Sunday, September 09, 2012

Expanding social capital. Library as network.

This Thursday, September 13, I’m participating in an event at the Groupon Headquarters in Chicago organized by the Social Enterprise Alliance – Chicago Chapter(SEA/Chicago).

This event will connect social entrepreneurs in Chicago with others from around the world by linking live with the Social Capital World Forum 2012.

I’ve written many articles in the past talking about strategies that connect people from different organizations, different places, and different ideas with myself and each other. My participation in this Thursday’s event is just one more part of this on-going network building.

So, you might ask, who are you trying to connect?

In the Introduction page on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site I show that there are a wide range of potential users of the information on the web site. This graphic illustrates an intent to connect “people who can help” with “places where people need help”. This is one of many graphics I've created to illustrate this.

I attend conferences and meetings all the time. Last Thursday I attended the 25th Anniversary of the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation as the guest of Brian Banks. I heard Bill Strckland, president-CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, talk about making the impossible possible. I met “coach” Wayne L. Gordon, Head Pastor of Lawndale Christian Church, and the founder of LCDC.

Who is My Neighbor? from Park Community Church on Vimeo.

I point to people like these in my library because they are inspirational leaders who have built institutions for community change over many years of persistent effort, overcoming many obstacles in the process.

I don't yet know these people. Attending an event does not build a relationship I was just one person in the crowd. I may have visited their web sites, and added them to the Tutor/Mentor Connection library. That does not mean they responded by visiting the T/MC web site. Thus, the question I focus on is "How do we connect in on-going informal relationship building, idea sharing, and brainstorming" that might lead to partnerships and collective actions?

When I attend the SEA/Chicago event on Thursday I’ve been asked to introduce the World Social Capital Forum because I’ve been in conversation with some of its leaders on Facebook for nearly a year. We’ve been forming relationships and sharing information. I’ve been adding new ideas to my library, such as this collection of articles.

Have you ever considered a “library” to be a network?
Think of it. There are thousands of books organized by category in every public and college library. Each is full of ideas. Each was written by someone who spent extensive time researching these ideas.

On Monday I’m attending an event at the Chicago Public Library where I’ll listen to Paul Tough and Alex Kotlowitz. These would be two authors found in any library. They both are represented among the 2000 links I host in the Tutor/Mentor Connection Library. The map below is one way of showing information we collect and share. If you follow the links in this concept map you go on a journey that constantly can expand the ideas and people who might help you in your own efforts.

The difference from a public library and the T/MC library
is that the public library has information on a broad range of topics, but does not have anyone trying to mobilize people around any segment of that information in order to improve social problem solving. If you review the Tutor/Mentor Connection's four-part strategy, the information is just one part of an organizing and problem solving process aimed at helping build volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs that help kids through school and into jobs and careers.

I encourage you to read some of the articles on social capital and knowledge management that I’ve collected. These talk of expanding networks and show tools for analyzing social networks so you can use them more effectively.

Getting the people associated with each of the links in the library connected and talking to each other, in Internet space where others can also participate, is a goal I think many of us share. It would expand the social capital and knowledge for everyone participating the network.

So, what would it take to draw representatives from each of these links into Facebook, Linked in or other forums where we talk together, share ideas, and look for ways to work collectively to solve problems?

I think one solution would be to invite people attending events to add their name to Google Maps, attendee lists, etc. Another would be to host on-line forums along with the events. Many are already beginning to do this with Twitter hashtags. The hash tag for Thursday’s event is #NextSocEnt

I hope that the events I attend this week will result in new connections for everyone who participates. I hope they also result in a few new connections that help me build and sustain the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC problem solving platform and network of support for youth in high poverty areas of Chicago.


SQuad said...

I'm glad to be connected with you sir. You have an expansive resource library and I'm working to diligently navigate through your sites. Thanks again for taking time to speak with me last week.


SQuad said...

I'm glad to be connected with you sir. You have an expansive resource library and I'm working to diligently navigate through your sites. Thanks again for taking time to speak with me last week.