Transitional Steering Group Meeting Notes – July 11, 2018


JULY 11, 2018


Present were: Gail Anderson, Jessi LeClear-Vachta, Curtiss DeYoung, Adam Stock Spilker, Mary Pickard, Ben Connelly, Tom Duke, Onder Uluyol, Judith Lies, Ethan Levin (intern at Mount Zion).

Adam Spilker facilitated the meeting and opened it with one of the learnings from the Poor People’s Campaign articulated by Rob Eller-Isaacs at the last meeting: Deep relationship building can’t be hurried.

Introductions: Tom Duke led a discussion asking everyone to make a diagram of their networks and then to reflect on it with the group. He also asked them to comment on whether they have talked with anyone about the network since the last meeting. Some observations included:

  • Continuous maintenance of relationships can be difficult. Once good relationships are built, we don’t need to always be in touch because trust has been built. So networks that may seem dormant can be brought alive again fairly quickly.
  • Everyone is connected and has networks. This would be a good exercise for people who may not be aware of the social connections they already have.
  • Networks can include both grassroots people/leaders and positional leaders in large institutions. All networks can be valuable.
  • Using one person in a network (often a grassroots leader) to make an introduction to someone you want to meet can help that new relationship get off to a stronger start (than a cold call).
  • Networks lead to more networks.
  • Judith recommended Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman, which she says makes a strong case for networks in the last chapters.

Report on Organizing Meetings: Gail reported on the work she, Kim Olstad and Kevin Schill have done to recruit volunteers for the tasks that need doing. In addition to the written report they submitted, she noted:

  • About 300 emails were sent asking people to come to one of two meetings held in June, designed to introduce them to the MN-MN and inquire as to their interests.
  • About 32 people said they were interested in volunteering and there were 10-12 people at each meeting. People signed up for specific tasks and divided into groups to discuss their potential approach. The groups included: Communications, Convenings, Fundraising, and Technology.
  • The groups are now in the process of setting up meetings to answer the questions posed by Gail, Kim and Kevin under each task. This should result in a specific work plan. Gail, Kim and Kevin are hoping they are self-managed, but Kevin has agreed to manage the process in the beginning to get things started.
  • There will be a gathering of everyone in all the groups sometime late September or early October to create the opportunity for cross-pollination.
  • Gail reported there was a lot of energy in the room – lots of enthusiasm for the vision.
  • Most people were interested in the convenings work group. It will be necessary to recruit more people for the other work groups and to identify people who have significant expertise in communications, technology and fundraising.

Discussion focused on a question about time: Will the convenings draw us away from our mission because they might require deep staffing capacity that we don’t now have and limit our ability to achieve our other goals. Gail responded that it’s true, these could soak up a lot of resources and it will be important to set up expectations that the groups will be self-managed. Examples of groups might be something on higher education or racism. It is envisioned that individuals in the groups will “own” them because they are invested in the work and want them to continue as learning communities because they get something out of them.

Prospectus: The group agreed they like the revised prospectus, including the tag line and mission statement. While it can always be revised and is considered a living document, we’ve talked about it enough for now (Good Enough, Push On (GEPO)).

Requests for Help: There is a need for someone to help engage African American stakeholders, which we’ve been unsuccessful at thus far. We would like the Black Church involved on the Transitional Steering Committee or task groups. There is also a need for people to raise funds for the February event and to plan it. No one volunteered to take the lead on either of these items so they were tabled for now. In discussion the following thoughts were expressed:

Annual Event:

  • Someone needs to be paid to plan the annual meeting. It might be more of a priority now to find the funding for the network so we have someone to do it.
  • It was noted that someone can be hired to plan the event and the funding for that can be separate from operations (although it was agreed we also need to find the operations funding). Event funding can include sponsorships and contributions from local faith groups. It’s important to start planning now if we want an event in February.
  • Tom agreed to check the treasury to see how much money we have now that might be used for event planning.
  • The question was asked, “How can the event be generative and how can we use it to move the network forward?” It was agreed that we need to be clear about how the event last year was not a “one and done” event, but rather set the stage for the work we’re doing now and the next event will also be planned as part of a larger strategy to continue moving the work forward.
  • Another question: Are we doing the event to celebrate the end of a year or to initiate the beginning of a new year? What is it for? Are the convenings to feed into the annual event?

Operations Funding:

  • Tom has asked Melanie Lund (a fundraiser SPIN has used in the past) to come up with a list of potential funding sources. It was suggested we should try to find about $15,000 for the annual event and $100,000 per year over three years for operations (but it was also acknowledged we need to develop a budget).

African American Stakeholders:

  • It was noted that most ministers in the Black Churches are underfunded and over-committed. We may need to find ways other than regular meetings for people to participate.
  • There might be convenings/learning groups or other specific activities that will be of interest to the Black clergy. We might need to do a better job of identifying where our interests intersect and be more creative about how to connect.
  • Another question: Why do we want the Black Church involved? It was noted we have a common desire for social justice.

Name Check: It was agreed that the name Minnesota Multi-faith Network (MN-MN) will work, possibly with the acronym using a small n for Minnesota, i.e., MnMN.

Fiscal Sponsor: Tom announced that the board of Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul has agreed that IA will be fiscal sponsor of MN-MN. A formal agreement will need to be developed and approved.

A “Network Approach” Learning Event: It was agreed that it would be a good idea to invite some local experts in networking to do a tutorial for the Transitional Steering Committee. Timing will likely be the next meeting on August 29. While primarily for this committee, we will also invite people from the task groups and the Selma 70 to join us. It was suggested that we might incorporate this kind of educational opportunity into an annual event.

Next meeting: The next meeting will be Wednesday, August 29 from 12:30 – 2:00 pm.