Since March 11, they've held a few meetings at coffee shops and libraries. The members' backgrounds run the gamut from community and business development to design and leadership coaching.
“Having the opportunity to meet other Connectors is exciting,” Mike Bendoff says. “We’re collectively unrolling a huge blank canvas. Nobody knows exactly what the painting is going to look like but everyone has arrived with an open mind and we’re sharing information that will help us find ways to collaborate. I believe we’re all excited to be part of that process.”
A photo from the Team's most recent meeting. From left to right: Steve, Paula, Abbie, Robert, and Mike.
They may be all about action, but the Team has realized it requires it some reflection to get there. So far, they’ve created a resource list that showcases their individual talents, abilities, connections, and interests.
“I think our culture underestimates the benefits of simply sitting and talking, which I think may be the greatest resource for Connectors,” Abbie Chase says. “But in this day and age, who has the time? Convincing people (and myself) to take the time to chat with strangers when we could be with friends or family, particularly when there is no guaranteed—or even articulated—return on investment, is a challenge.”
To help address this challenge, the Chicago Team is hosting frequent meetings and reaching out to individual members to encourage engagement. They’ve learned that consolidating Teams into a single Chicago Area Team helped get things started (although as they expand, it might be beneficial to splinter again) and that being on the Team allows for great networking opportunities.
Their next steps are continuing to define and explore the Connector role, including figuring out how to nudge others to take advantage of people's interests and volunteer activities listed on social networking sites, which they view as resources in and of themselves.
In Robert Bates' opinion, the Idealist Network can only stand to benefit the city of Chicago, which is home to numerous social good organizations and projects. He sees it as an opportunity to spread solutions throughout the large geographic area and encourage awareness about what other like-minded people are already up to.
“This is why the Connector Hub is so important: whether you’re a person looking to make a career change, someone who is seeking to add value to your day-to-day life, or someone genuinely concerned about an issue—this is a great place to ‘connect the dots’ by promoting public service stewardship,” he says.
In the Chicago area? Join the Team and attend their next meeting on June 22.
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