Constellation models — empowering communities
Ciara Arnot Community Advisor •
Group photo above: From the left: Kathryn MacCallum (University of Canterbury), Luke Sole (Selwyn District Council), Kim Ryan (Creative Trust), Stephen McConnachle (Think eLearning), Bronwyn Scott (Digital Future Aotearoa), Lauren Dowding (Purple Shirt), Elle Archer (Ako Ōtautahi Learning City Christchurch), Josh Hough (Core Education), Janelle Riki-Waaka (DECA), Julian Newman (Spark), Grace de Leon (Smart City Christchurch), Neysa Koizumi (Digital Waitaha), Sylvia Docherty (Christchurch City Council), Matt Scott (Energy Academy), Cheryl Doig (Ako Ōtautahi Learning City Christchurch), Clark Williams (4C Centre), Leona Harris (Ako Ōtautahi Learning City Christchurch), Cheryl Brown (University of Canterbury).
At InternetNZ, we often have a sense that there are not enough hours in the day and always more to do. We have the pleasure of connecting and supporting folks who play a crucial role in convening people, drawing together knowledge and resources to effect broader change. We have recently seen a couple of groups using a 'constellation model' as a framework for building grassroots scalable solutions-oriented action.
What is a constellation model?
It is a framework for cross-sector collaboration. It seeks to balance the solution oriented passion and energy of communities with the structure and order required to take action and get things done. It is a way to support collaborative networks, with members organising themselves around a common cause to leverage their strengths and create change.
This framework takes time to develop, and it can feel messy and uncertain. However, it can harness the power of the collective to create more sustainable mechanisms for change, and give people a voice.
One of these groups is DECA - The Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa.
Its mission is digital equity. They shine a light on digital inclusion initiatives; they identify gaps, advocate and connect people and projects, and offer space to collaborate and innovate. One of the first constellations to emerge within DECA is the Waitaha Regional Digital Equity (WRDE) group facilitated by Ako Ōtautahi, The Learning City Christchurch Trust. Work has been underway mapping what is happening in the digital equity space regionally, exploring the use of tools that link with national, regional, and global strategies whilst recognising the complexity of the space. This growing body of knowledge will be shared as an emerging framework with the whole DECA network to learn together, reduce noise in the system, seek collective outcomes, and explore opportunities to co-create on the regional level. With the Waitaha constellation just one of three confirmed and heaps more to come, DECA is set to become pivotal in the journey to ensure digital equity across Aotearoa.
Another group using the constellation model is Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono.
Its mission is to build a social movement of people, organisations, and communities committed to working together to create a socially inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand. We have seen this work aligning with our ongoing exploration of an Internet that benefits the people of Aotearoa.
In 2021 IACT held a two-day online wānanga Tāhono: He Wānanga Tuhonohono – Wayfinding for Belonging, which brought individuals and organisations from across the motu to join the social change journey. One theme highlighted in the wānanga was that some communities have felt underrepresented and poorly represented in the mainstream media. Media as Allies has become the first constellation to emerge. This group aims to hold a quarterly hui of people from community organisations and the media to better understand the challenges they experience and develop steps to improve representation. They will build collaboration by engaging affected communities and media. The constellation intends to develop recommendations for positive, practical changes to improve representation by media and provide feedback on areas of improvement.
We love to see communities empowered to come together on issues that matter to them and develop meaningful solutions.
If you are interested to learn more, check out their websites: