Preparing for On the Ground with Your Team or On Your Own

Some ideas to help you make the most of your shared experience.

Attending On the Grounds is not like attending a regular conference. Because of our peer learning orientation and commitment to meeting design that builds from the expertise, experience, passion and questions of  people in the room,  the benefit you will receive from the On the Ground experience is highly dependent on how you show up (present, curious, and ready to co-create) and what you do (engage, contribute, question).

Here are some questions to help you prepare for your time On the Ground in Brooklyn with ioby and Grassroots Grantmakers.


Your Focus

Why are you here?
What do you want from your time here?  What do you want to take away from this? Here are some possibilities:
Insights into __________________ (a topic or question you care about)

  • Insights into _____________________ (a topic of question you care about)
  • Resolution for some problem or dilemma of yours
  • Ideas for _____________________ (something you want to do)
  • New relationships: with peers, with mentors
  • New opportunities with your hometown colleages?
  • New opportunities in other settings? With other people?
  • Inspiration from people and their stories
  • Rest, relaxation, refreshment, renewal

Who and what can you learn from here?

  • Brooklyn context, compared to yours:
    • Neighborhoods, city, metro region, state
    • Stories, groups, projects, leaders, networks
    • The mix of challenges and opportunities, assets and gaps here compared to yours
  • National peers
    • As people – how they see, what they do, what motivates them
    • Their stories, dilemmas, contexts
  • Understand the field of resident-centered change and grassroots grantmaking and better:
    • What it is (and what it is not)
    • Who’s in it (and who’s not)
    • Its history, and current trends: how is it dynamically evolving? Where is it headed?

 Planning Your Hometown Team’s Approach

 Your Hometown Team’s participation in the On the Ground

  • Will you divide yourselves among the different Neighborhood Conversations. For descriptions of the Neighborhood Conversations, click here.
  • How will you share your learnings from the Neighborhood Conversations with each other?
  • Will your team lead a Learning Marketplace session? For more information, click here.

Your Hometown Team’s interactions with each other at the On the Ground

  • Who do you want to get to know better?
  • Who do you want to learn from?
  • Who do you want to build trust and a common vision with?
  • Work together on a shared question or opportunity?
  • Resolve/ explore some tensions with?

Your Personal Participation in the On the Ground Experience


  • Ask questions – of presenters, of peers
  • Share and discuss your impressions
    • Including how what you’re seeing and hearing here relates to your experience back home
    • Draw on all that you are and know: community, professional, academic, personal/family

Jot notes, take photos

  • What impresses, puzzles, surprises, disturbs, offends, inspires you
  • What it reminds you of, and how it compares/ contrasts to your previous knowledge and beliefs

Go through this with a buddy

  • Someone you will covenant with: support each other, listen, ask questions, accept, affirm, non-judgmental
  • Today: share your learning goals, your hopes and concerns with them
  • Next 3 days: touch base once a day (or more) to share and process your impressions and questions, including progress toward your goals

Build at least one new relationship
Tips for building deep relationships:

  • Curiosity, and courage
  • 40/60: give them 60% of airtime.  Ask them questions.  Listen!
  • Be self-revealing. Be vulnerable.  Trust yourself, and them.
  • Listen for self-interest: theirs, and yours

When you get home 

  • Talk to at least 2 people about your impressions and experiences
    – your key takeaways, your new questions and ideas






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