The Network Evolution Workgroup
In winter and spring of 2020, in response to a Network-wide invitation, a group of about twenty self-selected Energy Action Network members came together to discuss the future of our network. We know that it will take a wide variety of expertise, partners, and strategic actions to achieve a total energy transformation in VT and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that create a more just, thriving, and sustainable future. The Energy Action Network exists so that those diverse partners can act more strategically, systemically, and effectively. In this pivotal moment for energy and climate action, this small group explored the question: how can we be the best, most effective network we can be in service of Vermont and our mission?
Over the course of four remote meetings, the group discussed what has worked best about the Energy Action Network, both currently and in the past. With assistance from the Garfield Foundation, we also heard about the history, culture, governance, and structure of other effective collaborative networks about the country, including the Cancer Free Economy Network, RE-AMP, and the Farm to Plate network here in Vermont.
Reflections on our network
Through this process, several key reflections emerged:
- Centering Equity: In the next phase of our network, equity needs to be at the center of our work: from how we define energy equity and equitable emissions reductions, to how we bring partners together and who engages in our network.
- Shared agenda: EAN is a leader in defining and tracking common metrics for energy and climate progress, analyzing the challenges that Vermont faces in these areas, and communicating these concepts to a range of audiences in ways that support concrete action. We want to build upon these strengths.
- Network culture: While the network has been a place for members to come together and share ideas and strategies, there is continued need to build trust and a sense of shared purpose, and to more intentionally strengthen alignment and action between members.
- Network Structure: Effective networks have a transparent, nimble structure that allows network members to come together and work on transformative issues, ideas, and projects, that no one member could complete on their own. In other networks this looks like a series of work groups and action teams – some focused on longer term, systemic challenges, some working on near term transformative action. EAN used to have four work groups that brought diverse partners together around our four strategic leverage points: Policy and Regulatory Reform; Technology and Innovation; Capital Mobilization; and Public Engagement. Moving forward, we want to build off the success of these groups, while learning from the circumstances that led to their eventual dissolution.
Moving forward together
The group also recognized the importance of our annual Network Summit as a time when we could put some of these key reflections into action. It is a time to re-ground ourselves in our shared purpose and agenda, strengthen our relationships, recognize progress, and identify key action for the year ahead.
As a result of the Network Evolution Workgroup, EAN staff is working to develop a plan for the summit, and the months leading up to the summit, that will allow us to:
- Develop a framework and approach to better define, assess, and integrate equity into our work
- Revisit our shared agenda, systems maps, and strategic leverage points to identify strategic opportunities for action and metrics of progress
- Strengthen our network culture by creating more opportunities for network members to come together, learn about one another’s work, shared goals, and opportunities for collaboration.
- Stand back up our network structure, informed by our strategic leverage points, coalitions and ad-hoc groups that already exist, and current transformative opportunities for collaborative action.
If you are interested in being a part of this planning leading up to the summit, please email Network Manager Carolyn Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be in touch with more specific opportunities to be involved.