Even in the dead of winter, the warm and vibrant New Orleans was a breath of fresh air. Among the oldest cities in the country, New Orleans has a rich history of diverse cultural influences that infuse it with a particular energy—not unlike the rich and diverse group of facilitators that assembled there for this year’s ToP Network Annual Gathering.
Fourteen people sat calmly in a row, shoulder to shoulder, holding between them over 700 years of experience learning and leading in community development projects around the world. In the air between the fourteen and those who came to hear them speak hung the promise of fourteen stories. Among these stories was a spark of the collected wisdom that would eventually become the Institute of Cultural Affairs and its Technology of Participation (ToP) methods.
Within hours of breaking down and packing up the party lights, leftover food and drink, Polaroid pictures, flyers and banners, the praise began on social media. One member wrote on Facebook that the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) was “the best time I have had all year.” Another posted a photo captioned “What a terrific evening!! Loved the vibe, food, drinks and especially the people.” Additional praise came through word of mouth, with a newcomer remarking that the event “made my life” and a long-time member calling it “a dream come true.”
On November 30th, 2018, over 70 people gathered at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to celebrate five years of community collaboration...