In December, we announced the results of our Fall Grow Grant round. We distributed over $100,000 to 47 grassroots groups who are building projects across our region. Here, we take a look inside our participatory grantmaking program as we attempt to put those most affected, those doing the tireless work on the ground, at the forefront of decision-making about distributing dollars, and "revolutionize philanthropy" in the process.
Thousands of grassroots initiatives across New England are leading transformational efforts in their communities every day. Utilizing volunteer power and very little funding, they are identifying needs, experimenting with solutions, learning lessons, and accomplishing their objectives. They are finding each other – across issue areas or across community lines - and sharing notes. Together we can make these continued successes possible; we hope you will join us as a donor before 2018 draws to a close.
“These are complicated, unpredictable times, with so much competing for our attention and energy. After more than 20 years in the field, one thing we are certain of is that local action works. It’s worth the investment.”
The end of the year is a great time to look both back and forward, to both ask for support and to celebrate those who have already given. It’s not too late to produce some end of year activities related for your group! First, decide on your goal. Are you trying to ask for donations from those who already know about you? Encourage new donors and/or volunteers to join you?
Participants at both events shared that they appreciated the informal networking time with like-minded community members. Others were glad to have had the space for for new and critical thinking about where we are and where we can be headed. Many said they left the event with new collaborative ideas, and new resources and energy to grow their current projects or bring new ones to life. The critical feedback included
Tess Beem joined us as the Events and Seed Grants Program Manager this past summer. We caught up with her recently to learn more about her, her role at Grassroots Fund, and to hear plans for the upcoming RootSkills Conference.
The Sacopee Energy Alliance and WindowDressers' Community Workshops are like an old-fashioned barn-raising for inserts. Members of the community gather together for several days to build all of the inserts that have been ordered in their community. Experienced volunteers teach new volunteers, food is provided, and the end results are high-quality inserts at a very affordable price and a stronger, more connected community.
Everett Community Growers programs and communications are multilingual, and racial diversity and cultural heritage are highlighted by storytelling projects allowing community members to define the goals of the group in their own words. Previous storytelling projects have included interviews with the growers that were integrated into an online story map, and a video project completed in 2015. Recently, advisory board members acted as community photojournalist in order to creatively record and reflect on community strenghts and concerns, engage in critical dialogue surrounding food systems issues, and reach decisionmakers.
Our new Catalyst Conversation Series gives organizers the opportunity to sit at the intersections of numerous issues and to dig into cross-issue conversations. They are interactive events for community members and groups to strengthen cross issue-area collaboration and to create space for new and creative ideas to emerge.
What does it take to walk-the-walk with the participatory decision-making process? We're trying to figure it out! ...with over 20 folks volunteering to participate in the 2018 RootSkills Conference planning committee! Read the full blog to learn more about our planning committee process and how you can get involved.