Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Pamela Kilborn-Miller's Profile

Email: pamkm (at) comcast (dot) net
Pamela Kilborn-Miller creates information sharing strategies to accelerate positive change. Pam's background includes graduate research via the United Nations and work in various capacities for the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, Microsoft, and several foundations.

Pamela Kilborn-Miller's Recent Posts

Success Criteria For Online Communities That Accelerate Positive Change

September 9th, 2010

How can we unleash the power of self-organizing groups that want to collaborate online to accelerate positive change? After managing, researching, and/or participating in online communities for almost 15 years, I’ve discovered the following success criteria for geographically dispersed groups that are trying to accomplish common goals:

1. Focus – Are the goals imposed from the top-down or developed in collaboration with the stakeholder communities? In Washington, one innovative environmental network collaborated with government, education, business, and citizens at the state, regional, and local levels to create a plan for environmental education that will touch every citizen in the state. The E3 Network subsequently created a custom online platform to help members implement the plan.

2. Audience – The most active, committed, and productive communities have members that need to share information to succeed in their jobs. For communities outside of work, passion for the subject matter increases participation but engagement tends to ebb and flow because people involved in one good cause often have multiple commitments. The good news is that many Seattle seniors are actively involved in social media so there’s an opportunity to build the multi-generational communities that are needed to address our greatest challenges.

3. Credibility – Thought leaders and experts are more likely to engage in online communities that are comprised of their peers. However, if a community is important to the success of an organization then the leadership team should participate. To make it easy for busy people to chime in, online discussions might be scheduled at specific times. If membership in an online community is open to the public, you might want to pre-approve members and home page content, or your network could be vulnerable to a spam attack or angry people who want to vent.

4. Action – What is one inspiring project or campaign your community can focus on that will produce a positive result in less than a year? For example, the Compassionate Action Network asked Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Council to become the first city in the world to affirm the Charter for Compassion. Now, 35 cities around the world have expressed an interest in affirming the Charter that won the 2008 TED Prize for Karen Armstrong. Read the rest of this entry »

City Of Seattle Needs A Unified Vision For Its Future

March 26th, 2010

In 2005, Calgary launched the largest community visioning process of its kind in the world.

imagineCALGARY“ was a city-led, community-driven effort that defined a 100-Year Vision for the city.

5 Simple Questions

Grassroots constituencies including youth, ethnic, disabled, aboriginal, and others, participated in a process that asked as many citizens as possible the following questions:

- What do you value about Calgary?
- What is it like for you to live here?
- What changes would you most like to see?
- What are your hopes and dreams for the next 100 years?
- How can you help make this happen?

18,000 responses were collected at venues ranging from sporting events to lemonade stands. In June 2006, the city published the imagineCALGARY Plan for Long Range Urban Sustainability.

Calgary Plan Overview

- There was a 100-year vision, goals, targets, and strategies. The long-term approach allowed creative thinking beyond the city’s current problems and consideration of larger trends, such as demographic changes and resource scarcity.
- The City of Calgary provided project staff and resources to support the more than 150 stakeholders responsible for developing the plan.
- The city was viewed as a whole system with inter-related parts, such as people, housing, transportation, education, energy, environment, health, income, governance, recreation, animals, and qualitative areas, such as meaningful work.

The key findings included 117 targets with strategies. The targets – on pages 5-11 of the plan – are quite specific, typically combining firm quantitative and clear qualitative elements. They emphasize indicators such as such growing non-oil-related industries; improving air and land environmental quality; improving sustainability in commerce, housing, transportation and waste management; and boosting voter turnout, health and wellness, public engagement and sense of community.

The lifelong learning targets include specific, quantifiably-expressed aims to increase the extent of school readiness; improve achievement in elementary, junior high and high schools; increase post-secondary training or education completed by age 25; and broaden learning opportunities for adults, and adult literacy and numeracy.

However, the plan doesn’t explain how each strategy will be implemented or funded. Instead, a large cross-sector network of partners developed a process for working together, decided which targets to collaborate on, and agreed the partnership will become a model of community action for the future. Read the rest of this entry »