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Asheville/WNC Meta Network
Development Project

The Asheville region has dynamic networks of engaged citizens, social and business entrepreneurs, non-profits, economic development organizations, education institutions and public sector leaders.   These networks taken together are a regional "meta network" - a network of networks aligned around the common goal of  helping our organizations and our region thrive.

The Asheville Meta Network Development Project (MND) is intended to increase the overall connectivity and visibility of our networks so that all network members can more readily get these and other benefits:

- Faster access to ideas, information and resources.
- Better channels for getting their messages out to targeted groups.
- Better knowledge of who has what knowledge and capacities and who
  is collaborating with whom.
- Trusted connections to experts, partners, funders, prospectie employees, and others
   who can help their organizations and causes succeed and grow.

The project will initially focus on three clusters:  
Creatives, Technology, and Sustainability.  

People in other clusters -- including  anyone who cares about the economic vitality and creativity of the WNC region  -- are also welcome to participate.   The project will begin with a focus on the Asheville region (Buncombe and surrounding counties) with the intention of expanding to include the greater WNC region, and replicating in other regions beyond North Carolina..

How we are starting:

We began this project by inviting a "seed group" of community connectors to help us refine our plans and begin to implement them in an initial phase of learning and demonstrating what is possible.   These meetings were held on June 3 and 9 and about 18 people attended and gave excellent feedback and ideas.

We're now offering two simple but useful ways of getting things going:

A special webinar on Network Weaving, by June Holley

and an option to participate in a

"Connecting the Dots" demonstation project

that combines network weaving with use of social network tools to help make Asheville and WNC networks more visible, stronger, and more useful.  More info on each of these is below:  

Network Weaving Webinar with June Holley

We will be rescheduling this Webinar for the Fall of 2010.  Please let us know if you would like to be on the list to be notified.

A Network Weaver is someone who is aware of the networks around them and explicitly works to make them healthier (more inclusive, bridging divides). Network Weavers do this by connecting people strategically where there is potential for mutual benefit, helping people identify their passions, and serving as a catalyst for self-organizing groups.

This will be a 2 hour Webinar especially for members of Asheville and WNC networks  focusing on social and business entrepreneurship, economic and community development, or social change.  Anyone interested in how networks function and how to measure and strengthen them should attend. There will be no charge to participants.

The webinar will be led by June Holley. June spent 20 years as executive director of ACENet – the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. While there she pioneered the field of network weaving within economic development and entrepreneur networks. Since then she has trained network weavers in business, NGO, and government networks throughout the US and in Africa, the Carribean, and other regions. She also consults with prominent foundations, including Monitor Institute and Hewlett. June's bio and links to her presentations and other work is here: http://www.networkweaving.com/june.html

There will be 2 ways to attend: You can attend from wherever you may be via phone and Internet broadband connection, or you can come to a downtown Asheville location to attend with a group – which can make it a lot more interesting. The group location will have a big screen for seeing June and her presentation via screen sharing and Skype video. With either option there will be a chance to interact with June, ask questions, etc.

If you would like to attend,
please contact Duncan Work to receive more information about where to attend or how to attend virtually.

Connecting the Dots” Demonstration Project

This is a beginning phase of a “demonstration project” designed to show how using LinkedIn, in combination with hands-on network weaving, can significantly increase the visibility, accessibility, and usefulness of Asheville / WNC networks.   The intent of the project is to not only strengthen and build up our networks, but to also collect stories and data to indicate what has been accomplished by the individuals and organizations that participate. 

We will use LinkedIn for the primary tools needed for this project, since LinkedIn:

- Has fully searchable professional profiles.
- Enables accurate searches for people, orgs, expertise, & affiliations
- Can find trusted personal connections out 3 degrees.
- Facilitates introduction requests.
- Has 67 million registered users around the world.
- Is used by thousands of professional groups.
- Offers the tools we’ll need at no charge.

The project is intended to start with the help of one or more existing local or regional networks that want to apply the project to their own specific objectives.   Each participating network will ideally start with 10 – 20 ‘volunteers’ who will seed the project and help it grow.    Connectors (who have a frequent need to make important new connections) will have most to gain by participating, but their organizations and the region as a whole should also benefit as well.   The list below indicates the bare bones of what participants will be doing.   Connectors will ideally do some of each item on the list.   People who aren’t frequent connectors will do their part by mainly doing the first two items.

- Complete your profile (if not already)
- Include important connections, (inside and outside the region)
- Learn to use advanced features (e.g., search, introductions, etc.)
- Use advanced features to help your org. (e.g., find funding, partners, etc.)
- Report successes and problems.
- Encourage others to participate - in your cluster, Asheville, and WNC.

The two main benefits from this project will come from:

Collecting Searchable Data on Who knows What and Who is Doing What with Whom

This involves using a versatile, publicly available and free platform to collect fully searchable data on local entrepreneurs and community leaders and their organizations, including data on expertise, experience, affiliations, and who is doing what and with whom.  Replicating even a fraction of this capability to easily collect and use this type of data could easily cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.   Since many community members already use LinkedIn, much of this data is already collected.  But a more intentional effort will be needed to make the data much more complete and useful.

Collecting and Using Data on Who Knows Whom

LinkedIn provides not only a free, powerful and decentralized way to collect data on available expertise, etc., but it also makes use of a global “social graph” of all the trusted connections between participating members of the network.   That is, collecting data within a social network platform means that we will not just be building a static database of member assets and capabilities.   Any user will also be able to find a mutually trusted connection  who can advise them and introduce them to other members of the network whenever there is a good chance for mutual benefit. 

Both of these benefits – a rich and searchable profile data base, and a usable social graph for trusted intelligence and introductions – will help support the work of network weavers.  These two primary benefits will also help all network members begin to more successfully weave their own networks.

If you are part of an Asheville or WNC network that you feel might benefit from participating in this project, please contact Duncan Work

Join the LinkedIn group for this project.

Our longer-range goals include creating:

A signifcant group of local Network Weavers engaged in weaving smarter networks, and helping to facilitate self-organizing collaboratives.

A living map of network relationships and a distributed database of living knowledge that will be dynamically updated by network members in their own user-controlled profiles.

Replication and expansion in other regional and global meta networks.

A regional Trust Exchange Web platform, connecting to other regional and global meta networks, and collectly owned and controlled by both individual and organization members.

For links to relevant resources see Ideas.

 Initial Activities

A Network Weaving Webinar
with June Holley

this webinar will be rescheduled,
please stay tuned!

and an option to participate in a

"Connecting the Network"
demonstation project

Both of these activities are introduced below on this page and in this slide presentation.

For more information, please contact:
Duncan Work

Join the LinkedIn group for this project.