Anyone that has been to Web of Change can attest to its alchemy. It’s a rare event designed to honor the wisdom of the group rather than exalting a panel of experts. And the community never disappoints--the richness of ideas and experiences they bring to the table is both humbling and inspiring.
Phil Klein first attended Web of Change in 2006, but he was already a veteran of NTEN. He brings 17 years of nonprofit technology and communications experience to his role as network curator, and sees his job as nurturing what he describes as a collaboratorium, a space for “fierce cooperation…where the desire to grow, learn and succeed intersects with a strong trust community.”
Web of Change has never had a senior staff role to help convene and connect the community. Phil’s hire is an opportunity to do more work around the event while also helping to build the institution.
There was a clear call during the community renewal process for Web of Change to explore creating more opportunities for connection throughout the year, beyond its annual summit event. As Phil puts it, we need to make sure the ideas and inspiration “we bring down from the mountain, back from the island and into our work” are supported and shared.
The core leadership team is currently developing a business plan to expand Web of Change in three strategic ways: sharing the amazing thought leadership from this community; providing more direct support to leadership development; and unleashing the community to host distributed, "WOCx" style local events.
There is certainly a role for technology in growing Web of Change’s reach and impact, and making it accessible to groups that may not be able to attend the conference itself. As Phil notes, “in a world where we can have anytime meetings--Google hangouts that span the globe, and can be broadcast to an almost unlimited audience--we can capture so much of our experiences in so much richness and complexity and then make it available widely.”
Gatherings like the May 2 event on How Network Organizations and Free Agents are Reinvigorating the Social Change Movement, led by Jason Mogus from Communicopia, May Boeve of 350.org, and Monifa Bandele of Mom’s Rising, bring ideas and connections sown at Hollyhock to cities like New York and Vancouver so others can join the conversation.
From Phil’s perspective, the goal is to extend the Web of Change experience, and amplify the ripple effects it’s already creating in the world: “Traditionally, an event like Web of Change is ephemeral. It occurs; it begins; it ends. There's this spike of experience that starts the day of the event and a huge down trough that happens after the event. How are we smoothing that out?”
Of course, Web of Change is not just about ideas--it’s about relationships. Phil sees the nonprofit sector as “a virtual enterprise with lots of different organizations and individuals doing work that one way or another contributes to a healthy community in a larger sense, both locally and more broadly.” Web of Change helps to build capacity in the community by connecting people around shared values, and by surfacing and sharing innovations.
When Phil attended the conference in 2006, he was struck by another attendee’s insight that we are all just “ancestors in training.” To Phil, that means recognizing our own insignificance in the grander scheme of things without discounting our ability—and responsibility—to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
That idea really rings true for Web of Change. Phil’s expertise in content curation and event management will set the stage, and the anchor and fellow teams help to create a framework
for collaboration, but the real magic comes from the attendees themselves. As Phil puts it, the event “belongs to everyone who comes and makes it. So I would invite people to make it the best week of their lives.” And, be on the look out for opportunities to connect and share before and after the event!