Meet an Action Group founder: Lissa in San Diego, California

Connector and Action Group founder Lissa Tsu is committed to helping people make the leap from online to on-the-streets action.

“I think Action Groups are exciting because they can be as big or as small as you want them to be,” she says. “They also get people offline and actually engaged in making the world a better place.”

Originally from Southern California, Lissa attended Boston College before making San Diego her home base. “I actually started volunteering early in life,” she says, “but going to a Jesuit university really cemented my love for immersing myself in under-served communities.”

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Lissa and her daughter

Lissa considers herself a “Connector-type” in her personal as well as professional life. “I am always thinking about how people I know can help out other people I know. It makes me feel like a part of a community,” she says.

“I feel my strength is following through on what I said I would do. I rarely commit to things and then not follow through. I am thoughtful about how I want to spend my time and energy so when I commit to something, I commit.”

The Action Group Lissa started is called Downtown San Diego Planter/Bed Beautification. Why this focus? “I started with an AG that would personally make my day,” she explains. “Living in Chicago for eight years I saw how truly beautiful sidewalks can be and what a difference that makes in living and working in a place.”

“San Diego streets need a lot of love and I think that if we revitalized them we could really improve the image of SD. I live and walk downtown with my daughter most days so I would love a few flowers to brighten the path.”

One challenge Lissa’s facing so far is recruiting others to join her and start taking action. “I’m a little stuck here,” she says. “I think the largest challenge is that once you set [an AG] up it seems easy to get sucked back into ‘cyber world.’ And I would love some more ideas about how to let the SD community know I started a Group so they could choose to join me.”

Other AG founders: how have you recruited members to join your group? Post a comment below or write directly to Lissa through her Idealist profile.

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Action Group in Pune, India gets serious about empowering the underprivileged

This past Saturday, Abhishek Surywanshi hosted the first meeting of his Action Group “Empowering the underprivileged in Pune.

Before the meet-up, Abhishek and a few others gathered at a mall food court to plan it. They decided that the venue for the first meeting would be of utmost importance to inspire conversation, and settled on Jnana Prabodhini, an educational nonprofit known for launching great ideas.

Twenty people from incredibly diverse backgrounds showed up for the seminal meeting—the fields represented included engineering, psychology, fashion, international business, and medical research, just to name a few.

“We expected a few people but never thought we would get a response from almost every professional field. It was brilliant to see multidimensional views on same thing,” he says.

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The group sat in a circle on the floor—an arrangement that helped everyone have eye contact with one other and feel comfortable participating—and talked about issues ranging from traffic to growing one’s own food to how the government could help them achieve their goals.

Their next steps include forming new Action Groups, going out into the city and recruiting members, and meeting again and again to maintain momentum—and increase the fun.

Abhishek attributes the success of the meeting to proper planning. His advice to other Groups? Keep it simple. Know your members. Plan accordingly. Make sure everyone in the group speaks. And have coffee afterward to connect on a more personal level.

Abhishek couldn’t be happier with the results.

“When people from ten-plus different fields gather on a pretty evening with a common goal, things tend to be awesome,” he says.

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Want to learn more tips and tricks for organizing a great meeting? Reach out to Abhishek.

Curious about Action Groups? Find one near you or start one of your own!

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Meet an Action Group founder: Geoffrey in Carpinteria, California

An appreciation for clean sand is the norm in his coastal community of Santa Barbara County, yet Connector Geoffrey Berz believes more can be done.

“Focusing on our beaches—a mutual love of just about everyone—can benefit Santa Barbara County by bringing those of all backgrounds to the beach cleanup and giving them a safe place for dialogue at various levels,” he says. “This dialogue can lead to identifying other needs in our community while building stronger ties between vastly different demographics.”

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Geoffrey ready to surf.

Strengthening ties across different groups and promoting collaboration is how Geoffrey spends his time when he’s not surfing and or playing beach volleyball. Professionally, he helps organizations scale up and problem-solve.

“This involves pooling resources, project management, shifting organizational responsibilities, and naturally, connecting individuals who have skills/needs that can foster positive change,” he says.

His Action Group, “Monthly Beach Cleanup,” is one extension of this work. Initially, he plans to reach out to the Idealist community to garner more support, and then go beyond, with an emphasis on face-to-face connection.

By being a part of the Network, Geoffrey ultimately hopes to expand his own circle of go-getting Idealists.

“Organizing action in an entrepreneurial spirit is not an easy task. It’s important to have individuals and organizations that are like-minded in the same place,” he says. “A place like Idealist.”

Feel the same way about clean beaches that Geoffrey does? Join his Action Group.

Curious about Action Groups? Find one near you or start one of your own!

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Tech Tip: Shortcut to your Action Group

As a Connector, you’re invited to create an Action Group to help anyone take action on a particular issue or cause with you.

If you’ve created an Action Group or are gearing up to create one, you can keep track of it on Idealist via your personal menu:

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Since Action Groups are for everyone, they can be found on Idealist.org and on the Connector Hub to make it easy for all the people in your community to participate—whether or not they’re Connectors.

Pro tip:

Want to invite your social networks to join your Idealist Action Group? Navigate to your Action Group, then scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll see a list of members.

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Click a button to “Invite” folks to join or “Share” this page. Then, personalize your message and click “Share On Your Timeline.”

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That’s it!

Sara Jensen is a technical support representative at Idealist. Feel free to reach out to her if you need help or have questions: sara.jensen@idealist.org.

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Field Report! The buzz on Action Groups in Portland, Oregon

Last Wednesday, a couple of Connectors and Idealist staff met up to talk through Action Groups.

Connector Monique Dupre admitted she was considering starting an Action Group about sustainability in Portland, but was a bit hesitant.

“One of my thoughts was okay, I propose the group and we get together and then what?” she says. “I know what I’m interested in, but I don’t have specific examples or immediate action steps.”

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Connector Liqin chimed in and told the Team about her idea to start an Action Group dedicated to helping refugees and immigrants adjust in Portland. As an immigrant herself who came to the city from China nine years ago, Liqin especially sees the need to create a community interested in helping this vulnerable population.

The Action Group would bring people together to seek out what needs exist, share resources, and provide ways to get involved.

What she described was perfect – and the energy in the room suddenly shifted. Inspired by Liqin, Monique then had an idea that was more specific and exciting to her: an Action Group dedicated to saving the bees.

Within minutes, everyone around the table had something to offer: one person was eager to join, someone knew of a few organizations, another had recently spent time on a bee farm in Asia, and still another rode past a bee shop on her bike commute everyday.

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Both Monique and Liqin created their Action Groups right then and there. For the Team’s next meeting, an idea was put on the table to invite Connectors to share their ideas for Action Groups and launch three to five of them on the spot.

Once launched, Connectors would commit to seeking out Idealist members to join – especially those who are formally connected to organizations on the site or have listed the issue on their Idealist profile.

This spirit of intentional community building is how the Portland Team hopes to build buzz around Action Groups.

“It can be hard to get momentum around it,” Monique says. “What better way to do this but personally invite people?”

What questions do you have about Action Groups? Ask away in the comments!

 

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Check out our first Action Groups!

Last week, we launched Action Groups. These location- or issue-based support groups are started and facilitated by one or more Connectors, and open to anyone who wants to take action on an issue, or help others do so.

We’re excited to see the first Action Groups starting to form and get moving! Here’s a quick sample of what’s going on so far:

 

  • Monthly Beach Cleanup in CaliforniaCAThis Group is focused on “protecting the habitat of land and marine life on the Carpinteria, CA beaches through removal of trash, excess soot from fire, etc… Our goal is to keep the beaches clean for the animals who call these places home and the people who enjoy visiting our beautiful coastline.” They’re planning their first meeting for May 10.

 

  • Empowering the Underprivileged in Pune PuneConnector Abhishek and five others are focused on “inspiring our underprivileged community for a better tomorrow,” and remembering that “simple things like donating one hour for the community can make a big difference. It is about bridging the gap.” Their first meeting is set for May 17.

 

Ivory CoastThis Group of nonprofit leaders in the Ivory Coast is acting en français to better help the Ivorian community “participate in democratic debate and development.” Their first meeting is scheduled for May 30.

 

If you’d like to start an Action Group for your setting (such as your neighborhood, workplace, or school) or for an issue you care about (like homelessness, the environment, or education), read all about it and get started here!

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