Getting a chance to learn from your peers is always an inspiring experience. You get a chance to see what they are truly talented and passionate about, as well as getting a chance to share your passions and talents. This idea is exponentially more beneficial with a larger network group, like the Hive Chicago member network.

Each year, the Hive Chicago team, sponsored by Mozilla Foundation and Chicago Community Trust, implement an event, called Hive Chicago Buzz (HCB), with the mission peer education and professional development for their members and the Chicago educational non-profit community! This year, HCB was a two day event held on March 17th through March 18th, in which members of the network had an opportunity to share about their current work, educate other members about new initiatives, and also obtain feedback and opinions about newly developed ideas. The first day, Friday, was a jumping off point for the longer event on Saturday. On Friday, organizations volunteered their time to run tables in a makeshift ‘Science Fair’ where they shared about their project, and pilot some activities that they are investigating; while members mingled and networked with each other. The grant project, MakerMOB that Project Exploration is a part of, had a table to share about our work and impact from the summer of 2016 and speak with interested parties about the upcoming project cycle. Saturday was an “unconference” style schedule where organizations held workshops and activities to share out about their project, illicit new partnerships, and encourage other members to get involved.

This year was my third year attending the event, but my first year in aiding in Hive Chicago Buzz as an Advisory Committee member for Hive Chicago. This background perspective of the event gave me a great appreciation for the hard work and consideration the Hive Chicago team takes in order to put on an event that will not only be educational and beneficial for its’ members, but to also get them excited about another year in the network and the new projects that are happening. As an Advisory Committee member in charge of the Think Tank moonshot, along with Kenyatta Forbes, Community Manager for Hive Chicago, we ran a session focused on allocating member input about forming a ‘Peer Learning Community’. Based on member input from previous meetings, we reviewed subjects and work areas, such as Youth Development and Social Justice, which have been indicated as areas in which members would like to have professional development around. This discussion was very lucrative and enlightening, and I look forward to implementing the ideas shared in our plans for the Peer Learning Community we’d like to develop for the Hive Network.

Our very own Executive Director, Natasha Smith-Walker, also grasped the opportunity to share with the network about the hard work and ideas that have been developed through the STEM Ecosystem Cooperative project that she has been leading. Natasha shared with her workshop attendees the background of the Ecosystem, as well as their current focus project: bringing more STEM education opportunities to the Austin neighborhood. They participated in a Systems Mapping Activity to work through identifying and organizing the community supports that are needed in the Ecosystem work to help bring positive change to the communities.

By the end of the day, the event churned out some great ideas that are bound to develop into amazing projects to positively impact the youth of Chicago. It was a pleasure to be a part of it and a big congratulations needs to be given to the hosts at Hive Chicago: Sam Dyson, Director; Kenyatta Forbes, Community Manager; Brenda Hernandez, Portfolio Strategist; and Ann Marie Carrothers, Operations Coordinator.

Looking forward to next year!

Written by Jaclyn Carmichael, Program Director

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