Saturday, December 27, 2008

Community nonprofit infrastructure

If you had the power to create infrastructure to support Laramie's nonprofit community, what kind of support would you include?

What would have the greatest potential to impact capacity to serve our city and enhance life here? What would build up our nonprofits as worthy, rich places to not just make a living but create a meaningful career? I often ask myself these questions. (It's a hazard of a multi-decade obsession with nonprofits and a multi-year focus on the sector's professional development needs during my doctoral work.) '

The marvelous Hildy Gottlieb, introduced to readers of this blog earlier this month, has offered one compelling vision at a national level. Click here to access her post at I found it quite easy to buy into her vision, and to grasp the potential of what she has proposed. As grand as it may seem, it also is entirely achievable. With help, of course.

I am even more energized personally to ponder what might be possible if we were to take Hildy's ideas to the local level. We may not feel the power to effect national-level change, but we certainly have the capacity to take charge of our community-level response -- and visioning for the future.

Certainly, nonprofits in our community understand what Hildy proposes. Definitely, there have been pockets of success, particularly in collaboration for common goals. Imagine, though, the power of truly community-level collaboration.

As an individual member of this community, I have an even more focused sense of where I might contribute. It should be no surprise to either regular readers of this blog or nonprofit friends who have been following my doctoral studies that two of Hildy's recommendations would resonate: creating systems for organizational education and creating systems to facilitate learning communities/communities of practice. Frankly, they have been the key drivers of the "what I want to be when I grow up" journey for the next phase of my professional life -- before Hildy articulated them so spectacularly.

I offer Hildy's vision as a starting point for what I hope can be a community-level discussion of what is possible here in Laramie. I invite you to help me begin the discussion here, by posting a comment and sharing your thoughts about what how we might go about building the capacity of our local nonprofit community. I'm particularly interested in your thoughts about how we might go about creating one or more learning communities -- serving nonprofit staff, nonprofit board members, whatever groups might benefit from regular opportunities to explore, reflect and ultimately learn together.


Carol said...

You might also be interested in the work of Jay Connor, who has spent years on the subject

Debra said...

Thanks for the referral, Carol! I've pulled up that site, will bookmark it, and explore. It looks like a wonderful resource that could be quite valuable for a community-level effort. I appreciate your assistance!