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September 07, 2010


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I guess I don't see how this is an innovative proposal: nonprofits already work within networks, either locally through partnerships, regionally and nationally through associations, and crosswise through affinity networks (like NTEN or AFP). And new networks are being started all the time as new tools and professionalizations emerge. That these networks haven't formed into networks of networks is the age-old issue of resources: nobody funds capacity building, and networking is not program delivery.

For this initiative (and I understand knowing where the organizers are coming from), I'm a little disappointed that it's framed as a technology problem (and from the video, a "war"). It may be an issue of "interoperability" as they frame it, but the problem isn't that our websites aren't talking. The problem is that we're not talking, we're not creating consensus between our different visions for the future, and we aren't developing common actions to bring us closer to them. Speaking of the 1960s, whatever happened to leadership development schools like the Highlander Folk School. Why haven't they grown at the same pace as the rest of the nonprofit sector?

In terms of building global networks, my opinion is that you must strengthen them from the bottom. Which means funding local engagement and community organizing. I would like to see more donors and funders supporting local social justice outcomes---which requires, as you've been writing about lately, developing a vision.

This whole thing makes me think of a quote from the conclusion Rushkoff's "Life Inc.":

We’d each like to launch a national movement, create the website that teaches the world how to build community from the bottom up, develop the curriculum that saves public schools, or devise the clever anti-marketing media campaign that breaks the spell of advertising once and for all. But these ego trips are the artifacts of the strident individualism we were taught to embrace. The temptation to save the whole world—and get the credit—comes at the expense of steps we might better take to make our immediate world a more fruitful, engaging, sustainable, and satisfying place.

Ben, thank you for the very thoughtful and nuanced response. I learned a lot from it. Also, thank you for the Rushkoff quotation, that is one to treasure. I will file it under Philanthropy/Hyperagents.

So, we have the hyperagents, the supperrich, and the megarich, and the rich, who are said to be able to save us, and we have the nonprofits who can indeed sometimes network and sometimes do, and we have meliorism, the gradual making of things better - one cruel response might, "How is that working out for you?"

Jon Husband

How's that working out for us ?


The Frame of the Normal is what is killing us. News is the deviation from the Normal. And philanthropy preserves the Normal, as best it can. But challenging the frame of the normal requires, it seems, disaster. And each disaster is used by those in power, whether blue or red, to ratchet us farther towards a world under corporate control, a world where we are consumers more than citizens. This of course is war by other means. It turns ugly only when challenged. How ugly, Beck, of course. CIA beatings, of course. Omnipresent surveillance, of course. The Spectral Overseer, who smiles when told, "But there is nothing new here! We are already doing this!" Nice children get pats on the head. Here is a token gift, Sonny, now beat it.

Jon Husband

I am token and beaten ...

Phil Cubeta

Good experience for when you go back to coaching the beaters.

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