Working Open: NET launches innovation experiment #1! (and then 2 and 3…)

S.Azab Headshot[7]

Hello again. This is Sherrine Azab, Working Open Fellow and Engagement Manager at Network of Ensemble Theaters’ (NET). For those of you who are just happening upon this post, this is the second installment of in-process missives that I’ve written about NET’s journey so far. You can find my first post here.

We’ve discovered much already in our journey so far, but for the purpose of this 2nd post, I’m focusing on one over-arching organizational goal. In short, we have discovered that we want to move NET beyond being a service organization into something bigger—we want to foster and activate a community of co-creators across disciplines and sectors.

In service of this goal, we have designed a series of experiments that we hope will both further activate our existing community and expand it into new and diverse disciplines and sectors around the concept of co-creation, thereby exploding the ideas of “what” and “how” we can “create together.” Our suite of experiments is being kicked off with a project that might be the farthest reaching and have the most potential for exponential growth—It’s On Us.

For this program, NET is inviting our members to invite each other — or anyone they like — to go out for coffee or beer to talk about co-creation. And when they do, the drinks are on NET! We want to see over 100 #NETdates happen all across the country and all we ask the participants to do is post on social media their response to this “fill in the blank” prompt: Create _______ together.


After we designed the experiment we felt that, if we could show the number of dates happening in real time, we’d feel the impact of this experiment more keenly and it would inspire more people to go out on a #NETdate of their own. We found our solution in a social media feed that aggregates our hashtag #NETdate from various platforms. One challenge was that social media feeds range in cost and most were really pricey, but then we found which suited our needs for a reasonable monthly fee.

And here is it! You can see their responses to the prompt when you scroll over the picture.

[juicer name=’network-of-ensemble-theaters’]


We launched Its On Us online with a pilot group at the end of July and presented it in-person at our National Gathering in Maine August 28-31, since then we have seen a bump in participation. We’ll see if we get over 100 dates by my final post.

Its On Us is meant to be executed in tandem with two additional experiments. The first is a National Listening Tour in which our new Executive Director, Alisha Tonsic, will land in 10-12 places to talk and vision the future of NET and the ensemble field with existing membership and community members based in that region.

NETNational Listening tour photo[5]

The second is the engagement of three Regional Organizers in three distinct regions of the country. NET will provided these organizers and NET staff with training in grassroots community organizing in preparation for producing two events for NET in their own communities. Each of these three experiments are designed to get the existing and larger potential NET communities talking about co-creation and visioning the future of NET.

We launched these final two experiments in the same week that I am writing this post. Just days ago we closed the online application for Regional Organizers, and Alisha just hit the first stop on her National Listening Tour in the San Francisco Bay Area.

So here we are…about to enter into the deep depths of the experiments. All we know is a lot is about to happen and a lot is going to be learned. I can’t wait to discover and share the journey with you in my final missive—Part 3: Our Communitys Response.  

Sherrine is the Engagement Manager for The Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET).