The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network was founded in 2013 and is supported by Promoting Ecosystem Resilience and Fire Adapted Communities Together. The Network was originally launched as a pilot project to test a network approach to fire adapted communities. The central question was “Can we spread innovation and ideas and improve community wildfire resilience by building a national network of FAC practitioners?” Within the first year, we began seeing results—more and deeper partnerships, higher profiles for members enabling them to attract resources, and learning exchanges seeding new approaches. The network approach was working.
So then we began expanding and strengthening the Network. Our approach has been to grow the Network—and our impact—while remaining nimble. Network members and communities represent a range of innovative approaches to community wildfire adaptation. Our core membership includes communities of various sizes, with differing jurisdictional and regulatory structures, and unique cultural and institutional contexts.
The FAC Net is an example of a “generative social-impact network,” which is defined as “a set of people who voluntarily organize themselves for collective action to solve a large, complex social problem” (Plastrik et al. 2014). Unlike coalitions or alliances, generative networks are tackling problems that will require a good deal of time and adaptive management to address. The members develop powerful, enduring relationships, and members (vs. staff) do most of the group’s work. The nimbleness of networks makes them ideal for addressing dynamic problems.
Learning networks need rules for how members will work together. The following operating principles are a work in progress:
From Connecting to Change the World (Plastrik et al. 2014):