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creating space

The Year of Creating Space

This year, in response to the current environment and the need for a significant uptake in racial justice leadership, we are departing from the traditional format for Creating Space, LLC’s national meeting. Creating Space has been a space for people engaged in leadership development to meet over several days to harvest learning across their experiences, share resources and build meaningful connection.


Our purpose this year will be to build greater awareness, access to resources and capacity among leadership development organizations about the opportunity and need to help their participants strengthen their knowledge, skills, connections and tools for contributing to social and racial justice.

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Guest Blog Post: Reflections On Creating Space | Odin Zackman

By Odin Zackman


When you change the way you look at things,

the things you look at change.

Max Planck


If we are to create the kind of leadership we need to affect transformative change in ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities, we need to create space—regularly—in our lives. We need to claim a time in our day and in our week to do what I call “big thinking” or just to be silent. We need to weave this space into our meetings with colleagues, so that we are not only focused on “getting things done” but in understanding why and how we are achieving our goals. And we need places annually or semi-annually that can serve as a pilgrimage of sorts—a place to return to that helps reconfirm our purpose in the world, reconnects us with colleagues aligned with our efforts, and renews us along the challenging path of seeking greater health, sustainability and justice.

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Announcing the Catalysts

Creating Space XI 2014 | Design Challenge Catalysts

Heather McLeod Grant
Creating Space XI Contribution
The Design Challenge Session:  Heather will share a design opportunity presented to her when she was invited to help create the New Leadership Network for the James Irvine Foundation.  After participants have their hand at designing with the same parameters and expectations Heather will reveal the program design she and her colleagues created. From McLeod-Grant Advisors, Heather is a well-known author, speaker, and was most recently a Global Account Manager at Monitor Institute, where her work focused on scaling impact, leveraging networks for social change, and transforming large-scale nonprofits. 

Michael Mcafee 
Creating Space XI Contribution
Program Design Challenge: Michael will share a design opportunity he had to develop a leadership program for the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink.  After participants work in teams to make design recommendations in line with the desired results for the Promise Neighborhoods leadership program, Michael will share the elements of the program that he helped to design. As Senior Director at PolicyLink and Director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute also at PolicyLink, Michael oversees the Institute’s strategic direction and implementation of strategies that mobilize neighborhood leaders to build communities of opportunity.



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Creating Space At Our Table: Presenting A Sliding Scale Registration Fee for CSXI

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Leadership Learning Community is excited to be hosting Creating Space XI: Tools for Transformation -
Supporting Inclusive, Networked and Collective Leadership.

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Leadership Development Hiding in Plain Sight: Reflections on Creating Space X


In reading the survey responses from our national meeting, Creating Space X in Baltimore this past May, a funny thought crossed my mind.  Aren’t many of the things that people benefited from at CS elements of good leadership development?  A number of participants even talked about replicating some of these methodologies like open space, self-organizing, and the design challenge into their leadership programs.   Here are some examples of some of the major themes and what people said: read more »

  • Diversity: A lot of people talked about the value of connecting with others who share a passion for being change makers and meeting people who are different, “the wonderfully diverse mixture of researchers, consultants, program staff, funders and community organizers.”
  • Relationship Building and Peer Learning:  Small group interactions facilitated relationship building and peer exchange, “talking one on one with people about their program models and what they’re working on to exchange ideas and learn from each other.”
  • Deep Conversation: A number of people mentioned the importance of time and space for deep conversations, “Inviting people to come into the conversation with openness, without judgment and not forcing an outcome, especially on topics like race.”
  • Application to Real Problems/Issues: The design challenge harnessed the group’s creative energy around real time issues and problems and was very popular with survey respondents.  “The Design Challenge is something I have used several times with a lot of success.”

Creating Space X | 2013 Survey Findings


Thanks to all the Creating Space participants who completed the evaluation survey last month.  Over the last few weeks, we have been working to review and analyze your responses, and we wanted to share some of the key insights we learned – please check out the slides!

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Breaking New Ground in Leadership Development: What’s Money Got To Do With It?

In keeping with the theme of Creating Space X it seemed only appropriate to be on the lookout for innovations in approaches to supporting and developing leadership.  Linetta Gilbert of The Declaration Institute, called a session on how to reach people who are being left behind.  I was intrigued and moved to attend.  I believe that everyone has leadership potential but I am not sure that we have begun to wrap our minds around what it would mean to reach everyone who wants to lead (or maybe in their words, “make a difference in their community” and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed.  I am very carefully avoiding the terminology of “leadership development” which for good reason always sparks some good controversy, but which is a topic for another blog. 

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Creating Space: What’s Next?

We want to thank everyone who attended the tenth Creating Space earlier this month in Baltimore, MD – all 130 of you.  We hope that it was a space for everyone to reflect, have dynamic discussions, and make relevant connections.  Once again, we want to thank our wonderful Design Team for helping to plan the event and be responsive to the evolving needs of the group.   read more »

#CreatingSpace2013 Tweet Chat Transcript & Resource Links

#CreatingSpace2013 Tweet Chat
Transcript & Resource Links:

We want to thank you for joining the #CreatingSpace2013 Tweet Chat on Wednesday, May 1st 2013! We also extend a warm thanks to our catalysts for Creating Space: June Holley, Network Weaver,  Caroline McAndrews of the Building Movement Project, Odin Zackman of DIG IN and Deborah Meehan of the Leadership Learning Community for their participation.

Check out the resources that were shared during the chat and the transcript for complete coverage of the discussion.

If you weren't able to join, or are new to Twitter- we want to hear from you!
Tweet us @LeadershipEra using the hashtag #CreatingSpace2013 so we can build our Twitter network. See the complete list of Creating Space 2013 participants and followers here.

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Guest Blog Post: Breaking New Ground to Scale Social Innovation and Impact: What Will It Take?

By Odin Zackman, DIG IN


In early May, 130 passionate practitioners committed to transformative leadership development for social change will gather in Baltimore for Creating Space X.


These gatherings are unlike any that I have attended, serving as a crucible for connection and learning to enhance leadership development practice. I am always buoyed by the combination of experience and dedication to making a difference that participants share.


The hope—particularly with this year’s theme of “Breaking New Ground”—is to provide inspiration and new perspectives to fuel innovative work that ultimately deepens social transformation.

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