Connecting the Good Worldwide is an outgrowth of ten years of experience
of developing practical community tools. We learned some very deep, but at
the same time very practical methods of building community. Over the
years, we have received many inquiries about sharing what we have
learned with other communities. In 2013, we are training other
communities to start their own networks.
The Conscious Community and Business Network begun in May 2003. It
was a time when the 2nd Persian Gulf War had erupted and American
society was suffering increasing polarization. Community members met and
discussed ways to build unity. The intention of the original network was to
find ways to create a stronger community by increasing connections
The first manifestation was an informal network of locally-owned and
independent businesses and community organizations. A web site, with an
online directory, and then a total of 30,000 physical Hometown Directories
were published in 2005 to make it easier for residents to “Think Local” first.
We drew connections between the “recycling” of dollars by keeping
purchases, banking, and financial investments local; strengthening the
regional economy; and highlighting the many benefits to the community in
terms of donations to non-profits and volunteers.
The community-building model manifested through monthly “breakfast
meetings” sometimes with up to 100 people, mostly owners of small,
independent businesses, leaders of community organizations, religious
leaders, governmental officials, and local residents. In total, about 300
businesses and community organizations took part in this first phase.
These monthly gatherings at a local restaurant continued through 2009.
In many ways, without being aware of it at the time, Conscious Community
in Northern Nevada was part of what is now being called the “Relocalization
Movement” happening around the world. The CC had developed what we
call a “building block” strategy to re-localize our regional economy and
culture many years before many modern movements came into being. A
similar model to the building block approach of CC is the Transition Towns
Movement, first launched in the U.S. in 2007 after its initiation in the UK. The
point here is not that we were ahead of the curve, but that similar ideas
bubble up from the bottom when the time is right.
The next initiative in 2005 and 2006 was to create a local food systems
network, a market-based approach to increase local farm and ranch
production and local consumption of food. This network helped to support
of variety of concrete actions including the Great Basin Community
Supported Agriculture initiative; the Great Basin Community Food
Cooperative; and the area’s first public farmer’s market, the West Street
Market, supported by funding from the City of Reno.
The first meeting of the Conscious Community Campaign (as we called it
then) was held on Valentine’s Day 2006 with100 leaders from all sectors of
the local community. The campaign further defined the virtues we stand for
and the need for expanding consciousness and building social
infrastructure throughout the community that would support sustainability.
It was developed by a process of community participation and buy-in. All of
the activities of that time were originally developed by the participants’ own
suggestions and ideas.
After this meeting, several initiatives were developed.
One was the Get To Know Your Neighbor Week, which has been growing
over the past five years. Thousands of people on more than one hundred
blocks have organized get togethers, potlucks, block parties, and other
events during the last week in June. Many participants have organized
ongoing “Caring Committees” that continue to build neighborhood spirit in
a 3-block radius. Some of these groups have organized specific networked
initiatives—building community gardens, sharing resources and food,
forming emergency response networks, and others. We have termed this
the Community Ark movement— where the larger ideas of regional “re-
localization,” including the regional transition initiatives—are scaled down to
the primary foundation of the grassroots connecting individuals, families,
and individuals, families, and their immediate physical neighbors.
A Conscious Community Celebration was organized at a local county park
with an all-day event to bring together groups and people who wanted to
focus on a concrete, positive vision for our region’s future. There was
music, a sustainability expo, information, and a local farmer’s market. In the
first two years, more than 2,500 people attended.
Finally, the most important innovation was the Connections Gathering.
What started as an experimental group process in May 2006 had evolved to
become the main practical strategy for building a local Connecting the Good
Network and supporting Conscious Community. What is interesting about
how this was formed is that the group process and its format developed
over time with the basic aspects of the process having emerged through
time with co-creative input from the participants themselves. This did not
come from reading a book, following a particular teaching or teacher. It came
from the community emergence phenomenon itself.
In summary, Connecting the Good has many dimensions that emerged
through time—an “external” dimension that focused on concrete social and
economic infrastructure (local economy, local food, local energy) and an
“internal” dimension that focused on expanding “consciousness” and
With the success model in place, teams of people began developing
materials to propagate CTG networks.