Sunday, June 24, 2007

Powerful Networks

For anyone unfamiliar with what networking can do for a project such as Beauty of Water, go to WiserEarth and enter the term 'water' in the box in the upper right. More than 9000 organizations, including a semi-active online discussion group focused on water topics in Kerala, came up in my search results. Over the years the technologies, interfaces, and overall usage of networks such as these have improved. WiserEarth is one of the best I've seen. They have made it enjoyable to find affinity groups and share knowledge, very exciting.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Small Steps Bring Great Strides

There have been quiet little explosions in the development of Beauty of Water, which, taken together, characterize vital signs of growth.

Caroline Cumming is catalyzing development of our funding strategy and organizational structure. As a part of those efforts, the network of people and organizations that supports Beauty of Water is now captured in a spreadsheet, 200 entries strong on the first pass. You, gentle reader, are probably listed, with a note such as “great input,” “relevant connections,” or, yes, “donor potential,” alongside your email address. Previously this network was held mainly in my brain. It feels great to be able to communicate outwardly about forces that weave a collaborative context around Beauty of Water.

Caroline has been emphasizing that in order to be sustainable, a project such as this must have its own revenue source, not only relying on grants and donations, shooting for at least 30% of our budget to come from revenue. This is important for the viability of the project over time, as well as for the health and well being of those who collaborate to make it happen. We’ve begun shaping a plan, albeit a tentative one, for how that revenue might come to be.

One idea I’m interested in is gaining musical sponsorship, whereby a band would donate a song to Beauty of Water. Proceeds from the sale of that song would come to the project. Two days after this idea came to mind I learned of a non-profit called Global Music Project, which provides a mechanism for doing just that, and whose founder is in the Seattle area. I hope to meet him soon. A network called helped me discover this.

Caroline also leans heavily toward having Beauty of Water partner with a fiscal sponsor rather than forming its own non-profit, which Laurie Frank had also suggested. The more I learn about fiscal sponsorship versus non-profit formations, the more I see the wisdom in this plan. We’re looking into the possibilities here. Fractured Atlas is one such entity. Once we hook up with a fiscal sponsor, tax-deductible donations will be simple transactions, accessible using trustworthy online tools.

Meanwhile, I learned last week that I received a full scholarship to participate in a two-week course in Weimar, Germany this August, called “From Bauhaus to Social Sculpture. The Shaping of a Humane Society as an Aesthetic Challenge.” The course description seems to have been written for Beauty of Water. Personal funds, help from my fabulous father, and layover accommodation through friend connections, will cover airfare and transfers. I am eager to meet the instructors, Dr. Hildegard Kurt of und.Institut, and Shelley Sacks, Social Sculpture authority, whom I’ve written of before, and who let me know about this opportunity in the first place.

On the home front, personal training is going well. I’m near capacity with clients, and starting a walking group, offered as a class to members of the health club. I admit to some challenge as I move toward certification. My study buddy at work helps, yet I’m not on the fast track. I need to practice everything I learn in order to master and embody it, and that takes time.

I have many “fires in the irons,” as a friend mentioned recently. Meditation has been the saving grace. Namaste.