I've just spent an hour or so here after a few months of just 'dipping in' very fleetingly... I just wanted to say thank you everyone for the interesting, challenging, and affirming contributions herein. Particularly, thanks to Becki for keeping us all going with your prompts and questions, ensuring none of us forget this network is here!
After I was at the Toronto Summer Institute last summer (oh how I miss being there) I was amazed as I watched this site unfold before my eyes. It was literally created during the week of the institute. Since then, I've used Ning to create a communication network for circles of friends after person-centered planning. I've used it to create a network for Micro Enterprise for people with disabilities (http://micro2e.ning.com) I've used it for the Make a Difference initiative based on the work of people from the institute and initiated by Anne Mitchel (http://madnet.ning.com). I've also used it to create a network of spiritual bloggers locally so that we could share our work with each other. (see http://www.ronirvine.net/blog.html)
Needless to say how bummed I was to hear Ning is going a become a pay site. I don't have the quantity of followers on my networks to justify the expense. So I've migrated my Micro Enterprise site to our own site with the help of Davenport College business students. http://www.micro2e.org For the others, I'm creating new ways to migrate the content. But the Make a Difference Network, I'm going to refer to this site. The number of people on here is gaining the momentum needed to sustain interaction in ways that small sites cannot do. The Micro Enterprise network can also benefit from everyone's experience here. So I plan to be more intentional about linking to this site and using it in ways I had hoped to use the sites I created for.
I think that using the momentum of this community of practice and focusing it into more specialized communities of practice would be very valuable. This has been done already, but continuing in that direction would provide more "pull" for those I'd like to refer here. I'm not sure about areas of practice others are interested in but I can and have named some for me and my work:
~ Micro Enterprise and micro lending for marginalized populations (people with disabilities, people living in poverty, those with felonies, single parents, etc). Networking, sharing info on resources, best practices, and funding sources.
~ Community of practice on creating and expanding inclusion for groups of people that are still left out of the mainstream in organizations and communities. For example, a friend of mine has started a consulting firm that facilitates something like Institutes for Healing Racism except that his focus in on the LGBT community. I think that maybe facilitation technics and best practices could be useful across sectors.
~ I'd love to see a group that focuses on authentic person centered practice tools and resources across many sectors of society. I love MAPS and PATH but I also think that there are other processes that could lend themselves to the needs of groups in communities, organizations, churches, etc. For example, Beyond Welfare is a great initiative we are looking at here in Grand Rapids among churches that are anchored in low income neighborhoods. Not sure if it will spring up from a network of churches or from a community development agency. This concept could be used to meet a wide variety of community needs. Clearness Committees have been used in Quaker gatherings for several centuries. This deep listening group practice that centers for two to three hours around a focus person and an issue they are struggling with surrounded by a circle of supportive friends. I guess among us Quakers, I should capitalize "Friends". I see MAPS and PATH type planning processes being used very effectively among people re-entering society from prison, and a so many other settings. These processes could be used in Clearness Committees if more structure and closure is needed.
~ I'm also interested in the experiences of others that have put into practice mindfulness (meditation or source) practices over the past year. I know these have changed my life. I have found myself gravitating toward and joining several groups in my community that have these practices at their core that I didn't even know about before.
Thanks Ron. I appreciate all of your feedback and will think on all of it. We would be very pleased to host the Make a Difference Network under the umbrella network of Inclusion Network. It would work really well if you started a 'Group', migrated some of the existing content, and then redirected your members to this site. Thanks very much for this intention - we are excited about it! We appreciate your leadership and all that you contribute here and having your continue to lead and facilitate groups on this network is just want we want to do! Please let us know if there is anything more that we can do to help. - Becki
My experience here on the Inclusion network site is simply inspiring! I love knowing that I have a place to come to, to share in my frustrations, thoughts, and most importantly, knowing that I can ask for advice without feeling silly or judged.
People that I have had discussions with on here all seem truly dedicated in creating a more inclusive world for vulnerable people.
A great place to visit!