Despite being in a fully online program that doesn’t require any trips to campus -or Minnesota in the winter, for that matter- three of the MASD graduating class got ourselves to MCAD and attended graduation together in December 2016. Jillian Schultz and I (Shannon Reece) had a great time afterwards, “meeting” our teachers (for the first time in person!) and talking over dinner about what we all could accomplish together as fellow sustainability practitioners. MASD faculty -Curt McNamara, Wendy Jedlicka, and Holly Robbins- challenged us to start an alumni association so that we could be proactive in seeking ways to collaborate together. Arlene Birt (MASD faculty) and Craig Johnson (MASD alum ’14) agreed wholeheartedly.
I knew they were right. Without consistent, intentional effort to mingle with my fellow big picture, planet-healers and culture-shapers, I would fizzle out and probably just end up going it alone, half-heartedly. Sad day.
Natural leadership in action
But didn’t I learn about the absolute necessity of exchanging ideas in collaboration and forming liquid networks of people and building on top of stacks of other ideas in order to foster innovation? Didn’t Steven Johnson talk about that in Where Good Ideas Come From? And what about the value of forming triadic relationships that I read about in Tribal Leadership? What about the mysterious power of weak ties that we learned about in Nexus – The Science of Networks? Shouldn’t these new insights be acted on? We couldn’t just let all of that spark fizzle out.
As I began to talk to other fellow students, I found out that we were definitely not alone. One alum confessed to me that the MASD program was great but after graduation she felt as if everyone just vanished. There was not enough ongoing, consistent communication with former classmates, no mutual accountability or encouragement to keep plugging away. As a result she felt isolated and discouraged. We wanted to change that.
“A place to help each other be more effective.”
After the holidays, Jillian and I decided to take the first timid step and form a Facebook group for all MA in Sustainable Design alumni for the purpose of mingling with each other, sharing ideas and struggles as professionals in the field, asking for help in solving design challenges, or helping each other get or expand viable work in a particular industry. In short, a place to help each other be more effective. We hope that our fellow graduates will see the value in participating with us. If you are a MASD alumni, please join us!
Very few of us can go it alone. One of my biggest regrets in the MASD program is that we didn’t get to experience even more collaboration than we already did. This is a chance to make that happen.
Image courtesy of Cindy Gilbert/MCAD.