Marianne Manilov: Grassroots Organising and Looking After Yourself

This week in our Inspiring Disruptors interview series, Alanna talks to Marianne Manilov – a grassroots organizer, media strategist and writer and cofounder of The Engage Network. Manilov’s 20-plus year career included running campaigns and programs for groups such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace International and recently helping to organise Wal-Mart workers to stand up for better rights. She is also the co-founder and former Executive Director of The Center for Commercial-Free Public Education.

Marianne 2

In what way did Occupy change organising for you?

There were big differences for me between studying distributed circles of people organising from afar, and then actually experiencing it firsthand in New York. It was enormous to watch it live, and the learnings I took from that will influence my organising for the rest of my life – especially the parts that didn’t work. There was sometimes a tension between the parts that did and didn’t work, and occasional violent events in the park, yet still hundreds got fed every day.  Just like real life.

I learned a lot about about community of care – Occupy fed people and had libraries and medics. Occupy showed that you can do some things coming from care.  There is a lot of fear about care at scale – we’ve seen this in the Wal-Mart work. We used the model of holding small circles and distributed organising in working with Wal-Mart employees, which helped develop the structures that allowed co-creativity. Quite Occupy-esque.

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of Occupy?

There is strength in co-creativity and the fact that anyone can start a small circle. So small and local can build up to really big, huge impact results.

A weakness was that everywhere the Occupy movements were following one model. There was some reflecting of corporate culture and structures, and mirroring it rather than differentiating. For example, everyone set up in parks, with a kitchen. Maybe that wasn’t necessarily the best thing for everyone to do. Because there is no longer a big glaringly obvious presence in the park, there is a misconception that Occupy has died. As the movement grows, General Assemblies may not be for everyone. We’re seeing diversification of Occupy in OccupyOurHomes and OccupyStudentDebt. There is strength in the diversity and the ability to respond to local needs, and come up with unique solutions that are best for each situation, while at the same time sharing a common identity.

Occupy hasn’t died down. It has diversified. It’s going through its natural life cycle. I’m more interested in the permaculture practice of Occupy.

What is the role of media and technology? And the interplay between the online and the offiline?

Throughout these change movements, we’re seeing a move from broadcast media to people media.

People on the ground respond faster and with more flexibility. We’re in a time of co-creation. People-led movements are what’s coming – flat organising, small circles. At Occupy, people on the ground were really important, people who were just learning about media.

Technology is great for reflecting and helping people to organise. It has increased the ability of people to find common interests. But there is always a need for a field team on the ground taking live action. Without something on the ground, it’s a different approach – you need an interplay between both.

What I like that about Loomio is that it feels like a meeting. Anyone has the ability to put out a question, and it’s also like a note-taker at the same time. At General Assembly, inherently there is a bias towards people who talk more, speak English, who are male, who are like myself from New York who are able to interrupt and are more aggressive verbally – whereas with Loomio it’s a little bit different and levels the playing field.  

What is needed to collectively practice the skill of everyday democracy?

On one level, the ability to participate in democracy is linked to needs. Sometimes the movement is too positioned towards direct action – in that way it’s not accessible to people in poverty.  With the Wal-Mart groups, we have done a lot of appreciation and positive feedback as a community – for some people, it was the first time someone had ever considered them a leader.

I think that some people feel like they don’t have a voice. The first practice of democracy is the encouragement in a circle, a network, a community that everyone has a voice, and making sure that people are told that they are valuable over and over again until they can see that for themselves.


You’ve talked about the very human importance of love in your work. How do you bring love into organizing and movement building?

Within any social movement, there will be the people who post on Facebook, the people who cook for everyone, the people who do daycare – it’s about naming the differences and valuing everyone at an equal level.

Within organisations, people reaching out over blocks brings people closer together. In real movements, work life and family life become one. But people get afraid that if they bring their whole selves, it will get in the way of getting ‘the goal’ or the ‘real work’ done. We need a balance between community and goals.

Too much community without goals is what you had sometimes at Occupy. Too much focus on goals and leadership without community characterizes the non-profit industrial complex, which really doesn’t get much done. The right balance is defined differently by every village, and every movement.

Can you speak to the connection between internal self-care or looking after yourself and external work looking after others?

Organising is relationship-building, and relationship-building is based in our ability to put aside our fear and love more deeply. And that’s not easy.

There will always be relationship breakdowns, so it’s a good skill to have to be the bridge rather than part of the breakdown. Working on yourself will make you a better relationship builder.

We’re on cusp of big world change, which I am feeling physically. I’ve been deepening my practice, doing more yoga and meditation.

People in the meditation and yoga fields who are afraid to take action, they need to break through and get over that. And for people who are live in action, saying they don’t have time to do deep work, they need to get over that too.

For me personally, learning to look after myself was a means of protection while growing up in challenging situations. You learn not to be afraid to sit with people who are in pain, to just be with them. I try to see the best in people, and be the voice who sees love, both intra- and inter-organisationally.

A question to ask yourself is: “Are we bonding over everything that’s broken and everyone who is messed up, or are we trying to move forward in broken systems?”


What is your advice for people who want to help make positive change but don’t know where to start?

Don’t think that a small team of people can’t do anything. Take one thing, figure out what is really your calling, and do that thing well in a sustained manner. There is going to be a moment in the global movement – be enough in touch with your inner voice to recognize that moment and stand up. I think everyone is called differently on that.

The most important thing is to just begin something. There is greatness in beginning a practice, and seeing where that leads. Be ready to act. The wave is here. If people move with it, it is rising and it will break. Some people are like, “Oh I don’t know, I don’t have time….” A group of seven mums with three hours a week can do something!

How do you deal with uncertainty or doubt when you’re getting tired out, and feel like it’s all too massive?

Take a break. After 27 years, I believe in my body. I want to know where something lands in my body. There’s this idea that we have to sacrifice everything for every moment, and I think you have to be really careful and listen to your body on that.

I know now where my boundary is on financial stability. If I can’t believe in sustainability for myself, what about others who are under even more financial strain? Who am I locking out because it’s not sustainable?

You definitely don’t want to be in that position where everyone’s exhausted. You should be looking at how you rest more and how are you going to take care of yourselves. When it comes down to it, try not to be too attached to the outcome. Don’t set yourself up to think that you’ve failed if you don’t get the outcome you are after.

Sometimes there are iterations. Was Occupy a success? It was an iteration of something that’s going to be enormously successful.

Crowdfunding Update: Week Two

It’s been an amazing two weeks, with support coming from all corners of the globe. Thanks to the generosity of more than 600 wonderful people, we’re nearly halfway to our goal with 3 weeks to go. It feels like we’ve got a real shot at making this happen, but we’re going to need some help to get there.



We’ve been pretty overwhelmed in the last week, with two amazing authors writing positively about Loomio.

Cory Doctorow wrote a piece for BoingBoing about Loomio in the context of a sci-fi novel he wrote several years ago about people in the future using technology to coordinate without hierarchy.


Douglas Rushkoff wrote a beautiful article for Shareable, describing why he’s so excited about Loomio and it’s potential to make democratic decision-making accessible.


Loomio was featured as the crowdfunding campaign of the week on Crowdsifter.

Elsewhere in the Twitterverse:

Jon Alexander, reporter for the Guardian and the Huffington Post:


Brett Scott, Author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money


Earlier this week Loomio was translated into Taiwanese Mandarin in a matter of hours, by a team of 19 translators who came together in response to calls for online tools for democratic organising in the student-led movement for government transparency in Taiwan.

  Taiwanese Mandarin

Interview series launched, more to come

Last week we launched a series of interviews with thought leaders at the intersection between technology, culture and politics, with a set of videos from Nancy White. Nancy has over 25 years of expertise in online communities, and is the co-author of Digital Habits.

Check out Nancy’s thoughts on leadership in technology, online diversity and the evolution of online communities.

Keep an eye out for the next of our interview series, we’ll be chatting with the Queen of Crowdfunding Amanda Palmer about her thoughts on the gift economy – to be released very soon!

Thanks so much for all your support, and please remember to spread the word to all your friends and family to Love Loomio!

Our People: Jesse Doud

Jesse Doud is a member of the Loomio Product team and a man of the cloth adorned in glitter and sparkles, hailing from Portland, Oregon. We chat with him about bicycle collectives, how he found his way to Wellington to get involved in Loomio, and why he stayed!


Why did you get involved with Loomio?

I think it’s less that I got involved in Loomio and more that Loomio got involved with me.

I heard about Loomio through bicycle collectives while cycling around the country. I had just finished a contract working for a startup in Adelaide. So I came to New Zealand on a five week bike tour, thinking I would be able to get from Auckland to Invercargill in five weeks. After a week in this beautiful country, two things became clear: that my journey was going to take a lot longer than five weeks, and that I didn’t want to leave leave New Zealand! At every bicycle collective I stopped at, when people asked me what I wanted to do here, my response was always “The Internet”. And without fail, their response was “You should go work for Loomio”. The non-hierarchical decision-making model is the same in Loomio as it is within bicycle collectives, so it seemed a natural fit.

So when I got to Wellington I went into to visit Loomio at Enspiral Space – the co-working space where we are based. I just started showing up every day and volunteering. I had received so much generosity from people on the road who had previously worked on Loomio or knew people that worked there, that I was happy to give back. I just kept showing up and eventually they started paying me.

What’s the best thing about bicycle collectives?

Getting greasy! Aside from that of course, bicycle collectives benefit the community in so many ways. They positively impact public health, reduce carbon emmisions, teach people DIY skills that we’ve lost as a society while increasing self-esteem and creating better connected communities. What got me hooked was seeing someone walk in with a problem, and walking out with a big smile having changed their brake cable themselves or fixed their flat tyre. You see a light bulb go off in their head – “I don’t need to go to the bike shop and pay somebody $50. I can do that.” I have huge respect for anyone that walks in the door, because it can be quite intimidating when you don’t know anyone and you’re asking for help. But you humble yourself a little bit by asking, listening and learning and who knows, maybe you’ll be passing along that gift of knowledge to someone else in a few months time?

What do you do day-to-day?

I’m a web developer at Loomio specializing in front end so my day begins by facilitating an online stand up with the product team on HipChat. We were having physical stand up circles, but the team was growing and some people want to work from home or at the cafe. So we took it online. Everyone checks in with the team – what they worked on yesterday, what they plan to work on today. We raise any blocks that we’re struggling with or that are holding us up. Then we go through the pull request queue on GitHub where all the branches of development are held for the sprint that we’re working on at the time.  The rest of my day is primarily spent building new features, fixing bugs, responding to suggestions from the Loomio community and attending the odd meeting. We follow the Agile process and work in Ruby on Rails, HTML, Java Script , CSS and are moving to an AngularJS framework. I usually work part of my day in the office and part of the day out of the office in a cafe. That’s one of the things I love about coding – you can do it from anywhere.

What inspires you about working in Loomio’s community?

The beautiful thing about the Loomio community is there are all these people with different points of view, but they’re all interested in pushing the dialogue forward. Here in the office, we eat, drink, live and breathe Loomio. The community keeps us focused – they keep the vision front and centre and remind us why we’re doing this and why we choose to be a social enterprise rather than a standard profit-maximising business.

It’s so inspiring to see the great things that people are achieving with Loomio. The internet is the great hope of humanity right now. The internet could be been this place that is locked down and run by corporations, but in most countries it has remained open and people have access to information. The people who built the internet were quite radical and we are still benefiting from that net neutrality and open source ethos. Working in the web, you can see palpable ways to affect your community and the world. The internet has taught me all I needed to know to get here, so I figure if I can make tools that increase accessibility and make it easy for people to participate in the online commons, thats a way of giving back and doing something meaningful. You don’t have to slog away for 25 years and climb some hierarchical ladder to have make something great – you can start right now.

Where do you see yourself and Loomio in five years time?

Five years ago I couldn’t write one line of code, so it’s hard to imagine what’s possible for myself. I graduated with a degree in English in September 2008 and moved to Portland. A week later, the global financial crisis hit. I was unemployed for a year and a half and couldn’t even get a job washing dishes. It got to the point that when I applied for a job at a library, and one of the requirements was to know HTML and CSS, I told them I could code and spent two weeks solid teaching myself. I never heard back about the job, but was hooked on coding.

For Loomio, I’d love to still be here (or maybe at a Loomio branch in Amsterdam!) using Loomio to build Loomio. I hope for a distributed global community of contributors and a recognised place where people can go to make the best decisions. I wake up in the morning, I check my email and then I check Loomio to see what discussions and decisions are going on in the communities I belong to. That’s what I’d love to see – a world where it’s quick and easy for people to influence big decisions, from their bed or the bus ride to work, that would usually be tucked away in some public sector office.

Something happens when you make a conscious choice to include everybody’s opinion in the way you make decisions. You start to hold that ideal closely – it increases your listening skills, your empathy, and leads you in directions you never thought you would go.


Our People from Across the Seas: MJ Kaplan

MJ Kaplan is a Loomio Channel Partner based in Providence, RI. She became involved with the co-op in mid-2013 while on a research fellowship in NZ. We chat with MJ about her background and why she became involved in Loomio.


Why did you get involved with Loomio?

I was researching social enterprise as the Ian Axford Fellow through Fulbright New Zealand. I met members of the Loomio team at Enspiral and was immediately captivated by the motivation for the platform – to engage people affected by decisions in making decisions.  I started work 30 years ago as a community organizer and this principle of participation to create better decisions has always been at the center of my work.  Loomio makes that possibility easier and faster in the digital environment.  I  was super impressed by the team so I was thrilled to transition from research to engagement.  The team is smart, committed and deeply grounded in values and integrity.  I’m honored to work with them.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Boston Facilitator’s Roundtable?

This is a network of facilitators who work in business and community space in the greater Boston area.  We collaborate, support each other by resource sharing and we have a monthly workshop series.  Loomio is pleased to have had the opportunity to lead a workshop late last year to introduce participants to online facilitation and opportunities to expand their tool box of skills as better meet customer needs whether they are internal teams or diverse community efforts.

What do you do day-to-day? Maybe you could tell us a bit about what it means to be a channel partner, and what your experiences of this are…

I returned to the US in the fall after 8 months abroad.  As I reconnect with my community, locally and nationally, I’m introducing them to Loomio and exploring needs that might be met through the use of Loomio. I’m finding such a variation in the users that are excited about Loomio – universities, businesses, networks and, of course, activists. When some of the team came to the US in December, I joined them to meet with thought leaders in Washington, New York and Boston.  Everyone we met with was impressed and think that Loomio has the potential to be a game-changer to make collaborative decision-making easier and better. I think most people want to work through differences to make better decisions and they just struggle with clumsy tools and competition for time and space.  More than anything else, Loomio makes this important work easier.

What inspires you about working in Loomio’s community?

The team’s commitment to learn and grow is very inspiring.  From the earliest stage, they engaged with customers to refine the platform based on users’ needs.  I’m also impressed by their determination and discipline.

Where do you see yourself and Loomio in five years time?

My hope is that Loomio is a household word and tool like email and Facebook.  The more time I spend learning about Loomio the more applications I see for people to get the right group together, quickly flush out their views and quickly move to action.  I think Loomio can help families, businesses and whole communities be more productive and happier in their shared action.

I think most people want to work through differences to make better decisions and they just struggle with clumsy tools and competition for time and space.  More than anything else, Loomio makes this important work easier.

Open Sourcing Feminism: The Challenge of Collective Intelligence in 2014


Vivien Maidaborn

It is a shock to join a new industry, one forging open thinking, open models of exchange, and open source only to discover how closed it is to women.

This post began on a journey with my colleague Ben through Europe and the US in late 2013, talking with other people in the civic-tech and open source world. Our conversations were focused on citizenship, direct democracy, diversity and open technology. In about week three I wrote the following in my journal:

Journal Entry, Berlin Dec 2013

“What has been shocking is how few women have been part of this journey, how much men have dominated the space, across countries and cultures. My senses feel assaulted with this assertion of masculine presence in so many ways.

The men who hear me ask a question but address their responses to Ben; the woman-hating art on the office walls of men with whom we thought we shared a vision for the future.

The men who interrupt women’s conversation to assert their knowledge and expertise closing down the sharing already in play; the taking of physical space in buses and trains. In Strasbourg, even the youth delegation in our session, as wonderful as they were, were all men. I wonder if hearing and listening to the issues of youth is just one more priority that is more important than addressing the inequality of women, and the silencing of women’s voices?”

Since coming home to NZ I have been paying attention more to what is happening for women in open source communities and in the wider technology world.

Women are silenced in many different ways in life; in the open source and tech world this intensifies because of repeatability, and ease of broadcast. For feminists arriving into open source networks the marginalisation is intensified because of the shock at the actual experience compared to the expectation.

Gina Trapani suggests a conscious desire to exclude women within many OSS communities, a theory which is supported by comments on the recent gendered pronoun debate on Github. Both of these articles emphasise that fact that sexism in the open source community is consciously upheld and also strongly contested. It seems that the forces resisting change are still greater than the forces encouraging and facilitating it.

Who is in the room

The numbers of women in the tech industry, and particularly women engineers and coders tell us this is not an equal opportunity world. says they invest in increasing the diversity amongst people training in computer science, particularly women and under-served minorities because right now in the U.S. only 15% of computer science graduates are women.

How are we treated

If you want to know how deeply some people object to strong powerful women’s voices, the stream of online misogyny is the most obvious, widely broadcast and visible example. The message though is no different from what women experience in many situations. I am reminded how men yell at lesbians in the street, and vilify women who publically oppose male violence. The new thing here is the medium and the ease that misogynist messages are amplified.

The pathetic sameness of the message over the 40 years I have been listening to it, the shallowness and complete lack of intelligence does not detract from its success in controlling what women feel able to do, which groups to join or frontiers to cross.

There are well known situations where women have been attacked online, with the intent of silencing them. Feminist Frequency author Anita Sarkeesian found herself the target of threats and abuse after suggesting that society take a look at the over-sexualised potrayal of women in video games unless there is fantasy games as Overwatch, that people play with the help of overwatch boost they find online. Australian journalist Asher Wolf founded Cryptoparty and then left it on the basis of continuing misogyny and hatred towards women within and outside the party.

Thankfully, amid the blasts of hate mail and trolling of feminists’ Twitter accounts, a movement of resistance to the oppression is also growing. While projects like Everyday Sexism are bringing to light examples of sexism in the advertising, workplaces and the corporate world, there are growing numbers of women opening up the conversation about sexism in the open source world and the internet. Take a look at  Geek Feminism and Tech LadyMafia who are creating an international network of women becoming guardians of the space.

The UK Guardian article on the ‘4th Wave of Feminism’ highlights some of women who have spoken out:

“A chorus rose against online misogyny. Criado-Perez highlighted the string of rape threats sent to her on Twitter, writer Lindy West published the comments she received, (“There is a group of rapists with over 9,000 penises coming for this fat bitch,” read one), and the academic and broadcaster Mary Beard, Lauren Mayberry from the band Chvrches, and Ruby Tandoh from The Great British Bake Off, all spoke out on this issue.”

What do we value?

Journal Entry, New York Dec. 2013

“It is so easy living in my own lesbian friendly woman-loving context to forget how quickly you become invisible and how diminishing it feels to be not seen or heard when you are right there in the room; to see my voice falling like empty air on ears not listening, and to experience the privileging of men’s voices even when in themselves they reject that privilege. Perhaps most shocking is that even when asked to stop, some of these passionate and values-aligned men cannot hear anything except their own voice, spewing their own brand of self importance in an endless gush of loud advice and domineering confidence.”

The privileging of male voices in the room is a more subtle way of silencing women in the open source community. In my observation, this happens in three ways:

  • Women are socialized to listen carefully to men – our safety depends on it and we do it very well. Men are listening to women much less carefully and often not at all.
  • Men tend to be in the roles and occupations that have either structural authority or are seen as the more important roles.
  • Finally, power attracts. So when people see who has the power in the group, attention flows that way.

We tend to value roles that are dominated by men, and in the open source community that is the engineers and coders. It is clear we need more women in these groups, but we also need to value the roles that sit alongside the coders. Many of us aspire to inclusion and collaboration across diversity, but how many of us actually do the core muscle work? A good litmus test for open source organisations and teams to understand who you privilege in your team, is to play with these gender bias games. Understanding whose voice gets listened to in your group is a great start.

Entertaining difference?

One argument is that women and men enjoy different social and work contexts; that there are good reasons why we might choose different roles and jobs, and even good reasons to work separately. While there may be some seed of merit to this argument, many who hold this view ignore the contextual factors of the abuse, bullying and lower pay women experience compared to men.

Building a New Narrative

The narratives we tell around open source itself, are part of the reason people are not considering the gender politics of the community.

The prevailing pattern in human rights movements is to give importance to the issue itself – peace, indigenous rights, nuclear freedom, mining etc. This becomes the narrow focus, and the connections between issues, oppressions and contextual factors are lost. As early as 1960 this was being written about in the context of the peace movement, and many of the issues raised in this  Feminist Magazine Solidarity article remain totally relevant today.

It is noticeable in the web, that most articles about open source focus on the technical issues; the new code or tool, the pattern of use and the growth data. Wikipedia defines open source without any reference to the inclusive ideals within which it is grounded. And PC World is equally uninterested in anything except the growth and impact for business. This reflects the male interest and bias in the narrative around open source software.

Even more lacking is the narrative about the collaboration required to build good open source software, and how to do that well with greater input from diverse voices. We are missing so many of the discussions on how the interactions with online community informs technology. This issue is addressed in the work Nancy White et al did for their book Digital Habits. In this narrative, the technology serves community – it is clear that community is the purpose. Which raises the question of what is being served by marginalising women in a community interested in collaboration and collective intelligence?

Finding Collective Intelligence

Sexism exists in many (probably most) work environments, so why is it so critical to stamp out in the open source community? It matters here like nowhere else because open source is about collective intelligence; it presents an alternative to individualistic models of the economy and cultural life. Collective intelligence is an oxymoron if in the process it excludes half of the population.

There are fantastic reasons to use and develop open source software. It addresses the fundamental issue of the right information and connectivity, involves collaboration and delivers better software. The goals of feminism and the open source movement have much in common, and the community could learn a lot by embracing feminist values.

Access and Diversity – Open source software, tools and resources are being built for a diverse world, where 50% of users will be women.

Openness – Women’s rights are human rights and the internet is a vital space for women’s organising and participation across the globe. This aligns so closely with the intent and purpose of the open source community. We can build on each other’s strengths to achieve greater social justice.

Security – Privacy and security in the net is being constantly improved, but often fails to consider the security issues for women. We need to use our particular skills, knowledge and experience to create safe internet spaces for women.

The Challenge

The challenge of today is to make room for the complexity of new power relationships in our diverse societies. We need to recognise and respect both our differences and our similarities, as we will inevitably merge, separate, combine and retreat in the work of solving the systemic, interconnected, wicked problems of our time.

Women are an integral part of this work. We are deeply and profoundly affected by exclusion and marginalisation today as much as ever. The interface between the personal and political has long been a narrative that women bring to systemic change.

The collective intelligence central to collaboration and inclusive decision-making needs all of us. I once defined myself as lesbian separatist so I could grow an identity separate from general society. These days I recognise that overcoming separatist thinking is a key part of the solution.

Journal Entry, San Fransisco Dec 2013

“Half way through our trip I am woken up to the danger of dropping women’s priorities, women’s voice and women’s work from consciousness. In this young and technological world I am working in, I feel like there is a subtle fight going on all the time for us to respect the powerful and important differences in the perspectives that women bring. Every day I see the tweets from the UN Gender programme reminding me about the work of many many women in the world. The daily work often defined by water, food, children, health of communities and the fight for safety, education and safe reproductive technology. Through the Women’s Refuge work in NZ, we can see that it is still a deep cultural reflex to control women through violence and intimidation. I am reminded about the fight for life women face in a world where fundamentalist religion and patriarchy are growing – those twin deadly power-over paradigms that assume men are more vital and important than women. Women’s voice, presence, involvement is not some nice to have, something to fight for after we have resolved poverty, or changed the way democracy works. Women are integral to the success of the open source movement.”

Vivien Maidaborn is a founding member of Loomio, and has a depth of experience in organisational systems, decision-making processes and social change acumen. She has been CEO of CCS Disability Action and Relationships Aotearoa in New Zealand, and is the founder of the social enterprise Lifemark.

Vivien is one of two female founders of Loomio, alongside Alanna Krause who is interested in innovation, technology and structures for positive social impact, as well as being a director of the Enspiral Foundation

Organising Adventure across Six Continents

Urban Adventures are a startup with staff and partners spread across the globe. General Manager Tony Carne explains how Loomio has helped them manage conversations across the continents.

We have just finished our first 12 months using Loomio as our go-to tool for collaborative decision-making. To give you an idea of our business, Urban Adventures Limited has eight staff.  I’m in Melbourne, four are in Hanoi, one in London and two in Toronto. On top of that we have local Urban Adventure Partners in over 90 destinations, on six continents around the world. Continue reading Organising Adventure across Six Continents

Help us start 2014 out with a Bang!

Happy New Year everyone!

Loomio has a chance to get our year off on an awesome footing. We are currently in the running for the MIX Prize Digital Freedom Challenge – a competition run by the Management Innovation Exchange (MIX) for organisations who are encouraging and providing for increased autonomy in the workplace.

Within organisations that use Loomio, employees are given a chance to actively engage in workplace decision-making. With this comes the freedom to innovate, experiment and bring a degree of creativity to their work that might not be possible within a bureaucratic hierarchical system. We’re also putting our money where our mouth is with Loomio’s horizontal management structure – we’ve never needed any bosses and never been happier without them!

Please help us get some great exposure and potentially some funding by Liking our entry – When Business met Occupy: Innovating for True Collaborative Decision-Making. You will need to log in to vote, but you can do it with Facebook and it only takes a minute. Click Like on our story to vote, and please spread the word!

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 9.46.35 AM

Happy Festivus! End of year update from Loomio

Greetings Loomions!

Our second year at the Loomio Cooperative has turned out to be an action-packed and exciting time of developing the product, expanding the team, and spreading the word about Loomio.

We hope you’ve been loving using Loomio as much as we have loved developing it. With the help of our international community, the tool has now been translated into 13 languages, with many more in the pipeline. Thank you to all who have helped on this project!

Loomio world tour

Okay so maybe not the whole world… but Vivien and Ben have just returned from a five-week whirlwind trip across the UK, western Europe and both coasts of the USA. The trip was sparked by the Council of Europe inviting Loomio to present at the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg. We decided to make the most of the sponsored travel and sent them on a five week trip to meet with Loomio users, supporters and groups working within the social enterprise, open source and citizen democracy communities in Europe and North America. They met with a huge number of inspiring people who are working towards a more engaged and connected world.

One highlight was meeting with Anne-Marie Slaughter at the New America Foundation, who have some amazing work underway with the Open Technology Institute to build tools to help communities maintain safe communications technology in unstable political situations. We’re at the beginning of an exciting conversation about Loomio providing a framework for community decision-making that could potentially be part of an open-source toolkit for resilient communities.

Other high points included presenting Loomio at the MIT Center for Civic Media, and connecting with researchers and practitioners at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, as well as making great connections with the Wikimedia Foundation (the organisation behind Wikipedia), and Strike Debt, the group coordinating the hugely inspirational Rolling Jubilee initiative. It was also an amazing opportunity to connect with leading thinkers whose books, films, articles and talks have been inspiring Loomio from the beginning, like Eben Moglen, Marshall Ganz, Catherine Bracy, Carne Ross, Micah Sifry and Douglas Rushkoff among others.

Vivien in Madrid

Product updates

Last month we announced the exciting new designs for the future of the software with a major focus on mobile support. Since then we’ve been hard at work developing all these new features. Over the next couple of months you’ll see some highly anticipated improvements emerging from the code workshop, including a brand new interface that works on mobile, a public-facing profile page for your groups, and architectural and privacy improvements that will make it easier to join groups, and quicker to get decisions underway.

A sneak peak at a working design for the future mobile interface.


You may have seen this icon on your group page – thank you to everyone who has signed up for a subscription! You can set up a subscription for your group or make a one-off contribution here. Your contribution helps us to develop new features and improve functionality.

Rent the Team update

Thanks to everyone who responded to our “For Rent” blog post. We were delighted to be overwhelmed with interest, with even more offers of work than we could handle! Our dev team is underway with contracts over the next couple of months so we’re in great shape as we get ready for the exciting next phase. Read on…


Early next year we will be embarking on our international launch and a massive crowdfunding campaign to fund the exciting next phase of feature development. As Loomio scales up and goes fully mobile, we’re rapidly moving towards our vision of a super accessible platform that enables anyone to participate in important decisions from anywhere. As we keep developing, we would love to have your input on what sort of rewards you would like to see in the campaign, and any suggestions you have to make a huge splash! Feel free to join in the conversation here.

Wishing you all a safe and happy festive season!

From the Loomio team