Visualize the networked nature of the environmental movement...Another presenter at the Planetworks argued that we didn't need to focus on the network-enabling infrastructure but should continue to build larger more centralized organizations. The problems are that he is wrong and I can't draw. How can folks understand that our movement and our groups are a network? How can I help shift perspective to network level away from the group and campaign focus? What would the network-centric view of the liberal movement look like?
The environmental movement is a network of organizations, people and campaigns. We are not a competitive market or top-down hierarchy. This image from http://www.touchgraph.com is a great visualization of typical nodes and hubs that make up the modern environmental movement. I look at this image as a map of the national, regional and state organizations that connect to each other through thousands of points of interaction. I want these lines to represent the phone calls, emails, campaigns and friendships (not the web links presented by touchgraph). The ideal map of the environmental network would also show the thousands of groups not connected to the "pure" environmental agenda or larger groups. In a bigger map (again that I can not draw) I see three or four of these identical maps of civil rights groups, education, family health, immigration, trade, etc. There are not enough points of connection.
In an ideal map, we would see more direct links from node to node and multiple links and nodes to multiple hubs. I want to see the connections made by the staff that move from one organization to another, the board members that serve on multiple boards and the funders that bridge so many groups. We are a network. We need to see it. We need to find more powerful ways to connect. Most importantly, we need to find ways to exploit the power of those connections.
Until we do there is little return on the network diversity and we might as well follow the advice of the old guard and build him some bigger (clients) organizations.