top of page

The Rhizome Cluster


Rhizome Philosophy

Rhizomes are underground stems of plants that grow horizontally and produce shoots and roots at various intervals. When multiple rhizomes of the same plant species or variety grow closely together, they can form a clump or cluster. This clustering can help the plants spread and colonize an area more effectively.

Based on a network of interconnected nodes, the rhizome can be a perfect analogy for an evolved form of civic engagement. It represents a non-hierarchical, decentralized approach to organizing social systems. In this model, each node has the potential to be a source of innovation and action when nurtured. The system as a whole acting as a cluster is then able to adapt and respond to changing circumstances pulling from the successes and learning from the failures of the individual Nodes. This model could be applied in a number of ways, such as:

  • Decentralized decision-making: Civic participation can be more effective when decision-making is decentralized. This allows for a wider range of voices and perspectives. Citizens (Residents) have a greater role in shaping programs as well as implementing them. Decision-making, happening at the source of execution, would be more transparent and accountable. Residents would be empowered to participate in civic life and take ownership of their communities.

  • Fluid boundaries: Civic engagement will increase as a more flexible approach as borders are more permeable and open to change. Communities could be defined by shared values and interests rather than by geographic boundaries, allowing for a more inclusive and diverse participation in civic life. It would also allow for the creation of new communities and coalitions based on common interests and goals.

  • Interconnectedness: A rhizomatic approach to civic involvement would prioritize connectivity and collaboration. This would mean breaking down silos between different sectors and actors, and fostering a sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of the community as a whole. By creating more opportunities for dialogue and collaboration, civic governance can become more effective, responsive, and innovative.

  • Adaptability: Emulating a rhizome cluster would prioritize adaptability and flexibility. This means being able to respond quickly and creatively to changing circumstances and emerging issues, and being willing to experiment with new approaches and solutions. By embracing a more experimental and iterative approach to civic governance, communities can become more resilient and able to respond to a wide range of challenges.

Overall, the rhizome can be a powerful analogy for an evolved form of civic governance and engagement, one where power is decentralized, boundaries are flexible, and collaboration and adaptability are prioritized. By creating a more inclusive and participatory approach to civic life, communities can become more resilient, innovative, and responsive to the needs of their residents.

In the Delueze and Gueterri model, the platform or naked infrastructure on which the community operates is called the Smooth Space. I call it the Rhizome Cluster. This platform is not formally defined, but rather takes the form of the influences and constructs that inhabit it. These influences can include people and existing organizations (private and public) as well as social norms, ideals and community expectations. In Melvin’s Neighborhood, the Rhizome Cluster is primarily the small business community (Front Porches), the members of the community who are their customers and employees along with the societal norms and expectations they create. What a community does and creates with its cluster will provide the basis for the well-being of its populace. It is the duty of the Rhizome Cluster to nurture the intangible, serendipitous, sensual and tactical engagements of all the members of its community (i.e. empathy, creativity, collaboration and self-actualization).


Resident Recruitment

What type of Rhizome Cluster you create will determine the tapestry of your community, especially at the initial levels of influence. Be intentional about the people you bring on in the beginning of your set up. While the goal is to get as many in your community on board as possible - those wielding the influence initially must be in sync with the philosophy and tenets of Melvin's Neighborhood and be able to provide a motivational foundation as the Node launches.

The Residents of Melvin’s Neighborhood must lead by example. Understand the embrace of this societal alternative will not be consistent throughout the populace. There will be innovators, early adopters, the middle mass, laggards and those who will never come around. Accept this; regardless their acceptance level – they are still part of your community, if not the Neighborhood. Do your best to show them the way and accept the result regardless what it is.

We can best build the ranks of a Melvin's Neighborhood Node through using existing Residents as evangelists (especially employees of member Front Porches). We call these evangelists Community Engagement Concierges (CECs). These CECs will be paid a commission, both initially upon referral sign-up and from their recruits ongoing engagement. Residents can become a CEC through a brief online interview process and will also be part of an onboarding and ongoing education process. Neighborhood CECs are most often not those who hold traditional positions of power in the community. The purpose of Melvin's Neighborhood is identify and nurture new community talent not reinforce existing structures of power.

Additional vehicles for Resident recruiting will include events and public relation pushes after a Node is up and running. The context of these most often will include involvement in outside causes and activities. For example, school (both high school and college) volunteer projects done in conjunction wit Melvin's Neighborhood is a perfect conduit for further engagement in the Node for these students..


Front Porch Acquisition

Melvin’s Neighborhood builds the community by strengthening locally owned business. We are “Changers of Commerce” empowering the Davids against the Goliaths. Local ownership provides ongoing multi-generational rooting and stability. It give those in decision making positions a vested interest in the community. A Neighborhood Front Porch network should be constructed intentionally with niche and geographic diversity in mind. Sub-Nodes can often be used to guide these efforts. Using postal codes is an excellent way to lay out a Node building effort using a geographic breakdown or sub-Nodes.

While any CEC can use their connections and bring a Front Porch into the network, the main organizing CECs of the Node (including the Lead CEC) will handle the Front Porch sales and marketing efforts. They would use their connections to put together a representative array of Front Porches for the network.

The majority of the Front Porch network will be small businesses using Melvin's loyalty program, BRICKS. BRICKS not only provide a valuable marketing tool for these participating Front Porches, they fuel Resident well-being programs through the data generated from the interactions between Residents and the Front Porches they engage with.



Nests are geofences scattered throughout the community that activate when a Resident who meets the trigger criteria enters a specified area. Nests provide a serendipitous feel to the Neighborhood. You never know when you’ll be electronically nudged to engage; and you’ll never know what the engagement will be and where it’s coming from. This ubiquitous feeling of uncertainty adds to the excitement of Melvin’s Neighborhood — and provides the perfect compliment to the know quality the "Opening The Shades" morning synopsis of nudges. Nests can be sponsored by a Front Porch or the Neighborhood itself or even a Resident who has a valuable opportunity they wish to make available to their neighbors.

bottom of page