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Making the connection: a sustainable community network for British Columbia Fulton, Andrew 1996

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MAKING THE CONNECTION: A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY NETWORK FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA by ANDREW FULTON B.A., The University of British Columbia 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS, PLANNING in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (School of Community and Regional Planning) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standards THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1996 ©Andrew John Fulton, 1996 . In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. \ Department of zjclypoj ol~' W H T T A ^ (f^L / v ^ O ^ l P^hhi*C^ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date Syfe^W \Gt°\ lo DE-6 (2/88) Abstract The goals of this thesis are to identify the objectives for creating a Sustainable Community Network (SCN) within B.C., to acknowledge the various tools available to facilitate the network, and to develop illustrative models to guide those contemplating the establishment of a network. Three primary research methods were utilized in this project: literature reviews, group discussion in a focus workshop, and individual interviews. The literature reviewed focused on the fields of collaboration, networks in both technical and social capacities, and coalitions. Four objectives are identified as motives to create a SCN: to provide exchange mechanisms, to organise the "unformalized" field, to create a community of interest, and to be a vehicle for power, influence and empowerment. The emphasis at the beginning should be on building personal relationships over creating an electronic network. Other specific products and services are identified as beneficial for the stakeholders: newsletters, conferences, inventories, facilitation, and a clearinghouse for information. Alternatives for administering the network include a network manager, an administrative body, a governing body, and an intermediary broker. i i This research helps define networks within the field of planning. They may act as a support system, streamline efforts through collaboration or by reducing duplication of effort, act as a forum for monitoring and assessment activities, and be a source for on-going public participation. Three conceptual models are developed representing a range of possibilities for creating the network. The models are labeled the "Fundamental Network" at the basic level, the "Coalition Network", and the "Collaborative Network" at the most complex level. The need for a SCN is reconfirmed. The network should proceed from a "human scale" and develop the capabilities of the electronic network as computer literacy and technological capacity become generally available. Finally, it is recommended that the network should proceed slowly, building on community objectives and incorporating the diverse activities possible through collaboration as experience is gained. Further research is needed to clarify the potential for networks in planning and management, to better understand the evolving place for computer technology, and to monitor the effectiveness of the networks as they are implemented. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii T A B L E OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF FIGURES < vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1 1.1 CONTEXT 1 1.1.1 British Columbia Context 1 1.1.2 Planning Context 4 1.2 PURPOSE OF THE THESIS 6 1.3 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH 8 1.4 METHODS 8 1.5 DEFINITIONS AND TERMS 11 1.5.1 Network 11 1.5.2 Collaboration 13 1.5.3 Coalition 14 1.6 ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS 15 CHAPTER 2 NETWORK OBJECTIVES: A LITERATURE REVIEW 17 2.1 NETWORK PRINCIPLES 17 2.1.1 Resource Exchange Mechanism 18 2.1.2 Creating A Community Of Interest 22 2.1.3 Structuring An Underorganized Field: Formalization 26 2.1.4 Power-Influence-Empowerment 30 2.2 CONCLUSIONS 35 CHAPTER 3 OBJECTIVES FOR NETWORK CREATION: FIELD RESEARCH 37 3.1 FOUNDING OBJECTIVES: W H Y FORM A NETWORK? 40 3.1.1 Resource and Information Exchange 42 3.1.2 Organization and Institutionalization 44 3.1.3 Cohesion and Vision 46 3.1.4 External Dealings 48 3.2 CRITICAL MASS: Is THERE A NEED? 50 3.3 ELECTRONIC AND PERSONAL NETWORKS: WHATIS THEIR CONNECTION? 51 3.4 PARTICIPATION AND ACCESS: HOW ARE WE DEFINING WE? 53 3.4.1 Open Or Limited System 54 3.4.2 Access 56 3.5 RESOURCES: WHAT'S AVAILABLE AND HOW WILL IT BE PROVIDED? 57 3.5.1 Present Support 57 3.5.2 Resources And The Network 59 3.6 DIRECTION: W H O WILL SET THE TONE? 60 3.6.1 Developing Issues 61 3.6.2 A Neutral Party 62 3.7 PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: WHAT WOULD WE LIKE TO SEE? 64 3.8 CONCLUSIONS 65 iv C H A P T E R 4: N E T W O R K M O D E L S : T H E R A N G E O F C H O I C E 67 4.1 NETWORK COMPONENTS 67 4.1.1 Nodes 68 4.1.2 Linkages 70 4.1.3 Modality 71 4.1.4 Different Players 72 4.1.5 Tools and Services for a Network 75 4.2 NETWORK MODELS 78 4.2.1 Fundamental Network 80 4.2.2 Coalition Network 83 4.2.3 Collaborative Model 87 4.3 CONCLUSIONS 91 C H A P T E R 5 C O N C L U S I O N S A N D R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S 93 5.1 RESEARCH METHODS 94 5.2 RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS 95 5.2.1 Objectives 95 5.2.2 Human and Electronic Network 96 5.2.3 Network Products and Activities 96 5.2.4 Participation And Access 97 5.2.5 Resources 98 5.2.6 Network Administration 98 5.3 RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS: MODELS 99 5.3.1 Fundamental Network .' 99 5.3.2 Coalition Network 100 5.3.3 Collaboration Network 100 5.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FROM RESEARCH 101 5.4.1 Need 101 5.4.2 Human Network-Electronic Networking 102 5.4.3 Administration 102 5.5 SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY NETWORK: PLANNING CONTEXT 103 5.5.1 Support System 104 5.5.2 Streamline Activities 105 5.5.3 Monitoring Activities 105 5.5.4 Particpation in Planning 105 5.6 FURTHER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT 106 R E F E R E N C E S 108 A P P E N D I X 1: Q U E S T I O N S F O R S U S T A I N A B L E C O M M U N I T I E S N E T W O R K 112 A P P E N D I X 2 B A C K G R O U N D P A P E R 113 v LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 COLLABORATIVE PROCESS Figure 2 FIELD RESEARCH Figure 3 NETWORK COMPONENTS _ Figure 4 BROKER ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The preparation of this thesis was assisted by a number of people through professional, financial and moral support. I would like to recognize the efforts of Tony Dorcey from the University of British Columbia School of Community and Regional Planning. His help as a professor, advisor, head of my committee, as well as editor met and often exceeded expectations. I would also like to acknowledge the Whistler Centre For Business and the Arts and in particular Jennifer Crawford for their financial and professional support of this research. Finally, I would like to thank my personal network of family and friends who often put up with my absence even when I was with them. Without their moral support I am sure this would still be a work in progress. vii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 CONTEXT The catalyst for this thesis was research for and writing of a background paper for Sustainability: Its Time For Action, a conference held in Vancouver B.C. November 7-8 1996. The paper entitled A Sustainable Communities Network In British Columbia: An Assessment Of The Future Potential, examined the perceived needs, issues, and expectations with respect to networks of participants in community initiatives focused on sustainability. The participants, included non-government organizations dealing in initiatives within communities, government representatives who had linkages to these organizations, as well as select business personnel who through mandate or interest may be affected or involved in the creation of such a network. 1.1.1 British Columbia Context In recent years many different sectors, institutions, and individuals have turned their attention to initiating responses to the call for a "sustainable future". One of the responses has been local round tables (LRT), or more generally, community based initiatives (CBI) which are addressing sustainability issues at the local level. Agencies and institutions such as the Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE), the Fraser Basin Management Program (FBMP), and the B.C. Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (BCRTEE) are all examples of progressive initiatives which have attempted to promote sustainability at the provincial or regional level. The success, opportunities, and difficulties encountered by these local initiatives have been 1 well documented (BCRTEE 1993; CORE 1994; Dovetail 1994; BCRTEE et al. 1994) as they have evolved and gained varying levels of experience. A brief history of these community based initiatives is useful for setting the context in which a Sustainable Communities Network (SCN) may be called for in British Columbia. The emergence of the "local round table" was bolstered at the start of this decade with the help of the BC Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Two publications in 1991 and 1993 respectively, Choosing the Right Path and A Guide to Establishing a Local Round Table helped communities to visualize the role for a LRT as well as providing basic guidelines for set up and operation. At the same time the BCRTEE helped to educate the communities to sustainability issues and the potential role of LRT in meeting these goals. To limit the definition of CBI to LRT is not sufficient. Other multi-stakeholder processes and initiatives such as Community Resource Boards (CRB), Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMP), Healthy Communities, and groups focused on land use and watershed stewardship produced an upswell of activity from the grassroots level. These disparate groups are looking now to create an atmosphere of greater unity for a variety of reasons and to forge a community with common focus. In particular, it has been recognized that they are for the most part working in isolation from one another and, although each is different to a degree, a system or process which links them together may have substantial advantages for the communities and other stakeholders in addressing sustainability issues. 2 This was one of the key objectives in convening the 1995 Sustainability: Its Time For Action conference. The conference was a joint effort between many of the key provincial agencies and initiatives involved in or with CBI. The ability and advantage to work together to organize this event as a "coalition" is significant and should be emphasized, particularly in light of the prior disbanding of the BCRTEE, the recent demise of CORE, and imminent end of the mandate for the FBMP at the end of 1996. Outside of government the main organization providing leadership and vision on sustainability issues is the Council For Sustainability (CFS). The CFS is a private initiative of the Whistler Centre For Business and the Arts, composed of leaders from different sectors concerned with sustainability. A Sustainable Communities Network , or a similar coordination mechanism or forum, has been proposed by various institutions and individuals over the past decade as a vehicle for linking the diverse sustainability initiatives throughout the province of B.C. (BCRTEE et al. 1994; Conference Proceedings 1995; Dovetail 1994). In particular, an influential report Local Roundtables: Realizing Their Full Potential (BCRTEE et al. 1994) tracked not only the inception of CBI in sustainability issues, but went further to describe, given their current state, what was necessary to keep building on the progress they had already achieved. In particular, a recommendation was made for the organizations to create networks and linkages. The rationale for this was primarily to keep the different organizations abreast of emerging issues and to keep other "external" organizations such as government agencies tied in as a source of information. 3 1.1.2 Planning Context The context for this thesis is set in the conceptual models of planning as a political activity as opposed to a technical one (Friedmann 1987). It is concerned with social mobilization and stakeholder participation in policy analysis and planning; focusing on the roles that a sustainable community network may play. Within B.C. and across Canada there are indications of a shift in planning and governance from centralized federal and provincial "top-down" approaches, to more decentralized local, grassroots, or bottom-up, community influenced planning. Coinciding with this decentralization, some may argue necessarily, has been a shift toward social mobilization as a response to increasing demands for changing local governance structures, and the perceived dissatisfaction of communities to past approaches. In administrative terms this deregulation may be described as a change-over from central control, according to rules and regulations, to local control, according to specified objectives (Friedmann 1987). During this transitional period decentralized, negotiational planning becomes more and more pronounced. Consequently, it may be possible to preserve bottom-up planning based on participation, learning and negotiation, and on local mobilization, at the same time as new types of top-down planning develop in order to safeguard over-all considerations such as those demanded by, for example, a sustainable environment and fair allocation of economic resources. 4 Stemming from the lack of faith in existing institutional arrangements has been a movement toward more direct participation by the public in managing their communities and environment. Similarly government agencies have recognized the need to move beyond informing the public of options, to directly involving them in more stages of the management and planning (Dovetail 1994). This can be evidenced in the emergence of "stewardship groups", roundtables, and organizations initiated from both the private and public sectors becoming involved in water and land use decisions. This response can be seen as a resurgence of grassroots democracy and personal accountability by stakeholders demanding to be part of the decisions which will affect their environment, livelihoods, lifestyles, and those of future generations. It has been proposed that a network may act as a mechanism or forum to stimulate this type of practice outside of the traditional planning activities and to enhance those activities normally termed public participation or consultation. As well, such networks are considered to be on-going processes as opposed to single issue responses. There is simultaneously an increasing tendency to transfer or share tasks among the different levels of government and with the communities involved. An example of this is the creation of community monitoring programs, where citizens and different institutions are partnering to undertake tasks that previously had been purely governmental. Ultimately, this reflects a trend 5 toward harnessing new resources, achieving greater effectiveness and partial elimination of processes and regulations aimed at securing singular rule and control. Another associated issue is a decline in financial resources from the government sector that has emphasized the need to create processes which are more streamlined and efficient. The resilience of many previous initiatives has depended largely on government resources and mandates. Although it is not yet clear if a network can be cost effective, many see a network focused on community efforts as a means to facilitate activities and potentially reduce the costs in undertaking many functions that it provides. 1.2 PURPOSE OF THE THESIS The purpose of this thesis is to provide network models and recommendations to guide the creation of a Sustainable Community Network in British Columbia. The thesis assesses the potential for, and implications of, creating a network. It is fundamentally a "scoping exercise" and should be understood as a first approximation which suggests future research priorities. There are no expectations that the present product will be a definitive template. Rather, through investigation of the issues and objectives of a network, different options for "building blocks" are identified. Researching this topic is significant for a variety of reasons: 1) the abundance of diverse sustainability related community organizations working in isolation in the province, 2) a call from 6 different institutions and government agencies to address the needs of the communities in a common forum, 3) evidence which suggests that the current processes for dealing with community organizations has been limited and inefficient, 4) the desire to provide a forum for multi-stakeholder planning and management which is based upon collaborative rather then top-down approaches, and 5) a call for the creation of different models of networks for discussion. The specific objectives of this thesis are not to show that a sustainable commumty network is necessary, although this has been established through the context and responses from the interviews. The key objectives for the thesis are to take the next step, and to look at two primary issues: the objectives for creating the network from a community perspective, and the elements involved in structuring an effective system which reflects these objectives. The purpose of assessing the critical issues in establishing the network is to provide information and insight to catalyze discussion for those considering the creation of a SCN. A key element is the creation of the network from the perspective of those who will utilize it, basing the design criteria on the objectives of the communities who will be affected. A secondary, yet important objective of any planning thesis, is to illustrate how the topic will impact the field. Within the context and conclusions of this research we can identify why and how a SCN may affect and be utilized in community planning and management. 7 1.3 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH The focus of this thesis is the proposed sustainable community network and the organizations who might participate in it or utilize its functions. Although the results reflect the perspectives and views of this focus, due to the generality of the research in the thesis and its explorative nature, the findings are relevant and transferable to others contemplating a network of a different kind. The thesis focuses on the general objectives for creating a network and the different ways these objectives may be met through the structure of the system. Reference will be made to different tools, services, and processes which may be utilized within the network, but detailed explanation of the implications of their use is beyond the scope of the thesis. The geographic scope of the thesis is the province of British Columbia. It includes all the organizations, persons, and government representatives interviewed or quoted in the document. Reference is occasionally made to literature which cites examples beyond this region. 1.4 METHODS Three research methods were applied in compiling the thesis: literature review, interviews with relevant parties, and a focus workshop. 8 Contrary to most theses, the majority of field research preceded the bulk of the literature review and analysis. The field research was initiated, after a previous review of related literature, through interviews with representatives of community based organizations, government, and business. The results of these interviews, based upon a set of provocative questions, (common questions structured to allow the respondent to elaborate; See Appendix 1) and ensuing discussions, were documented in the background report, A Sustainable Communities Network In British Columbia: An Assessment Of The Future Potential. (See Appendix 2) The report was then used as reference at a workshop composed primarily of community based representatives focusing on the potential for creating a SCN. Although, the report acted as background to the workshop, the discussion was open and reflected the topics of interest to the participants. The results of the interviews and the workshop provided both substantive perspectives and opinions about the network, and highlighted the areas where more information was required. Although there was an ability to identify or list the objectives for creating the network, there was less understanding of how these objectives could be realized. There were thirty three people participating in the interviews and workshop from community organizations, government, academia, and business. The results of the interviews were transcribed with the permission of those interviewed, however requests for privacy have required that they not 9 be identified. The workshop results were recorded in minutes by a notetaker, facilitator's (this author) notes, and are being reproduced in a report which has, at the time of writing, yet to be released from the conference organizers. It was determined that more research is needed into the objectives; why individuals and organizations would come together to form a network, and the implications of this for what was needed to implement and facilitate its activities. The literature portion of this thesis analyzes four primary objectives in depth, networks as: 1) resource exchange mechanisms, 2) a means to organize the "unformalized" field, 3) creating a community of interest, and 4) a vehicle for power, influence and empowerment. Further to these interviews and research, there has been opportunity for discussions with a variety of people interested in the adoption of such a SCN. Their insights and opinions have been incorporated into the thesis and reference made where allowable. These methods were utilized differently in the various thesis chapters, some relying explicitly on the field research or the literature, and others using both. The overall application of the research is roughly based upon an objectives and alternatives analysis, where having established the objectives of the participants, different alternatives through the models provided have been offered to act as a framework for implementation of the network. 10 1.5 DEFINITIONS AND TERMS There is a surplus of definitions of networks. This is largely due to the many different functional and conceptual contexts. In addition, there are a number of terms used frequently throughout this research which may have a variety of meanings or are being used in a specific context for this thesis. The following definitions and terms have therefore been provided for clarity. 1.5.1 Network The word network has come to stand for a number of different activities, processes, and actions. Furthermore, a differentiation needs to be drawn between an electronic network and a personal network. Rather than try to reinvent a definition I will provide a sampling, from the most fundamental to the more context specific. A spectrum of variations exists within and stem from the ones provided. The dilution of meaning of the word network is both a detriment and at the same time an opportunity in understanding the idea and design of networks. The detriment is lack of clarity of purpose and intent for organizations saying they would like to create a network. Often this is confused with the act of "networking", or the creation of tools to facilitate networking such as a "computer network". On the other hand, opportunity exists to avoid the limitations in creating an organized network and to allow flexibility for organizations to create a network based upon their own vision, objectives, and needs. The most basic and generic understanding of networks usually describes them as linkages which either connect or provide a pathway for flows of resources between nodes or stations (Guralnik 11 1984). These linkages may be direct or indirect and, if flows exist, they may be unilateral or bilateral or a combination of both. Although the most persistent picture of this is a transportation network or phone transmission lines, it may also be seen and accomplished in an intangible manner through personal association and relationships. A more specific definition of social organization networks is offered by Mulford, "a specific set of linkages among a defined set of persons, with the additional property that the characteristics of these linkages as a whole may be used to interpret the social behavior of the persons (organizations) involved. " (Mulford 1984: 136) and "An inter-organizational network, however, consists of all organizations linked, directly or indirectly, by a specific type of relation." (Aldrich in Mulford 1984: 136) One of the more compelling definitions of networks recognizes the dual physical and intangible context within which they may operate. Networks, "...are seen as participating in larger systems of inter-organizational relations involving the flows of budgeted funds, orders, and reports, as well as larger cultural systems involving the exchange of such normative elements as legitimacy and meaning. "(Scott in Myer 1983: 156) 1.5.1.1 Personal And Electronic Networks These definitions will be elaborated upon from the perspective of the participants interviewed. A simple differentiation is that the electronic network, in the context of SCN, is a subset or tool of the personal or human network. The electronic network is regarded as a means of networking and 12 communicating while the personal network is the foundation of the system. Personal network is used to describe the fundamental relationships and interactions which are the cornerstones of the network. This may be best described from a quote taken from the Internet, "(electronic) community networks should never substitute for face-to-face contact They can, however, become electronic "third places" providing additional environments where people can get together, meet and talk and arrange for meeting face-to-face. " (Beamish 1995). 1.5.1.2 Structured and Informal Networks For simplicity, an informal network will refer here to the existing systems, processes, and activities which the participants may already utilize to carry out some of the functions of a network. An example of this may be conferences where attendees meet to share information. The network can be said to be formalized or structured when these same functions are "recognized" and undertaken in the name of the process to achieve a specified end or to meet certain objectives of those participating in the network. ^ 1.5.2 Collaboration There is a strong connection between collaborations and networks in some applications. Within the sphere of creating a collaboration process, different arrangements may be defined. A network can be interpreted as a type of "collaborative alliance" (Gray 1991). Like networks, collaborations can be recognized as both a form and/or a process depending on the application. For the uses of this study both the form (collaboration) and process (collaborating) will be 13 described in terms of their influence on how the creation of a network may be an effective tool of planning. The definition of a collaborative process transcends the elementary description or definition of cooperation, participation, and coordination (Gray 1989). In essence these actions are ingredients in achieving collaboration. Collaboration, in simple terms and in the context of planning and management, can be explained as interested parties with diverse perspectives on a shared problem getting together to create solutions which potentially benefit all in a way that none could achieve individually. Or as diverse agencies and stakeholders working on a parallel plane, as opposed to the present hierarchical approach, where each stakeholder brings an asset or interest or plays a role which allows them to achieve a common purpose that they could not attain individually. 1.5.3 Coalition Coalitions extend beyond the common perception of simply special interest groups or advocacy roles. There is commonly a focal characteristic around which they form, but there is also a deeper internal dynamic. It is the resilience of this internal condition which differentiates them from the advocate role. The coalition requires internal collaboration and structures as well as a common interest. "The coalition is a vital and increasingly utilized mechanism for collective organizing and policy formation. Coalitions are often a preferred vehicle for inter-group action because they promise 14 to preserve the autonomy of member organizations while providing the necessary structure for unified effort.(Mizrahi 1992:12) 1.6 ORGANIZA TION OF THE THESIS Chapter 1, of which this is the last section, introduces the thesis, gives its context, provides its purpose and scope, and outlines the methods used. Phrases and terms which may be unclear are defined for the readers clarification. Chapter 2 is a review of the literature. It is a largely theoretical description of why people come together to create a network, and provides theoretical context for the objectives expressed by the participants in the field research. Results are based on literature from network, collaboration, coalition, and social organization research. Chapter 3 is a summary of the results of the field research. It establishes the perspectives of the participants interviewed and involved in the workshop with respect to the fundamental issues in establishing the network. As well, it identifies the key elements of the network which the potential participants feel are relevant as "building blocks". Chapter 4 takes the results of the field research and further literature analysis and offers three models of a network which reflect the spectrum of options available. The importance of these models is that they are being produced to represent the objectives of the participants. 15 Chapter 5 provides the conclusions, recommendations, and implications for planning derived from this research. 16 CHAPTER 2 NETWORK OBJECTIVES: A LITERATURE REVIEW Past research on network and collaboration practice provides fundamental insights into the application of community networks in organizational, procedural, and functional contexts, as well as providing understanding of why organizations network. There are a number of theories which both describe and support the development of community based networks in a planning context. Foremost among these are those dealing specifically with the functional and organizational aspects of networks and networking, collaboration approaches and theories, and coalition and advocacy practice. In addition there are a number of theories which are relevant to this topic from a regional and community development perspective but have not been raised in the context of this research. These include literature from economics, in particular examples of small and medium enterprises, cultural economics and geography, and the extensive research dealing with cultural networks especially in terms of immigration and cultural identity. 2.1 NETWORK PRINCIPLES In general, the literature provides a more theoretical foundation of why networks are utilized in a community organization context. The following examples represent some key reasons and principles for adopting networks and network processes. The objectives instilled in the creation of the network are expressed in practical terms of being an exchange mechanism, and having a 17 coordination and institutionalizing function; and as having more intangible objectives of creating a community of interest and as a means of influence and empowerment. There is the possibility for a great deal of overlap between these objectives. They are often expressed as separate objectives and are presented separately for illustrative purposes. However, it will be apparent that they are not mutually exclusive and that there are two or more operating simultaneously in most cases. An opening comment should be made surrounding the foundations and connections for the theories used in this research. The two most predominant, collaboration and network, have strong similarities based in their working at both a process and substantive level. In other words the benefits derived from both are realized both in the process "means" and the substantive "ends". As well, on a broader level a network may be understood as a form of collaborative alliance. 2.1.1 Resource Exchange Mechanism Creating a network as a resource exchange mechanism can be considered as the most fundamental function for a network. Its premise comes from the notion of creating linkages in some defined space or interest which allows some physical or intangible product to be shared among the user group (Sarason 1977; Gray 1989). The most obvious examples are communication or transportation networks. The objective of the network is to facilitate flows of some resource, both physical and intangible. 18 Both network and collaboration theories recognize "resource flows" and allocation as a foundation for creating the process (Gray 1989; Chaviz et al in Mazrahi 1992). Resources are constituted of monetary, technical, information, and personal substance. A network is seen as an effective means to distribute these resources. As Chaviz et al. point out a network may be described by the characteristics of this resource flow. A community network is composed of interconnected and interactive social relations with various nodes or points. A node can be an individual or an organization and the network defined by the recipients involved in transactions where common resources are exchanged. (Chaviz et al. in Mizrahi 1992). Chaviz et al. make the case that community organizations need to build systems to sustain themselves by "importing energy" through resources which they can then utilize to manufacture outputs in the form of action or products in their community. An important point illustrated here is that an organization consumes a lot of scarce energy and resources trying to accumulate energy and resources. The creation of a network is understood to streamline these efforts both internally and externally for the organization. The efficiency of the network, it follows, can be described by its ability to produce more energy/resources for the participants than it consumes to operate. The network is also seen as a linkage outside the participating members which characterize it, to include support organizations which provide resources for it to function. These "intermediary support" organizations are linked and work horizontally with the network to provide exchanges in the form of technical assistance, information, funds, and education (Chavis et al. 1992). Similarly, the linkages may be vertical, connecting the network to external sources such as 19 government agencies, to access information or to act as an advisory body. Reducing the uncertainty brought on by the inadequacy, unequal distribution, or ineffectual governance structure regarding these resources has given rise to the utilization of networks and other collaborative alliances as an answer. 2.1.1.1 Resource Scarcity and Dependency Resource scarcity has been identified in network and collaborative literature as a motivating factor in organization development. Organizations driven by resource scarcity are motivated to enter into exchanges with other organizations, which has consequences for realizing their common or specific objectives (Mulford 1984). A more common and substantial theory which also deals with resource scarcity yet is significantly different is the resource dependence model. This suggests that organizations unify due to a concentration of resources within other groups, (such as government agencies) creating a dependency on these groups. Rather than compete for these resources and be dependent in isolation, it is better to collaborate and share access to different concentrations of resources (Mulford 1984, Gray 1991). The key focus here is, while accepting the need for interorganizational relationships, to minimize interorganizational dependencies and maintain organizational autonomy (Gray 1991). Both of these models have different relevance to networks. The first seeks to overcome the question of uncertainty due to resource scarcity, and is more proactive. The second is more a 20 question of power relationships, looking to reduce and de-emphasize a power imbalance through unification of interests with other organizations therefore reducing dependencies on "lead" organizations who have accumulated resources. As Gray (1991) points out, these theories help to explain why organizations working for their own self-interest may enter into an arrangement, such as a network, which seems counter to maintaining this independence end. Gray (1991) goes on to point out three crucial characteristics of resource dependency explanations which illustrate its effectiveness for describing why organizations undertake collaborative alliances: access to resources, efficient use of resources, and the creation of rules governing the allocation of resources. As pointed out above, alliances through networks are envisioned to give greater access to resources. This may be accomplished through various means and for different perceived reasons. Diversity of sources contributing to greater input is one factor, while legitimacy in numbers is felt to be of greater influence to those controlling resources. Access to resources is not merely a function of resource accumulation or scarcity. Access is also limited by an over-abundance of information and confusion over where and how to access it. An alliance is beneficial in creating a structure for systematically locating meaningful resources. The question that remains for the individual organizations is to what degree the network operates. Will they have access to a proportionally larger amount of resources useful for their specific needs if they must relinquish autonomy to the alliance? 21 Given this access, the network is now a means to efficiently use the resources. Beyond the obvious utility of creating a distribution network for any information received by one member organization through dispersal or a directory, an alliance may be more proactive. Creation of resources is possible through member sharing, or by driving the "cost" of acquiring the information down by banking resources (Gray 1991). Finally, as the field of activity may be uncertain in how to access and utilize resources, a network alliance may be used to create rules and procedures to order the process. This is important with respect to resource exchange and flow. Establishing a common method of conduct helps to accomplish both access and efficiency within the network and within the individual organizations (Gray 1991). This aspect of resource management through the network is similar to the notion of negotiated order as explained below by Mitroff and Nathan (1991). Through collaboration, members realize a common understanding of the problem and are able to set out structures to manage them. 2.1.2 Creating A Community Of Interest The concept of a "community of interest" is founded on the notion that diverse people, organizations, or communities may create a community through a shared vision, interest or problem. The establishment of a network in the context of community organizations, based on this specific interest may have intangible objectives such as community building, developing the common vision, and unification for influence or legitimization, to name a few. They are also to 22 create or reach a specified end, to link or unite the diverse experiences and ideas to reach a common goal. It is as part of this definition of network that it is important to recognize how collaboration and coalition approaches and theories are related and beneficial to achieving a successful network. This aspect of alliances is most closely tied to the ideal of a "process within a process". Selin and Chavez (1995) illustrate the network as a forum for communication where, through enacting the process, participants are able to appreciate their interdependencies and thus the central problem issue. It is through this process that stakeholders become committed to the problem and how their self interest is addressed in the context of the network. Two theories which address this issue specifically are negotiated order theory and transactive approaches to planning. Negotiated order as explained by Mitroff and Nathan (1991) states that through collaboration, members realize a common understanding of the problem and are able to set out structures to manage them. Transactive planning theory is also relevant to this application of networks in terms of resources. Through communication "participants are motivated to advance a shared vision of resource use and the expected outcome is [then] limited to exchanging information. "(Selin and Chavez 1995:193) 23 In assessing the structure of organizations, and in regard to networks, Mulford (1984) points out there is a need to understand a network on the basis of interdependencies and uncertainty. The network is conceived as a coordination strategy to overcome uncertainty. Pooled interdependencies are developed into a coalition from which the organization may be structured and rules of association developed which will facilitate unified action (Mulford 1984). This same point is made by Gray in a different context. Gray points out that collaborative alliances are useful to overcome the uncertainty created in communities by the blurring of roles and capacity of various agencies responsibilities. The alliance is a response to unstructured and ambiguous actions being imposed upon the community. Furthermore, this gives the community a formalized structure which cohesively accounts for the interdependencies of all the various stakeholders both within and external to the alliance. Similarly, it is noted that the external agencies who are working independently yet rely on each other for information, resources and other policy decisions, are provided a venue to work more efficiently (Gray 1991 , Dorcey 1987). Enabling people to link special interests and to share information and diverse expertise, coalitions are also means by which organizations can clarify their differences and incorporate various skills and levels of experience, and roles for participation Mizrahi points out that through coalitions, separate groups can develop a common language and ideology with which to shape a collective vision. However, the creation of this common vision does not come easily and there may be a danger, given the complexity and diversity of issues, of committing too much to the creation of the vision and not enough to achieving results. As Mizrahi comments, 24 "Traditional community organizing and administrative skills are not automatically transferable to the development of coalitions, which require a greater degree of internal collaboration and planning" (Mizrahi 1992). Mondros and Wilson (1994) contend, and this is further supported in the field research, that the personal network and contacts on a face to face level are crucial elements of creating a network. As people work together, "relationships" become a motivating factor for participation in the network. The implications of this are relevant to the above transmission of information and legitimacy of the operation to those participating. A network "maximizes mutual support and the exchange of resources.... It is a type of network sustained not only because it increases resources available to people or expands their knowledge, or provides new experience, but also because it dilutes the sense of loneliness. " (Chavis et al: from Sarason et al. 1977) Collaborative alliances are viewed as being "transformative" by a number of authors and researchers (Gray 1991, Friedmann 1987). This concept is also addressed in other theories through joint appreciation, mutual or social learning, or transactive planning. The underlying premise is that through the process of coming together, and through internal discourse, there is a transformation from a group of disassociated members with a common problem to a defined community looking to solve a problem for their self interest. Much of this transformation is summed up as participants can make a difference. Chrislip (1994) points out that the creation of a network acts as a base of acceptance which allows the 25 participants to move forward into action. There is an important element which is brought out here and may act as a barrier as well as an opportunity for the network. The ability of those involved to find motivation to move forward into action may be tempered if the energy to find a common vision is manufactured by too much compromise. 2.1.3 Structuring An Underorganized Field: Formalization Collaboration can be seen to work at two levels, one which is seen to work at the process level in creating the forum for action, and the other at a contextual level which focuses the process on creating effective solutions (Vredenburg 1995). In the seminal work on collaboration by Emery and Trist (1965), the authors look at the basis of using a collaborative method to first structure the organization of the process then progress to create solutions in a "stable field". The objective of defining the two general levels of a collaboration is to emphasize the power and relevance of each level in creating an effective solution. Although the first level does not look to directly influence the problem domain, it is important as a vehicle to "organize" the previously "underorganized" (Emery and Trist 1965, Vredenburg 1995) conditions in which the problem domain rested. The basis for this argument stems from the term "requisite variety", meaning that the complexity of the problem domain, sustainability in this case, and the internal complexity of the process developed to deal with it should be matched. Single organizations are unable to recognize, respond, or envisage the multitude of dimensions which are now part of the planning and 26 management responsibility. A requisite variety ensures a more adaptable and responsive organizational system. "Thus the paradigm of individual strategic response to global change is giving way to collectively crafted strategies. " (Perlmutter and Trist 1986from Gray 1989p. 233) Chaviz et al. make a similar point regarding the establishment of networks. A network is built upon the notion of reciprocity, that individuals will both feed and consume resources to the system. However, as is pointed out, these transactions are often not direct nor mutual (Chaviz 1992). Therefore, it is in the interest of the endurance of the system to provide different and as unrestrained opportunities for exchange of resources as possible, thereby reducing the entropy and single-mindedness which could prevail in a more limited system. This may be understood as a foundation to network creation at a number of different scales. In planning and management it has become apparent that single agencies have been unable to cope with the complexity of environmental and social needs, thus necessitating greater interagency cooperation. For a variety of reasons such as incomplete information, protection of turf, and poor communication systems and skills, this has not happened (Dorcey 1987). Similarly, the complexity of organizing at the community level, even around specified issues, has created the desire for single organizations, and smaller scale networks, to expand and work together. As Gray points out individual agency or stakeholder attempts to react in turbulent times are severely limited not only by their own capability to adapt but by the competition created for resources at each level (Gray 1991). Therefore a collaborative alliance, such as a network can be seen as a crucial means in organizing and stabilizing a "messy" problem. 27 Therefore the relationship of this first level of collaboration to the second is to clarify and frame the boundaries of the problem domain. The second level of the collaboration is then better able to pursue contextual action towards solution through specified means. A question which arises during this transformation is one of formalization. Collaboration is described as an emergent or incremental, as opposed to rigid, process (Gray 1989, Vredenburg 1995) which is noted for its adaptability. Trist has suggested that the movement to the second level must be accompanied, or even induced, by a correspondent formalization or institutionalization of the process. This suggests that the key to problem resolution is merely through organization; that once the underorganized process is organized, then a solution is sure to follow. Unfortunately this argument does not account for the uncertainty and lack of complete knowledge (Holling 1978) which characterizes these meta natural resource issues. In the end reliance on formalization: "may simply create a new organization, with little or no impact on the problem resolution....Such new organizations may or may not contribute to the integration of the overall problem domain; for example, they may instead fail to coordinate efforts, consuming for their own maintenance the very resources they needed for domain problem resolution." (Vredenburg 1995: 7) 28 Although in the case of very well defined collaborations it may be that the increased formalization is beneficial or even required, this same statement can not be extrapolated to collaborations which are more complicated and in which the problem domain must remain constantly shifting and the action on-going. This is not to imply that institutionalization and formalization cannot play a significant role in the collaborative process but that reliance on this stage as a given or as a solution to the problem may not be justified. Gray, and Selin and Chavez try to overcome this issue in their model of collaboration by incorporating feedback mechanisms in their process which stress the need to revisit the process stages as the structuring and outcomes unfold. (See Figure 1) Figure 1 C O L L A B O R A T I V E PROCESS (Modified from Selin and Chavez 1995) ANTECEDENT -crisis (environment, social economic) -broker -mandate -common vision -existing networks -leadership -incentives -Formalization -Contextual Action PROBLEM DIRECTION STRUCTURING SETTING SETTING -recognize -formalizing interdependence -establish goals relationship -identify stakeholders -set ground rules -roles assigned -consensus on legit, stakeholders —• -joint information —» -tasks elaborated -common problem search definition -monitoring and -perceived benefits -explore options control systems to stakeholders designed -perceived salience -organize sub-to stakeholders groups OUTCOMES programs impacts benefits derived 29 2.1.4 Power-Influence-Empowerment "Thus perhaps the greatest irony of community action for sustainability is that communities cannot do it alone. Small may be beautiful but it can also be insignificant. " (Durning in Lerner 1989:168) As raised in the section on resource dependency, power, influence and empowerment all are potential incentives for a network. Advocacy interests, or coalitions, are relevant to this type of network, as are collaboration characteristics. Friedmann suggests that the use of advocacy approaches is to support social groups whose interests had previously been excluded or had served a less motivating role in planning. There are different degrees of advocacy offered from simple public participation, to influencing power through united negotiation of interest, to seeking a change in the power structure of the political system. The real issue which arises from all of these cases is that rather than individuals competing with each other for common resources, they instead unite around a common interest to reach their objective. Although the change activated through the unification is one objective, Friedmann also notes that some other fundamental attributes of advocacy are to raise the consciousness of the individuals involved toward some common goal, and to create an efficient organization for the constituency (Friedmann 1987). The form this type of action tends to take is the "coalition", implying individuals uniting around a common vision. A coalition is a body whose focus is inward, it exists to create a united front 30 and therefore its energy is directed inward on developing the cohesion and structures for those inside the coalition membership. The effectiveness of this type of network may be measured through the strength of the cohesive linkages which define its structure. A dense network is one that is described by the number of exchanges within the members. A dense network rarely exchanges outside the specific community of interest and issues commonly overlap. A good example is an ethnic community (Chaviz et al. 1992). Less dense networks interact more outside the community members, de-emphasizing or sustaining internal linkages and expanding or further emphasizing external linkages. It has been found that these networks are, "more conducive to the transfer of cultural and other innovations and they provide greater potential for collaboration. " (Chaviz et al. 1992: 47). It is concluded that a resilient system will mix the density and exchanges thus balancing the internal cohesiveness for the members while leaving the system open to " exchanges with other networks, to interact and incorporate other social policy areas, to involve interdisciplinary actors, and to limit the sense of community among its members.'''' (Chaviz et al. 1992: 47). Mondros and Wilson make the point of examining the creation of "social action organizations" in the most extreme view of advocacy. The basic motivation of these groups is to transfer power from the establishment to themselves. They differentiate "mutual aid networks" from these organizations by their desire to only transfer functions or tasks, improve morale, or to plan (Mondros and Wilson 1994). ''''They seek to achieve consistency, i.e., that members feel 31 empowered, that the organization and members pursue concrete activities to achieve power, and that the organization, ultimately, has power. " (Mondros and Wilson 1994: 1) As Friedmann argues, there is a spectrum across which groups may organize for the objective of empowerment. However, the basic question is to what degree a network chooses to operate, to influence, to be a partner, or to have control. The acceptance and reception of other organizations, the "establishment", and the public will vary depending upon the atmosphere and outlook which is prevalent in the environment and how the organization chooses to present itself. There is little doubt that an objective of networking, uniting, or mobilizing, whether it is direct or indirect is to attain a new "position" in their relative relationship with other groups. The word "power" does not have to have suspicious connotations, yet this reason for creating a network must not be overlooked or downplayed as a motivating factor for coming together. There is a need is to go beyond public hearings which have come to stand for lip service to public participation and lead to unfulfillable expectations (Gray 1989). Parties are unable to recognize if or how their input was utilized in the decision making process. Empowerment, community determination and mobilization, and re-democratization are all terms which describe this utility of collaboration. However, there is, as in traditional public participation, the capacity for the realities of the process to fall short of the expectations. The process may be designed to listen and empower the participants but there may still exist a need to build mechanisms which follow through on the results. In terms of a collaborative process this is where the CORE land use planning process was unable to be successful. The efficiency of the networks creation and 32 their cohesion will now be a determinant of how well the constituents are able to ensure the issues they feel are important are dealt with. Similarly it has been noted that many decisions using traditional public participation approaches have proved to be unsatisfactory to all the parties involved due to an inability to concentrate on the real interests relating to the issues of the conflict or problem (Fisher and Ury 1981, Wondolleck 1985). It is suggested that a process is needed which encourages dialogue on the issues, rectifies positional stances, and yet does not merely skim over surface issues. A network is a vehicle used to empower the participants, and create opportunities to make dealings both within the network and external to it more horizontal. Lappe and DuBois in assessing the "rebirth of democracy" in the United States, explore the issue of power quite extensively in terms of its existence within relationships. They too recognize that power is not necessarily a dirty word. Power imbalances may exist in many forms but "Understanding power as a relationship is a tool which those with less power can use to establish relationships which are partially on their own terms "(Lappe and DuBois 1994:53). Both sides have to take responsibility for the relationship. It is contended that the creation of networks and community organizations is based upon creating this relationship which redefines the power balances in planning. What this redefinition means in terms of alliances and planning is that the organization must refocus attention away from the traditional symbols of power such as money, law, and force, and 33 focus on the bonds among people as a source of power in features such as knowledge, creativity, moral suasian, and even organization itself. This shift in the focus of power to the relationship creates an atmosphere that balances the interaction and emphasizes the creativity of the grassroots as opposed to the directive of a hierarchical approach. Lappe and DuBois quote Saul Alinsky as saying "Organized people and organized money -that's what power is and since most of us don't have much money, we must find power in organized people ". The authors go on to stress that it is important to note that within alliances people are not being organized but connected. And through developing these bonds they find common ground which leads to strength, hope and power. In terms of knowledge and expertise this is similar to the notion of requisite variety, which as defined earlier, sees resilience and strength in the diversity of collaborations. There is little doubt that a network has the possibility to create greater discord as much as influence and empower. Selin and Chavez (1995) point out that a network which views collaboration as a watering down of their objectives may find it creates adversarial responses to their desires. Power relations must also be recognized internally in a network as well as being a reason to create the network in the first place. This means that the network or alliance may be conceived of as a means to influence and diminish a power imbalance between stakeholders and external 34 decision makers, but that to be more effective the network must also be able to address the power imbalances between its constituent members. 2.2 CONCLUSIONS This chapter has sought to deepen the theoretical understanding of the objectives for creating a community based network. The evidence compiled from the literature encompasses diverse fields which, from first perceptions, might appear to be unrelated. However the theories from collaboration, networks, coalitions, and social organization structures have not only commonalties but also stress the same fundamentals. The subject areas which were focused on in this chapter, resource flows, community vision and cohesion, process structuring and formalization, and power and empowerment, have distinct characteristics which can stand alone as objectives for a network. They also contain many features which strongly link these areas to each other and suggest that there are benefits to recognizing how these areas interact to attain greater benefits than the more narrowly defined subjects might suggest. In other words, depending on how a network is developed it may be able to simultaneously address all the objectives effectively. Depending on the objectives of those who "own" and are members of a network it is important to recognize and emphasize certain functions to achieve their specific ends. These elements, depending on their application, may act as building blocks in the development of a network. 35 The next chapter reports the empirical research, using stakeholder's perspectives to provide insight into the necessary functions, activities, tools, and services to meet these objectives for a SCN. By assessing the critical "practical" issues and concerns of the stakeholders, it can be determined how they may be actualized in light of the objectives. 36 CHAPTER 3 OBJECTIVES FOR NETWORK CREATION: Field Research The material presented here is the result of the field research conducted in October and November 1995. The research was conducted in two stages. The first was a series of interviews with individuals, usually representatives of organizations and institutions, who were interested in the creation of a "Sustainable Community Network" (SCN). This included individuals from community based organizations, government agencies, and businesses who had an interest in the network. The objective of the interviews was to use a range and diversity of possible interests to outline some key issues and concerns regarding the SCN (See Figure 2). The questions that were asked of this group were focused on assessing some basic issues in the establishment of the network. The issues were derived from a review of selected literature which helped to identify and formulate the questions which needed to be asked. These included establishing a need for the network, who and how participation should be managed, what products they would like to see, and how they felt the system should be structured, given their understanding of what a network was capable of providing. (See Appendix #1 for questions) The results of these interviews were compiled and used as a background paper entitled "A Sustainable Communities Network In British Columbia: An Assessment Of The Future Potential" for the "Sustainability: Its Time For Action" conference. The paper was fundamentally a record of 37 the interviewees responses to shape and catalyze discussion during the next stage. (See Appendix # 2 for a copy of the paper) The second stage consisted of a workshop conducted at the conference focused on exploring the potential design and creation of a SCN, utilizing the paper as a background. Figure 2 FIELD RESEARCH PREPERATION INTERVIEWS BACKGROUND WORKSHOP POST REPORT WORKSHOP - selected - outlined critical - compiled key - presentation of - results of literature review issues issues and CORE database workshop - Used perspective concerns of and background recorded and - informal of: respondents report presented within interviews with * community - used to outline - facilitated report on the interested parties representatives and create discussion V conference •government framework for following outline - author recorded - research into * interested discussion in of paper for use in thesis existing networks business workshop - included diverse - follow up with - Used to create range of individual background report participants participants Sarah Flynn, a representative from CORE, presented the results of the creation of a database of sustainable community initiatives to the workshop participants. This was used to show the diversity of initiatives operating in the province. The organizations included in the data base met criteria established by CORE. Following this presentation the paper derived from the interviews was introduced, and followed by an Open discussion facilitated by this author. Although no "formalized" agenda of what was to be discussed was before the participants, the paper and the facilitator helped to shape the dialogue. The workshop assembly consisted primarily of 38 representatives in community organizations with some government and academic representation. There were three participants involved in the workshop who were also interviewed for the background paper. This chapter draws on and expands upon the results of both the first and second stages of the research. Although the first stage provided the background, a starting point, some of the information is irrelevant in terms of this particular thesis. Similarly there is input received in the second stage which was unrelated to the first but helped to advance the objective of this paper. In general the first stage focused on some key specific questions and issues about the proposed network products and processes, while the second stage due to its open style involved more exploration of some of the intangible aspects, particularly on the basis and objectives of a SCN. In particular the opportunity to have participants engage in dialogue on the issues gave the second stage a more "insightful" flavour as ideas were developed and opinions challenged. The following is based upon the perspectives of the participants and is therefore limited by their level of knowledge and information regarding the subject. The first section looks at the perceived objectives, as stated by the participants, for creating a SCN. It is important to reiterate that the workshop participants had not been informed by the depth of the literature in the preceding chapter. The objectives presented here reflect the direct viewpoint of the respondents within the context in which they were received. 39 The next sections look at some of the fundamental issues which need to be identified and affect the character of the system, structure and function of the network. These include need, opinions toward participation and access, funding and resources, direction, and the perceived difference between an electronic (computer-based) and personal network. The fundamental issues were more easily defined and chronicled in terms of what the expectations of the participants entailed. However, these same issues are dependent upon the overriding objective for creating the SCN, a topic which was less easily described and in need of further development as it related to the network functions. Those taking part in the interviews or workshop will be identified as respondents or participants, and where necessary will be categorized as community, government or business representatives. 3.1 FOUNDING OBJECTIVES: Why form a network? Given that there was a perceived need for the network, a central focus of both the interviews and workshop was to establish what the primary objectives of the network should be. Much of the discussion in the workshop focused upon the question of why have a network, what would be the fundamental objective(s) that would act as the motivating reason? The respondents were confident in what products and services they wanted to acquire from participating. But, while they were able to state some overriding objectives for participating, this was also the area in which the participants seemed to be the least informed if not the most uncertain, and there was less consensus on what the implications were of the objective for a course of action. 40 The results could be classified into four central motives. These were: 1) practical assistance to create a means for exchanging and accessing information and to learn from others experience, 2) to create a system which would make them more efficient as a group and structure the disparate organizations, 3) to create a common vision upon which they as a "community of interest" could become more cohesive and focused, and 4) "recognition" as a group, to create a structure through which they could be empowered and have an influence in some manner with policy and decision makers. These needs and objectives could be classified into two distinctive groups, those that had a practical quality and those that had an intangible quality about them. The predominant emphasis was a very practical one, and seemed to flow most directly from the experience with informal networks. Although this objective was described in a number of ways and had varying characteristics for each participant, it can be summarized as an overall need for some sort of exchange network. Respondents saw a network as a vehicle to both access and disseminate information. The other practical objective of creating a SCN as described by the participants was to create some organized structure for not only exchanging information, but for making the system within which they worked more efficient. This may be described as "institutionalizing" the previous informal system. Two intangible objectives stood out, and were expressed more distinctly in the workshop where there was a group dynamic as opposed to the interviews. The first was hope that the SCN could 41 provide some sort of internal cohesion and purpose at the grassroots level to the diverse groups working in "isolation". Second, it was perceived that the unification of the diverse efforts would increase their collective capacity to deal with and be recognized by those outside the SCN and allow them to influence policy and decision makers. The following is a summary of the key points and characteristics of each of these objectives as expressed through the interviews and workshop. 3.1.1 Resource and Information Exchange The most fundamental objective expressed by the respondents was that the SCN should act as a vehicle for exchange. Commonly this meant concentrating on the network as a means to access and disseminate "hard" information, but other resources such as expertise, funding, and personal experiences were also identified. This objective was the product of the most basic need that many felt. As each group was working in isolation from each other, each was having to expend a large amount of time gathering information, not to mention determining how to go about acquiring it. Being voluntary in nature and most of them being relatively new, the idea of the SCN acting as an exchange mechanism was seen as a positive first step in its implementation by most of those involved. Information was seen to be the resource most assuredly expedited through the network, easily distributed and received. 42 Given the varied stages of development of the community based initiatives, there was a mix of both substantive and procedural information requirements. Many visualized the SCN as a vehicle for accessing reports, seeing how other communities had progressed, and for delivering technical and expert input into their community. This ranged from the creation of a directory so that the individual groups could contact each other, to the network creating some centralized arena as a clearinghouse for information. Fundamentally important to these participants was information that was easily accessible to the commumty. Participation in the SCN would allow information transmission to be consistent and better directed to, and accessed from, a focused group instead of hit and miss. The network was conceived as "providing one stop shopping" through its tools and services to facilitate this. However, it was stressed in the workshop that the SCN and the type of information it produced needed to be more than just "data", it needed to be a forum to exchange ideas, insights, and innovation as well. Although there was an expressed need for hard information as an important element, it was felt that it would be more effective when mixed with the personal side of the exchange. It was at this level that the utility of the network could go beyond purely an exchange mechanism to act as an education and awareness tool as well. There were other by products of this type of network that were recognised. It is envisioned that a network may be able to sustain initiatives by bringing a constant supply of information, while reducing burnout by streamlining certain operations. There was general agreement that an exchange 43 network would not provide products that were unattainable through the old system or elsewhere. However, it was felt that the SCN would make these products easier to find, and provide a starting point for accessing them. Similarly, the flow of information was conceived as being "self-updating", meaning that there was the capability to record and manage the information flow of the SCN so that the issues and data received would always be relevant. One government respondent suggested that the SCN may be resource demanding. This was echoed by some community representatives who suggested that the resources wanted were presently attainable on a smaller scale and that a network may just require more to be equally as efficient. This was in keeping with other recommendations which advocated the network but suggested that it should start out small and build upon the existing system before trying to take on too much. 3.1.2 Organization and Institutionalization The need for a formalized network was also identified because of its ability to act as an organizing agent. This seemed to stem from the feeling of isolation felt by many of the organizations. Although there was a number of formalized sustainability initiatives, such as LRMP, there was no focus or even common lead agency for all the different initiatives and communities to look to. The participants were seeking some continuity and a structured forum that would give them all a common procedure and processes to follow, and to organize and crystallise the current work. Although the work of the government agencies involved with the community organizations was appreciated there was also a perceived need for the SCN to represent some coalition based upon 44 "grassroots" administration. This was called for by a number of different respondents and was indirectly referred to throughout the workshop. "There is an obvious need to provide a forum for grassroots connections and organizations to come together and create the support system.. " In some ways the objective related to the belief that the SCN could serve some administrative function, finding ways to operationalize the direction of the participants. Although there was a certain amount of agreement among the respondents that the network could provide these functions, there was also consternation about the word direction and who should give it. The concern by many was that the SCN could become bureaucratic and therefore consume more resources in its administrative capacity than it produced in efficiency. Similarly, there was consideration of how the organizing and directing would be structured, as well as who would undertake it. Again there was little consensus on these points. Some respondents felt that the network would be "self-organizing" merely through its introduction. That if kept at a simple level, there would be little need to input resources and effort into the creation of a formalized body to organize the process. Conversely, others maintained that there was little advantage in this. Although the SCN may increase the capacity of the users in a fundamental way there still existed greater opportunity through the creation of an entity which either oversaw or reviewed how the process unfolded. Ultimately, this objective was discussed as a spectrum of degrees, reaching from a body to coordinate and formalize the process and information at the most basic level, to a body which 45 directed and acted in the interest of the members at the other extreme. In this context many respondents indicated that the network in its organizational capacity should be a provider of services. Concern was again expressed that if the "board or governing body" was given a mandate to speak on behalf of the SCN, the individual community would lose autonomy and significance. As in the considertion of the issue of direction, the results of this discussion were also left unclear as to how the network could be structured or who should dictate what services would be offered. 3.1.3 Cohesion and Vision The objective expressed above sought to organize the SCN in a procedural and administrative fashion. Another similar, yet distinct objective identified by the participants was to create a community of interest through which they could organize their views. The SCN was seen as a means to solidify the greater sustainability community, to create a common vision through interaction and exchange. This was a less tangible objective, focusing on communication, relationships, and community education as the vehicles to accomplish this. One of the discussions at the workshop focused on this topic, "Groups are diverse yet need a forum to communicate and learn from each other". A problem that was identified by many of the participants was that the current state of communication between groups was not very well developed. It was suggested that communication 46 was a key "product" that the SCN could facilitate and therefore help to coalesce the objectives of the groups. Presently, there are primarily three avenues for communication which are utilized. First, informal communication between parties, which takes place over the telephone or through personal contact, is the most common yet still infrequent. It may be required for a specific need or question, or a member's personal interest. Secondly, a more structured interaction may take place through conferences, where community organisations sharing like interests and questions are provided a forum for discussion. The third venue has been through a third party such as the Fraser Basin Management Program, CORE, or an LRMP process. Nearly all respondents from the communities agreed that this system needed changing. It was described as working on a local level but not effective at a provincial scale. Similarly, it seems incapable of handling the multitude of issues, and co-ordinating cross purposes cohesively. Response from government interviews varied. As their purpose for contact with the various community initiatives was more defined it tended to be described as "workable but could be improved upon". Like the communities, respondents from government saw the system as suited well to single purpose or project response situations, but cumbersome for larger issues. All parties felt the network could enhance communication, thereby acting as a conduit for focusing their common vision. Although communication is a means to a number of different ends, much of 47 the significance in these discussions was focused on the issue of the common vision. This was associated with other intangible ends; community building, (with community meaning the SCN participants), greater influence through unity, and speaking in one voice were commonly mentioned. However like other aspects of the discussion there was also uneasiness that the SCN vision would overpower the individual communities. There was concern that if the network was to become too single issue oriented or an "activist" driven forum it would lose its utility. It was foreseen that a balance needed to be created which allowed for the SCN to concentrate on some fundamental issues and yet leave room for autonomy by the individual organizations. As well, within the spectrum of the common vision, there needed to be an agenda which allowed for the diversity of issues to be recognized. There was a certain dichotomy which existed between the desire and need to have the common vision for influence yet maintaining the individualism and "grassroots" energy which has been the driving force of many of the different initiatives previous successes. 3.1.4 External Dealings A critical objective for the SCN was expressed as a means to influence and deal with institutions, agencies, and organizations external to its core participants. This was based upon the assumption that the network would in some way be limited in the people who participated. 48 There were indications that the present system seemed to reinforce the isolation of the different communities and maintain a reliance on the external organizations. As expressed above, the respondents indicated that there was a desire to coordinate their efforts so that they would be better situated in these dealings. This was to be accomplished through more streamlined access to information, a more focused effort on issues that are a priority, and through sharing work and information throughout the network. This was not expressed as a "conflictual" stance against the external agencies nor was it perceived as such by those organizations. Rather the respondents from the community understood the SCN as a means to create more effective partnerships with decision and policy makers. Although part of this included empowerment through the network and a desire to influence, this may be read as a reaction to feelings of being under-utilized and disenfranchised as individual initiatives. While the SCN was seen as a tool to partner with external agencies, the organizations which were termed external also benefit in this arrangement. Currently community groups are each developing relationships with different agencies. Streamlining the agencies dealings, and diminishing the amount of time they need to spend on a particular issue was seen as being more efficient than dealing with each community separately on similar issues. Similarly, both the government and community respondents saw the network as a means to coordinate the different external organizations to concentrate their work together. 49 It was cautioned however that, "sharing between groups for efficiency should not be undertaken at the expense of developing relationships between each group and various levels of government and government agencies." The issue that was pinpointed in the workshop was that there was a need for "meaningful collaboration". Elements of this collaboration were understood to be education and mutual learning. A network which promoted these ideals would have an impact through broadened perspectives in dealing with the issues at hand. However, the entire concept of how much collaboration would occur within the SCN would collaborate was still unclear. There appeared to be a lack of clarity and understanding between the spectrum of meanings and implications of collaboration, influence, power and empowerment, and consultation. 3.2 CRITICAL MASS: Is there a need? A crucial point established in both the interviews and the workshop was that there was indeed a need to pursue the creation of a SCN. One community respondent expressed that it was important that the need be "conceived by the communities and ultimately be of their initiative ". It was agreed that in regard to the multitude of community based organizations working within the context of sustainability that a critical mass had been reached, that was now demanding new processes and systems. 50 Similarly, there was agreement that an informal network already existed which, although sufficient for present need and as a foundation, was unlikely to be able to carry out the functions and objectives that were projected for the more formalized SCN. 3.3 ELECTRONIC AND PERSONAL NETWORKS: W h a t i s t h e i r c o n n e c t i o n ? There is a need early on to differentiate between electronic and personal networks and explain the focus of this thesis on the latter. This research explores some of the implications of each. Although their definition was eluded to earlier on, the perspectives of the respondents understanding of each is important. The electronic network, frequently meaning a computer based network, is understood as a sub-network of the personal network. Although in some instances it may be the only means of communication between network participants, the computer is fundamentally a tool or vehicle which could assist in networking. The respondents recognized the personal network as the motivating force, the arena from which the SCN should be structured. A SCN was visualized as more than the exchange of data, but as a place where relationships were built through a variety of mediums and tools. The computer was "one tool which may facilitate networking but was not a panacea". Furthermore the SCN visualized should be "A network of people, not (just) keys on a computer". 51 There were a number of reasons expressed in the interviews and in the workshop which explained why it was perceived that the emphasis needed to be placed on the personal network, with the electronic medium supporting it. Foremost, as discussed later, was the issue of participation and access. Dealing with the pros and cons of different technologies and media is one question. However, if this network would be computer based, how can we assure equal access to members given differing costs, resources, and technical knowledge? With the explosion of new information technologies it was evident that the computer held great opportunity for compiling and disseminating data. However, many of those participating in these surveys, were unable to access appropriate technology, or had insufficient expertise to utilize their capabilities. In the same vein there were issues of accessibility due to the lack of "wired" regions, meaning that many of the areas where the community organizations were situated would be unable to receive information equally. Finally, it was felt that due to the lack of resources of many of the organizations, they would be unable to purchase or maintain the type of input to a degree that they would want to rely solely on a computer based network. There is a need to set up terminals in public places and provide training to communities to access computer-based information. This requirement for access and training, particularly in small communities, was seen as a barrier which needed to be addressed. On the whole the computer was seen as a very positive tool for the SCN. Its ability to carry out many functions which were later identified by those interviewed as important, could over time make it invaluable as a means to quickly and efficiently access information. And although there 52 was trepidation that the computer may replace some of the relationship functions which gave a network character and animation, others felt that they were being unnecessarily scared by the technology. The ability to access so much more would not replace, but would enhance the SCN's capabilities for more informed and meaningful debate and relationships. Ultimately the conclusion reached was that the over-riding focus of the SCN should be "personal", and that the electronic network should be utilized and emphasised as a tool to carry out the necessary functions and enhance other relationships. The computer, and through it the Internet, can provide new sources of relationships and facilitate access, but people still have to build the relationships themselves. 3.4 PARTICIPATION AND ACCESS: How are we defining we? Prior to determining some of the objectives in creating a SCN, there was a need for establishing some basic principles and criteria for what the participants envisioned. A critical issue for discussion was the matter of who should participate in the network and their ability to access it. This was a difficult subject to explore due to its correlation to the respondents "personal principles" of how participation in general should take place. The questions and discussions which followed this train of thought focused on whether participation should be open to all organizations or individuals, or whether there should be some limiting criteria or basis for participation. 53 3.4.1 Open Or Limited System In theory many of those interviewed supported the idea of a formalized network with open participation. An open system was seen to have advantages in ensuring that all those parties interested would be able to be represented. To paraphrase a number of respondents the network ...must be open, neutral, and transparent." Similarly, it was stated that, "...some of the best information and input came from the least likely sources and by limiting this, one would be handicapping the system." Many of those who supported the theory of open participation tempered their responses with respect to the practical application of an open network. The general sentiment was that if it were not managed correctly it would become a circus with too much irrelevant and repetitive dialogue and information bogging down the system. It was identified that some mechanism must be utilized to keep to the objectives and not waste others time. There was concern expressed by a few respondents that the costs in time and resources of managing an open system may be burdensome. Although it can by no means be stated that consensus was reached, many respondents felt that the benefits of an open system would outweigh the difficulties of managing it. Others were less inclined to have a completely open system, but foresaw a network that is made up of different components or sub-groups depending on need. For example one aspect of the system would be limited in scope to a set of members based upon some established criteria. These may be representatives of organizations working on sustainability issues and functions and may include access to technical reports or to act as an advisory body. Another aspect of the system would be 54 completely open to all who wished to participate. For example, a directory of where to find people or information, or an open dialogue or conference. This scenario was based upon the flexible network ideal. Membership would be open, but participation on specific topics would be limited based upon the issue, and community need. Still others felt that there needed to be some definitive limiting criteria put upon participation, especially in the early stages of operation. There are both functional and logistical reasons given. Some of those interviewed felt that an open system would get diluted, and in contrast to the above responses felt the costs of managing an open system would outweigh the benefits. How to limit the system was difficult to assess. Some suggested using a set of criteria for community participation such as those established by CORE for their CRBs. Others felt that the criteria for membership needed to come from the community organisations themselves. It was also suggested to start small through limiting membership and letting the system and membership grow in increments. Still others suggested that there would likely be a pre-applied limit to participation due to cost, time, and information resource constraints. Similarly, there would be little incentive to participate in a SCN if there was not a foreseeable benefit to be directly involved or if the objective and vision of the network was contrary to their needs. 55 3.4.2 Access As reported above with respect to the electronic aspects of the network, there is an issue of whether participants will be able to access the system, and whether this access will be even. One respondent noted that a network was only as good as the information flow in and out, if participants are unable to access this information then the utility of the network is diminished. Beyond the aspects associated with the computer there are also some other key barriers which should be noted. Nearly all those interviewed identified monetary cost as the primary barrier to accessing the SCN. These costs included obtaining hardware and software for the system if it were electronic, differing phone rates depending on the centre of the network, and travel costs for participating in convening functions. It was also questioned whether the type of consistent input necessary could be maintained given the voluntary nature of many of the community organisations. This was a function of both time and technical expertise needed to keep involved with the SCN at a provincial scale and to redistribute the information back locally. There was concern that many of the organizations that were independent of any other institution may be marginalized in this respect. Distance was another factor both in terms of cost and perceived isolation of interest. One respondent pointed out that the more rural areas often felt their issues were regarded less than those around the urban areas. There was concern that these areas interests would be lost in the SCN 56 therefore inhibiting their ability to access information, resources, and engage in communication relevant to their needs. 3.5 RESOURCES: What's available and how will it be provided? In preparing to establish and maintain a network it is important to determine where the resources in money, time, and information may come from and whether a network will be an effective use of those resources. This is a very difficult issue to be specific about in terms of monetary and in-kind figures. However it is important in these initial groundwork stages to assess what general support may be available or already in place to address these needs. 3.5.1 Present Support Using the community organisations interviewed, it is apparent that support is varied and uneven at present. A major variable in this is whether the group is directly linked to a government initiative. Funding alone is a critical issue. Due to the voluntary nature and time constraints, funds to sustain the community organizations themselves are difficult to attain. Some agencies have been willing in the past to help fund the start up of an organisation or have been involved with funds for specific projects. All respondents were uncertain for the future, pointing to government scaling down funds. Industry also has been willing in the past to fund specific projects. It should be noted as one respondent stated, that the government and industry need to see a product or return for their funding therein creating a possible bias. 57 Many agencies have been helpful in providing staff or technical support for specific projects, and in some cases on an on-going basis. Often this type of support may be part of an agency mandate to assist or enhance on-going community based initiatives in the province. However, staff time, like funding, is becoming more scarce. It is difficult to spread reduced staff among the initiatives on a regular "face-to-face" basis. All the organisations said that information was the most readily available resource, but contrasted that by saying that there was still not enough, that it was not specific enough, and that there were some primary pieces which were still missing. As discussed further on, this is a fundamental objective for creating a SCN. This again returns to the lack of funds and staff to give the information support the groups are seeking. All the groups rely upon volunteer time, input, and sometimes their own funding. Given the desire for more support of all kinds, the wealth of resources already present within the communities should not be underestimated. Representatives of funding organizations at the Sustainability: Its Time For Action conference identified this "self-sufficiency" as a critical component of acquiring more funds. Involvement from the local community can be seen to lend viability to an organisation, and help sustain the initiative. 58 3.5.2 Resources And The Network One aspect of considering the utility of the SCN is whether it will help maintain support or act as a detriment to the individual organizations by siphoning off resources into its own sustenance. In a general scheme, a number of different funding alternatives were considered or proposed for the SCN by the respondents. Under consideration were whether the network should be funded by outside organizations or by those who are members of the network. It should be noted here that there is still significant uncertainty, as discussed above, as to whom the membership should include and whether or not government or business interests are "members". There were a number of different responses and yet no conclusive consensus from the respondents on this question. Although almost all the parties would like to have had funding for a proposed SCN there was also trepidation for a variety of reasons. First, there was concern that if an outside agency funded the SCN it would have to follow their agenda and could be biased or lack integrity. Second there was fear that the support for the network would be considered to be "blanket" assistance, and the individual needs of the communities may suffer. Third there was reference to the longevity of any support, and concern that after the initial influx and corresponding reliance, the aid would disappear. Finally, it was considered that support should not be directed by the SCN. In other words the network should possibly act as a facilitator or signpost for the community organizations to acquire 59 their own support, but the network should not, through its directives, be making decisions about where that support should go. Among the agency and business respondents it was felt that the SCN would help in streamlining staff support. While not replacing face-to-face communication, staff time could be better spent working with a network than with each group individually. This was based upon an assumption that there would also now be a higher level of understanding prior to convening. As well, using the network to combine functions would allow staff to be less repetitive with a larger audience. 3.6 DIRECTION: Who will set the tone? Although this issue was dealt with indirectly through a number of different discussions, it is a question which continued to arise and deserves further investigation. Assuming the establishment of the SCN, direction of it becomes a fundamental issue. What format is best for the participants to keep control over how the SCN develops? Who and how the network should be directed is sensitive to funding, access, and what type and how information is processed and distributed. When asked whether or not there was a difference between a community initiated or government initiated network those interviewed tended to agree with a few exceptions that there was a difference. Many felt that the SCN would be better stimulated outside of a government agency. If the initiative were from the community there would be a greater sense of ownership. It was also pointed out that people may be sceptical if it were government initiated, that there would be limitations and expectations which would inhibit the system from being open. 60 However, there were also responses which suggested that without government input the system would be doomed. As one person interviewed stated, "If it excludes government it will not be successful, but whether government leads or not is irrelevant." The majority of responses viewed a partnership as a strong possibility. Most interviewed saw the need for the communities to be developing the input and issues. Partnering with government may help with the procedural and service aspects of the network. Echoing an earlier response one person noted that it made no difference who initiated it because if people wanted to be at the table, it is there that the most input is given. There was still much uncertainty in the responses to this question. The key points which came out were that the system needed to be designed with the users in mind and that this would dictate the structure and whether it would be government, community or a partnership. 3.6.1 Developing Issues Questions were raised about whether or not the SCN through some board or governing body, should be responsible for determining what issues are relevant and finding means to undertake and resolve them. There again was concern about a number of different aspects of this question. It was important that, as stated above, the body remain neutral, acting as a convenor and not a director of issues. There is 61 also the question of individual autonomy. There is a fear that a council or board would speak for the network. While many groups would like to participate in the SCN, they feel that they may lose control over their own destiny. It was expressed that the network should somehow be directed in a manner which allows individuals to continue to have a distinct voice. Another doubt expressed was that if issues are "developed" through the SCN they would become too politicized or activist. In other words issues could be shared, expressed, and identified on the network, but no line should be taken on how they develop. This thought was echoed in other responses, such as assuring that if issues are developed they come from the community level, and that the structure does not overpower the priorities, issues, and needs of the local level. Other suggestions have included a mission statement which clearly sets out the expected objectives of the SCN by the users. To this end a note taken from the workshop reads "... transparency of objectives is essential for all the parties. If the objectives are explicit then the board or party is merely carrying them out. " 3.6.2 A Neutral Party With respect to direction and how the SCN may be organized, an option was presented to the respondents of utilizing a neutral third party to moderate the network. The majority of the responses were positive but not without concerns. 62 Most of those interviewed could see a neutral third party providing a hub function for the network. One of the key considerations for this was assurance and faith that the party was indeed a neutral and could continue to function in that manner over time. Some felt it would be difficult for a third party to enter without an agenda and wondered what that agenda might be. It was stressed by some that this neutral should in no way have any "decision" capacity over any information or issue, but should attend to the technical and administrative aspects of the SCN. There was concern that in this role a third party would become too bureaucratic and over-burden the system, consuming more than it produced. Similarly, time and resources were a consideration, specifically cost recovery. A counter suggestion was that a management board be set up to review the SCN. Conversely, and paraphrasing a number of respondents "There is a needfor a third party to provide unbiased information (collect and redistribute) and to keep the biases of the individual groups out of the process " This group felt that each organization would be trying to manipulate the SCN to achieve their own agenda. The role of the third party would then be to not only facilitate the network but referee as an "honest broker" as well. Ultimately, it was seen that networks could be "directed" to different degrees. There exists potential controversy about autonomy and inner network power. The respondents recognize the need to involve and work with government, but were, on the whole, reluctant to see too much control over any network come from this sector. 63 It was stated by a government interviewee that "It is important to start a network and provide direction and drive from the grassroots or it will not work". There was considerable support for letting the grassroots organizations come together to form the foundation of their needs and objectives. Then, depending upon these objectives, the SCN members could define what its relationships would be with the various levels of government, other parties, and how they wished to structure the network organization. 3.7 PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: What would we like to see? The interviewees and workshop participants identified a number of specific products which they felt they would like the SCN to supply, as well as services and functions which the network could either provide or facilitate. The "hard" products are easily identifiable. Many respondents identified a directory or contact list to keep track of other initiatives and people to whom they could then go for more specific information. Reports outlining procedural aspects of running a community initiative, as well as case studies and examples of what had worked elsewhere were also recognized. Some respondents saw the SCN producing reports from a database where issues could be compiled, along with inventories, mapping, and other technical information. A newsletter, or similar format was seen as a useful product to keep participants abreast of events, schedules of conferences, and general news. Services which were identified for the SCN, beyond administrative functions, varied. There was a difference between the services which they saw the "network" producing and services which could 64 be accessed through the network. Although there were also similarities in these products, both should be recognized. The SCN was seen to be an education forum. This was conceived as being effected through different venues both assembled through and for the network. An example may be conferences, facilitated discussions, or mediated disputes. Similarly this was perceived as being a means to raise awareness of the general public to the issues. The participants also suggested that the SCN may act as a sounding board for comments and advice by policy and decision makers. The focused structure of the network, as well as the means to split into sub-groups for specific issues, was seen as conducive for reaction as a public advisory body on sustainability issues. 3.8 CONCLUSIONS The participant responses in both the interviews and the workshop were very effective at outlining and focusing in on the critical issues for the creation of a SCN. The diversity of the participants CBI, government, and business, gave a broad perspective and were useful for incorporating the range of views. Due to this diversity of interest it became clear in the interviews that there were a number of different objectives for creating a SCN. It was also evident that there was a lack of clarity over what 65 functions the network could or should serve and what were the best tools to utilize. The workshop was especially useful for providing a means to debate some of the issues and to flesh out some of the opinions toward some more concrete ends. The responses in both the interviews and the workshop were at times both common sense or expected answers and at other times contrary to what was expected. Both methods were beneficial in assessing the spectrum of interest and the degree of knowledge regarding networks at the present time. In assessing the results of the responses it became evident that there was a desire for the SCN to become multi-functional. Although there was a general sentiment that it must not take on too much too fast, it should be able to meet most of the objectives stated. Part of the outcome of these results is a clarification of the initial objectives and the means for obtaining the best results for the participants in the short term, while keeping in mind the desire to fulfil all their objectives in the long term. The following chapter proposes three models for a SCN which may be useful for choosing the starting point. Looking at a range of models which address the most fundamental objectives at one end and more complex ones at the other, as well as the likely services and tools which may be necessary to carry them out, will help those contemplating a SCN to make a more informed decision. 66 CHAPTER 4: NETWORK MODELS: The Range of Choice The purpose of the thesis is to provide a basis for creating a SCN. Although primarily a scoping exercise, the exploration of this topic so far has furnished insight into possible types and elements of networks which could result as a reflection of the diverse objectives of various stakeholders. In this chapter these models have been created as samples, representing the spectrum of SCN options available to community organizations. The creation of these models draws upon the results of the earlier literature reviews and field research and is loosely based upon work assessing interorganizational systems. Swanson (1971) argues that there are three basic levels of interorganizational systems. The first looks at the individual nodes and how the network created meets their needs. The second looks at the collective nodes to determine how the aggregated interests affect and are affected as a whole. The third looks at the interaction between the constituent units (the nodes) within the collective system (the network). In the next section these primary elements, the nodes, linkages and modality are elaborated as the basis for creating the different models. 4.1 NETWORK COMPONENTS The models presented here have been structured using characteristics of the components which constitute the network. These consist of three primary elements: the nodes, the linkages, and the 6 7 modality (Mulford 1984). (See Figure 3 and discussion below) Other factors which influence the community based network are its relationship with other sectors- government, business, and the community at large; its association with third party or intermediary organizations which provide services to the network in the way of information, technical assistance, information, and funding; and the impact and utilization of different tools to carry out the task of networking ( Mizrahi and Morrison 1992; Mondros and Wilson 1994). 4.1.1 Nodes The node is the basic component of the network. Conceptually, it can represent many different ways of organizing individuals, groups, corporations, households, nation-states, or other collectives. Geographically, the node is the backyard, watershed, or county which is acting as the focal point for the network. In a more intangible context the node may be a community of interest without geographic boundaries. The node may be looked on as a micro level scale for accumulating and disseminating information. It is at this level where the events happen and implementation of the issues are to be directed. Although emphasis may shift from the node in certain functions, it should never be overlooked as the primary focus for action. As the network expands and becomes more complex, the node remains as the dominant area of attention for realizing the network in practice. 68 Within these SCN models the node is represented by the different community initiatives, and the specific communities and constituents they represent. In many respects the node in this case is a smaller scale network. The nodes here are representative of community Figure 3 NETWORK COMPONENTS initiatives working on issues related to sustainability. The reasons for their establishment may vary and might include individuals tied through some common vision, through the intervention 69 of a third party, or in response to some conflict who have organized themselves in order to create solutions to problems in their localities. A standard difficulty in assessing networks composed of organizations as opposed to individuals as nodes relates to defining the organization. The criteria for participation in the particular organization and the limits that have been imposed for inclusion are two key questions that constantly arise and possibly cannot be universally addressed to everyone's satisfaction (Scott 1983). The difficulty arises in defining the character of an organization which is itself made up of component parts and has individual rules and expectations governing its practice, and then incorporating it as a whole in a new larger structure. 4.1.2 Linkages Linkages are the means by which the nodes are interconnected. A linkage can be a static conceptual bond around some common issue, or a dynamic flow of resources. Linkages which represent flows of resources may include, structured and sometimes informal relationships, and transfers and exchanges. The linkages can be understood as the tools needed to structure the network, or create the cohesion necessary for action. In terms of study and implementation of a network there are several key issues related to the linkages. Utilizing the most efficient tools and services is the first. As is explained further on, these tools and services can take many forms, the choice of which may be determined by the objectives of the participants, the complexity of the system, and the resource constraints. 70 Secondly, it must be determined if the linkages are to provide a means for resources to flow or to create a more rigid and structured system to unite the various participants. This is not to say that a linkage may not be multi-functional. Rather, in relation to the choices of how to structure the network, what tools and services may be useful, and who may be involved to what degree, there will be a corresponding effect on the linkage. Linkages may also be layered with, for example, a set of linkages acting as an information exchange at one level, and another set of linkages acting as a unifying bond at another. Although the node is the basic feature of the network, the linkages are the lifeline between nodes and thus instrumental in sustaining the network and differentiating it from isolated organizations working individually. Therefore the strength of these connections, the ability of interested members to utilize them, and their capabilities to deliver the necessary products are key considerations in structuring a network. 4.1.3 Modality The modality of the network is important in spatial terms and for assessing what the network represents as a sum of its parts. It is also significant in the context of institutions and organizations external to the network and how they will interact. In spatial terms it concerns how well different regions and interests are connected to the network. For example, a network comprised of organizations within the Lower Mainland could not claim representativeness as a provincial network. Similarly, if the network had representation from all 71 over the province but was centered in Fort Nelson, there are issues of accessibility for the larger part of the population participating, which may reduce the effectiveness of some aspects of the system. The network taken as a whole has significant bearing on the type and amount of interaction, attention, and inclusion other networks, organizations, and agencies take in their activities. If, for example, a network is created to streamline the dispersion of information to a defined set of participants then those interested in the broadcasting of this information must be assured that all the nodes they wish to access are included. Similarly, if data, opinions, or influence is to be accumulated through the network for use in a compiled form, it must contain sufficient emphasis from areas in which the recipients are concerned. The modality of the network may also be characterized as its rational. Although diverse and often conflicting interests and nodes may be entwined within the network structure, this can be hidden or averaged out when concentrating on the modality. Looking at the modality of the network then can be both simplifying and misleading. 4.1.4 Different Players The creation, maintenance, and durability of an organizational network is reflective of the different agencies, organizations, institutions, and individuals which can influence and have an interest in its existence, beyond the participants who compose the network. For simplicity this 72 may be described as government, business and industry, and intermediary support organizations. (Hyman and Miller 1985; Mizrahi and Morrisonl992) In the context of a provincial sustainability network, the public sector is comprised of all levels of government which may deal with individual nodes or the network as a whole. This includes the various departments and ministries of the Federal and Provincial governments who, although affected by each others actions, are compelled to act individually, as well as municipal governments. The private sector is described here for the most part as various business and industries who, through some need or mandated direction have an interest in the information, influence, and outcomes a network may produce. In the case of British Columbia this may be exemplified by the forest industry, energy suppliers such as B.C. Hydro, and B.C. Gas, as well as the agricultural community and small businesses. Intermediary support organizations may play a significant role in the effectiveness, maintenance, and longevity of an organizational network. They may broker resources from other larger or different venues for use by the network (Mizrahi 1992; Hyman and Miller 1985). They can provide training in various forms through technical assistance, raising awareness, and creating avenues for networking. 73 As Mizrahi explains intermediary support organizations assist by "implementing the functions of the enabling system through their services technical assistance organizations, information clearinghouses, consulting organizations, training centers, research organizations, voluntary action centers, and media and marketing organizations. " (Mizrahi and Morrison 1992). To this I would include the provision of funding or necessary services through donation of resources. The "Third Sector" which includes a range of non-profit organizations that engage in social welfare, educational, charitable, civic and other functions, (Hyman and Miller 1985), should also be noted, particularly with respect to acting as an "honest broker" and supplying services where resources may be scarce. Aldrich (1982) suggests that the insertion of third parties or brokers is utilized in a network to decrease the number and therefore the cost of transactions. He states, "Such positions exist because of their function of linking actors having complementary interests, transferring information, and otherwise facilitating the interests of actors not directly connected to one another. " As expressed by the participants in the field research there is also some hesitancy in committing too extensively with a broker. There is a fear that the broker, acting as a transfer point may evolve into a filter or in some other way manipulate the content and meaning of information that is passed through them. Similarly, there is a fear that, depending upon the venue in which the broker is working, there is the possibility of decreased relationships and understanding among the different nodes as direct contact with other participants is decreased. 74 An essential element of the broker role, raised both in interviews and through the literature (Aldrich 1982) is trust. The word trust in this example includes the broker in the system; they are buying in with their reputation at stake for being an "honest broker". As the figure below illustrates, the broker is also associated with a perceived reduction in transaction costs. By acting as a hub for the network, the broker is understood to facilitate the dispersion and accumulation of information and other resources. The question that arises is whether members of the network can provide this role. This is a justifiable question if the member or board has the necessary expertise and opportunity to carry this out. (See Figure 4) Figure 4 BROKER 4.1.5 Tools and Services for a Network Although the actual full description and detailed analysis of the utility of different tools used to facilitate the network will not be explored in depth, it is important to note what are some of these tools and their associated services. At the most basic level these tools may be described as communication devices, some operating face-to-face, others at arms length or even indirectly. A. Without Broker B. With Broker 75 The most basic, the phone, is still utilized extensively as a primary communicative device. In conjunction with the fax, the phone is able to be a vehicle for both the transmission of information verbally and in written form, as well as creating the opportunity for the important relationship building through direct verbal contact. The newsletter is often described as both a product of, and tool for the functioning of the network. As a tool it provides the diverse nodes with common access to activities, issues, and events which are relevant to the network. The newsletter, which may be as simple as a schedule, or as elaborate as a magazine helps to both disseminate and compile information, and provide a common focus for the separate nodes. The computer and the "computer network", (see description of the electronic network above) is often advanced as the essential tool for today's world, or even as the basis for the whole network itself. There is definitely a need for a significant amount of research into how the application of computer technology can benefit the functioning of a community network, however, it deserves specific attention to a degree that this study will not pursue. A word of caution should be expressed in seeing the computer network as a panacea. I would argue that it is but one tool, albeit a powerful one capable of carrying out a variety of the functions needed in a network, but still unable to replace many of the personal and intangible elements which are essential to an effective network. Similarly, there are many issues of access and participation which due to cost, lack of knowledge, lack of infrastructure, and resources make the computer a tool which creates inequalities as well as efficiencies. 76 Conferences, particularly in terms of modality of the network, are influential in creating, monitoring, and sustaining direction, cohesion, and action in the network. Conferences are particularly adept at reaffirming the common vision of the network due to the synthesis of disseminating large amounts of information while simultaneously providing a forum for developing relationships through personal contact. Convening, is similar to the conferences in both creating information and providing an avenue to build personal relationships, but at what is usually a more specific scale. Although not limited to specific tasks or functions, convening can be particularly useful for overcoming barriers which arise in the network, help in education or training, and as a means to get input on a particular issue. An information clearinghouse is a tool or service which an intermediary organization may bring to the network. This clearinghouse helps the network by being a single source for accessing information. As shown above with the broker, this service can decrease the number of divergent parties that the network has to access, thus streamlining the transactions through the expertise of the third party. As expressed above there is a fear that this may develop into a filter, or that the lack of direct contact between the suppliers of the information and the network may diminish their relationship. A board or some representative body may be used to facilitate the network. To describe this entity as a tool of the network may not do it justice as the degree of power vested in this body 77 can be instrumental in all facets of the systems workings. There are a variety of options for how a board or its equivalent may be conceived. It can include representatives of only the member organizations, it may be comprised of neutral individuals who have a certain expertise and can oversee the functioning of the network, or it can consist of a mixture of internal, external, and neutral organizations looking to act collaboratively. The implications of using a board or its equivalent as implied above are quite profound, and deserve intensive study on their own before being applied. However for simplicity some of the key issues are removal of emphasis from the individual members to the central body, level of decision making autonomy of the board, representativeness, and capacity of the network to sustain the degree of administration and organization necessary to ensure that the benefits derived outweigh the costs. These tools and services, like the network itself, are a piece of many planning initiatives (Chavis et al 1992) and can be seen as part of a whole "enabling system" for keeping the system operational. The use of these tools and services will depend upon the objectives of the network, the specific function they are trying to fulfill, and the degree to which intervention is necessary. 4.2 NETWORK MODELS Before describing the model networks below, it is appropriate to re-address the presence of the "informal network". In almost all cases there exists many of the features described above prior 78 to the creation of a more formal system. Sometimes, in the simplest forms, the actualization of the network is produced merely through giving these informal and diverse associations a name. Similarly, there are those that feel that an informal network is as structured as community organizations need to aspire to, that upon formalization they will loose the flexibility and openness which give them their character. However, as outlined in the previous chapters there is the possibility of achieving more specified ends through some structured and directed networks. The network models presented below look at varying degrees not so much to replace the informal network which exists, but to build upon it. The framework for creating a SCN can be visualized as being made up of three models which I have labeled, the "fundamental" network, the "coalition" network, and the "collaboration" network models. Each contains similar characteristics to the other models but diverges in a few key particulars. In essence each model builds upon the one that precedes it, and for the most part becomes more complex. I stress that these are models, used to represent a sample from the spectrum of possibilities for how a network may be created. They illustrate how and where emphasis must be placed in the creation of a network in order to adhere to specific principles and objectives. 79 4.2.1 Fundamental Network The fundamental network presented here may be described as the "simplest" of the three introduced. As with all the models to be introduced, there is variation in terms of the degree of intensity to which it may be applied within this description. The node is particularly emphasized in this network model. The goal of entering into this network is to better understand activities taking place within the node. For example a community initiative having focused all its energies into building their local process and now embarking on substantive tasks, seeks to fill information gaps through utilizing others experiences. At present a network conceived out of the workshop that was conducted as part of this research and spearheaded through a representative of the Salmon Arm community initiative is acting in this manner. Although the emphasis is on sharing common experiences, it is not necessarily focused on creating a common vision. The purpose of participating in a network for the community may be to look outward, yet almost all effort is being focused back into the node to organize and to make local activities more effective. In particular, direction and leadership is still focused within the node. Each community organization is making decisions autonomously for the most part. Therefore, the network functions primarily as a means for information and resource exchange. 80 The linkage between the groups in the model proposed here is a "flow" rather than a cohesive linkage. Although a static linkage, one that connects the individual groups may be sufficient for some applications, the linkage here is better understood as a dynamic one in which resources are exchanged and manipulated at the discretion of the individual organizations. As the objective of the network can be recognized as one of exchange, the intensity of the network may be measured at the linkages. If the network has many opportunities and access to appropriate tools for exchange it may prove to be effective. However, the linkages, their density, diversity, and directness in this case can also be a limiting factor. These linkages and flows may be in the form of both personal relationships or technical practicalities. The fundamental network can be visualized as building on the foundation of any informal network which already exists. The informal network as noted above is differentiated from this network primarily by lack of direction or intent. The informal network is the community of interest and the activities in which they interrelate without a formalized purpose. The fundamental network looks to establish formal linkages between the community and those outside. The linkages with outside sources, intermediary parties and other institutions and actors may be equally as strong or direct between particular nodes as they are between network participants. Since the network at this point is not considered as being coalesced into a united form, it is necessary for outside sources to maintain connections to the individual nodes in the network. Similarly, as each node is acting somewhat autonomously it is necessary for direct relationships 81 to be maintained without intermediary and external agents. This is not to say that the network may not decrease the number of these transactions by sharing information, but that the emphasis on the node in this model means more resources and linkages will be needed to sustain this individual attention. At this stage tools which may be principally effective as linkages for the network are ones which facilitate communication and education. A newsletter which provides resource information and scheduling of relevant events is a starting point, but a computer linkage stressing directories, and direction on where to find answers and specific information may be worthwhile. Still, relying on foundations of the informal network are very valuable, personal relationships developed through conferences, and working with other communities through third parties should not be abandoned. The Salmon River partnership in Langley is accomplishing this on an informal and personal level through the creation of a "teach the teacher" program which allows other community representatives to come and work in their community and thus take back home learned experiences. The linkages in the fundamental network are a vehicle for focusing outward, connecting possibly with other individuals or groups who may or may not be so specifically drawn to the singularity of purpose as the original, but who have common experiences, information, or resources upon which to draw. 82 In terms of modality the fundamental network is amorphous. As the network relies upon the amount and strength of its linkages between individual nodes, and there is no central entity upon which they may focus, the modality is described by the pattern this creates. In other words, with the emphasis on the autonomy and specificity of the individual organization, the network as a whole is very flexible. There is only a general common vision on which the network is formed, therefore making the definition of the network and its significance different to each participant. The primary purpose of this network being resource exchange, again, stresses the individual nodes rather than the dimension of how they are as a sum of their parts. 4.2.2 Coalition Network A social change coalition is defined in Mizrahi as " a group of diverse organizational representatives who join forces to influence external institutions on one or more issues affecting their constituencies while maintaining their own autonomy. " From the roots of the fundamental network we can build upon the concept of a network created for exchange and resource flows and recognize a cohesive linkage which partners individuals interested in a specified endeavor. This creates a more defined community of interest. A coalition is developed around the common interests of the members and its energy is focused on network cohesion. The coalition network seeks to move beyond sharing with other groups, toward creating a structured entity. Operationalizing the disparate efforts of the participants into a focused community may increase functions to compile, arrange, or develop this information and 83 relationships into some common forum, format, vision or organization. One of the best examples of this in B. C. is the British Columbia Environmental Network (BCEN), an organization composed of individuals and organizations concerned with the environment. Hyman and Miller make the point that coalition or advocacy organizations are in a position to engage with authorities to pursue their course of action. They contend that these groups are seeking to change the system in which they are working. As expressed above this is not necessarily revolutionary but can be surmised as bringing about evolutionary change (Hyman and Miller 1985). Conversely, a similar model with a different emphasis is offered by Mondros and Wilson. In their "Lobbying Model" (Mondros and Wilson 1994) importance is placed less on changing the system and more on using it and influencing it to reach a common objective. "The major change strategy is to collect data, develop expertise, formulate solutions, disseminate the information to the public, and use persuasion to convince government officials to conform to the organizations view. "(Mondros and Wilson 1994: 233) The node in the coalition model, while still prominent, shares emphasis with modality of the network. As the quote from Mizrahi suggests the coalition network recognizes the concept of strength in unity but seeks to maintain some autonomy and individuality within the individual node or organization. Much of the activity within the node is still the same as within the fundamental network. The individual organization is still working to bring in information and expertise to further their 84 efforts in the context of their particular community. However there is a need to recognize that with the shift in emphasis to a coalition network, resources and administration within the node will have to be given toward sustaining the new relationships which are necessary. Each individual organization must be able to endure as well as create some structure to allow them to seek greater opportunity through union with the other participants. At some point the node or organization must decide whether or not the benefits derived from united influence and adherence to some specified common vision will outweigh the diversion of resources. Linkages in the coalition model shift from being composed of exchange and flow mechanisms to include cohesive and binding connections. Rather than being solely a conduit for information sharing, the network through the linkages, encourages the development of a community of interest through common objectives. The strength of these linkages may be determined through the relative homogeneity of the common vision. This does not preclude variance in the general objectives of each individual organization or node. Rather, the specific objectives of the node are still stressed in general, but the common objective for creating a coalition must be addressed in the linkages. The tools which facilitate this connection may vary. Expanding upon the communication and education tools of the fundamental network, the coalition network may include more convening, 85 and possibly the development of an internal council or board to handle the more complicated administrative duties. This board would be an important element of the coalition network as both a linkage and as part of the modality. As a linkage, the board would act as a central hub for much of the activity, organizing and disseminating information that is of concern. Due to the specificity of the coalition, the network may now act as a vehicle to compile information. Beyond dispersing information, more emphasis in the linkages may be placed on creating data bases, creating reports which reflect aspects of the common interest, and utilizing intermediary parties to request specific technical training and education. The linkages are now more formalized with each node directly connected to the other. The result of this formalization can result in a restriction of participation within the network. Membership criteria, or some other limiting factors may reduce the possibilities for open participation. This will tend to further define the commonality of purpose in which this network is characterized. The modality of the coalition network is based upon the common vision of the participants. In some cases the coalition network may be a more cohesive sub group of a fundamental network. Seeking unity around a common issue this group may wish to form more formal linkages to better address the specific problem or issue that they share. This grouping may be temporary or one of many that a particular node is a member of. An example of this is a regional grouping of organizations in a watershed network who are particularly concerned about agricultural issues in their area. 86 On a more generic level, the coalition network gives shape to the fundamental network. Those involved are tied by their common issue or vision. This coalition model can be understood as viewing the network as the focal point for issues. The emphasis is on the needs and dependencies of the coalition with secondary attention given to other external participants. While the focus is inward, the modality of the coalition model influences how external agencies now deal with the network. Instead of exchanging with each participant individually, the cohesiveness of this network suggests that the network may be approached through a single source or their board. Similarly, the singularity of vision allows accessing information to be more streamlined. Implementation "on the ground" is a basic concern of network and coalition objectives. The cohesion or buy in of the community of interest becomes stronger as the process progresses. Initiating action at the local level is more easily transferred from a policy directive if the communities upon which it is affected feel inclusion in influencing this decision. It is at this transition point, from idea to reality that the effectiveness of the coalition network may be seen. 4.2.3 Collaborative Model Although the coalition model does not necessarily need to be considered confrontational, it does represent the spectrum of alliances which, in terms of change are in the arena of opposition. As we move into a collaborative model there is a noted shift to what can be identified as a more consensus model of action. 87 Mizrahi differentiates coalitions from collaborations as organizational structures grown from grassroots and being internally focused, as compared to collaborations which are commonly dealing externally and where the interest is often tied to an external organization or mediator. This collaboration network takes the functions of the coalition and fundamental network and looks to direct events through action, development of issues and influence with decision makers. This extends outside the common vision of the coalition network to include other organizations and services to carry out the ends envisioned, such as land use planning, policy change, or action. This is an important distinction, as one of the key motives of the network is now to be proactive and instrumental in decision and policy making instead of reactive. This does not mean collaboration is not utilized reflectively, on the contrary, collaboration is increasingly being understood as a viable response to turbulent conditions in a variety of contexts. Business, government, labour, and organizations within communities have conceived of collaborative alliances as useful for strategic and conflict resolution action and planning. "Collaboration offers an antidote to turbulence by building a collective capacity to reduce those unintended consequences. By building collective visions and sharing resources, organizations increase variety in their ability to respond to environmental change. (Gray 1991:29) Selin and Chavez demonstrate clearly in their model of a collaborative process in natural resource management that there are a number of different antecedents which separately, or in conjunction with the others, are seen as reasons to collaborate, including crisis, third party 88 intervention, a mandate, common vision, existing networks, leadership, and resource incentives. Looking back at the context for this thesis it can be seen that all these characteristics may be viewed as an incentive to create a collaborative alliance through a network. The complexity of the collaborative model, especially with respect to the creation of a larger scale network, (e.g. provincial), further de-emphasizes the node in some respects and empowers it in others. The specific needs and objectives of the communities are now amassed into objectives of the network. This should not be taken to mean that the node or community is now irrelevant. On the contrary, it is important that as much energy and effort be directed into maintaining both vision from, and action into, this level. For this network to remain strong it is critical for the efforts of the network to be driven from the node. This however may require new processes and systems to ensure that the node remains vital within the network yet distinct as an individual organization from the network. This is not an easy task and represents a certain dichotomy. As the network becomes more collaborative, as a whole the boundaries of each node are less defined within the network. The common vision or interest upon which the network has been structured is likely to have sharpened, concentrating on achieving ends which are shared and defined by all the members. Although the ability to influence, and achieve a degree of success in reaching a common goal has increased, individuality may be lost. This does not mean that the node is not still the focus of final action, rather it is now represented within the network as opposed to being the focal point. 89 The linkages in the collaborative network are indicative of the "blurring" of the node boundaries. Although, the information and flow connections still are a foundation of this model, more emphasis is placed on connections which direct and represent the network as a whole. As within the node this does not mean that the fundamental linkages upon which the network is formed can be dismissed. On the contrary, as the network looks to create meaningful linkages externally, it must rely upon the existing internal network to sustain the tasks of both providing and distributing information and creating a cohesive network. This can be illustrated as a layered system, where the essential linkages are understood to continue functioning while new linkages are created to accommodate the new tasks and processes required. At this point the creation of some representative management body requires representatives of the different constituent organizations to be accountable as the primary corollary to the external participants. This is not a threshold that is easily implemented, or necessarily universally desired. As explained above in the tools and services, it is here that the autonomy of the individual node or organization may be lost. The internal cohesion of the network may now require that energy be focused into some governing body to both coordinate the internal functioning of the network and how it interacts outside. This becomes a central issue in the collaborative model. The modality, or wholeness of the network now becomes highlighted for those outside. If the collaborative network is to be effective in its dealing with agencies and organizations outside the network, it must be respected 90 as an equal participant with other organizations which influence or play a role in dealing with the issues. The strength of the network is now based upon the representativeness of the participants in creating the modality, and their ability to not only work with the agencies and organizations affected, but to continue to give meaningful voice to the wishes of the constituent members of the network. 4.3 CONCLUSIONS The models presented here have been created not so much as definitive templates, but as illustrations of how networks may be structured to meet a spectrum of objectives and needs. They have been borne from the opinions of those interviewed, the context of the workshop discussion, and supported through literature which characterize network structure and the tools and services needed to be effective. Which model is most effective and valid with respect to a SCN may depend upon whose objectives are being applied, what the existing government systems are, and many other externalities such as, present state of the economy, environmental or social crisis, resource accessibility, and community interest. What should be remembered when using these models is that they are flexible scenarios and alternatives. Given the relative novelty of the proposed SCN it may be advisable to start at the most basic level and build upon the success of some features of the existing informal network structure. 91 The following, and final, chapter seeks to build on these conclusions. The previous chapter has taken us through the development of some possible scenarios in the creation of a SCN, but as maintained in the introduction, this thesis is a small addition to the work in this field and much more is left to be done. In concluding it is important to both summarize, derive conclusions from this research, and make recommendations for future research. 92 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The results and insights from this research are timely and have application in today's planning and management. Over the last decade Local Round Tables (LRT) and other similar multi-stakeholder processes driven from both the community and government have achieved varying levels of success in advancing sustainability initiatives within British Columbia. There has been a call from communities and within government to find an appropriate forum for linking these initiatives, to provide a venue for sharing experiences, to act as a means to access and disseminate information, and to provide a means to undertake planning and management activities in a more efficient manner. The creation of a network has been suggested as an appropriate vehicle. The goals of this thesis are to identify the objectives for creating a Sustainable Community Network (SCN) within B.C., assess the various tools available to facilitate the network, and to develop illustrative models to guide those contemplating a network. An initial survey of the topic revealed differing concepts and showed a lack of complete knowledge regarding networks. The relative novelty of networks as a means to strategically and tactically take action has necessitated this being a thesis which proceeded on a discovery basis. Therefore, this thesis is important as a scoping exercise and the following conclusions and recommendations can be viewed as steps along the way in helping to advance the field and provide the diverse parties interested in the creation of such a network with some common 93 background information, a range of options, and assessment of potential barriers. As we become more experienced and proficient with networks some of the issues raised here will ideally have become second nature or have been addressed. 5.1 Research Methods Three primary research methods were utilized in this project: literature reviews, group discussion in a focus workshop, and individual interviews. The literature reviewed focused on the fields of collaboration, networks in both technical and social capacities, and coalitions. There was a particular chronological order to the research. An initial survey of the literature and primary interviews, based on questions derived from this literature, provided material for the creation of a background report, A Sustainable Communities Network In British Columbia: An Assessment Of The Future Potential. This report was used as part of a focus workshop discussing the creation of a SCN. The interviews and the workshop were used to determine the needs, expectations, products and services expected from a SCN from the perspective of various stakeholders. Further more detailed literature research was then used to elaborate a theoretical and substantive basis for focusing on why and how people, communities, organizations and institutions might create a network. On-going interviews and discussions following the workshop helped to fill in 94 different perspectives and ground the work in the experience, albeit limited, with networks in the field. 5.2 Research Conclusions Stakeholder objectives for creating a SCN provide the starting point for determining how the system should be structured. How the network functions, what activities take place within it, and who will provide the direction are all dependent on and emphasized to different degrees for each objective. 5.2.1 Objectives Four objectives were identified and expanded upon through the literature as particularly relevant motives to create a SCN; to provide exchange mechanisms, to organize the "unformalized" field, to create a community of interest, and to be a vehicle for power, influence and empowerment. While each of these areas might be recognized as a separate objective to take action, it is likely that two or more will act simultaneously. All of these objectives arise in the context of current planning practice with respect to sustainability in British Columbia. The interviews and workshops were useful for identifying the perceived needs of the participants as well as potential barriers to implementation. It is evident that there is a desire for a network which is multi-functional. However, the participants were cognizant that a SCN may not be everything to 95 everybody immediately, but that over time all the objectives should be able to be achieved concurrently. 5.2.2 Human and Electronic Network There was substantial interest and discussion concerning the electronic capabilities of a network, however as the subject was investigated further it was apparent that the focus of the system should be on building the personal relationships and as part of this arrangement utilize the computer as a tool. The reasons for this conclusion were a lack of technical knowledge, uneven access to wired sites, and lack of hardware (computers). There were also questions regarding who would be in control of what information was "on-line". Increasingly, it became evident that the lack of "computer literacy" would have implications in how the network was formatted and what could realistically be expected. 5.2.3 Network Products and Activities Many of the products and activities identified are available without the computer and build upon the existing informal network in a more incremental manner. Conferences and different convening activities are seen as very effective functions for the network, alleviating the feeling of isolation, sharing experiences and substantive information, and establishing and reiterating relationships which may be followed up later. Newsletters, schedules of events, directories and technical information such as maps and inventories were products identified and desired from a central 96 source. The network can be a clearinghouse of information, allowing access to needed material, direction to sources, and possibly a locale for compiling data on specific issues. 5.2.4 Participation And Access Clearly there is an issue of how the network will define "we", and for which there are a number of feasible answers. Although ideally an objective of the network is to strive to be open and "as transparent and accessible " as possible, the case is very strong that with limited resources and expertise to manage the system as a completely open one it may become overburdened before it has a chance to be effective. As a number of respondents suggested, start the network small with some limiting criteria which allows the system to build on the existing informal network, and gain experience and momentum to undertake some of the more rigorous functions identified. British Columbia has some problems geographically and logistically which may act as barriers to access. Already there is a sense of magnified isolation by northern and less densely populated communities, and resentment that they are not acknowledged in many decision and policy debates. Almost all the functions, services and tools suggested for facilitating the network do little to alleviate this problem. The hopes that the computer would be a leveling tool are, as yet, unfounded due to the lack of technical support in these regions. As well, due to the reality of limited resources to administer a network, most personal activities such as conferences will be scheduled in areas of higher population as the only locations feasible. 97 5.2.5 Resources Overall there are very few substantive conclusions that can be derived from this research regarding monetary resources. We are able to make some nominal suggestions as to what resources will be required for the network to operate effectively. These include, of course, funding. However, a reliance on funding, as was pointed out in the workshop and other discussions may be debilitating in terms of autonomy, wasted energy, and resilience of the network. Technical training, administrative and procedural assistance, and provision of information were all seen as other very effective non-monetary resources which could encourage the network. 5.2.6 Network Administration Much attention was given to how the SCN could be administered. In the most simple vision there was no formalized administration other than a network manager. Other suggestions were for an administrative body to carry out the operations, up to a board to act as a governing body and set direction. The composition of any administrative body was a difficult issue. There were concerns by the communities for autonomy; being removed and unable to access decisions; the creation of a bureaucracy; and whether this body should be solely community based, a public-private partnership, or an intermediary neutral party. In the final conclusion there is a need for this type of administrative body. Indications are that the composition should be either a public-private partnership or an intermediary organization that has the trust of the stakeholders. A network that is either solely government or community driven will likely be ineffectual in meeting the objectives that were set out. 98 5.3 Research Conclusions: Models Three models are developed which represent a range of possibilities for the network. The three models are labeled the "Fundamental Network" at the basic level, the "Coalition Network", and the "Collaborative Network" at the most complex level. They are differentiated by the objectives of those that create them, the desired functions and products derived, the parties which interact with and within the network, and the tools used for networking. Similarly, differentiation is made within each model between the three primary components which constitute a network, the node (the focal unit; in this instance the community initiative), the linkages, and the modality (the network as a sum of its parts), and the emphasis placed on each. The models developed are presented as a possible starting point, a framework which may be filled out. The utility of a particular model will be affected by a number of external conditions. There is no right model. It is important to assure that the SCN members objectives for creating the network are explicit and that the opportunities and limitations of their actions are also clear. Then the necessary tools and services within these models may be utilized to achieve these ends. 5.3.1 Fundamental Network In the fundamental network much emphasis is placed within the node which is seeking to primarily fill information gaps and uses the network as an exchange mechanism to communicate and share with other similar interests. Linkages tend to be flows of information rather than connective bonds. The modality of this network is amorphous as the linkages do not make a 99 cohesive unit. The tools which are effective in this network are those that promote communication and the spread of information. A newsletter, directory, and sharing of experience either through electronic means or conferences and convening is stressed. 5.3.2 Coalition Network The coalition network expands from the fundamental network in some key areas. More emphasis is placed on the linkages to coalesce the different nodes into some body of shared interest and action. The modality of the network tends to be described by this shared interest, therefore the amount, location, and durability of the linkages will play a part in how the modality is described. Although the information exchange tools of the fundamental network are still applicable, some emphasis may now be shifted to an internal council or board to help direct the activities within the network. Convening and conferencing also increase in importance, as the need to bring together the common interests is stressed. The creation of data bases and the compilation of specific information may also be an activity or tool of this network. 5.3.3 Collaboration Network The collaboration network is the most complex, building upon the foundation of the coalition network it seeks to include other organizations and institutions outside the network and direct events through action, development of issues and influence with decision makers as a unit. Emphasis is often on the modality of this network bringing into question the autonomy of the individual nodes. Building again on the coalition network, more emphasis may be placed on the 100 internal board and administration of the network, or possibly the introduction of an intermediary or neutral party to facilitate activities, as it seeks to deal with external influences. 5.4 Recommendations From Research The recommendations derived from this research are divided between those that relate to the creation of a specific SCN, how it should be constituted, who should be involved, how it may be managed, possible barriers and opportunities; and those that relate on a broader sense to planning and management. It should be kept in mind that this is a thesis prepared to provide information to help advance the field and the knowledge base for those considering a SCN. 5.4.1 Need The foremost conclusion was reaffirmation of a need and a desire to see the creation of a SCN. Throughout the process of developing the background paper and the focus workshop there was a growing sense of awareness and level of commitment, recognizing the possibilities for a network and understanding of what may be the barriers and limitations. This has culminated in three separate proposals currently being considered for a SCN from the Community Animation Program, the Watershed Alliance, and the Council For Sustainability. It is recommended that these initiatives find a way to dovetail their efforts through common programs such as conferences, to avoid duplication and to put scarce resources into a joint electronic function to work effectively. 101 5.4.2 Human Network-Electronic Networking Included in this research was the differentiation between the network as a means of human interaction and communication, and the network as a tool to carry out this communication, specifically the computer. In working through the objectives of the network and the perceptions of those involved in the research it was necessary to continually bring them back to the difference between the personal and electronic network. The conclusion was that the personal aspects are fundamental, while an electronic network can be a powerful tool to ultimately help expedite "networking". Although the technological capabilities are available, there are problems of access, "computer literacy", and a need for human contact in relationship building. Further to advancing the capabilities and potential of the computer network, it is recommended that strategies are devised at an early stage to educate, train, and provide access for those in need. It is only through development of this technology with the users in mind that it will be effective. 5.4.3 Administration Much of the early life of this type of SCN should be driven through the communities. This is not to say that government and other institutions should not be involved but, for resilience, the community should be creating and administering the systems to develop the knowledge base and expertise from their regions and with their needs and perspectives represented. Due to the lack of experience, knowledge, and technical capacity among almost all the stakeholders it is recommended that the SCN start at a simple and small level, building in the array of activities possible as experience is gained. 102 Clearly there are implications with respect to being an "open" system. However, if the system is too open immediately it will be unmanageable given the limited resources available. After the initial implementation period there will be a need for an administrative body. A partnership of some form between public and private interests, or administration by a neutral party who may act as a broker and facilitator for the stakeholders is recommended. There is a need for all the stakeholders to prepare a terms of reference and mission statement which clearly lays out the objectives of the network and the expectations and limits for those administering it. 5.5 Sustainable Community Network: Planning Context As this thesis is being prepared in the context of planning, it is important to emphasize how the results of this research are relevant to the field. There are a number of opportunities in which networks may be utilized within the planning process, particularly in light of the present atmosphere in the province within government and the public at large, conditions exist which have created a perceived need for a SCN. Four points are particularly relevant to current planning in B.C.. A SCN may act as a support system to the many different planning activities in the province by providing a vehicle for sharing information and experiences. The various agencies working with and within communities throughout the province may be able to streamline their efforts either through collaborating together within the network or by reducing duplication of effort. The network is an appropriate 103 forum for on-going monitoring and assessment activities, providing both macro and micro groupings of initiatives based upon specific issues. Finally, the network is a means for on-going public participation on a provincial scale that still reflects local perspectives. 5.5.1 Support System The term support system has also been identified as an enabling system, meaning that the functions and services provided through the network will act as a means for interested parties to undertake activities. By supplying a locus to access information and resources the SCN acts as a consistent forum for disparate initiatives. The network can therefore act to advance sustainability in the present evolution of the field as many recent planning initiatives have tended to focus on "one leg of the stool" such as environment, health, or economic transition. Some initiatives such as CORE, the Fraser Basin Management Program, the B.C. Round Table, and the Council For Sustainability have attempted to integrate these factors in a meaningful way but, unfortunately, with few exceptions, these initiatives are disbanded or at the end of their mandate. The inception of a SCN could act as a mechanism to link the existing initiatives over time. Ideally this will become a seamless process where, through dialogue and interaction the network, as part of the enabling system, provides planning for sustainability which will not mean patching disjointed activities together. 104 5.5.2 Streamline Activities The second point is a more practical issue. The present and ensuing devolution of planning processes has put added pressure on both local and provincial governments by either adding responsibilities or decreasing resources to their departments. Typically, many planning departments no longer have the personnel or monetary means to support and attend to all the activities in the province. The creation of a SCN will assist in streamlining the commitments and supplementing the efforts of these offices. It would be unfortunate if a SCN would be used as a means to only maintain the status quo with less resources. Rather, the opportunity lies in enhancing planning efforts by utilizing the network to be more productive. 5.5.3 Monitoring Activities The third issue, a topic of increasing attention in planning for sustainability, is how we may develop indicators, benchmarks and targets, and monitor our activities. Concurrently, there is a need to include communities, their values and objectives as well their physical data, into this process. Depending on the development of the network and how it is represented and structured, it may provide a focal point for an on-going monitoring program. It is a vehicle which will allow for accumulation of input on both a community and provincial level. Similarly, it can exist as an on-going entity, allowing for continuity over time. 5.5.4 Particpation in Planning The last point deals with participation in planning, which has become a controversial issue. How much, when, and who should be represented are problems which continue to be addressed and 105 evolve. A network can evolve as a means to carry out many functions of a participatory planning activity. It provides a spectrum of parties with insight into the planning process and the issues involved. The different services and functions available through the network provide a means for mutual learning about the diverse and often conflicting stances taken in such a process and then is capable of developing forums in which to address the problems. 5.6 Further Research and Development There are issues which are in need of further development which this research touched upon but were beyond its scope to address in detail. Foremost, is the need to understand how the network may fit into a whole "enabling system" for community planning and resource management. The network is one tool, which if used effectively can provide services and products efficiently. Defining a place for networks within this system gives credibility to the efforts of those involved, but also recognizes that it is not a panacea. As the computer technology evolves there should be a corresponding education among community networks to ensure their access and that the technology is being used effectively to meet their needs. The models should be applied to a number of case studies or utilized by some of the current initiatives as a basis for proceeding. Refinement of the models will take place as experience and 106 knowledge is gained about the impact and utility of a network in the planning process. Assessing what tools and activities are the most effective needs to be tested in a working situation. Finally, as we gain greater experience with the networks in B.C and elsewhere we must continue to' monitor them to ensure that they are producing results within the communities, or to adapt them accordingly. The concern that the network may become bureaucratic, and the communities lose autonomy is valid. 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Berkowitz 1988 Social Structures : A Network Approach Cambridge; New York : Cambridge University Press Wondolleck, J. 1988 Public Lands Conflict and Resolution New York and London : Plenum Press 111 Appendix 1: Questions for Sustainable Communities Network 1.0 Reason for Networks 1.1 What do you understand as the main objectives and functions for a network? 1.2 What would be the primary objective for your group (agency, business) to participate in a network? 1.3 Are there any drawbacks which you can foresee to participation? 2.0 Communication 2.1 How does reporting and communication take place between your group and other LRT, government agencies, and within your group? 2.2 Would you describe this as an efficient or cumbersome relationship? 2.3 Could this be enhanced by a network? 2.3 Will this replace face-to face communication? 3.0 Products 3.1 What products would you like to see from a network? Contribute? 3.2 What intangibles would you like to receive? Contribute? 3.3 Are some products attainable only through the network? 3.4 Are some products unattainable through the network? 4.0 Participation and Access 4.1 Should participation be open? 4.2 Limited, if so by what criteria? why? 4.2 Are there barriers to access? 4.3 Does a network fulfill some aspect of your mandate or operating procedure? 5.0 Resources 5.1 What forms of support do you receive? Give? 5.2 Does a network streamline or encumber this situation? 5.3 Should a network be formed how would you expect it to be funded? 6.0 Structure and Direction 6.1 Are there advantages or barriers to a network which is LRT initiated? Government initiated? 6.2 Do you see a place for a neutral party to facilitate the network? 6.3 What advantages or disadvantages do you see to each? 6.4 Are there a # of different mediums which should be used together? 7.0 Opportunity for Open Comments, Questions, or Discussion 112 Appendix 2 BACKGROUND PAPER A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES NETWORK IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE FUTURE POTENTIAL A Discussion Paper for the Sustainability Its Time For Action Conference Within the communities of British Columbia there are a variety of initiatives that may come under the broad definition of a "sustainable community". Distinctions arise among these groups in terms of purpose, mandate, and whether they are government initiated or community initiated. Examples include: community resource boards (CRB), land and resource management planning (LRMP), Healthy Communities initiatives, economic diversification initiatives, and local round tables dealing with land use or watershed issues. Although they share many characteristics, most of these initiatives are working in isolation from each other. Some may be linked indirectly through a government agency, however, there is little structured interaction. Most contact takes place infrequently through conferences or individual initiative. Over the last decade networks have been established across many sectors for a variety of purposes. Government, business, and private citizens have identified a need which a network helps them fulfil. There has been a call for the establishment of a network within communities and by interested organizations (BCRTEE 1994) to create linkages between sustainable community initiatives and other institutions to maintain awareness of emerging issues and improve information flow. This paper provides the background material to establish a discussion on the future potential for a Sustainable Communities Network in B.C.. It is a first step toward examining current need, expectations, and options of the network. Information and input for this paper was attained primarily from interviews with representatives of different community initiatives, government agencies, and interested businesses. Using literature, government documents and established networks to give background, the focus of the paper is to report the perspectives of the respondents. Sample responses will be supplied where appropriate. 1.0 WHAT ARE NETWORKS? A broad definition of networks encompasses many different scales and various functions for a spectrum of purposes. In its simplest form it is a platform for linking disparate individuals. It may be expanded to include many participants within a group and as a jumping off point to connect this group with others. 113 A network may be limited to members of a specific community, in both the geographic or common issue definition, or open to all individuals. A network may be administered from a central body which may or may not set direction. The "flexible network" allow individual participants or groups to be involved in specific ventures as they choose, and withhold participation as they see fit. This suggests the network may take action on specific issues but not speak as the voice of the network as a whole. Different mediums will influence the structure of the network. Telephones, faxs, newsletters, and face to face communication through conferences and convening have all been used in the past. Expanded technology in the form of computers has brought new possibilities. 2.0 WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF A NETWORK? A spectrum of options for what functions a network may offer were brought out in the interviews. The primary broad function that was identified was sharing of information. Respondents see the network as a vehicle to both access information and to disseminate it. This information was characterized as consistent and relevant to those concerned, as well as structured and co-ordinated. Those interviewed also saw the information as being both substantive and procedural. Similarly, communication was identified as a key function. Regular and consistent communication would allow for better dialogue and exploration of issues. The association with other groups through communication in the network is seen as re-enforcing. Through this information sharing and communication respondents perceived the network as being able to help them find out what was going on elsewhere, what success and failures had occurred and, provide a venue to combine strengths, get a general direction, and collaborate. When asked what the primary objective would be for each group to participate in a network the answers had a common basis in information sharing, yet had distinctions based upon the specific needs of the group. The main differences were based upon the fundamental contrast between government and the community group needs. Communities saw the network as a way to find out what was going on in other areas, to not feel isolated in their efforts, and with one respondent stressing that this was necessary to influence policy from the grassroots. Government on the whole was cautious to say that they would "participate" in a network, rather they saw their role as "assisting" the network with information, and as a node from which to gather input. 114 What do you perceive as the key functions of a network and why would your group participate? Community Initiative Response Government Response Combine strengths, general direction and communication. Working on bench marks, share information, collaborate. Share information, provide new information, issues, and solutions. Association is re-enforcing. Can be mobilized. Support what is happening. Establish a common vision, finding a common procedure and processes. Networking is not as important as doing. Provides one stop shopping. Distributes information to people who are concerned, not hit and miss, consistent. Gives a voice in a response to policy, and to community issues. A two way information exchange. Mapping. Inventories. Communicate systems, procedural aspects, training. Share knowledge and purposes, a co-ordinated effort. Provides a means for others to find out what is going on in the province. Continuity and a unified presence. Streamline procedural and substantive information. Business and Industry Response Communication of various interests. Better dialogue for expediation and exploration. Information exchange. Ease of access to information. 2.1 INFORMATION SHARING-PRODUCTS In terms of specific products that participants would like to see from a network there was a wide range split between hard products and intangibles. Many respondents identified a directory or contact list to keep track of other initiatives and people to whom they could then go for more specific information. Reports outlining procedural aspects of running a community initiative, as well as case studies and examples of what had worked elsewhere were also recognized. Some respondents saw the network producing reports from a database where issues could be compiled, along with inventories, mapping, and other technical information. A newsletter, or similar format was seen as a useful product to keep participants abreast of events, schedules of conferences, and general news. Intangible products were also identified from the network. Community building, (with community meaning the network participants), creating a common vision, and speaking in one voice were commonly mentioned. A few interviewees suggested that it was the unforeseeable that was important, that a network would allow for spontaneity, and meaningful collaboration. Education and mutual learning between participants is seen as a possible outcome with the broadened perspectives a network would bring. As well it is envisioned that a network may be able to sustain initiative by bringing a constant supply of information, while reducing burnout by streamlining certain operations. Everyone agreed that the network would not provide products which were unattainable through the old system or elsewhere. However, it was felt that the network would make these products easier to 115 find, and provide a starting point for accessing them. It was stressed that the network should not be viewed as a panacea, but a more efficient forum or tool to carry out the objectives of the participants. What "hard" products and intangibles would you like to receive or contribute to a network? Community Initiative Response Government Response Information system, newsletter, compilation of issues, monitoring, and a directory. Reports and to know what is being studied. Contact names of groups, and database. Mapping and inventory systems co-ordinated through out the province. And reports. Products need to arrive from a need. Let group define its needs. Relationship building. A common vision. Bottom up approach to planning Spontaneity. The unforseeable opening up access or opportunity and collaboration* Speaking in one voice. Strengthening organisation of multi-stakeholder initiatives and streamlining of gov't involvement. Give govt easier access. Education about govt, where to go who to see. Help get right people to the table and sustain initiative. Make groups feel they are not in isolation. Need simple schedules, exchange information, directory. Not a lot more. 2.2 COMMUNICATION The current state of communication between different community initiatives is not very developed. There are primarily three avenues which are utilized. Informal communication between parties, over the telephone or through personal contact, is moderate. It may be required for a specific need or question, or a members personal interest. A more structured interaction may take place through conferences, where community organisations sharing like interests and questions are provided a forum for discussion. The third venue has been through a third party such as the Fraser Basin Management Program, CORE, or an LRMP process. Nearly all respondents from the communities agreed that this system needed changing. It was described as working on a local level but not efficient provincialy. Similarly it seems incapable of handling the multitude of issues, and co-ordinating cross purposes cohesively. Response from government interviews varied. As their purpose for contact with the various community initiatives was more defined it tended to be described as workable but could be improved upon. Like the communities, respondents from government saw the system as suited well to single purpose or project response situations, but cumbersome for larger issues. 116 All parties agreed a network could enhance communication but this was spread along a range of positive responses. Most felt a network would facilitate communication, allowing for a broader range more uniformly. Some respondents felt a network was positive but were hesitant to expand on this, as the actual structure of the network is seen to affect the communication possibilities. One community respondent was less positive about the network for communication, explaining that the focus of his group needed to be local discussion rather than a provincial network. How does communication and reporting currently exist and would a network affect this? Community Initiative Response Government Response It (the present system) works locally but not provincialy. Need a different network.. Parts (of the present system) are cumbersome. Focus is usually on the squeaky wheel or conversely ones friends. More broad based communication in the network is also educational over time not just momentary. Provide an easy way to communicate more uniformly with a broader range. Now it is more ad hoc and situation specific. The network will not really enhance communication because the focus is local and looking for input into local decisions. Could enhance face to face but a network should not replace. If hindering something isn't right. May be more informed (communication), but can only be so informed in reality. It is another tool not a panacea. 3.0 PARTICIPATION AND A C C E S S This is a critical issue for discussion. There were fundamental differences between the respondents to the question of open or limited access. This was not divided along characteristic differences between the groups but rather along perceived practical conflicts or personal principles of how participation should take place. 3.1 OPEN OR LIMITED SYSTEM In theory many of those interviewed supported a network with open participation. It was stated that limiting the process would bring up questions of representativeness of the participants, and whether the information and issues exchanged across the network were being filtered or passed on at all to the communities. Others took a different perspective on an open network saying that some of the best information and input came from the least likely sources and by limiting this would be handicapping the system. Similarly, it was felt that the benefits of an open system would outweigh the difficulties of managing it. Many of those who supported the theory of open participation tempered their responses with respect to the practical application of an open network. The general sentiment was that if it were not managed correctly it would become a circus with too much irrelevant and repetitive dialogue 117 and information bogging down the system. It was identified that some mechanism must be utilized to keep to the objectives and not waste others time. Others were less inclined for a completely open system, but foresaw a network that is made up of different components depending on need. For example; one aspect of the system would be limited in this vision to a set of members based upon some established criteria. This function may include access to technical reports or to act as an advisory body. Another aspect of the system would be completely open to all who wished to participate. For example, a directory of where to find people or information, or an open dialogue. Another scenario was based upon the flexible network ideal. Membership would be open, but participation on specific topics would be limited based upon the issue, and community need. Still others felt that there needed to be some limiting criteria put upon participation, especially in the early stages of operation. There are both functional and logistical reasons given. Some interviewed felt that an open system would get diluted, and in contrast to the above responses felt the costs of managing an open system would outweigh the benefits. How to limit the system was difficult to assess. Some suggested using a set of criteria for community participation such as those established by CORE for their CRBs. Others felt that the criteria for membership needed to come from the community organisations themselves. It was also suggested to start small through limiting membership and letting the system grow in increments. Still others suggested that there would likely be a pre-applied limit to participation due to cost, time, and information resource issues. Which brings us to the question of access to the network. Should participation in the network be open or limited by some criteria? Community Initiative Response Government Response Completely open because some of the best information comes from the least likely sources. Who is to say the community representative is the right person and representative. Different types of participation. Organisation should be limited to groups that meet R.T. or CRB criteria. These would then give direction to a council. Information may still be made available to the open public through bulletin boards, clearinghouse etc. Should be open but not monopolized by agencies. Should all be equal partners. The network should define the membership it wants then invite. Depends on the objectives of the network. Distribution should be open but membership who give direction should be limited. Some sort of access criteria. Not completely open to all purposes, as well not an extension for single purpose mandate, needs to be sustainability focused. Open to whoever comes to participate. Better to manage huge issues than to leave others outside the process. Needs management and kept clean. If too diluted it becomes waste. Someone must monitor but if it is a closed shop it is not accessible. 118 3.2 BARRIERS TO ACCESS There is a fundamental question that given the technology available today in the form of computers, phones, and faxs which make communication and information transfer easier, if we can overcome the barriers to access or participation to utilize them. One respondent noted that a network was only as good as the information flow in and out, and that access to the network could determine its utility. Nearly all those interviewed identified monetary cost as the primary barrier to accessing the network. These costs included attaining hardware and software for the system if it were electronic driven, differing phone rates depending on the centre of the network, and travel costs for participating in convening functions. It was also questioned that given the voluntary nature of many of the community organisations whether the type of consistent input necessary could be maintained. This was a function of both time and technical expertise needed to keep involved with the network provincialy and redistribute the information back locally. Distance was another factor both in terms of cost and perceived isolation of interest. As mentioned above long distance phoning and travel costs are a factor. One respondent pointed out that the more rural areas often felt their issues were regarded less than those around the urban areas. Are there barriers to access? Community Initiative Response Government Response Not in a local system. If we are talking provincialy there w i l l be real limits for the more rural areas due to long distance costs and access to facilities. Money, expertise, facilitation and technical knowledge. Funding, distance, time, technical expertise. Differ ing opinions can act as a barrier. Cost associated with going electronic. Volunteers, technical know how. Business and Industry Response Cost and access to computers i f it is electronic. Technical knowledge. Cannot be exclusive or it w i l l not be meaningful input. Resources, ways and means to participate. Technical capabilities. 3.3 Mandated Participation Asked primarily to government representatives, the question of whether participation by their agency would be driven by some portion of their mandate was used to determine if their participation could streamline government activities. 119 Nearly all responded that the creation of, or participation in, a network per se was not part of their mandate. However, the functions of the network in spreading information and being a forum for communication would expedite aspects of their mandate. There was concern that if the network was to become too single issue oriented or an "activist" driven forum it would lose its utility. However, it was suggested by most that their mandate included accessing community input, and broadcasting information to the community, for which a network would be a useful tool for accomplishing these tasks. 4.0 R E S O U R C E S In preparing to establish and maintain a network it is important to determine where the resources in money, time, and information may come from and whether a network will be an efficient use of these resources. 4.1 PRESENT SUPPORT Using the community organisations interviewed it is apparent that support is varied and uneven at present. A major variable in this is whether the group is directly linked to a government initiative. Funding is a critical issue. Some agencies have been willing in the past to help fund the start up of an organisation or have been involved with funds for specific projects. All respondents were uncertain of this for the future, pointing to government scaling down funds. Industry as well has been willing in the past to fund specific projects. It should be noted as one respondent stated, that the government and industry need to see a product or return for their funding therein creating a possible bias. Many agencies have been helpful in providing staff or technical support for specific projects, and in some cases on an on going basis. Staff time, like funding, is becoming more scarce. It is difficult to spread reduced staff among the initiatives on a regular "face-to face" basis. All the organisations said that information was the most readily available resource but contrasted that by saying that there was still not enough, that it was not specific enough, and that there were some primary pieces which were still missing. This again returns to the lack of funds and staff to give the support the groups are seeking. All the groups rely upon volunteer time, input, and sometimes funding. This should not be underestimated in its impact as involvement from the local community can be seen to lend viability to an organisation, and help sustain the initiative. 120 What forms of support to you receive? give? Community Initiative Response Government Response A l l through local government and organisations. Dollars and support in kind. Support staff, assistance in structure and procedures i f sought, not a funding organization., but may help with start up costs, expertise, technical assistance. Get information. Funding for particular events but nothing that is on going. Grants, contract services, funding. W i l l be more difficult in the future. Provided personnel for technical and process issues, in kind support. N o funding, Try to link information sharing. Inject money into demo projects. Funding to R T . Support o f pilot projects and work to build business plans. 4.2 RESOURCES AND THE NETWORK One aspect of considering the utility of the network is whether it will help maintain support or act as a detriment due to siphoning of resources into its own sustenance. In terms of monetary funds there was a range of responses. Most of the community representatives felt it would be helpful in directing the communities to where funding could be available and how to attain them. However, as one pointed out somewhat cautiously, it would also increase the competition for those who were trying to acquire scarce funds. Still others added that the funding may be better distributed through the network acting as a centre. Funding was seen as a "one on one" proposition for the most part, where the network may help direct participants to possible resources, but ultimately would have little effect on whether they received them or not. There was greater support for the network streamlining staff support. While not replacing face to face, staff time could be better spent assuming a higher level of understanding prior to convening. As well using the network to combine functions would allow staff to be less repetitive with a larger audience. Information was seen to be the resource most assuredly expedited through the network. It was felt information support could be easily distributed and received. A directory of where to go for information would cut down on research time and streamline access. One participant suggested that the network may be resource demanding. This was echoed by another who suggested that the resources wanted were presently attainable on a smaller scale and that a network may just require more to be equally as efficient. 121 Will the network streamline or encumber receiving/giving support? Community Initiative Response Government Response Could be resource demanding as people would be looking for new products. Could be good provincialy but not locally. Not particularly. It still ultimately has to be one on one support. It could encumber as it will mean greater competition among communities Still a question of whether we want to put dollars towards this issue. What are the costs and the benefits. 4.3 FUNDING THE NETWORK Funding of the network is an issue which goes beyond the monetary aspects and includes questions of ownership and participation. It should be noted that the question of funding was highly speculative with no figures presented or presumed at this time. The majority of those interviewed foresaw some sort of partnership to fund the network. Matching funds, grants, sponsorships and membership fees were all proposed. However there were many variations to this partnership. Some suggested it should be a partnership between the community organisations and government, others suggested industry should be involved, still others thought the partnership should not include the communities as they would not be able to afford it. Modifications on the partnership were also suggested. An example may be that government and corporate funding, grants, or sponsors would provide start up needs, and membership fees or user pays system could be adopted to maintain the system over time. Many suggested that the communities would not be able to pay, given that many of the organisations were voluntary. It would also exclude the rural communities, as explained earlier, who would be responsible for greater costs as part of membership. Others suggested the opposite. Community need should initiate the network, therefore if the communities wanted it they should fund it through fees or possible sponsorships. This would not only provide them with control over the system, but would emphasis their commitment to it. Concern was expressed that if government funded the network they would expect something in return, therefore losing the integrity of the network. This appeared to be a double edged sword however, as another interviewee suggested, both the communities and government see the need for government involvement and access therefore why should they not pay. Another question arose about the costs and benefits. Do we need a new entity, or can we build upon the existing system? The level of funding will depend on this and the expectations of the participants in terms of benefits. On this same vein it was suggested that the network start small and achieve some results and not eat up resources before it was capable of producing products. It 122 was observed that the network should not deplete resources that could be utilised within the community. Should a network be formed how would you expect it to be funded? Community Initiative Response Government Response User pay i f you can subscribe enough people. A nominal fee, but would rather see funds go into local projects. Province could not fund alone. Desire to see the communities fund, or user pays. Possibil ity of a partnership with government. Participants could fund but it would be tough. If you fund does it give you access? Surprised i f it is the government because then it w i l l be tied to the delivery o f a product. It should be funded by a combination of private grants and government funding. Groups should not fund themselves. Not govt but foundations or corporate could be seen to have interest. User pay as well to a central budget. Start simple and low key. Fund itself through combo of nominal membership fees, grants and appropriate levels of govt. Partnership of agencies, corporate sponsorship, members w i l l not be able to afford it. Through independent grants. User pay may be the reality but w i l l defeat the intent. Foundations, fees for members. Partnering but concerned that it w i l l take money away from communities themselves. If it is extra dollars o.k. Again this is a question of costs and benefits. Do we need a new entity or can we build upon existing systems. A partnership could work but user pays has inequities especially in smaller communities with long distance. Careful it does not become govt, network for propaganda. Business and Industry Response Not by gov't. If it isn't important enough for those who use it to fund it, it should not be. Gov't should not be the driver. Funded by the benefactors of the network, gov't, industries, and users. 5.0 NETWORK STRUCTURE When asked whether or not there was a difference between a community initiated or government initiated network those interviewed tended to agree with a few exceptions that there was a difference. Many felt that the network would be better stimulated outside of a government agency. If the initiative were from the community there would be a greater sense of ownership. It was pointed out that people may be sceptical if it were government initiated, that there would be limitations and expectations which would inhibit the system from being open. 123 However, there was also responses which suggested that without government input the system would be doomed. As one person interviewed stated, "If it excludes government it will not be successful, but whether government leads or not is irrelevant." The majority of responses viewed a partnership as a strong possibility. Most interviewed saw the need for the communities to be developing the input and issues. Government may be partnered with to help with the procedural and service aspects of the network. In echoing an earlier response one person noted that it made no difference who initiated, but that people wanted to be at the table where the most input was produced. There was still much uncertainty in the responses to this question. The key points which came out was that the system needed to be designed with the users in mind, that would dictate the structure, whether it be government, community or a partnership. Is there a difference between a government or community initiated network? Community Initiative Response Government Response If it excludes government it will not be successful. Whether government leads or is second is irrelevant Combination of both. Government needs to be aware of the specific issues, and conversely the communities need to be aware of the broader issues. If government initiated they would expect certain products to be accountable. Communities may be more open but still expect a return. Making it work is complex. An issue of who can put the money together, and who the communities may trust. What is the fit. What happens to non-government sponsored as compared to government sponsored. Difference between CRB and RT. People want to be at the table where the most input will occur. System has to be designed with users in mind but support comes from within the agency. Many local RT must be asking for it and government may help to co-ordinate. Business and Industry Response People would be sceptical of a gov't initiated. Have parameters which give people discomfort. Information shared and available is unrestricted. Limitation if govt started, becomes inward not outward. Government doesn't know how, and should be treated as no different a player as industry. Community is best. 5.1 A NEUTRAL PARTY An option was presented to the respondents of utilizing a neutral third party to moderate the network. The majority of the responses were positive but not without concerns. 124 Most of those interviewed could see a neutral third party providing a hub function for the network. One of the key considerations for this was assurance and faith that the party was indeed a neutral and could continue to function in that manner over time. Some felt it would be difficult for a third party to enter without an agenda and wondered what that agenda might be. It was stressed by some that this neutral should in no way have any "decision" capacity over any information or issue, but take care of the technical aspects of the network. There was also concern that a third party would become too bureaucratic and consume more than it produced. Similarly, time and resources were a concern, specifically cost recovery. A counter suggestion was that a management board be set up to review the network. Do you see a place for a neutral party to facilitate the network? Community Initiative Response Government Response There is a value but caution. They will not decide what goes in or out but only meet the technical implementation. Yes this facilitation needs to be done but worried about time and resources. A neutral party would be great. Yes it would work well. Entirely up to the network members. Does the third party represent their interests Hard to find a neutral group. But a mission statement and understanding of where the funding is coming from are necessary. This is an option but would rather that it is designed by the partners themselves. Neutral party can become a beurocracy and need cost recovery. Rather see a management board which reviewed it. 5.2 BEYOND AN INFORMATION HUB In structuring the network there is the possibility that it should go beyond being a simple information system and provide a forum for exploring issues and utilizing different mediums. The role of a neutral party to act as a clearinghouse for information, provide convening functions, and as a centre to accumulate input was explored in this context. Although the majority of respondents were optimistic about this forum there was also some scepticism about application. The optimism was focused on the apparent utility of one stop shopping, having a single source to deal with the many issues and needs of the network. This was seen as a model which could utilize the effectiveness of the electronic network and still provide the personal functions of lectures and conferences. 125 The concern was mixed on a number of issues. It was important that, as stated above, the party remain neutral, acting as a convenor and not a director of issues. Resisting "politicalization" was another. This thought was echoed in other responses such as assuring that the issues were developed from the community level, and that the structure did not overpower the priorities, issues, and needs of the local level. There was also speculation that this was not the appropriate forum to start with. Limited time and resources points to starting small. If the network then asks or requires these other needs they can then be met. To start so large was seen as putting the cart before the horse. Should the network go beyond an information hub and act as a forum to develop issues, provide different services, and utilize different mediums? Community Initiative Response Government Response Clearinghouse is great. Some one to act as a convenor function but not as a directive. Just do what the need is. Questions beyond that are not questions yet. A n electronic network can exist on its own, but may not be as effective as one which is supported by other mediums, such as newsletters, conferencing, and personal communication. The success is to use creative communication and mediums. Spread net wider and more easily using all at disposal. Network could possibly be larger and provide different mediums. However, fear again o f resources. Has to go beyond simple network and support through conferences, newsletters, and other structures. Money is an issue though. Use as many mediums as possible but be careful of being too large. Conferences are good but lead to increased levels of operation. Try to do in tandem with other events. Should be a one stop shopping. Have to resist the politicalization. Diff icult to develop positions and questions as neutral. Not really enthusiastic about it. An option but concern that the structure w i l l overpower the real local issues and needs. Business and Industry Response Concept of an open space meeting. Be involved in the extent you want or not participate i f you don't. Participants have to establish issues, priorities and mediums. Important that the partners identify the need then others put it together. 6.0 C R I T I C A L ISSUES F O R T H E F U T U R E In taking steps to. explore the establishment of this network there have been some key points which need to be addressed. Other issues brought up in this document need further discussion and refinement. 126 6.1 NEED Need is the fundamental question which must be answered before we proceed further. This paper is one step by establishing some of the factors which should be considered. The "Sustainability: It's Time For Action" conference is the next. The basic question to be asked here is, what is the perceived need to have a network? We must look at the expectations of the users and determine if these needs can be met. This follows through into a discussion of costs and benefits. Given the objectives expressed within the organizations, are resources best utilized through a network? As one respondent pointed out the communities will let us know when and if they need a network, and it should come from their initiative, not through any other agenda. 6.2 STARTING POINT It has become apparent that there are a number of different levels at which the establishment of a network should proceed. This crosses over many of the issues discussed in this paper. The network may attempt to fulfil all the needs expressed by the users. It may also look to have a completely open membership and try to accommodate many different functions. There is the fear that this will eat up too many resources, become over burdened, and too bureaucratic. By starting with more modest aims, others speculate the network may grow into these larger pursuits. However, it has been pointed out that if the network is not effective or can show some meaningful results by those funding it, it may be abandoned. 6.3 DIRECTION Assuming the establishment of the network, direction becomes a fundamental issue. What format is best for the participants to keep control over how the network develops? Suggestions have included a mission statement which clearly sets out the expected objectives of the network by the users. Similarly a council or board which reviews the activities of the network and reports back to the participants has been called for. Within this issue is the question of individual autonomy. While many groups would like to participate in the network, they feel that they may lose control over their own destiny. It was expressed that the network should somehow be directed in a manner which allows individuals to 127 continue to have a distinct voice. There is a fear that a council or board would speak for the network. 6.4 DEVELOPING ISSUES The question of whether the network should be a forum for developing issues came out of the discussion on using the network as more than an information exchange. There is again trepidation that if the network were to assume this responsibility that the voice of the individual would be lost. Another fear was expressed that if issues were "developed" through the network it would become too politicized or activist. In other words issues could be shared, expressed, and identified on the network, but no line should be taken on how they develop. However, the concept of the flexible network seemed to be an option. This allows groups to be involved in specific ventures as they choose. Identifying partners through the network and developing common concerns could be plausible as long as it was assured that it was not on behalf of the entire network. This returns to the concept of a neutral forum which can undertake these other functions beyond information sharing and help develop issues through convening. 6.5 PROVINCIAL NETWORK TO LOCAL ACTION A critical topic to be resolved is how this provincial network can be effective in producing results "on the ground" at the local level. Many of the respondents emphasized this point. In whatever form the network is structured it is important that the resources expended do not take away from community initiative. This is in the form of funding and information. Information that is shared on the network must be able to find its way to the community or it is of little value. Finally, once that information reaches the community how can it be turned into meaningful action. 6.6 NETWORK STRUCTURE Although addressed in this paper this is a topic which still holds room for much discussion. It includes questions such as direction, access and participation, and control. 128 Dealing with the pros and cons of different technologies and medium is one question. If this network were to be computer based, how can we assure equal access to members given differing costs, resources, and technical knowledge? The option of operating the system by communities, government, or a third party will have a bearing on the direction it takes, what products will come out, and what resources will become available. 129 

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