The Strength of Weak Ties

It isn’t the quesadilla, it’s the connection.

Why do I get so excited about this international stuff if I’m trying to save local habitat and live sustainably using local sources for everything?  What do the people in Mexico or Russia have to do with me? (besides having a fantastic colleague in Mexico – hey Alex! and a great friend in Russia – hi Katya!) People often ask, “Why are they involved in this project – they’re not Americans and this is a local project.”  It’s funny that some Americans see my enthusiasm in terms of an international hobbyist; for example, collecting flags, rather than forming a community.  Or the cultural assumption that learning about other cultures is cool, but that’s where the significance ends because we don’t know those people. 

Wishing all the best for my friends from eGLO 3!

People we don’t know are just invisible people in our lives.

Mark Granoveter’s article, The Strength of Weak Ties, explains that the connections to people we don’t know “are critical for spreading ideas or effecting change” (Biz Stone, Who Let the Blogs Out).

One of the reasons that I’m so excited about this Ripples project is because a blog can help with “spreading good ideas and creating relationships across a diverse society.”  Blogging helps to develop “social capital as a new way to benefit from interconnection.  We cannot enhance this social capitol by sticking with our old one-on-one communication methods or by hanging around the same like-minded individuals day in and day out.  Ideas need to be circulated to other networks and exposed to different ways of thinking.  We need to peer into the minds of, and collaborate with, people who are new to us.  Connecting to different social networks by putting blogs out on the web to be discovered opens up two-way and multi-way conversations with new cultures” (Stone, Who Let the Blogs Out).

Celebrating My Community: 1 Year in the Earth Charter Family!

I think I’m off by a couple weeks, but it’s basically been about 1 year since I joined this international community by participating in eGLO 3 (Global Learning Opportunity #3). I’m missing it so much!!! But the good news is that I still get to talk to my friends and collaborate with them.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my friend Hadijah from Uganda this month – she does great work helping women entrepreneurs, and is stationed in Kansas currently in a fellowship position. My colleague Ireti from Nigeria has an interesting magazine on sustainable development in the works, along with tons of other projects through Rhealyz.  And I’m also really excited to keep working with Sujan and everyone in the youth task force – we got some great ideas brewing :)

Do you want to meet your “weak links”?

If you’re reading this blog, at this moment you are connected to hundreds of people you don’t know who have the potential to land you a job, help you grow your pumpkins, or fund your community project. So please introduce yourself and say a little bit about what brings you to Ripples in the comments below.

  • Sobek

    Is this basically another way of emphasizing the importance of marketing? That’s how it sounds to me . . . albeit more interactive and multi-sided.

    Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to.

  • Kelsy

    This a really cool perspective on things Amanda. I agree that it’s another way to market, but I also think it’s a great idea to broaden your worldview so that notions are shattered and you can begin to see the real people behind them. You can’t write or discover or sing about new ideas and experiences if you’re not having them!

    I am working at a company that is developing tools to enable entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and I would like to become one myself and open a fair-trade goods/ organic tea room one day. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while. If you’re in this field, I’d love to connect and share ideas! All the best!

  • makeripples

    Thanks for sharing, Sobek & Kelsy! Funny though when I wrote this I didn’t think “marketing” since the article I cited is actually Sociology with some concepts from Psychology, with references to the blogosphere as a community enhancement. I think of marketing as pushing products to consumers, whereas with this post, I’m talking about the people we don’t know actually being more influential on our lives in some cases than the people we DO know – and the importance of that factor in making positive change in the world, via Ripples and others’ projects.

    • makeripples

      Oh yeah and Ryan & I are curious: what about this post reminds you of marketing, and in what way? Also we’d love to hear more about you, readers! This is a safe space to share anything you like.

      • Sobek

        Simple. Marketing, and its cousin public relations, are at their cores about pushing information onto an audience. Marketing is usually about product and services, while public relations is about concepts, attitudes, and behaviors that fall outside of direct sales pitches. Perhaps “public relations” would have been the more accurate term. I confess I think of them somewhat interchangeably, since they use closely related methods and have broadly similar aims (increasing or defending the profits of a company, most usually).

        The bottom line is simply that all these things are about using information channels to convince people of ideas and thereby alter their behavior patterns. In that regard, you need not re-invent the wheel – a great many resources exist on these subjects.

  • Haddy


    Am really happy that you chose this path.The pictures on this page look like Africa! Thats how we have lived for many years.Are we going back there? Or should I say is the west going back there?
    Big ups to the good work and keep on keeping on!My organisation is called Women of Kireka.

    • makeripples

      Luv you Haddy! Kels and Haddy, I think you share lots in common with your interests; check out Women of Kireka.

      • Kelsy

        I would love to have something like this in my dream shop! What is your email address Haddy?

  • Matt

    For sure! I thrive on weak ties. I think a lot about all the places I can go and do things because of the friends (close or just acquaintances) I have in those places who I can lean on.

    A rapper I really like and respect in the Twin Cities did a song called Strong Weak Ties about this. It’s super simple and free (along with the rest of his amazing album “Conscious is Not Enough”) here:

    What’s cool is that when he put out a previous album, he asked all his followers on Twitter to re-tweet, promising to put them in a song. This song has the names of all those folks – including my Twitter name (and my sisters’)!