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Starting Your Own Regional Network

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About NextGEN and it's Regional NetworksEdit

NextGEN was founded in 2005 at the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) meeting at Findhorn in Scotland. The organization grew out of an interest in increasing youth involvement in the ecovillage movement and encouraging an intergenerational dialog on how to foster sustainable communities. The vision was to create an organization that would inspire and support the next generation in taking an active role in shaping the future.

Why are we, as young adults, so critical to the movement?Edit

o The decisions made now affect us now and will alter our future.

o No one else will do this for us.

o Our voices need to be heard individually and in unison.

o We have the vision.

o We are intelligent, creative, and passionate. Together we can build momentum for a sustainable future.

What do Regional Networks do?Edit

The global structure of NextGEN is comprised primarily of its regional networks. Our goals are best met in local networking, outreach, education and training. NextGEN's energy springs from youth-led initiatives in different regions of the world. NextGEN's Global Core Group helps develop program concepts, materials and supports regional networks working in outreach, education and training. While communication can be challenging, our goal is to support the creative flow of ideas and resources between the Global Core Group and Regional Networks. Currently we are developing regional networks in the United Kingdom, Thailand, Mexico and the Eastern and Western United States.

Regional Networks have a great deal of autonomy and flexibility, but they all work to inspire and support action. While the form action takes varies from one Regional Network to the next, in general, NextGEN Networks seek to achieve the following:

o Raise the awareness of students and other young adults about practical alternatives to our currently unsustainable life practices through the models being developed at ecovillages and other community based projects.

o Provide a network of support for young activists as they seek sources of inspiration and practical resources to discover their role in transforming culture.

o Connect young adults with elders who can provide effective mentoring in a variety of skill areas and promote a vital intergenerational dialog.

o Create and coordinate training to empower and prepare our generation of young activists with the skills needed to transform our cultures into sustainable ones.

o Work in partnership with local ecovillages and sustainable projects to increase youth participation in positive, alternative life practices.


The NextGEN provides . . .

o A quarterly update on NextGEN programs, website updates, newsletter, fundraising ideas and support

o A review of, and feedback for, your annual program plan

o Invitations to periodic skills development training for Core Group Fellows

o Access to mentors

o Website access for your activities

o Website maintenance and global communications coordination

o Regional and international conferences

The Regional Network . . .

o Creates and supports a local network of activists

o Develops relevant outreach, education and training that influences your local area

o Events and training that build awareness, skills and community

o Sends a representative to the Global Core Group

o Submits annual plan and annual report

o Undertakes local fundraising as needed

Examples of Regional Network ActivitiesEdit

Some Regional Networks are autonomous groups; others are part of an ecovillage or another organization that is committed to working with the next generation. There is no cookie cutter mold for this type of social change. Explore what will work best for you! Here are some activities that Networks have undertaken:

o Surveys of local ecovillages for the Hitchhiker's Guide to Ecovillages

o Fundraising training for volunteers

o Tours of ecovillages

o Identifying ecovillages offering internships for young adults

o Presentations to colleges about ecovillages and sustainability

o Regional conference for youth activists


Starting a NetworkEdit

Starting a Network Checklist Edit

1. Review the steps listed below in Starting a Network

2. Register your intention with NextGEN online at nextgenhelp@gmail.com

3. Find out who else might be interested -- Plan and host an open house gathering to find others who are interested.

4. Host a founding meeting and create a core group by identifying at least one other young adult and one elder who may be interested in working with you to start a network.

5. Seek out experienced elders to create an elders circle to advise and support your work.

6. Complete the network registration form and email to nextgenhelp@gmail.com

7. Identify an ecovillage, sustainability project or other organization willing to serve as your host for gatherings (recommended by not required).

8. Create your first annual plan.

9. Submit your annual plan to the Global Core Group.

10. Make your plans a reality!


Simple steps for Starting a NetworkEdit

If you are motivated and want to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, and if you want to work with others to develop the alternative life practices we need, this section is for you. Starting a NextGEN regional network requires patience, commitment, creativity and hard work, but the outcome is knowing that you can influence the future. An active, vibrant NextGEN regional network can inspire activism, combat apathy and despair and have a significant effect on many individual lives. This section gives you a step-by-step sequence to follow to put together a well-organized, active Regional Network. Starting a Network can be a difficult task, and keeping it going requires real effort as well. Both, however, are extremely rewarding. Please send questions, lessons learned, and new ideas to nextgenhelp@gmail.com

Step One: Let us know you are interested.Edit

The first step is to register your interest in forming a NextGEN local or regional network. Complete a registration form to express your intention to start a regional network. Contact NextGEN to get a copy of the NextGEN Regional Network Handbook and current literature that describes NextGEN or download the PDF here. You can use these materials when you explain the Network to interested students, young adults and elders. It can be easier to describe and promote the network when you have these print materials available. Show this literature to all of your friends, even if you think they might not be interested in "this sort of thing.” You might be surprised at their concern about the future too. Note: If you already have people who are interested and want to work with you, you can go straight to Step Three.

Step Two: Find out who else is interestedEdit

Are you the only one? We don't think so! Step Two is to a host an event or a series of events to see who else might be interested. This could be a party in your home, at a restaurant, a community center, place of worship, a school, etc. Invite your friends and their friends. Invite respected adults who have skills and experiences of value. We will provide you with information about NextGEN to present at your event. Your goal is to find at least two others who share your drive. You will want to find at least one other young adult and one elder. We may be able to support you in finding people in your area.

Step Three: Organize a Core Group Founding MeetingEdit

You did some outreach and you've found others who are interested. Super! Now it is time to hold a well-planned founding meeting of all those who are interested to create a Core Group to direct your Regional Network. Ideally, this should include an elder (see Step Four) and three or four other interested people. The purpose of this meeting is to set up the structure of the group and begin the conversation that will lead to an annual plan. At this meeting, you can review the types of programs and activities that your Network might sponsor. You'll find more on how to run meetings and develop an annual plan in the NextGEN Regional Network Handbook.

Regional Network Core Groups do the following:

1. Set priorities

2. Develop program ideas

3. Organize fundraising as needed

4. Coordinate communications

5. Create and implement an annual activities plan

If you need assistance setting up this first meeting, contact nextgenhelp@gmail.com. NextGEN Fellows are often available to come to your meeting or give you organizational tips and advice.

Step Four: Identify between one and ten elders willing to advise you.Edit

We believe that the elders have much to teach us. They can guide us and give us feedback. Every Network must have an elders circle. An elders circle is simply one or more experienced and interested elders who are able and willing to serve as mentors to your Network. As you approach elders, you can emphasize that while this is a youth-led network and most of the work will be done by NextGEN activists, their wisdom and experience is part of the dialog needed for a sustainable future. Elders should be invited to respond to your plans, help you make connections, forge partnerships, and identify funding sources. How involved the elders become can be determined as you work together. NextGEN may be able to help you locate interested elders through GEN. Contact us at nextgenhelp@gmail.com.

Step Five: Complete the Network Application FormEdit

This form is available online and at the end of this guide. Send the completed form to the nextgenhelp@gmail.com. Once we receive your form, we will ask you to go on to step Six.

Note: If you want to start a network on a college campus, you will need to get approval from your administration. Start by meeting with the director of student activities. Get their approval for the proposed Network. Acquaint yourself with school policies, rules, and procedures — whose approval you need, how to get equipment or a place to meet, forms that need to be filled out, etc. On most campuses, new clubs must submit a proposal for approval. There is a sample charter for use by college groups in the NextGEN Regional Network Handbook.

Step Six: Create and submit an annual plan.Edit

Once we receive your Network Application Form, it is time to create an annual plan. Plan and hold a meeting for this purpose. This is the meeting at which you will assess your interests, strengths, and needs and decide on where to put your energies. Each Regional Network creates an annual plan. We want you to dream and be practical. (See guidelines for annual planning in the NextGEN Regional Network Handbook). Once complete, you will submit your plan for feedback. We strongly recommend that you include an inventory of youth oriented resources at ecovillages and sustainability projects near you as a priority activity the first year. Getting to know who is who and what resources are out there will be essential.

Step Seven: FOLLOW UP!Edit

Convene regularly scheduled working meetings and times to support each other and celebrate! You should schedule your meetings at a regular time so it is easier for people to remember. At each of your following meetings, you will want to check in on progress made from your last meeting, review where you are in terms of your annual plan and discuss other ways you can support each other. On-going meeting topics can include:

• Maintaining the annual plan

• Developing relevant partnerships

• Recruiting new members and building a base of support in your area

• Welcoming new members and providing them with an orientation to the annual plan

• Inviting members to become involved in making decisions by participating in one of the program or operational working groups or joining international conference calls.

Have someone send out minutes/notes from the annual planning meeting that includes task assignments and their deadlines. Have someone check in with everyone to make sure that their tasks are being completed and to offer help and support. A friendly phone call to those who took on tasks is a good way to make sure things are getting done and to offer support.

Remember that a small but strong group is better than a large, disorganized, and inactive one!

Requirements for NextGEN Regional NetworksEdit

We want your regional network to express your interests and creativity and respond to the needs in your area within the framework of NextGEN. NextGEN is a program of the Global Ecovillage Network and in order to be considered a NextGEN Regional Network, you must comply with some basic requirements. Your network needs to:

o Accept and adhere to the Mission and Program Goals of NextGEN

o Complete the network intention and registration forms when appropriate

o Submit an annual program plan

o Conduct at least one program activity per year

o Have a Regional Representative to NextGEN that is chosen democratically and whose contact information is noted on the network registration form.

o Never discriminate against potential Network members on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nation or origin, economic status, political party affiliation, any health status, familial status, or age.

o Make decisions that are transparent and open to all members of your network Core Group. Core group members should not be allowed to make decisions on behalf of the Network without their knowledge. All Core Group members should have a say in Network decision-making.

o Because we are a program of a not for profit organization registered as a 501(c) 3 in the United States, your activities must remain non-partisan. Specifically, this means that Networks may not advocate for or against a specific political party or candidate for office.

o NextGEN reserves the right to withdraw Network status and/or its links with NextGEN if the organization is misrepresented.

RECOMMENDED (BUT NOT REQUIRED):

• Help raise funds for your own regional NextGEN network activities by sponsoring fundraisers.

• Network members are encouraged to participate in the Global program working groups. This builds leadership and expands the knowledge and skills of members from many regions.

• Identify an ecovillage or other sustainability project that will be a host for you. At the very least, this will give you a place to hold meetings, conferences and trainings. We encourage you to develop a partnership with a local organization because this will help build ties with the broader community and provide more access for young people in local projects. In the best-case scenario, the community may be able to offer you office space, access to computers, outreach and staff time.

• All network members should join online at website


Registration Form for Proposed NextGEN Regional NetworksEdit

Contact person:

Telephone:

Email:

Postal address

Indicate if you are one of the following:

____New group

____Group affiliated with another organization. Please indicate the name of the organization: __________________________________

____Campus group. College or University Name:__________________________

Indicate the geographic area you hope to reach: ___________________________


What general areas are you most interested in working on at this time? (This does not commit you to anything!)

___ Networking

___ Creative Outreach

___ Education and Training

What experience or contact have you had with GEN or NextGEN?



When do you expect to hold your first meeting?



What support would you like at this time?


Thank you for your interest! We will be in touch with you soon! Return this form to nextgenhelp@gmail.com

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