This article was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, April 2014.
Welcome to this latest issue of Winds & Waves, the online magazine of ICA International.
While many international NGOs have shifted from a more centralised to a more networked approach to their operations in recent years, ICA has operated globally as a network of autonomous and independent national NGOs for over half of its 50 years. Many member ICAs themselves operate as networks, both nationally and internationally, and many individuals around the world remain connected and involved with ICA in various ways long after they have moved on from a formal role within an ICA organisation. Such loose and diverse structures with such ‘leaky boundaries’ can be challenging in some respects, not least in terms of governance. However, they can also enable greater local relevance, responsiveness and self-reliance in conjunction with greater global connectedness, learning and mutual support. Networking is one of the ways by which these advantages can be realised, and so supporting networking among ICAs and ICA colleagues is central to the role of ICA International and networking makes a fitting theme for this issue.
Within these pages you will find stories and reports from individual ICA colleagues and from national ICAs, on their work of research, training and demonstration to advance human development worldwide. Networking and a networked approach feature strongly in many of them.
Terry Bergdall in Chicago reports on the Sustainability Leaders Network of ICA USA’s Accelerate 77 programme, empowering community leaders from across the city by supporting them to ‘connect, align and produce’ together. Lorraine Margherita in Paris reflects on the role that networking has played for her as she has established herself as a professional facilitator within the emerging ICA network there. Larry Philbrook in Taipei reveals the findings of a recent research initiative conducted through ICA networks, online and face to face. Gerald Gomani in Harare reports on ICA Zimbabwe’s work helping communities fight HIV/AIDS – this work has been supported over many years by ICAI network partners in the USA, Canada and the UK among others, and networks people living with HIV with each other and with local health and social service resources. Charles Jago in Australia writes of an online networked approach to holding government and politicians accountable by ‘asking real questions’. Ishu Subha in Kathmandu writes of the network power of a local women’s group that grew to a leading financial institution. Teresa Sosa in Caracas writes of how principles and values she has learned from ICA have enabled her to gain strength from networks to strive re-create a country in times in chaos.
The global network of ICA International now comprises member ICAs and related groups and organisations in 40 countries worldwide. We welcomed ICA Ukraine as our newest statutory member at our ICAI online General Assembly in December. I have been privileged these last few weeks to serve as a mentor to one of ICA Ukraine’s ToP facilitation trainers, Natasha Karpova, and to learn something of how she and ICA are working to network diverse actors in Ukraine, another country in a time of some chaos, to re-envisage and rebuild their country’s future together. It was a privilege also (and fun!) to help to network ICA Ukraine’s facilitators with Russian facilitators attending the Moscow Facilitators conference this month, by exchanging real-time Facebook updates between my post-conference ToP strategic planning course in Moscow and Natasha’s simultaneous ToP strategic planning course in Lviv.
Moscow facilitators learned the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning process this month by planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’
Meanwhile ICA Ukraine’s initiative connecting mentor ToP facilitators from ICA’s global network with mentees in Ukraine prompted Larry Philbrook of ICA Taiwan to adapt and apply the model globally, attracting so far 25 mentors and 36 mentees – just the sort of peer-to-peer initiative within the ICA network that ICAI seeks to support.
The ICAI Board updated its Business Plan for 2014 in the last month, in light of the experience of 2013 and discussions and decisions at the December General Assembly, and supporting peer-to-peer networking for mutual support and collaboration remains at the heart of our approach. Whatever the extent and nature of your relationship to ICA or ICAI, if you share our collective concern with ‘the human factor in world development’ then please join in networking with us.
Please share this issue of Winds & Waves and consider contributing to the next, please connect and share with us online via ICAI on Facebook and @ICAI on twitter, and please connect directly with whichever national ICA of the ICAI global network is closest to you in your geography or in your passion.
Enjoy this issue!