What I’ve Written

I have written a variety of documents around issues of social change.

Following are a few writing samples:

Building Coalitions for Urban Resilience Toolkit

As part of the Red Cross’ global effort to build resilience and reach out to other organizations, I produced a guide to coalition building for use around the world. This effort was coordinated with ISET, who produced a companion guide on assessing community urban resilience. The whole package includes a manual showing how to build coalitions, training materials to get started (workshop agenda, PowerPoint, worksheets, and sample partnership agreements), an introductory video, and a review of written materials and web sites with further resources. It is available now in English, and should be translated soon into other languages.

Mental Frames and Problem Solving

This is a presentation from an interactive session I did with Karen MacClune of ISET at the Front Range Bioneers conference in 2016. The idea was raise our awareness about the way we all use mental frames to understand issues, and suggest some ways to work with others when our basic ways of looking at things get in the way.

Baseline study for the Lutheran World Relief 12/12 Resilience Alliance in Niger

We designed and implemented a baseline study of nearly 13,000 households for the $13 million Project 12/12 Resilience Alliance in Niger with CESAF Sarl Consult in Niamey. The project included designing questionnaires, training enumerators, conducting baseline research, analyzing results, and reviewing findings with LWR staff and partners.

Gender-Sensitive Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment of CARE Mali

I led the CARE team of the Harande Program in the Mopti Region of Mali to analyze what socioeconomic factors make people vulnerable to climate change, and what capacities they have to manage its effects. The final report is available in English, and the PowerPoint used to lead discussion in workshops is available in French.

Critical Thresholds, Extreme Weather, and Building Resilience

I worked as part of a multi-disciplinary team across the United States to help small cities understand how to use climate thresholds to manage extreme weather events. The experience showed that staff from important local institutions like government departments, hospitals and non-profits all find it easier to make plans for adapting to climate change when it is framed in terms of extreme weather events that they already have experience of.

Strategic Framework of the International Funders of Indigenous Peoples

With Scott DuPree we led the board, staff and members of this international network to define the broad lines of work over the next five years. The key was moving past the tired old strategic planning process that attempts to make reality conform to organizational wishes, and creating plans that are obsolete within six months. Instead, we mapped the systems of funding for Indigenous Peoples issues, and the social networks they involve. We then agreed on the most likely paths of influence through these maps that would allow a small organization to achieve big changes in this ever shifting environment. You can see the summary and the full framework here.

Niger Strategic Resilience Assessment 

I was Assessment Lead for a team from Niger and the United States for Mercy Corps. The process assessed the state of resilience across the country of Niger in West Africa, examining in depth vulnerability to shocks and stresses. The Assessment also proposed a way forward for building resilience. The main lesson from the process was that interventions needed to engage more systemic change through wider partnerships and support to peoples organizations across the country.

Building Movements through Grantmaking in Mexico

A series of two workshops with the team at Fondo Acción Solidaria (FASOL) in Mexico showed how a conceptual framework for movement building can be a powerful guide for practical grantmaking. Working with a team from INSAD and Civil Society Transitions, We guided the staff and advisors of FASOL to make their grantmaking more strategic. The workshop is described in this report. FASOL is on the cutting edge of social change grantmaking in Mexico, and is leading efforts to change the way grantmakers there do business.

Colorado County Resiliency Plans

In 2015-2016 the State of Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office worked with three counties to develop Resiliency Plans. Under the leadership of Ecology and Environment, Inc., I was part of the team that facilitated a number of multi-stakeholder workshops and wrote the Resiliency Plans for El Paso and Larimer Counties (with Appendices). These plans are the basis of future planning across all departments in both counties.

Reducing Risk and Building Resilience to Disasters and Climate Change

I wrote the agency wide Guidance Document for Mercy Corps staff on Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation, and Resilience. The document reviews the basics of these three interrelated fields, and guides staff into how to use all three to reduce risk for communities around the world to a variety of shocks and stresses. I also created an accompanying training workshop with a Facilitator’s Guide and Power Point, with support from Adaptive Resources Ltd. and ISET International, and piloted the workshop in Portland, Beijing and Tokyo with a variety of NGO participants.

Analysis of Red Cross/Red Crescent Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments for African Cities

I wrote this analysis of eight urban community Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (VCA) in urban communities for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies with Karen MacClune and Kari Hanson of ISET International. The report discusses their strengths and suggests strategies for further improving the VCA approach for urban engagement.

Characteristics of Resilience

There are many resilience frameworks. Most of them take into account the complex interrelationships between the systems that people rely on, the organizations that run them, and the resources available. They are very powerful, but they take time to understand. For many purposes, simply a list of what makes things more resilient will do in a pinch. I wrote this list to explain some common characteristics of resilience, and how to apply them.

Floods in Boulder: A Study of Resilience 2014

I did this study with Dr. Karen MacClune and other staff of ISET-International right after devastating floods ravaged the Boulder area. This case study provides concrete examples of what makes a city “resilient” through the analysis of built infrastructure, human systems, and legal and cultural norms. This study diagnoses why the county came through unscathed in some areas while encountering massive damages in others. The study used a conceptual framework for understanding resilience developed by ISET-International that has proved to be extremely useful both in the US and internationally.Read this report.

BoCo Strong Video

I have done a lot of work on building community resilience. Watch his comments on a video Boulder County Strong made for our 22 neighborhood resilience conversations after the floods to find out what worked, what didn’t, and what people’s current priorities are for building resilience in the area:

To watch the entire video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrunnLtmRO4

Introduction to a New Approach to Urban Resilience: Final report to American Red Cross on urban resilience

I did this study with Dr. Karen MacClune and other staff of ISET-International. ISET has developed and refined an approach for building urban resilience based on engagement with over a dozen cities internationally and over more than a decade’s experience. This report presents this approach, discusses the importance of systems thinking, building relationships, and ongoing learning to successful application, and introduces tools and techniques for applying this approach to assessing vulnerability and building resilience.

Small Grants and Social Movements: Two Case Studies of Grantmaking and Extractive Industries in Ghana and Peru

I headed up this research project with two researchers and Greengrants staff overseas. It is a summary of Global Greengrants Fund case studies in Ghana and Peru from their research study of the effectiveness of small grants to civil society to determine how small grants enter in wider social movement strategies to respond to the expansion and impact of the mining industry. At the same time, the research was to look into the possibilities and conditions for the formulation of a Greengrants strategy to create a more profound impact and deeper coherence in its small grants program. The study gave practical recommendations for how to work on wicked problems using small grants, and has been very helpful in working with grantmakers since that time.

Supporting successful movements

This piece is a meditation coming from my experience with how funding can build social movements, which in my mind is one of the only ways to build lasting change. Download here.

UNEP Project Evaluation

Here’s an evaluation I did for Women in Europe for a Common Future. The program promoted alternatives to pesticides and toxic construction materials. It was funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) program under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management.Download here.

SAICM Citizens Report

This piece was produced by a coalition of global advocacy organizations for a May 2009 meeting convened by the United Nations Environment Programme. I coordinated production of the report with groups on every continent, and wrote or edited most of the text and worked with the graphic designers to produce the final report. Download here.

When the Police Are the Perpetrators

Cultural Survival produced this report in early 2010 in response to ongoing police attacks on Samburu communities in northern Kenya. Paula Palmer of Cultural Survival and I researched the situation in Kenya and co-wrote the report. Download here.

Climate Change and Global Solidarity

In 2008, I led the first effort at Catholic Relief Services to determine its position on climate change, and what its role should be. This paper sets forth the perspective of Catholic Relief Services on global climate change and is intend to serve as a resource for divisions to develop follow up plans, including advocacy positions, materials to inform and engage CRS’ US constituency, steps to ensure capacity in overseas programs, and management of CRS’ own impact on the environment. Specifically, the paper addresses how climate change is currently affecting the people, what is expected to happen into the future, what do the teachings of the Church say about how to respond to climate change and what can CRS do to meet this challenge.

Supporting Social Movements with Grantmaking

This is a powerpoint presentation I did for a meeting convened by the Arcus Foundation, showing how grantmaking with a movement lens supported the growth of movements to deal with industrial mining in Peru and Ghana. Download Here.

Managing Complex Adaptive Systems, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chaos

I did this presentation with Chet Tchozewski at the Colorado Nonprofit Association annual meeting in October 2013. It describes principles behind managing solutions to complex social problems. We need to move past traditional, linear management systems if we are to solve any of the complex issues that require broad collaborations and networks. Download here.

What Faith Based Climate Change Activists can Learn from Other Social Movements

I led a discussion of faith based climate change activists at the October 2013 Creation Care conference, sponsored by Colorado Interfaith Power and Light and Regis University. The presentation gives a framework for thinking about what successful social movements do, in this case thinking about how faith based activists can use their unique constituencies and spiritual tools in a broader effort to deal with our changing climate. Download here.