Introduction to Network Maps and Network Weaving
In Mapping What Matters, we wanted to understand the relationships between Alberta ENGOs. To do this we asked them three questions: Who have you worked with? Who do you want to work with? Who do you get ideas from? The collective answers (networks) are a powerful tool for the Alberta environmental nonprofit sector. Complementing the network maps is an organizational needs and capacity assessment. The combination provide nearly infinite ways to explore, connect, and strengthen the sector.
Networks maps allow for the identification of ‘key players’ within a network and help organizations appreciate their role within the sector. We can connect ENGOs based on geography, issue focus, and organizational strategy. We can also form learning networks built around organizational strengths and needs. We know which ENGOs are willing to collaborate, and can facilitate the formation of action networks.
Alberta Ecotrust’s intention is to support the creation of healthier, self-organizing networks. We call this “network weaving”. We want to connect people who have different ideas, diverse perspectives, and complementary skills. We want to discover and build common ground. We believe innovative ideas, and effective action, will emerge from these new, active, and intentional networks.
In this section of the report we will introduce you to social network analysis. We will also present a few basic maps. Remember, these are only a small sample of the maps we can create. If you want to use these maps to their fullest potential, we urge you to contact us.
Report Confidentiality – What Are All These Numbers?
Some of the data collected in Mapping What Matters is sensitive and we guaranteed confidentiality of certain data to participants. As such, all organizations represented in the maps here are coded with a unique ID number. Participants who would like access to complete network maps (with organizational names) should contact us directly.
Mapping What Matters Participants
If you participated in the Mapping What Matters project then you will be able to identify yourself in these maps with your unique ID number. If you would like this number, please contact Lindsay Zink, Environmental Program Coordinator, at [email protected].
The raw materials for social network maps are “nodes” (actors within the network, represented by numbered circles) and “links” (relationships among actors, represented by arrows). For the Mapping What Matters Project, the nodes are comprised of ENGO participants or other organizations named by participants. Participants were asked to identify three different types of relationships: 1) collaborations with organizations over the past three years, 2) desired future collaborations with organizations they have not yet worked with, and 3) organizations from which they have acquired new or innovative ideas. Each map depicts one or more of these relationships (past, future and ideas pathways), connecting the organizational nodes of the network.
Below are some introductory visuals which will familiarize you with social network maps:
Social network maps are visual representations of complex relationships. There is an entire field of study devoted to making sense of network relationships, including how to use them for meaningful action. In this section we will introduce you to some examples of how we can use the data collected in Mapping What Matters in the real world. Remember, these are only samples. Each of these ideas can be applied to the individual needs of the network or participants.
Learning networks are places where organizations and people can share and exchange knowledge. We believe there is a huge opportunity among Alberta ENGOs to use the Mapping What Matters data to learn from each other. Here are a few potential networks based on two examples of organizational needs and strengths:
Action networks are places where organizations and people can join together based on their shared organizational activities. Organizations who undertake similar activities have a significant opportunity to collaborate on joint projects. Below are potential action networks based on organizations operating in Calgary and Edmonton:
Moving From Common Mandate to Shared Agenda
We asked Alberta environmental nonprofits to tell us the top three issue areas they focus on. This gave us a unique look at how many organizations are working on the same issues. We call this a common mandate. Mapping the relationships between organizations allows us to move beyond this basic biographical data to seeing how they work together. We call this a shared agenda. In the example below you will see an example of groups who are working on the same issues (left), and how they work together (right). Helping connect ENGOs in these networks could help them move from a common mandate to a shared agenda, potentially making them more impactful in their work.
The network maps we can produce are almost limitless, and can be created based on any of the survey information we collected. However, there are some essential maps that participants may have interest in. They are posted below.
Remember, to map the relationships between organizations we asked participants in Mapping What Matters three questions:
1. What organizations have you collaborated with in the last three years?
2. Which organizations would you like to work with in the future that you have NOT worked with in the past?
3. From which organizations do you get new and innovative ideas from that increase the effectiveness of your organization’s efforts?
In the maps below you will see relationships based on some of the key biographical data of ENGOs we have collected. Click on each link – Past, Future, or Ideas – to see the relationships based on the responses to the questions above.
The Complete Network Maps of All ENGOs Working In Alberta
Network Maps By Issue Area
YOUR ID NUMBER
If you participated in the Mapping What Matters project then you will be able to identify yourself in these maps with you unique ID number. If you would like this number, please contact Lindsay Zink, Environmental Program Coordinator, at [email protected].
These are only a small sample of the network maps we can produce. If you have a question regarding the maps, would like some help connecting to other ENGOs, or would like to receive network coaching please contact Lindsay Zink at [email protected].
Network Maps By Geography
Network Maps By ENGO Strategy
Environmental challenges must be addressed at both the system and individual level, along a continuum of activities that build awareness, shift attitudes, enable action and ultimately change behaviour in key individuals and institutions. At Alberta Ecotrust we use a framework called LEAP to understand how ENGOs use strategy to achieve their goals. You can learn about this framework in the image to the left.