? What will be different if you are successful? What are you hoping engaging will make possible for accomplishing your mission?

2) Who are all the various types of people and groups you hope to engage with? Who else cares about the results your work could create? To accomplish everything you noted in #1, which groups or individuals would need to be involved?

3) What could engaging make possible for those people – not just for you, for THEM?

Stay tuned as we continue to share what we learned and accomplished on this 2 month adventure, and all the steps that led to those results. Because OUR mission is that YOU learn and try doing your own work in ways that catalyze change.

Gratitude
Before we get too far into this blogged adventure, I want to thank the people who spent countless hours making the results of this engagement effort possible, all on behalf of Creating the Future’s mission. Shiva and Brad Berman, Alex Budak, Rebecca Altman, Ann Vermel, Elizabeth Sadlon, Gail Meltzer, Laura Steffen, and Creating the Future’s co-director, Rebecca Hurd – thanks beyond thanks for making this engagement tour an overwhelming success in more ways than we can count.

Leave a Comment