Austin's unique "BE"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How To Make A Scene

Stewards of more than 15 different Austin scenes are actively engaged in the ATXequation. We thought we'd let you in on what they're doing and why ... and please consider this an open invitation to join in anytime.

The purpose of “making a scene” is to facilitate cross-community collaboration that breaks down barriers and enables communication, resource sharing and innovation. When a scene truly becomes a scene, it is no longer perceived as (or perceives itself as) a collection of related communities, but as a nimble, decentralized collective with shared motives and goals.

The scene-making process is undertaken by “scene stewards” and their collaborators. Scene stewards are subject matter experts who have a desire to expand their awareness beyond their known communities and in so doing expand the awareness and capacity of others.

So what is the role of the Scene Steward?

To galvanize communities in loose affiliation with one another, in order to strengthen and create greater synergy and collaboration among them.

To coalesce the scene itself by elevating the perception of those involved from an individual or community mindset to the larger scene perspective/mentality.

To lead the process with the good of the whole in mind, keeping individual or business interests in the background. Personal gain will result from the process, but should not be the motivating force for engaging in the process.

Scene stewardship consists of methods and action to identify, describe, and develop a scene. Scene stewards loosely organize their activities in the following categories:

• Mapping
• Convening
• Evangelizing

Mapping: creating a visual representation of the scene, the organizations that make it up, influence it, the participants and stakeholders.

Consciously identify the known players and communities occupying the same “space.”

Seek out the history of the scene, to inform the current scenario.

Map the known entities and players as documentation of the collection and connections.

Use the ATXequation protocols and tools for mapping and data gathering to ensure consistency with others maps. Contact us for instructions and access.

Convening: calling scene participants together to communicate, nurture relationships. An event of cross pollination and relationship building.

Share the map with all stakeholders in one form or another. It is preferable to convene people as a group, or have small group discussions. Explain the overarching ATXequation initiative, and how mapping the scenes is an attempt to strengthen Austin by identifying opportunities to collaborate and synergize, and shifting our mentality to the “scene” perspective.

Identify gaps. Get feedback on what is missing and where the connections could or should be. Re-map based on feedback.

Get others engaged in the mapping discussion, and more. Decentralize when you are comfortable giving other people edit rights to the map. Allow it to grow and expand.

Stay connected with your stakeholders. Update them when the map gets updated. Invite them to periodically check in.

Evangelizing: Advocating the scene and its developments both to itself and to people and communities outside of the scene.

Scene stewards have the unique opportunity and challenge of “leading” this decentralized effort. A few thoughts on how to successfully take on that role:

As mentioned before, lead the process with the good of the whole in mind, keeping individual or business interests in the background. Personal gain will result from the process, but should not be the motivating force for engaging in the process. Decisions should be made by and on behalf of the scene itself, representing all constituents.

Keep a spirit of curiosity about the process. It is not a prescriptive process, but one of true innovation. Loosely guide and let the process emerge as you go. Use your intuition about when to intervene, and be prepared to “let go” a little more than you would in other endeavors.

Keep in mind this process may be foreign to some, even to yourself, as many of us are accustomed to a more centralized or “command and control” approach. Be prepared for pushback, factions, dropouts and informal fans and leaders to naturally emerge. Information about the stages of group development may help at this stage.

To help with information exchange, use http://www.atxequation.com/ as a central repository for blog-posts, links to articles, maps, etc. Mention @atxequation in your twitter feed or #atxequation when you are at an event that inspires you.

Create a loose system of communication with your stakeholders such as a google or yahoo group. Keep them posted on your efforts. Ask their suggestions and ideas, even if you don’t feel you need them. Always err on the side of inclusion.

Encourage others to document the results of your efforts, and keep your own documentation.
The proof in the pudding is the actual collaborations, new connections, innovations, friends and products that result from scene mapping and discovery.

Participate in the Scene Lab, online discussion and other events made available by the initiative overall. Scene Lab meetings and updates are communicated via twitter and the blog.

Stay in touch with other scene stewards, within and outside of the framework provided by the initiative overall. The true power is in the connection between the scenes, which is the next evolution of this work.

Have fun and give us feedback! This whole thing is a work in progress. We’re eager to hear about your adventures in the equation.

1 comment:

Toya said...

Heather, I am so excited that you and Bijoy are pulling these concepts together to enable more citizens to participate in the continual creation of the Austin Experience.

I think about and appreciate the many scenes that make Austin a great place to live, work, and play. I believe that the attractivness of the Austin Experience is born out of (1)the openness of each scene; (2) the full enagagement of our citizenry in scene activities; and (3) the collaborations that occur between scenes and their members.

Generally speaking, people who live in Austin think about our city and expect to particpate--which is a great thing! For this reason, we are most likely less than 6 degrees of separation from each other!

We are so fortunate to live and participate in a major city where we are and can remain connected.