As an organization, we believe deeply in the power and importance of network and shared leadership. LLC is made up not only of dynamic staff members, but also hundreds of folks collaborating across state lines and issues to share skills, co-create projects, and learn from one another. In our LLC Network Spotlights series, we interview active members of our network and make space for them to share their own experiences engaging in the practices of network leadership.
This month, we interview Ari Sahagún, a movement network ecologist who supports social and climate justice movements through network building and open-source technologies. Ari is a part of the WEB Network, having designed its website, and has a deep commitment to using the innovation of networks to support cultural shifts. We hope that you learn something new from Ari’s story, and share it with your networks as well!
How did you become connected with LLC?
Ari: I don't quite remember! I was first invited to be a part of a consulting team to do some network mapping and sense-making in 2015, but I can't remember if we had interaction before that. Since that project, I've been consulting with LLC every year, and moving into different roles.
What does network leadership mean to you?
Ari: Hmm, that answer is still evolving for me, so if you ask me in a month my answer will be different. Right now, what it means for me includes the ability to hold the connection between systems and the individual. For example, thinking and acting on the questions: how do we connect systems transformation to personal transformation? How must we strive for that kind of alignment in our work?
I also think it is about helping people recognize our tendencies to revert to dominant forms of organizing, into structures like non-profits or coalitions -- containers we know and trust and have been working in for a few decades now. Network leadership calls for creating and experimenting with new structures. Those are some aspects of network leadership that are on my mind right now.
What kinds of skills/resources do you offer to your networks?
Ari: I have worked with networks to develop strategies around communications and technologies. I've also worked with networks to collect data, develop network maps, and then understand them together. Lately, I've been thinking about the cultures networks are intentionally disrupting and creating at the same time. Networks beg us to act differently around governance, resources, social marginalization, power...to move from centralization and accumulation to equitable distribution. How can we create behaviors, rituals, values that support this cultural shift?
What do you value about network leadership?
Ari: The ability to remind us of our nature. In a lot of my work in networks, my ability to explain and have conversations about network dynamics is aided by using metaphors from the natural world. A murmuration of starlings (a la adrienne maree brown), spores and mushrooms (a la Norma Wong), the World Wide Wood (hear this Radiolab podcast), and this set of posters I developed with my colleague Odin Zackman. In other words, we're able to re-member and reconnect to natural parts of ourselves and of our communities that help us do this work together.
Learn more about Ari’s work here.