Updated: May 26

Networks drive innovation in landscapes. Not hierarchies. Hierarchies organise effort, but they are not so strong on generating new knowledge or new approaches. Networks are better at that.

Social life is shot through with reciprocity. Network are our supply lines, for advice and support, the place we go when we're working on tough questions. In networks, we more readily assume complexity, decentralization, inter-connectedness, interdependence, multiplicity, non-linearity.

But networks are also elusive. You know who you talk to, but who do those people talk to? Who talks to whom, on each interest? Who is out there? You want to be able to check people out, easily, so you know there's half a chance that if you pick up the phone or email them, they'll at least know what you're talking about.

Climate change means rethinking just about everything in making a living from and living on the land. Integrating native grasses into pasture systems, fine-tuning calving, managing fire risk. linking small patches into surrounding ecosystems. There are a hundred questions and more raining down on us as the climate warms.

The stronger your network, the stronger you are. Networks are fleet of foot and that have the diversity in points of view that drive sharper thinking and embolden us to do things differently. We each have to find the answers that fit our situation, but it helps to have good people to talk to.

When it comes to the collective good, better networks mean communities that move faster and more cohesively. Networks connect people who share a broad purpose, each with the shifts they are working on. Whether it's a community of practice, or a community of place, it helps to have having people to call on, and no matter that you haven't met them, or that they're a long way away. Let you're fingers do the walking, as the Yellow Pages used to say.

Those thin filaments of connection between people in a sector or locality have ideas and encouragement and discussion flowing through them. The better that flow, the faster possibilities are kicked into shape. The deeper the conversations, the faster good ideas get tested out in action. We hear what others are learning. When you have good people to talk to, the unending and necessary task of sorting out your specific situation gets a little easier.

CLEA's starting point is to find out what conversations need more attention, in the NE region, around the shifts that are underway.

If you're in the NE region, phone or drop me a line.

If you just want to keep in touch with what the project is doing, tell me why you are interested, and I'll put you on an occasional up-date email.

Ross Colliver, Image: Timon Studler, Unsplash.