So much has happened since the last time I added to my blog! Lately, my “shareable value” has been mostly produced outside of this blog and I actually have a ton of stuff that I’m stoked to be working on today and for the next six weeks. So – let’s get right down to it and see if we can’t get a good summary of the last two months.
Alf Summer 2015
ALF Summer has only been around for two years, but it is already easily my favorite time of the year. I love summer itself — it’s my favorite season, for sure (I don’t care if it is really hot in North Carolina — love long days, warm nights, and sleeping naked). But beyond all of that, it’s incredible fun and exciting for me to invite new people into the ALCulture, grow deeper in relationship to my current ALFriends, and work on incredibly rewarding projects that have a huge impact on our collective goals.
In 2014 when we piloted ALF Summer, we had to throw it together pretty quickly. We put everyone up in host homes within the Mosaic community, charged almost nothing since we had to recruit most of our participants, and really just focused on having an experience that would bring the current facilitators together and bring coherence to the network. Now, after a whole year of doing the work with a community of facilitators and having some time to tell our story to the world, we were able to attract an entirely different caliber of participants. That’s not to say that those who came this year were better than those who came the first year, but that they were more clearly on this journey already, which was evident by the fact that they sought us out.
I could write ton about all of this and someday I will want to, but for now I need to stick to the highlights.
- beginning our preparation in January
- building a sweet website that told the story of ALC and ALF summer so people had the context they needed
- requiring a thorough application and doing interviews with people
- not being afraid to say “no” to a few people who it just didn’t feel right for, or whose timing was not right
- setting a high price tag and allowing people to “pay-what-they-can” along a generous scale
- renting two really nice homes in Charlotte within close proximity to each other and to the school
- advertising summer camp by February and getting a great group of non-ALC kids to participate along with most of the Mosaic kids
- having a “Week 1” deep dive for folks that couldn’t make the full four week
- supporting startup teams, specifically ALC Oahu, but getting several of their team members to come and live together
What we learned:
- we need a larger group of committed facilitators to be a part of the organizing team
- we need to start organizing sooner, which is tough because school ends two weeks before ALF Summer (change the dates?)
- we would get much further in all our goals if we separated folks into tracks: participants get a track based on how much or little they know about ALC and current ALFs are either there to work on projects, facilitate the training, or support in some other clearly defined manner
- we need to provide the context needed for people coming in from different levels of knowledge — which is really another aspect of the second bullet point
- we always need reliable internet connections!
We gathered tons of feedback from everyone who was a part of the program and have done some extensive documentation around that, as well as all of the content, workshops, breakouts, etc. that were covered. Having all this extra information will be huge when we sit down to plan for next summer.
Preparing for the flood
In my last post, I spent some time fleshing out a proposal some of us came up with for ALF Membership process, and in doing so, was able to express some of the reasons it is important that we have a clear membrane established for participation in this work. We jumped right into this conversation during the first week of ALF Summer and quickly realized that we needed several different membranes — rather than having a single process that has you “in” or “out”, we needed to created several layers that can structure our organization and allow for people to move towards deeper levels of engagement and responsibility.
The written aspect of the previous proposal, or the personal intent content will probably come in handy for some of the higher layers of engagement when we get around to creating the processes for those membranes. At this stage, though, we were focused on finding a way of certifying new folks at a very base level. We decided to build on the peer review process we created at the first ALF Summer and incorporate the “membership circle” concept outlined in my previous post.
We came up with these fun names and layers of engagement. There’s a spreadsheet that explains each layer, it’s responsibilities, and what is needed to move into the next layer, but here’s the bare bones:
Someone who has expressed an intention to be and ALF.
Someone who has been invited into ALC spaces to participate.
An ALF who has been declared “Baked” through the peer review process.
An ALF who holds space, like an ALC or ALF Summer.
An ALF who holds multiple spaces and can adapt the tools and practices to new and different situations.
Network Holder (AKA: Lil’ Debbie)
An ALF who holds network wide spaces and can speak for the network.
@artbrock led the charge in putting together our beta StarterKit and several other ALFs were able to contribute to various sections/aspects of the project. We have amassed a pretty substantial resource that covers all aspects of starting and operating an ALC (in theory) — Administration/Organization, Communications/Promotions, and Facilitation/Operations. The StarterKit was the main project focus of the summer and will allow us to spread the ALC model quickly and easily — it’s a living document too, so we can keep updating it as we evolve and anyone can get the latest version from out site.
@drew and I have spent a lot of time redesigning out network site so there can be one central place to point people interested in ALC. We are now neck-deep in designing the StarkerKit site, where we’ll soon be launching the ALC Membership for startups. A huge thanks to @artbrock and @abbyo for content writing support in this effort!
ALC Membership for Startups
This is probably the thing I’m most excited about these days. We are working on getting the final process details in place and will soon be offering ALC Membership for startups (and other communities using our tools). Check out a sneak peak at this page to learn more about ALC Membership.
We’ve had 20 people download our the StarkerKit already and we haven’t even mentioned it was available on social media yet. I have also already begun the membership process with two startups. I’ve been making tutorial videos that will be available for members using Hangouts OnAir, which I’ve been enjoying. For a while, my sharable value will definitely be going into the StarterKit and the extra resources we’ll be putting together for ALC Members.
I foresee us signing up between 15 and 20 new members this year. I’m excited about the ongoing coaching we’ll be providing them and getting to see who’s work/journey is in alignment with ALC. This new layer of engagement will make a strong base for filling next year’s ALF Summer, and if membership grows even more, it may provide the opportunity to do multiple trainings in various places throughout the year.
Back to ALC
Back to school was always a depressing phrase. No amount of new clothes, sneakers, or school supplies could overcome the feeling of the woeful submission that was imminent. Thankfully, for me and all of the kids we serve, none of that is true of ALC. Back to ALC doesn’t feel like work, but another exciting thing to look forward to.
ALC Mosaic resumed this week and it’s been fun, easy, and more fun! Despite having a bunch of monotonous administrative tasks to tend to, it’s been a pleasure to see the kids come back with so much joy and excitement and many of them full of clear intentions. We had a great parent meeting last week and @jesslm has started running a spawn point in a lead facilitation role, which I think is going to work out well. @charlotte and @dinospumoni seem to be doing really well and finding their groove. @dthomasson is always a joy to have around and with so new found clarity around his role, things to be grooving for him too. AND, we have @alexp here most days, fresh off a month at ALF Summer with us, which was a huge blessing all around.
Up north in NYC things don’t again until the 9th of September, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do. For me it is the necessary but kinda lame stuff like renewing the insurance policy, getting out back-to-school communications, making sure financial stuff is in order, etc. Much more exciting than that has been partnering with @bear to work on Admissions. Bear wants to be an Admissions Jedi — travel around to ALCs and support them in enrollment. We worked out a proposal where he’ll get paid based on commission — when he moves finds or moves a prospect to a signed enrollment agreement (and they pay), he’ll get a small cut of their yearly tuition. This would normally feel like a really bad idea, as it is really important that people enroll based on right fit above anything else. That said, I have a high level of trust (increasing more each year) with @bear and feel like we can do this work in partnership in a way that emphasizes the ALC’s growth and health, rather than $ — not something @bear has ever placed much value on anyway 😉
I am listening to all my Mosaic ALFriends chatting in the food room, so I’m gonna go join them.
And, @nancy and I go to Vietnam in October. We are super excited. I’ve got a lot I want to complete before then, and I’ll feel really good about putting down the ALC work for two weeks if I can.