Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blog Buddies | Conversations that Count: Appreciative inquiry and cascading conversations

I was honored to be invited to guest post again for the YNPN-Twin Cities blog and used the opportunity to share about the motivations behind the Minnesota Rising Cascading Conversations Tour. Check it out and please feel free to share any comments on the post page or below. Join the conversation!

Conversations that Count: Appreciative inquiry and cascading conversations

by Diane Tran
follow me on Twitter: @MinnesotaRising
Are you reading what I’m writing?
One of my favorite theoretical concepts is that of linguistic determinism, or the idea that language and its structures limit and determine human knowledge or thought. Our classic Minnesota example is the various types of condensation we encounter in the winter, being able to refer to the white stuff as slush, wintry mix, and sleet, whereas others in warmer climates might only be able to name it snow. The idea that we can only understand the purposes or capacities of items insofar as we have been introduced to them should urge us to dream up new ways to relate to and interact with everything around us. It matters not only to our ability to repurpose vases as drinkware when the rest of the dirty cups are in the sink, but also to the creativity and vision we can have for our lives and the communities we call home.
“The Good Life in Minnesota”
I have recently been in multigenerational conversations where it’s been posited that the rising generation may lack the ability to envision a better future. In 1973, former Governor Wendell Anderson graced the cover of Time Magazine with the tagline “The Good Life in Minnesota.” It was a time when Minnesota was known as “the state that works,” where institutions of all kinds were strong and lasted, government worked and was trusted, and people bowled together. Nowadays we have seen longstanding institutions crumble, increased mistrust of government and political parties, and the collapse of our physical infrastructure. Because Millennials haven’t personally seen or experienced that kind of societal success, will we be less imaginative? Inquiring minds want to know: how can Generation Y possibly envision something they themselves have not witnessed firsthand?
An image of the future
Originally coined by David Cooperrider, the appreciative inquiry model focuses on the best of what already is, in order to create better results in the future. As a methodology, it is a transformative approach toward change designed to embark on the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. Traditional models of problem-solving and assessment often follow a linear path: identification of problems, analysis of causes, analysis of possible solutions, and action planning to apply said treatments. The distinction is that identifying our problems is not the same as identifying what we want to create instead.
Change begins with an image of the future. As the saying goes, if you can see it, you can achieve it. If we can turn our attention toward what is already working in Minnesota, recognize the wide-ranging strengths of its rising generation, and imagine vivid possibilities for the future, we have already expanded Minnesota’s resulting potential for success.
“Our Minnesota” Cascading Conversations Tour
A network of emerging leaders, Minnesota Rising works to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for Minnesota and focuses on developing the collective capacity of this generation for impacting Minnesota’s future. Our recently launched Cascading Conversations Tour is an attempt to discover what we have in common, to learn about what’s working in Minnesota that we can build on, and to uncover how we can work individually and collectively to achieve the future we desire. Through one-on-one conversations, “Our Minnesota” is connecting people across the state to discuss their values and visions for Minnesota’s future and to share how they could make that future a reality. Over the course of two years, the number of conversations will grow exponentially as each person invited to share their ideas is asked to continue the conversation with another person, growing an ever-expanding network of people who will ultimately build “Our Minnesota” together.
Are you envisioning what I’m imagining?
Our vision is that we can collectively recognize what resources we have and are and then imagine what our generation might be able to accomplish together and be to each other. I invite anyone and everyone who thinks this matters to join us in these conversations. Not only will these conversations help us dream up the kind of change we want to co-create, but they, in and of themselves, will be the change we are seeking—people connecting on common ground across all kinds of differences. My hope is that it results in the sense that your and my self-interests are in Minnesota’s best interests. What’s your vision for a better Minnesota?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

You're Invited: Give 4 Good with Fourth Generation

Fourth Generation is giving for good and they're inviting you to learn just how. Join them and the incredible food-focused organizations they're supporting this year at Give 4 Good at Hell's Kitchen. No doubt you'll leave with nutrition for your brain and a great taste in your mouth!

Monday, June 11th
Hell's Kitchen

6:00-8:00 p.m.
We’ve pooled our money and raised some more, learned about nutrition and food justice, and made some important decisions about how we want to make a difference – now let’s have some fun!  Join us at Give 4 Good, a celebration of this year's grants.

Get the Inside Scoop
Fourth Generation is giving away over $30,000 to make healthy, affordable food a reality for people in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities, and beyond! Come meet the amazing organizations we're supporting this year and hear how they're changing the shape and flavor of our community for the better.
  • Kids Cook Classroom will teach kids about nutrition and help them grow, cook, and eat healthy food.
  • Minnesota Food Association will make sure immigrant farmers have the training, networking, and educational opportunities they need to succeed.
  • Perspectives will teach homeless and at-risk pre-school kids about nutrition, food safety, and cooking in a classroom kitchen.
  • Sustainable Farming Association of MN will promote sustainable agriculture among farmers and help twin cities co-ops meet market demands.

Bringing Healthy Back
We will hear from Bertand Weber, Minneapolis Public Schools' first Director of Nutrition and Culinary Services. Remember the mystery meat on a bun from the school cafeteria?  Hopefully, the next generation won't. Weber will tell us about the different ways our community is bringing healthy back.

   Want to Give 4 Good?
Fourth Generation, a program of The Minneapolis Foundation, is the place for young professionals to learn about effective, meaningful charitable giving. Members pool their resources, learn about an issue in the community, make an investment in local nonprofits, and make a difference. 
Whether you’re part of a family of givers, starting out on your own or you give with money, time or talents – Fourth Generation teaches skills to help you get the most out of your giving.

Thank you to The Jay and Rose Phillips Foundation of Minnesota and The Minneapolis Foundation who matched contributions by Fourth Generation members and helped amplify our impact.  

If you have any questions about this event please contact Jeanna Hensler at 612.672.3837

The Minneapolis Foundation Logo
The Minneapolis Foundation | 80 South Eighth Street | IDS 800 | Minneapolis, MN 55402
612.672.3878 | |

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recap: Happy 3rd birthday, Minnesota Rising!

Thanks to all those who came out to Sweeney's Saloon last week to celebrate Minnesota Rising's 3rd Birthday (and Minnesota's 154th)! Entitled, "A Celebration of Collaboration," we were delighted to partner with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Twin Cities, Gustavus Young Alumni, and Fourth Generation, representing a variety of sectors that help to make the entirety of Minnesota work! See below and our Facebook page for images of the prizes, cake, pinata, and the party-goers!



Monday, May 28, 2012

How the light gets in

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

"Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering. 
There is a crack in everything, 
That's how the light gets in." 
-Leonard Cohen

Friday, May 25, 2012

Accepting Applications: Characters Literary Magazine

An announcement recently came my way from Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog about a new literary magazine featuring fiction, nonfiction, and photography about and by the nonprofit sector. Called Characters, they are currently soliciting submissions from changemakers who have worked or volunteered for a good cause. With as abundant of a civic and nonprofit life as we have in Minnesota, I've no doubt we'll be able to submit a healthy range of compelling short fiction, personal essays, and photography from none other than you. If you've got a powerful local story to share, this is your chance to tell it to the world!

Originally posted in Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog on April 11, 2012. 

Tell me your story. I'll publish it.

My friend Mark Rovner and I do a lot of talking about stories. How you need to tell them. How you should tell them. And so on.
But here's the thing. One of the most basic principles of telling a story is, show don't tell. So we've decided to not just tell people about good stories but to show great stories.
We have launched a new literary magazine for and by you. It's called Characters, and it will feature fiction, nonfiction and photography from great communicators who have worked or volunteered for a good cause. That means you. Have a short story you've been working on for years? A memoir? Send it in. Really. This is your chance. We're giving you the greatest gift of all: a deadline for your dream.
 Know any writers or artistes? Please spread the word and send people here.                                                                                                         (UPDATE: It costs $10 to submit. I was asked to add this to the post so folks know up front. Point taken.) 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Minnesota Idea Open III: Hip, Hip, Hooray! Vote today!

Thanks to guest blogger, Dyan Hying, for today's reminder to vote in the Minnesota Idea Open III: Working Together Across Cultures and Faiths! See below for the stories of the five finalists and their ideas in response to the question, "What is your best idea to build bonds and work together across cultures and faiths?" Vote today for a better tomorrow!

Hip, Hip, Hooray! Vote today! 
The Minnesota Idea Open voting booths are open, and you don't have to stand in line to make a difference for Minnesota! Join the Idea Open in strengthening our state’s future by voting for the idea that best answers the Challenge III question: What is your best idea to build bonds and work together across cultures and faiths? Your vote will help make three ideas a reality in Minnesota. 
Minnesotans submitted over 600 ideas to work together across cultures and faiths, and the ideas have been narrowed down to the top five finalists. With your help, each of the three Challenge Champions will receive a $15,000 grant for implementation of their idea. Read about all five ideas and submit your vote online at When you vote for your favorite finalist, you are entered into a drawing to win a new iPad! 
Cast your vote by this Friday, May 25th, to make your voice heard across Minnesota and throughout future generations! 
The Idea Open Challenge III: Working Together Across Cultures and Faiths is made possible by One Nation and three affiliates of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners: Minnesota Community Foundation, Facing Race and the Multicultural Endowment. Learn more at and

Reportback: Coralling Conversations Wordle and Presentation

We at Minnesota Rising were honored to be invited to share about the "Our Minnesota" Cascading Conversations Tour at YNPN-TC's Corralling Conversations: A crash course in facilitation techniques event last month. While other presenters engaged attendees on large group facilitation mechanisms and tips on online community management, we provided background on appreciative inquiry and discussed the art of one-on-ones and building trust through conversation. See below for the Wordle harvest from the cascading conversation feedback forms collected that evening and further on down for our presentation. Thanks again to YNPN-TC for leading an effort to make meetings better and conversations more productive!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You're Invited: TORCH "Drawing Connections" Community Social Responsibility Event

Torch Community invites you to their next Community Social Responsibility Event to draw connections between people and organizations that have a positive impact on our local communities. Join other like-minded young professionals and nonprofit leaders for an evening of mingling, sharing of opportunities for volunteering in the community, and a sure-to-be fun game, to boot!

Torch logo
You're invited to
TORCH Community Social Responsibility Event
Drawing Connections

Join us on May 24th for a new perspective on how to draw connections between people and organizations that have a positive impact on your community. Getting involved in your community also has an impact on both your personal and professional life.

The perspectives will be provided by Robyn Schein of the Minneapolis Foundation and Betsy Buckley of What Matters and an outrageously fun game that you will absolutely play at your next get together.

You'll be in the company of many like-minded young professionals from around the Twin Cities who care about stuff. The best part is, local non-profit organizations with active young professional groups will participate in the game and give the quick and dirty on how to get involved. You'll learn how these groups can use your time and talents to have a meaningful impact on the communities they serve.


Mix & Mingle        5:30 - 6:00pm

Event Program    6:00 - 8:00pm

More Mingling      8:00 - 8:30pm

Light hors d'oeuvres are included at this event and a cash bar will be provided.

Parking is free at the Minneapolis Club ramp after 4pm. 

Please enter the ramp off of 8th Street


$10 Early Bird (5/11)

$15 Regular price (Online sales end 05/23 at 11:59pm)

$20 at the door (cash or check)


The event will highlight TORCH Community's Social Responsibility Partners:

Our Sponsors

Torch Community Website
Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You're Invited: Brand Yourself for Leadership

A member of the Minnesota Rising network, Jean Nitchals is a prime example of a leader with personal clarity of purpose as well as a penchant for surfacing and elevating the leadership of others. If you're not joining us tonight at Minnesota Rising's 3rd Birthday Party, you should connect with Jean and The White House Project to discover how to brand yourself for leadership. Focusing on strengths, thoughtful self-reflection, and personal branding techniques, you'll be sure to walk away ever more ready to take the lead!

The White House Project - Ignite Your Leadership
Brand Yourself for Leadership
cache_1179716104.png When: May 22nd, 5:30pm-7:30pm
 Where: The White House Project Office

800 IDS Center 80 South Eighth St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402-2115 

Cost: $15
How do people see you? How do you want people to see you? Are the answers to these questions in alignment, or in conflict? Make sure you have a personal brand that speaks volumes about you, and says what you want it to say!

In this Go Lead training event, expert Jean Nitchals, Founder of Network Buzz and Owner of Niche Solutions, will help you begin to identify your strengths, teach you how to leverage them, and help you incorporate them as a foundation for your personal brand. To register click here or contact Catherine at with any questions. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

You're Invited: Minnesota Social Innovation Lab

Only waiting list tickets remain, but you'll want to make sure to sign up for the mailing list for the Minnesota Social Innovation Lab. Tomorrow's event will be the first, but the intention is for it to spawn improved labs in the future as well as other organic efforts through sparking connections and creative interactions. Check out details below and consider participating in these practice ground environments in all their future iterations!

Minnesota Social Innovation Lab

Those of us who are trying to solve community problems are working in more and more complex situations. We can feel stuck and isolated as we navigate the many forces shaping community problems.

Sometimes it feels like all of the forces are working against us, but many of us know that there are solutions that are possible when we find unlikely partners, bring in new perspectives to expand our options, and risk taking the next step. The Social Innovation Lab is a place for community change makers to get new thinking to advance their projects. The lab will bring together people from different sectors and perspectives to provide input and inspiration for projects looking to solve community problems.

Please join us for the inaugural Social Innovation Lab on the morning of May 22 and be a part of shaping this resource and community. All perspectives are needed--from businesses, neighborhoods, the arts, families, spiritual communities, nonprofits, tech, entrepreneurs, policy, and more. We are seeking a combination of long-time social innovators and those who are curious and new to the idea. 

At the May 22 lab, Glenda Eoyang, from the Human Systems Dynamics Institute, Wendy Morris, andSam Grant will be three of the facilitators. They will help us identify the patterns shaping the complex community problems and explore strategic actions that can influence these patterns to move towards solutions.
We will apply the tools that Glenda, Wendy, and Sam introduce, though interactive activities with the following community problem solving initiatives:
The lab is based on the InCommons values that include co-creating, get and give, diversity, transparency, respect, collaboration and action. The lab integrates local resources for collaborative leadership that include the Human Systems Dynamic Institute, the Art of Hosting, the Minnesota Presencing CommunityHeartland, and the Technology of Participation. Join the online discussion about writings, videos, and other sources that can inspire the lab.
This lab will be held in Kagin Commons on the Macalester College campus. Free parking will be available in Macalester lots and on the street. Registration will begin at 8:00 am and we'll gather at 8:30 am.
Tickets can be refunded up until May 1. You may register with the online form at the top of this page or by mailing in this form. A limited number of volunteer scholarships are available. Contact Michael Bischoff at to inquire about volunteer oppotunities. 
The Social Innovation Lab is an InCommons event. InCommons is a community-based initiative that connects Minnesotans – face-to-face and online – so they can find and share credible tools, knowledge and resources to solve problems.

Co-sponsors include:

Go together

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 
-African Proverb

Friday, May 18, 2012

Accepting Applications: New Student Speak Out Project on Teen Health!

Recognizing that health habits and lifestyle decisions begin early on, Students Speak Out is engaging Minnesota teens in conversations about the future of health and healthcare in our state. Know a young Minnesotan who would be interested in joining the discussion or serving as a lead panelist? Send them the details below and to act fast, as the deadline for applications is May 21!

New Student Speak Out Project on Teen Health!
New Students Speak Out Project on Teen Health!
Greetings! Students Speak Out is starting a new project, and we want YOU to be a part of it. In fact, we're offering $150 stipends to 5-7 teens who are selected as lead panelists. Read on!

Teen Citizen Solutions is an effort to engage Minnesotans ages 13-19 in an online conversation about what's important to the future of health and health care in our state. Teens are already developing lifestyle choices and habits that could affect your heath and how United States health care works (including its cost) for generations to come. Teens also stand to inherit the long-term impacts of any decisions made about health care today.

There are three things teens can do right now:

1. Join the discussion: Lauren Gilchrist, Special Advisor to Governor Dayton at the Minnesota Department of Human Services has kicked off the discussion by asking teens how they define health, and if Minnesota teens are healthy.

2. Apply to be a lead panelist: Teens selected as lead panelists get a $150 stipend for sharing their insights and experiences and spreading the word about the project. Move fast! We'll be accepting applications through May 21.

3. Spread the word. Tell your friends about the project and share the project link:  Also, like us on Facebook and tell your friends to join!

Comment on the final "What is Student Achievement?" report

In a 2011 online project, Students Speak Out teens from around the nation looked into whether the definition of student achievement is broad enough. Teens' findings are described in detail in this final report:

Teens Think Deeply About Student Achievement

We would appreciate your review of and comments on the final project report and its findings. Click here to leave your comments by May 31.

Accepting Applications: Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities Teachers

Each one teach one. Or more! With Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities, you can share what you know with Twin Citizens who are interested in learning from the knowledge and experience of others. Whether it's a technical skill or a philosophical concept, ExCo is recruiting teachers to expand minds and capacities across the metropolitan area. See below for more information and additional encouragement!


TEACH an ExCo class this summer! - Class applications due May 19th

YOU ARE A TEACHER.  We can help you share your skills and knowledge.
All are welcome to teach.  Classes are free and open to everyone! 
Classes can be on all kinds of subjects—from gardening and bike maintenance to feminism and anarchist anthropology—and in all sorts of formats—reading groups, skill-shares, workshops, discussions.  Small amounts of funds may be available for class supplies and honorariums.

Join the movement for free, community-led education!
Class applications due by May 19th. Most classes will start in late June. Apply at or call and leave a message at 651-998-9268.  
Questions? - email us at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You're Invited: Bowling with LWV Young Professionals May 17!

The League of Women Voters Young Professionals invites you to avoid bowling alone by joining them at Memory Lanes for a fun chance to connect with other young professionals, learn about their leadership opportunities, and to have a ball! Grab your favorite guy or gal and bond over appetizers in the alley tonight. It's sure to be a strikingly good time!

Come Bowling With Us! 
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters Young Professionals! 
Have fun, learn about leadership opportunities, and find out how the LWV develops positions on important issues!

Free appetizers!
$3.99 per game, $3.00 shoes
Thursday, May 17
Open to young professionals and students!
Men and women welcome! 
Memory Lanes Bowl
2520 26th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406 
Please RSVP to: or 612-388-1565


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You're Invited: MINN Coffee Hour at Peace Coffee

A good cup of coffee and conversation with people who are looking to change the world seems like a great way to start off the morning! The Minnesota International NGO Network invites you to join their AM zen at Peace Coffee tomorrow to connect with other globally-minded Minnesotans and learn more about their organizational efforts (they just got their 501(c)3 status in the past year). The best part of waking up may indeed be some strong coffee and even stronger passion for a better world!

May 17, 2012: Coffee Hour @ Peace Coffee

Coffee Hour @ Peace Coffee

Date: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Time: 7:30am to 9:00am
Location: Peace Coffee Shop: 3262 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55406

About the Event: At its core, MINN is about building connections between those who share a passion for changing the world. Whether you've never been to a MINN event before or you're an old pro, this Thursday morning coffee meeting is for you. Join others in the NGO community as we share coffee, stories, and ideas. This is a fun, informal way to get to meet MINN members, learn a little more about the organization, and make new connections. This event is free and open to everyone. See you at Peace Coffee May 17!
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