Platform Cooperativism Conference: A Download

This past weekend I went to The People’s Disruption: Platform Co-ops for Global Challenges what follows is a download of my notes from the weekend. There were loads of great speakers and the organizers did a great job of centering voices that normally aren’t visible. I went to the first Platform Co-op conference in 2015 and the growth and maturing of the community and movement is inspiring. Get ready for a non-linear dump of links and information!  First off, you can view archived livestream of the whole event here.

Zebras fix what unicorns break

Learned about Zebras Unite and their conference Dazzle Con (Katie will be there). This movement came out of a great think piece called Sex and Startups and has turned into a movement. Basically they are promoting funding more feminine business practices. Here’s an image from sister.is that they shared:

CoWorker.org

https://home.coworker.org/

This platform helps organize workers in legacy industry to build and exercise power.

Open Collective

https://opencollective.com/

This platform helps groups skip the incorporation step and just start transparently managing and collecting money.

“How can your idealism be corrupted?”

Co-ops for a better world

https://cooperativesforabetterworld.coop/

 

“Co-op are lacking the tools to scale democracy”

22% of freelancers get work via platforms

On the topic of platforms…

“How do we build trust with culturally defuse people?”

Something we are thinking about here at Good Good Work.

National Cooperative Business Association

http://ncba.coop/

Co-ops aren’t new, they are a foundation of America:

42 million people get their electricity from co-ops.

Next Century Cities

http://nextcenturycities.org/

Like the electricity co-ops but for broadband. Just look at RS Fiber.

Data Farmers

https://www.gisc.coop/

A coop for sharing and owning data from farms.

This book!

 

“Economic power controls political power”

Another book: Change Here Now

Oh, did you know these folks were a co-op?

https://www.amsted.com/

ESOP loans

Joseph Blasi talked about ESPO loans, a way to get credit to buy an asset and have that assets profits pay back the loan. Co-ops can use credit to buy companies. I don’t get it but I like the idea!

The crown jewel of the platform coop movement, Stocksy.com

Arcade City

https://arcade.city/

Peer to peer ridesharing.

“Financial institutions are platform monopolies”

Modo Car Share

http://www.modo.coop/

20 years of sharing cars in Vancouver.

Savvy.coop

http://savvy.coop/

Real Patient Insights.

Alia

https://www.myalia.org/

National Domestic Workers Alliance helps support domestic workers.

“The [current] system is designed to make us fail”

P2P MODELS

http://p2pmodels.eu/

Decentralized Blockchain-based Organizations for Bootstrapping the Collaborative Economy.

Social.coop

https://social.coop

A mastodon micro blogging community server run as a platform coop.

bHive

http://bhive.coop/

The bHive Cooperative is a community owned person-to-person sharing economy platform being developed for Bendigo by a team of five local entrepreneurs. bHive is the future of work.

“Make choices of least regret”

FairBnB

https://fairbnb.coop/

ShareTribe

https://www.sharetribe.com/

SMart

http://smart-eu.org/

A cooperative that support freelancers, something we might want to model Good Good Work after… Smart takes care of the paper work and mutualizes costs.

Cooperativism is NOT new, it is a strategy of oppressed people.

Psst…

We have HUGE purchasing power

The government is the #1 buyer of technology, let’s get them to prioritize buying from co-ops.

Universal Basic Assets

http://www.iftf.org/uba/

Income comes from assets, beyond income people need assets.

Read more about the idea

Holo Chain

https://holochain.org/

Sweet sweet blockchain!

Hexalina

http://hexalina.io/

More blockchain goodness.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAPPEN?

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Fractals: Considerations for More Effective Change-Making

Last month was the 6 year anniversary of #OCCUPYWALLST, a political movement in the US that needs no introduction. September 17th, 2011 was a pivotal point in my life. It was the day I started down a road divergent from the status quo, the day I left the confused world of early 20’s “adulting” and joined The Movement. It brings hope of a world arranged in such a way that poverty is impossible and extractive ecocide is not the basis of economic activity.
It took me three years to begin to grasp a very important lesson that The Movement demanded I learn.

Photo by Steven Diaz on Unsplash

“Change must start from within”

It’s almost cheesy in its simplicity. But this was such a profound realization that I recall the exact moment it truly stuck. Sitting on a low wall, looking over the East River on September 17, 2013, I realized that change starts within me. This is why a protest that seemed to be about big banks and income inequality spent so much time talking about systemic racism. It’s why I was constantly being told to “check my privilege,” why I was told to examine my bias. The systems that created the economic crisis of gross inequality didn’t come from nowhere; they came from people just like me. People who hold within themselves the schematics of oppressive systems. It is through people that these horrors are birthed and through them that the horrors are overcome.

“The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves.”

Bell Hooks

In this quote, Bell Hooks is describing the connection between violence against women with the internal violence against one’s self. She makes a similar connection to police violence in the US and its roots at home. There is a thread of commonality that runs between the unaccountable violence we see from police as an institution and the individual acts of violence we commit against ourselves and others. The way we treat ourselves as individuals and those around us is linked to the whole of a culture.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

As Above, So Below

I believe the message here is that we cannot hope to address systemic violence in our institutions if we do not also face the violence in and around ourselves.

More broadly, we cannot change anything outside of ourselves if we do not also change within. This is why:

“Change must start from within”

I don’t believe that it is a controversial thought, that a person who commits domestic violence will bring that same violence into their workplace and, inversely, a workplace that is violent will be carried home by those who work there.

What The Movement taught me with #OCCUPYWALLST was that I couldn’t hope to change the way the world worked if I didn’t change the way I worked within the world. If I want women to be equal I’d better treat them as equals. If I want equality, then I must practice equality in my life.

The fractals of change

These thoughts are not groundbreaking; the Dalai Lama was tweeting about this before I even integrated it into myself.

What I want to do is apply this truth to work we do and how we do that work. Consider the leap between me not interrupting women at meetings and systemic violence against women being eliminated. I’ll admit, a single act of not-being-a-dick doesn’t do much to erode thousands of years of systemic oppression. But the actions of the self and the actions of a culture are fractal reflections of each other, with too many steps in between for a single act to resolve this deep-rooted issue.

For the purposes of this article, “culture” is defined as the dominant form of human activity on earth. This could be K-12 education, nation-states, money, etc. Basically, everyone except for the 0.01% of tribal people still holding on.

If we consider culture to be a mighty river, then the individual is but a tiny spring that flows into it. These individual springs flow together to form a small creek, and all the creeks join together to form a stream, and the streams join to form the river…we can see how this analogy might be used to map the fractals of human endeavors. The individual flows into a group, the group into a team, the team into an organization, the organization into sectors, the sectors into economies, the economies into culture.

Image taken from Pexels

So, if we agree with the premise that “Change must start from within,” we see the fractal connection between the atomic part (the individual) and the whole (culture, or all humans). Change the humans, change the culture. This connection is present between every step in that system. To change the family, you must start with the family members. To change the team you must start with the members of that team. Again, I suspect that this isn’t earth-shattering news to you. Basically, what I’m saying is, “To change the whole you must start with the parts.”

There is a relationship between the components and the whole. If you want to change the educational system, teachers will change how they teach, schools will change how they run, school districts will change how they operate, and so on up the fractal ladder. If we want to address police violence we must address violence along the fractal, from violence against the self to domestic violence, to violence among nations. The violent tweet is connected to the bombs dropped on Syrian children is connected to a bully beating up a peer is connected to the violence that the bully witnesses at home. All are parts of the fractal.

Photo by Rostam Torki on Unsplash

You are part of the world and part of the fractal

At this point, we must be careful not to get lost within ourselves. Change along these fractal ladders happens all at once. Its influence is omnidirectional, happening up and down and at all points. It can be easy to confuse the need to start within with the desire and ease of staying within. We must address state violence as we address police violence as we address our own violence. It all happens in tandem. The spring flows at the same time as the river.

You might think that you need to do all the internal work before facing the work that needs to be done in the world. This is not the case; I can advocate for a carbon tax while still driving a car. You can and will be a hypocrite and that’s okay.

The whole system moves at once. We start from within because it is where we have the power to start. I can only move my body. I cannot move yours, yet by moving my body, I inspire yours to move too.

Photo by Dan Roizer on Unsplash

What you do is how you do it

Let’s consider how we make change in the world. The kind I’m talking about is often done through activism and organizations with social good as their bottom line, which in the US take the form of non-profits or a 501c3. These organizations seek to change something other than the numbers in their bank account. The idea that “Change must start from within” is probably very familiar to them. Personal development, anti-oppression training, and other means to change the “within” of the individual are often present. But what doesn’t seem to be given much thought to is how these organizations’ structures mirror the fractal patterns they target for change.

Can an organization that wants to reduce inequality in the world complete their mission if those very patterns of inequality exist within their own organization?

“Change must start from within”

Even if the people in the organization are all woke as f**k, that organization also needs to start from within.

This is the fractal ladder we must climb to get out of our current crisis. Just as we need to look inward to work through our internalized biases, so too must our change-oriented organizations look within. How can a group fight for women’s rights if women are talked over in meetings discussing this very subject? How can a group push for greater democracy in the world while organized as a tyrannical hierarchy? How can a group demand equality while it’s interns go unpaid?

It is this relationship between the meta and the micro that we need to address. I do not mean to say that a group cannot work toward change without being perfect. Instead, we need to always remind ourselves that working towards change means working to change –on all levels of ourselves, our lives, our peers, and our culture.

This is why my co-op chose to organize as a co-op instead of any other hierarchical business model. This is why we spend so much time working on our internal culture. If we want to be able to shift other groups’ culture towards alignment with their goals, we too have to shift our culture to align with ours.

“Change must start from within”

This post also appears on Medium.com if you’d like to click buttons about it over there.

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Designing the DSA’s Voting Guidebook in 3 Days

As a designer, I love a good challenge. A recent favorite of mine was working for the DSA on a 3-day deadline.

Download the PDF here

Delegates were about to pick the new leadership body, but were dealing with the unique challenge of needing to represent the true scope of diversity that exists within the democratic socialist left. Charles Lenchner – with People for Bernie – and his team wanted to create a booklet and worksheet to help delegates in the selection process. It would help see at a glance how diverse their choices were before casting their votes.

With the 3-day deadline, we needed to act fast. We had to be agile and adaptive.

The booklet Charles needed had to contain the list of candidates. Each profile would describe them, including a short bio, the region from which they were, their gender, race, and a few other stats that were easy to read for the regular voter with a quick scan.

The worksheet we created would allow to tally up the diversity categories’ totals.  

With such a short deadline, the challenge was not only to deliver on time, but also to design alongside Charles and his team. While we created the actual document, they were putting all the information to be printed in the finished booklet together. For this very reason, we needed to work with live documents, so we worked in Google Docs. That’s how Charles and his team were able to update and edit everything as it was created. I watched their edits in real-time, while I fixed up the formatting and design.

Because Google docs’ styling tools are not as robust as in my software of choice – Adobe InDesign – formatting was a challenge. However, the limitations lent to a clean and very simple design, resulting in an easy-to-read document with clear organization. It wasn’t the most indulgent of designs, but what we lost in flashy graphics, we made up for with time. Thanks to the live documents, we had no back and forths of confusing revisions, so all we had to do was work.

With the magic of Google docs, we were able to create live/editable pie charts of the diversity data with customized style and colors. As the data was updated, transferring the new stats to the pie charts was as easy as, well… pie.

In the nick of time, we called it done. We exported the doc as a pdf and went to print. What a rush! Thanks to this time-constrained challenge, I got to enjoy adapting my process to our client’s specific needs. There are a lot of really great tools out there for us to use. Though I may be more comfortable with a cordless screwdriver, sometimes I need to use a hammer.

Do you have a challenge for Good Good Work? Say hello@goodgoodwork.io

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Lange Studio Website Refresh

My partner put me in touch with an old client of theirs. They needed help to add a page to their existing WordPress site and fix a few cosmetic issues. I agreed to help and dove in, expecting a simple process. The theme was using a baked in version of page builder which I quickly found was both out-of-date and totally not working.

I was to extract text and images from a PDF and apply them to a page in WordPress. I was able to extract the text as HTML (formatting it with some regular expressions) and gathered the source images from the client.lange-ig-pdf-page

Once I attempted to add it to the page using Page Builder I found that the raw HTML input wouldn’t capture the input text. No wonder the client was having problems! I was able to hack the system by adding the text directly to the input element via the browser’s development console. An impossible task for someone with a only a working knowledge of browsers and web technology.

After shimming the content into the page and fixing some other esoteric theme related issues I was done. This simple act of adding a page to their website cost 300% more than it should. In fact it shouldn’t have taken an engineer to do such a basic operation.

The client had three options. Try to fix the site, recreate the site, or keep using this hobbled site. Because the site hadn’t been maintained the off-the-shelf theme, WordPress core, and many plugins (some integrated with the theme) were all out of date. Updating and fixing the site might introduce a host of new problems and might not even fix the site.

To keep the site as is and just deal with the wonky broken system would cost way more in the long run for the client. The whole point of using a CMS like WordPress is to make tasks like page creation simple enough for a client to manage on their own. The process of adding content to a page was so onerous that it would be faster to just build pages out of HTML!

So my recommendation was to recreate the site in Squarespace. The client accepted this and we began work.

Site Recreation

I opted to use the ishimoto theme as a base to create the site. The original site was very clean and minimal so it was fairly simple to remake using only Squarespace’s theme and design tools, no code necessary.

Original Site
Original Site
Recreated site
Recreated site

By using gallery blocks and the intuitive content tools provided out-of-the-box by Squarespace I was able to quickly recreate all of the pages. Better yet the client was able to jump in and figure out how to use the system without much hassle. The cost was about twice as much as adding a single page to the old site!

On top of this we were able to leverage Squarespace’s e-commerce tools to begin setting up a system to sell prints directly off the site.

Conclusion

I love WordPress. It is a triumph of free open source software and a gift to the world. With a few plugins and a decent theme you can create a powerful website that does anything for a fraction of the price. It puts power into the hands of the user. However it requires some upkeep, there is a cost to maintaining WordPress. I would say that when compared to Squarespace’s monthly cost (~$12) it’s about even.

The power of Squarespace is that it just works, the server and updates are all handled by someone else and requires no intervention. When all you really want to do is display some text and media (and perhaps a store) it can be a very good option.

As a designer I feared that products like Squarespace would take away from my livelihood, but I find that my skills as a “power user” make it worth while for clients to hire me to do the initial setup and design pass. I can then hand it off to them without needing to provide a long term maintenance agreement. It’s easy for me to build and it’s easy for them to edit, a win-win in my book.

Challenge: Publish Everyday of November

So it’s National Novel Writing Month and as is my way I am not writing a novel but instead committing to publish one blog post per day. This intention setting post is a meta level (and cheap) first post.

Another thing I’ve started to do is track my time, like I did when I was doing more paid work. I use a tool called slim timer to track time. So far it’s working pretty good.

This week I was out at Acorn community where I taught a few people about using Kanbans and then created these two one-pager documents about Gameshifting and Kanbans.

You can get the most up-to-date PDF version here
You can get the most up-to-date PDF version here
You can get the most up-to-date PDF version here
You can get the most up-to-date PDF version here

I’ll give these their own post soon.

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Mapping my ALF Accountability: What I do and want to do

Last fall at ALF Weekend 2014 we participated in a game where we wrote out what we did, what we have “juice” for, what we want to be doing, and what action we are taking to get there. We wrote these down then went around the room and spoke them out to our peers, then everyone would suggest additions. It was a super powerful process an

It’s a year later and prompted by @abbyo post and @ryanshollenberger post I’ve decided to update my ALF Accountability information. If any ALFs out there want to do the same I’ll leave instructions at the bottom of this post.

The following is taken from the Mapping ALF Accountabilities Doc, updates are sub bulleted, additions are italic, while subtractions are strike throughNote: Some of these bullet points were added by me, others were added by my fellow ALFs, that should explain the change in tense.

What I do

  • Facilitate ALC in Everett
  • Consult with Everett board
  • Train other Everett ALFs (parents for now)
    • This didn’t ever happen, because there wasn’t a clear vision for the school we never could onboard more people and the parents didn’t have time/energy to become facilitators
  • Manage/Administer ALC web sites
    • This has been going well.
  • Administer Google Apps
    • Still doing this, over the summer we moved to a network account away from the NYC Google Apps account. Still need to get down clear procedures around this as well as:
    • Train new Google Apps admin
  • Consult on Tech Questions / IT Support for network
  • Do designy things
  • Get things done without being a busybody
    • My work/life balance has been really good recently, I do spend a whole lot of time on ALC stuff, but I just love working on it!
  • Bring experience of successes & failures from other social orgs and efforts
  • Bring balance of cynicism, sarcasm & hopefulness
  • Such a graceful fuck up!
  • Narrate destruction of wood this was tongue in cheek from the weekend in 2014
  • Help the group move to creative space even on challenging issues
  • Says yes when asked to play… with a seemingly infinite comfort-zone
    • Still saying yes!
  • Offer support to kids in other ALCs
    • Now that’s I’ve stepped out of a facilitation role I haven’t been doing this as much, but am still available!
  • Readily stepping into accountability
  • Bringing “medium as the message” to doing important work in the world
    • I blog to inspire others to create shareable value!
  • Makes us laugh, brings joy & lightness
  • Builder of internet infrastructure for reaching humanity
  • Watch and answer startup/membership emails
  • Be available to new ALC members for Office Hours
  • Create documentation to orient new ALFs and New Member ALCs
  • Support and encourage other ALFs to step into higher levels of responsibility and take ownership over roles in the network
  • Support other ALFs in their practice
  • Share ALC with people and create promotional propaganda
  • Consulting with public schools!
  • Continue to get better at the Ukulele!

What gives me Juice

  • A loving and supportive community
  • Interesting people
  • Earth-shattering ideas
  • ALC fits my theory of change
  • Motivate others to document/share stuff
  • When people use tools I built
    • Check out the awesome websites that are being created on the platform I created!
  • Sharing knowledge and learning from others
  • When I can receive emotional support
  • Seeing others working effectively / achieving their goals
  • Seeing people have realistic analysis of the world recognizing opportunities ahead
  • Getting to do things outside of normal skill sets

What I Want to be Doing

  • Support kids on other ALCs
    • It’s not that I don’t want to do this, but it’s less of a focus for me. I’d rather support ALFs who then support kids!
  • Introducing new schools, indoctrinating them
    • I’m starting to do this!
  • Recruiting facilitators, freeing prison teachers
    • Currently working on ALF membrane and ALF pipeline to achieve this goal!
  • Want to be developing entrepreneurial aspiration of people and students in the network
  • Connecting ALCs to other orgs, like intentional communities, homeschooling, counter cultural groups
  • Create docs around ALC methods that apply to other educational contexts
  • Evangelizing for ALCs
  • Create a worker-owner cooperative that provides Agile consulting services and employees ALFs

Next Actions

  • Practicing ALFness in Everett success!
  • Building Everett to build skills to do it again/more/consult success!
  • Abnormal travel post-Everett, ingratiatingly
  • Train another Everett ALF failure!
  • Motivate Everett parents to engage more actively failure!
  • Connect with indigenous groups & activists in Seattle area and share ALC failure!
  • Connect past friends/connections to ALC
    • Getting the ALF pipeline worked out brings me closer to this goal
  • Clearly define ALF integration workflow
  • Create by-laws for ALF consulting coop
  • Hire an intern to work on web development stuff
  • Uplift more ALFs into network roles
  • Support @sarataleff, @rochellehudson, @abram, and others in creating a vision for the ALC Network

Overall I see my role in this network to make it easy for people to accomplish what they want to do. Be that existing ALFs or people out in the world who want to create a better future for children. I feel that the more I define and document how we do things the easier it will be for people to engage with our network or create their own complementary networks.

It is through my work helping other people achieve their goals that I am fulfilled. Every time I see someone use a process or tool I’ve developed (or better, helped them develop) I am inspired to do more.

My time in this organization has been a great one, truly an upward spiral ?

Just like the last time we did this, if you see anything I’ve missed please comment below.


Write your own accountability post!

If you wish to participate please write a blog post with the tag:

alfaccountability

Answer the following questions:

  • What I do: (for the network and in your local ALC community)
  • Juice: What gives you juice (what about the community or your work powers you up?)
  • Want: What do you want to do (in an ideal world)
  • Action: What actions are you taking or will you take to do this

You can see everyone’s post on the network feed site (this is a thing!) under the alfaccountability tag:

http://feed.agilelearningcenters.org/tag/alfaccountability/

The post Mapping my ALF Accountability: What I do and want to do appeared first on Drew the ALF's blog.

Short Week in New York

It’s blogging time at ALCNYC and I thought I’d write down a little reflection about what I’ve been up to.

CASA Consulting gig

The big news was settling my first (perhaps the first) ALC consulting gig. A few weeks ago I got in contact with Jamaal from Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA) Middle School in the Bronx and spoke to him about CASA’s move toward self-directed education and our work at ALC. I then went to meet him and was thrilled by the work they were doing there!

Later @bear, @tomis@artbrock, and me wrote up a proposal to Enhance Self-Directed Learning at CASA Middle School. After a few edits and meetings we nailed it down and on Monday got confirmation! It’s very exciting and we will be starting our observation and planning within the month.

I hope this will set a foundation and give us a tool set to bring Agile Learning Tools into public schools.

Upgrading the Website

I went through the somewhat tedious process of upgrading our website to WordPress 4.3.1, you can read the release notes here. You can see all the stuff I did on the commit history of our website git repository.

Learning Spanish

I jumped back into Duolingo recently with the intention to do a 50 day streak, which means earning 20px per day for 50 days. I’m currently on day 14 and working on sizes and house hold object names.

Setting up ALF Weekend

I was inspired to pick up and run with the organizing of the upcoming ALF weekend. I wrote up a, possibly overly complicated system to work on stuff as a community remotely. I split up the weekend, which goes from Thursday to Monday into two four hour chunks each day which relate to a Trello board where people can put projects they wish to work on.

I’m really excited for the weekend and think it will be super productive.

—-

I also paid a parking ticket! (booooo)

 

 

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