Starting a M/N


  1. Gather together, or find an existing group, no matter how large or small willing to meet on a regular basis. The meeting itself is the agenda since a nation is an ongoing process of meeting to experience what it means to be a nation. Furthermore, forming a nation means developing a willingness to listen. Participants will find it easier to do so by first  leaving isms and ideologies parked at the door. They can always be picked up again on the way out after a M/N meeting.

  2. Send an email to indicating your intentions. The M/N network will  then work with you to set up a template reflecting its website which then can be made specific to your zip-code area and managed by your group. The central M/N network website aims only to provide a template and guidance in developing your own site. Your new website will be a key tool for lateral organizing as it well be a tangible link to this website, capture what is happening in your zip-code area and be linked to all M/N websites for all to learn and share.

  3. Select someone from your group to manage your website. Upon receiving the name, the M/N network will send an easy to follow protocol to the website manager on the basics for managing the website.

  4. Become familiarized with your website noting especially that there are two essential parts to it, namely, a running inventory of resources in your zip-code area and, secondly, an ever changing list of the top three priorities for improving the area of your M/N. Surveying resources and defining the top three needs will keep your group focused and be a basis for involving others in finding resources and in defining the top priorities.

  5. Begin surveying the resources and list them in your website into two groups. The first group includes laterally organized groups; the second includes vertically organized groups. Be sure to include in  the category ‘lateral’ only groups that are truly cooperating with you as equals. In the beginning this may be a very short list. Keep in mind that all human groups or gatherings are the same; group agenda is what differentiate a gathering. Lateral organizing is connecting people regardless of their agenda;  vertical organizing is herding ever larger number of people to back an issues/agenda.  Vertical organizing can be found in such activities as education, business, politics, worship, recreation,  and government; lateral organizing makes such activities work better because it aims to connect people – when people are connected, achieving worthwhile agendas will follow with little effort.

  6. Make contact with one lateral or vertical group at a time to offer a free page on your website for the group to advertise what it is doing. The group can use the page to advertise for financial, volunteer, or customer support. This offer of a free advertising is a good strategy for lateral organizing in that it fosters inter-connectivity while helping each group achieve its agenda.

  7. Strive to get lateral groups involved in defining and achieving the top three priorities in the zip-code area. Then let vertical oriented groups know what is being accomplished. In so doing you awaken interest and build trust. In time you may expand the vertical orientation of the group beyond a competitive ‘us versus them’ fixation to one of cooperation.

  8. By defining needs and identifying resources through your website, you stimulate the linking of groups and  encourage joint effort. Even more importantly you stimulate internal discussion within your group at your regular meetings. Throughout the process you are raising your own awareness.  As a result, for you, your group and your zip-code area as a whole, a mutual understanding of needs and resources will grow beyond the superficial to underlying, overlooked  resources and needs that will lead to a better world.

  9. You do not build a M/N in a vacuum. Your ongoing discussions in setting a priority of needs in your zip-code area connects with all needs in your area and needs beyond your borders. By working in your area and with the M/N network you are in fact priming the pump that will not only impact on the three top identified needs but many other needs in the area you may not even thought about. When you make headway in solving these needs, the ripple effect will travel well beyond your community.

  10. Begin planning for a yearly twin summit – one summit that deals with needs and the second, two or three months later, that deals with resources. The aim of the twin summits is to bring need/resource into balance. Use your website to promote and report on the twin summit.

  11. Encourage residents on an ongoing basis to use the blog feature on your website as a way to foster lateral discussion/action locally and beyond.

  12. Check periodically the website to get updates on links with other M/Ns that have been added to our LINK page. Join the BLOG discussion on the M/N network site. Check this site for news from other M/Ns as well as from THE NATION that has a page on HOME  category on this site. Send to any news you wish to share.

CAUTION: Take the long view as a nation cannot be built over night. This website lays out a plan of action that may not be realized in our lifetime. It may not be the best plan but it is the only one on the table at the moment. Lateral organizing is like taking a journey in whcih you meet some wonderful people along the way. Just rallying around a cause, however worthy, is not a plan. Lateral organizing takes guts and patience as most people are caught up in vertical oriented agendas in an ’us versus everyone else’ mindset. If you react to vertical behavior, you aggravate and reinforce such behavior. Obsession with vertical agendas can lead to frustration that can easily spill over into violence. Keep in mind that vertical organizing relies on the use of power – economic, political, academic or physical; lateral organizing relies on patience nurtured by caring and shared values.

Include young people even though many may seem obsessed with the latest communication gadget. Without them knowing it, they are being primed for a dynamic new world of lateral organizing. Young people are obsessed now with Facebook and Twitter through which they talk to their ‘friends’ – an exercise of talking to yourself. At some point they will realize we need to talk to our neighbor if we are to expand the quality of our life. At this point the younger generation will begin to lead us into the new world of lateral organizing and communication.

With the world exploding with new knowledge and with the volume/speed of communication off the charts, it will be impossible for one leader no matter how talented to grasp what is happening today. Vertical thinking, although deeply imbedded in our psyche, is now under siege around the world. In business, government, religion, academia, we are moving into a new lateral world of person-to-person fusion rather than friction  where true creativity lies. Lateral organizing will insure the no one is left behind.