I-Open provides new approaches to civic engagement.

We design and deliver civic forums to encourage citizens to engage in conversation about complex topics, while building stronger civic networks. These forums point toward action: translating ideas into transformative initiatives. In a very real sense, I-Open is the architect of a new type of civic infrastructure. This infrastructure connects civic and business entrepreneurs with more established organizations and institutions. Through these connections, a community finds new ways to innovate: new ways to build prosperity by "linking and leveraging" its assets.

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For colleges and universities, I-Open provides a roadmap to stronger community engagement and new, broader avenues of service learning for students. For libraries, I-Open creates an opportunity to expand the role of the library into the community and strengthen these vital ties. For economic development organizations, I-Open provides a convenient and flexible format to support high-growth companies and emerging clusters, the real source of job growth in any economy. For workforce development organizations, I-Open provides a roadmap to build the alliances that workforce development organizations need to tie together education and training providers, workers, and employers. For community foundations, I-Open creates new "civic spaces" for community leaders to engage in more effective than thinking and doing.

I-Open is a nonprofit spinout from Case Western Reserve University. The founders of I-Open worked for the Center for Regional Economic Issues (REI). To explore new opportunities in Northeast Ohio, the founders conducted weekly civic forums, called Tuesdays@REI. These weekly civic forums explored the many different opportunities for economic and workforce development to connect in northeast Ohio, a region spanning 22 counties and including over 4 million people.

2 These forums, held at the Weatherhead School of Business, audience of people and explored such topics as the role of economic development, emerging business opportunities media, and entrepreneurial opportunities in attracted a diverse early child care in in creative digital clean energy.

When the Weatherhead School of Business decided to close REI, the founders of I-Open continued their work under their new nonprofit. I-Open regularly sponsored civic forums in libraries and local businesses from 2005 through 2009. Simultaneously, it co-sponsored networked communities, such as Midtown Brews and the Women's Enterprise Network, with Cleveland businesses. I-Open's work in Northeast Ohio has inspired groups in South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana and elsewhere to launch civic forums with names such as Evenings@The House; Third Thursday at 3; and Fridays at the Corridor. In the years since, I-Open has continued its work in Northeast Ohio and expanded its ties outside the region. I-Open is a "connector" network guided by Principles anchored in trust building and knowledge sharing with attribution. Why Civic Forums?
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Civic forums are the first step in rebuilding the civic disciplines we need to "think together", We have largely lost this capability, and many of the challenges we face across political and organizational boundaries. In short, we need to collaborate to compete in today's global economy. There's only one problem: We are not very good at collaborating. Old habits, the loss of civility, the lack of transparency - all hinder the formation of the innovative and dynamic collaborations we need to revitalize or education systems and our economy. Civic forums provide the first step to learning how to innovate in the dynamic, open networks that characterize today's economy.

Our Services I-Open can assist your organization in launching a series of civic forums designed to engage citizens, build networks, and launch transformative initiatives. These forms are not "just talk". They are guided conversations that give participants a sense of exploration and learning. Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

3 By focusing on the lessons of Appreciative Inquiry, our organization has pioneered the design of both weekly and monthly forums. Beyond that, I-Open has formed partnerships with a number of technology companies to explore how civic conversations can be continued on the Internet. I-Open's services include:

Workshops.-- We conduct half day to full day workshops to introduce your organization to the concepts of civic forums and how to implement them. These workshops also introduce to you the basic Web 2.0 tools you need to build your networks online. Forum Design.-- From I-Open's perspective, civic forums are the process of building open networks, not a series of disconnected events. Designing civic forums focuses on creating engaging experiences for the participants. Standard "talking heads" meetings do not work. Instead, IOpen designs forums that actively engage participants in focused conversations, the type of conversations needed for the complex thinking that our challenges demand. Forum Marketing.-- Civic meetings often suffer when only the "usual suspects" participate. To expand the circle, forum organizers need to reach out to nontraditional audiences. Marketing starts with finding engaging topics around which networks can form. Forum Facilitation. -- In these forums, the role of the facilitator is more active than in traditional open meeting settings. The facilitator helps guide the conversation with active questioning. Because the agendas of forums are particularly loose, the facilitator plays an important role in seeing patterns and making explicit connections. Forum Web Casting.-- I-Open forums represent an ongoing conversation. Capturing these conversations on the web creates several important advantages. First, web casting expands the audience. Second, archives of past forums create a rich repository of community knowledge and connection. Finally, web casting reinforces transparency, a vitally important value as communities build their networks. Social Network Analysis.-- Networks are emerging as a key component of regional economies. Communities and regions with thicker civic networks are more competitive. They can learn faster, spot opportunities faster, and align their resources faster. Social Network Analysis uses

Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

4 powerful software tools to enable people to visualize these networks and to strengthen them intentionally.

Introduction to Strategic Doing.-- Civic forums offer new opportunities for participants to learn new approaches to economic and workforce development based on Strategic Doing. This framework represents an approach that uses the power of open networks to accelerate innovation in communities and regions.

If you're interested in more details about workshops and presentations that introduce your organization or community to the power of civic forums, please send your e-mail to iopenteam@gmail.com For Those We Serve How can community colleges and Universities use civic forums? Higher education came to use forums in a number of ways. Forums can assist a college or university to bridge the gap with surrounding communities by finding new initiatives and connections. Forums can strengthen internship and service learning opportunities for students. They can also connect faculty to the needs of surrounding business. How can libraries use civic forums? Libraries provide a safe space within which civic forums can take place. At the same time, libraries represent "the People's University", and they foster a spirit of inquiry and engagement. By offering civic forums, libraries find a new way to connect with the public they serve. How can economic and workforce development organizations use civic forums? Civic forums provide new ways to build networks for economic and workforce development organizations. These organizations need to connect the suppliers of brainpower -- students, colleges and universities -- with the consumers of brainpower -- both nonprofit organizations and the business community. Civic forums can be the first step in building cluster-based organizations that accelerate open innovation within a regional economy. How can community foundations use civic forums? Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

5 For years, we've heard about the decline of "social capital" in our communities. The ending of community over the past several decades -- often accelerated by geographic sprawl -- has been silent and deceptive. Virtually every community is facing the same challenge of creating new ways to facilitate renewed civic engagement. Civic forums offer a practical, convenient answer. FAQs Civic forums appear to be "just talk". Why do you think they're so important? As a general rule, communities and regions are not particularly good at the skills of "thinking together". Here is a simple thought exercise - as a nation, we are facing a very severe challenge: over 30% of our ninth graders drop out of high school. Where in your community do people come together on a regular basis to address this challenge? Increasingly, we are coming to recognize that our challenges require collaboration. But collaboration requires conversation. So, in the industrial era, economic and civic life was dominated by large hierarchical organizations, conversation was viewed as largely a distraction, "just talk". In the age of networks, conversation creates meaning. More important, through guided conversation, we can align, link and leverage our assets across organizational and political boundaries. What are the vital skills that people learn during civic forums? We cannot gain the power of networks if we do not know how to conduct civil conversations in which we can engage in complex thinking. In the industrial era, complex conversations were carefully managed, often by resorting to rigid rules set forth in detailed agendas or Robert's Rules of Order. In the network era, in which we are now engaged, we need to guide conversations by setting clear rules of appropriate behavior and learning how to lead conversations by asking questions.

Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

6 You mention the importance of civic forums to a wide range of groups, including colleges, universities, libraries, economic development organizations, workforce investment boards, and community foundations. Why do you include such a large group? All of these organizations are entering an era in which they can no longer afford to go it alone. Yet, it is often very difficult to step outside organizational boundaries. Civic forums create a discipline that can be easily followed to build collaborations that organizations need to thrive in the care of a network. You talk about a "civic space". What does that mean? A civic space is both a physical and emotional space. Within every community or region, there are comfortable spaces to which people will come in order to participate in potentially controversial conversations. They perceive these spaces as "safe". Colleges and universities and libraries often provide these "safe" spaces. Indeed, colleges, universities and libraries can play a vital role in strengthening the civic networks within a community or region by offering to be a convener of these regular forums. What is the connection of the civic forums to "Strategic Doing"? Strategic Doing is a civic discipline that teaches people how to think and act strategically in open networks. We are all familiar with the disciplines of strategic planning. These disciplines were developed in the industrial era to deal with the complex choices facing hierarchical organizations, like large corporations. The disciplines of strategic planning do not work in the open networks that now characterize community and regional economies. Yet, we need to think and act strategically. Strategic Doing provides the framework. We do not know what enough about the Internet. What is the connection of Web 2.0 to the civic forums? Building networks is a process that integrates face-to-face communication and online collaboration. The Internet is becoming easier and easier to use. Web 2.0 refers to a set of technologies that enable people to write to Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

7 the Internet with the same skills needed to write e-mail. In other words it's very easy. What is the first step to engaging I-Open in helping us? Simply connect with Susan Altshuler, Dennis Coughlin or Betsey Merkel by sending e-mail to iopenteam@gmail.com Web 2.0: Our Workspaces - Leveraging the Internet As I-Open conducts civic forums, we also build new communities. It's important to leverage the Internet and to explore how new Web 2.0 tools can facilitate the formation of these networks. I-Open actively experiments with new tools as it builds new communities. We invite you to explore some of these communities to get an idea of how technology can strengthen the connections among us. Here are some of the web spaces you can explore:
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Midtown Brews explores opportunities in Northeast Ohio. I-Open's collaborative platform explores a range of topics relating to open networks and how communities can use these networks to find new opportunities. Women's Enterprise Network provides an on-line base for a regular forum on an emerging women's network in Northeast Ohio.

Midtown Brews Midtown Brews explores new opportunities for the Northeast Ohio economy. Midtown Brews continues the practice of open civic conversations in Northeast Ohio. I-Open started this work at Case Western Reserve University in 2003. Visit the Midtown Brews web site at http://midtownbrews.net/overview/welcome Women's Enterprise Network Women's Enterprise Network provides an on-line base for a regular forum on an emerging women's network in Northeast Ohio. Visit the web site at http://womens-enterprise-network.strategy-nets.net

Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

8 White Papers To provide you with some background on how economic and workforce development is shifting in an age of open networks, we have produced some white papers. You can download them here: Civic Forums as an Economic Development Tool http://www.scribd.com/doc/17180205/Civic-Forum-White-Paper-Final Strategic Doing: The Art and Practice of Strategic Action in Open Networks http://www.scribd.com/doc/17180144/IOPEN-White-Paper-Strategi By Betsey Merkel, Co-Founder and Director, I-OPEN COINs: An Economic Development Tool for Education, Economic, and Workforce Development in Open Source Economic Development http://www.scribd.com/doc/23295366/COINS-2009-Paper-10-12-09 The Role of COINs in the Civic Space: Building a Pathway to Prosperity http://www.scribd.com/doc/23295056/COINS-2009-Presentation By Ed Morrison, Co-Founder and past Director, I-OPEN Re-employment Networks http://www.scribd.com/doc/13500451/Reemployment-Networks-White-Paper-v2 A New Workforce System for a Green Economy http://www.scribd.com/doc/12781437/A-New-Workforce-Development-Systemfor-a-Green-Economy Stimulus, Green Jobs and Re-employment http://www.scribd.com/doc/13701397/Stimulus-Green-Jobs-ReEmployment For more information contact: The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306 Cleveland OH 44103 Office Phone: 216-220-0172 E-mail: iopenteam@gmail.com Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

Copyright 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open), 4415 Euclid Ave Suite 306, Cleveland, Ohio 44103 Phone: 216-220-0172 Web: https://sites.google.com/site/instituteopeneconomicnetworks/

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