Ethical Redevelopment Principle #8: Constellations

Charismatic leaders are ineffective without teams. Both are strengthened by the presence of the other. Their complementary skills and practices can initiate exchange across specialty and advance the quality of the work. Ethical Redevelopment Principle #8 argues that projects benefit from a variety of roles among team members—visionaries, believers, implementers, collaborators, and evaluators—each exchanging unique expertise, forming a network or “constellation.”

A project taps into a particular kind of power when it refuses to be singular, when it takes up space and assembles believers from disparate corners. A vibrant constellation or a rich ecosystem is responsive to the pairings and groupings that suddenly emerge throughout the work process. Some webs of connectivity mature more slowly, gradually revealing formerly unforeseen affinities. Successful ecosystems cultivate organic exchange and foster collaboration throughout the work process.


Hive Learning Network Chicago utilizes a constellations-based approach to expand youth-learning opportunities that leverage youth agency to develop digital and internet literacy skills. Hive Chicago forms an ecosystem of 85 youth-development focused member organizations, from museums and libraries to advocacy groups and tech start-ups. These organizations work together to make space for the Internet as a tool for learning within and beyond the classroom. See the Hive Chicago introduction video to learn more. 

“Connected learning is when someone is pursuing a personal interest with the support of peers, mentors and caring adults, and in ways that open up opportunities for them.” -Connected Learning Alliance 

Hive Chicago member organizations motivate and inspire youth within an environment guided by the design values of connected learning. They provide close mentorship and offer hands-on making opportunities that act as platforms for learners from which to base and explore their ideas.

In addition to their work with youth, Hive Chicago mentors form a network designed to cultivate exchange across specialty. According to their website, they share expertise on how to maximize the “unique assets of their community, integrated digitally and face-to-face, to provide a learning ecology in which youth can discover their agency, pursue their passions, and learn.” The unique backgrounds and skill sets of mentors advance the quality of the work and form connections to resources beyond the constellation.

Over the last five years, the Hive Fund for Connected Learning has supported youth-curiosity-inspired projects such as the Community Telescope Ambassadors, Safe Passages for Teen Skaters and Bikers, ChiTeen Lit Fest, and Minecraft + Design Process + Civic Issues in the Built Environment. (See full list of projects.) The success of these programs is due in part to methods outlined in Ethical Redevelopment Principle #8, Constellations—to foster exchange among team members. Hive Chicago maximizes its connections between learners, mentors, and their respective networks to create a peer-learning community for innovation in education.

Have you participated in a constellation that advanced the work on a project? What unforeseen benefits emerged? Tell us about it in the comments section.