This is the second in a series of monthly blog posts highlighting the activities and other work of APACC members, APACC working groups, and the collaborative as a whole.
APACC member representatives who participated in the training:
Minnie Allen (East River Family Strengthening Collaborative)
Ronda Chapman (Groundwork Anacostia DC)
Lenwood Coleman (Groundswell)
Erin Garnaas-Holmes (Anacostia Waterfront Trust)
Deb Jones (Ward 7 Business Partnership)
Pastor Keith Kitchen (Progressive National Baptist Convention)
Malusi Kitchen (APACC Coordinator)
Graylin Presbury (Fairlawn Civic Association)
On August 2 and 3, the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC) participated in a two-day training organized by the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and Movement NetLab (MNL). It was designed for networks receiving funding and other support under the Capacity Building Initiative* (CBI) to meet, synthesize who we are in our work, share information, and think about proactive collaboration. Race, class, and equity as well as ways that socialization and conditioning transform how we see the world were central to the training.
The Capacity Building Initiative is one of several Chesapeake Bay Funders Network (CBFN) projects. It is
a three year, comprehensive program of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network that provides support to watershed organizations and Riverkeepers through grants, one-on-one training, networking, and tailored technical assistance to increase the operational effectiveness of these organizations. (CBFN)
Practically, what this means is that the regional networks are made up of diverse conservation and civic organizations working to improve local environmental and community health conditions in priority landscapes.
MNL is a practice-centered “think-make-and-do-tank” that was founded in 2014 after both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy proved that decentralized network structures could accomplish big things on a massive scale. The organization is comprised of movement-based activists, organizers, and researchers seeking to better understand decentralized self-organizing structures with the goal of developing powerful conceptual and practical tools that help facilitate the growth and effectiveness of the most dynamic emerging social movements of our time.
MNL's assessment: Understanding where we are now
MNL conducted an assessment of all the networks, including APACC. The goal of the assessment was to give us a baseline on the current state of our network and help us determine how developed our network is, and what we can tweak in the network that would make it more effective. APACC will be meeting September 7 to incorporate lessons learned from the training and network assessment, including refining our organizational shape, decision-making structure, public-facing communications, and membership policy.
Feedback from Network Training & Reflections from Assessment
Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC) in Washington, D.C. holds a strong value around history and respect of the land. There is a community approach to the network, with a strong understanding of the role of race, gender, and class in the environmental social justice movement. While most members received the frameworks presented, and gave feedback with excitement, there was hesitation because of previous experiences with consultants brought in to train them.
The current design of the network needs restructuring in order to coordinate and nurture collaboration. There is a clear need for the establishment of a structure for decision-making, project proposals, and roles.
Parenthetically, Movement NetLab refers to organizational structures as shapes. And here's what they look like:
There is a wish to build collaboratively through spaces that are communal and personable, not just to execute plans better but to have an understanding of each others’ values and goals. Even though there is strained capacity, the network members feel connected and they communicate regularly.
Supporting the Network
With limited funding, the group is working with limited capacity, which in turn impacts not just the network but places a strain on administrative point person. Through creating decentralized structure the network would be able to cultivate additional leadership.
*The Chesapeake Bay Funders Network's CBI provides the bulk of APACC's funding.
Written by Michael Bochynski, Standing Chair, APACC Steering Committee and Chesapeake Program Manager, Clean Water Fund