New Ways of Working -- Summit Follow Up

Posted by on May 23, 2017 at 11:31 AM

By Katie Page, Bridge Alliance

Last month, Bridge Alliance held a Bridge Summit adjunct to Earth Day Texas in Dallas. The Summit was to be a physical unifying of our member organizations and a weekend to find new ways of working together aligned with our mission of revitalizing democratic practice and discourse in this nation.

The Summit was held in an exquisitely remodeled hospital with such an expansive Early American art collection I think even the Smithsonian might blush. In my final walk through of the venue and it’s grounds with eyes wide I felt a new sense of connection to our complex roots. Surrounded by these settings I understood that what Bridge Alliance and its member organizations are working towards is something that will have a weight on American history. This was felt by our attendees of the Summit and elevated our conversations.

The weekend was spent networking with organizations that we may have never met otherwise in person. The deep appreciation and curiosity in one another’s work was a spark in relationships that could take any form. Each of Bridge Alliance’s areas of focus were represented in organization attendance and workshops: civic engagement, governance and policy making, and campaign and finance reform.

The Summit consisted of panels, break out groups, and fellowship. Our 3 breakout groups developed the beginnings for new Collective Impact proposals that may be considered for future funding from Bridge Alliance. The governance in policy making group developed a Marshall Plan for Appalachia concept that is currently in further development. The civic engagement group developed an overarching media narrative plan, “This is America” that would fortify efforts by each individual Bridge Alliance member and other groups with a unifying message. The campaigns and elections group worked on four separate plans, experimenting to find the biggest lever to shift power back to the people.

Bridge Alliance with its members are doing something different than the status quo, they are working together no matter the differences. Putting our nation above party loyalty and above self interest is imperative to having a nation for the people and by the people. We are putting this into practice and raising each other up. 

Each of our 78 members alone are doing incredible work. When we begin to reach out to others and find overlapping and complementary efforts our overall reach and effect of work can be grown immensely.  This is our theory of change - that we can do together what each of us working in our silos cannot. 

After many conferences we all go our separate ways with no real follow up or action plans. We are proud to say that with our members this was that not sort of gathering.  Proposals for actions are still in development and we are excited to see the great work that will come out of our Summit. We hope the connections made at the Summit create new possibilities for collaboration and cross promotion.

I am grateful for our members commitment to our mission and look forward to planning our next event.