The world is increasingly connected - from the globalization of world economies to the ongoing digital innovations that are shaping the way we live and work. Yet even with more tools for virtual collaboration, many feel a lack of personal connection. As an organizing software for leaders, NationBuilder is committed to developing and supporting emerging leadership. New CEO Lea Endres and other company heads recognize this need for people to connect beyond digital platforms, and thus created NationBuilder Cities, a network of chapters designed for leaders to connect and share their best practices in person in the face of challenging times.

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As a young leader entering the academic and professional world, I was honored to be invited, along with my mother, Ayelet Berman-Cohen, to NationBuilder’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference in the spring. There, I had the opportunity to learn from, listen to and share experiences with many other inspiring women, all while witnessing the launch of NationBuilder Cities. Following the conference, the LA chapter decided to continue meeting as a group and host events that spotlight certain leaders’ tools. As NationBuilder’s digital organizing intern, I’ve been able to continue connecting with this community of leaders. Last Saturday, my family hosted an educational evening modeling community living in order to create a vibrant and open space for leaders to connect in real life.

As the fifth child in a family of seven children and counting, five of whom are boys, I’ve learned from a young age to live in community and step into my own leadership. One way that my family holds space as a unit and for our extended community is through the practice of council. By creating a safe space for community engagement and open listening, this tool has helped us create and maintain active connection. Saturday’s event provided an opportunity to share this practice with the NationBuilder LA community.

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The evening began with a home-cooked Mediterranean meal prepared by my family. Food and the tangible communal force that it brings has been vital to the way we connect within our family and larger community. Following the meal, we gathered and played some music to open the circle and then, in a demonstration led by my mother, modeled the way that our family uses council as a form of leadership. We opened the floor for each member of the family to share how this practice has affected our lives, actively listening to each other when it wasn’t our turn. By engaging in council as a family (both in -person and virtually) with the NationBuilder community as witnesses before turning the table and including our guests within the discussion, we were able to facilitate a space for everyone to learn this new tool and think about ways to utilize it in their own leadership spaces.

The event provided a platform for real listening, authentic communication and engaged community work, tools that members of NationBuilder LA and beyond can hopefully incorporate into their own lives. Amidst the noise of 21st century life in Los Angeles, 25 people came together for the first time, listened to each other’s stories, shared pieces of themselves, and left with a greater sense of community.

 

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