February SparkNews: Focus on Equity

One of the things that makes our work so important is the opportunity to affect meaningful change in the lives, places, and systems with which we work. However, we can only realize the bold goals we set by focusing on equity, ensuring that the shape of the starting line does not dictate where people finish. […]

Working in Fields

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how different it looks to work in a field instead of alone. And no, I don’t mean out in a field of flowers (though that sounds lovely). Rather, I’m referring to a field of organizations trying to cause the same type of change, though not necessarily in collaboration […]

How do you know if you’re getting the best quality in your evaluations?

How do you know if you’re getting the best quality in your evaluations? Quality in evaluation used to be defined as rigor (and sometimes still is), with rigor meaning the competence of the evaluator, the legitimacy of the process and, of course, applying the best research methods to the collection and analysis of data. These […]

Making planning actionable: lessons from the Colorado Farm to School Task Force

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This is one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist known for her holistic understanding of human adaptation and the interconnectedness of all aspects of human life. Mead believed in […]

A Better Place: Contemplating systems change in place based work

What does it take to trigger systemic changes that can improve quality of life in a community? One suggestion that emerged from the Better Place convening in San Diego earlier this month was the idea of novelty: we need a novel idea and then opportunities to test it, discover its value, and take it to […]

Using Learning To Do Good, Even Better

One of the best parts of my job is helping organizations use learning to do good, even better. Recently, we worked with Project Health Colorado, a strategy funded by The Colorado Trust with support from The Colorado Health Foundation, focused on building public will to achieve access to health for all Coloradans by fostering a […]

Planning for Adaptation

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last decade thinking about, experimenting with, and refining tools for planning in complex, adaptive settings. As we put together Spark’s Adaptive Planning Toolkit, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect back and think about the genesis of the tools and what we have learned over the years. I […]

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