Celebrating 2017 with new stories and features from Loomio

Hi folks, it’s Rich here, one of the Loomio co-founders. You haven’t heard from me for a while so I want to give you an update on what’s been happening this year. There’s been some incredible progress on the software, and I have a few stories to share after 9 months on the road too.  Continue reading Celebrating 2017 with new stories and features from Loomio

Academics study Loomio use

Loomio has been collaborating with academic researchers Shiv Ganesh at Massey University in New Zealand and Cynthia Stohl at the University of California, to do the first large-scale survey of Loomio users. The survey is still open, but we are already getting some really fascinating information on who we are as Loomio users, how we use Loomio, and what we use it for.

We know, for instance, that we are more age diverse than we previously thought. While a third of our users are young (i.e., below 40 years old), nearly a quarter of us are 60 and above. Pew research has shown that messaging and decision-making apps are not popular amongst senior groups, so it is fantastic to see how well we are doing with senior demographics. We have also confirmed, as we suspected, that we are an (over)educated bunch of people; a full 75% of us have undergraduate degrees, and 40% of us have postgraduate degrees!

We also now know that Loomio is an important part of our decision-making media matrix. Over a third of us have reported that 50% or more of our group interaction takes place on Loomio, and about half of us report that Loomio is very important or absolutely essential compared to other digital platforms we use for group interaction.


The top three tools other than Loomio that we use to communicate are Email, Facebook and Texts or iMessages, with Whatsapp, Twitter, Skype, Telegram and Slack also being important complements.

Finally, we are beginning to get a detailed sense of what we use Loomio for. We asked you to tell us what sorts of issues your work connected with, and over 37% of all users so far have identified democracy and justice as central issues. Other critical issues for us include environmental issues, human rights, economic inequality, feminist and gender issues, sustainability, technology, and labour.

Pie chart. 47%: This Loomio group has clearly established communication linkages with a particular organization. 21%: In this Loomio group communication linkages with other groups are unclear and not yet established with any particular external organizations, groups and/or individuals. 20%: This Loomio group is developing communication linkages with a group of organizations, groups and/or individuals. 12%: This Loomio group has clearly established communication linkages with a group of organizations.

Over the next few months we expect to produce more fine-grained pictures of how we use Loomio and for what purposes, the organizing archetypes that drive this use, and how we feel about Loomio and its effectiveness.

There is still an opportunity to participate. If you would like to take the survey, please click here for the English version, and here for the Spanish version.

We’re Coming to the US for a Community Organising Workshop Tour

Rich and Nati from Loomio are coming from New Zealand to join US-based team member MJ for a workshop tour across the States. We’re keen to meet with organisers who are interested in working non-hierarchically: whether they’re in cooperatives, startups, communities, collectives, NGOs or corporations.

We’ve been engaged in the craft of non-hierarchical organising for more than five years, starting with Occupy in 2011, co-founding Loomio (a worker coop building software for collective decision-making) and Enspiral (a network of dozens of social enterprise startups and tech-for-good projects). We’re woven into a global community of folks pioneering new ways of working, from ‘agile’, ‘holacratic’ and ‘teal’ organizations, to diffuse activist networks in Hungary, Spain, and Taiwan.

We’re working with local partners across the country to host workshops to share the challenges and delights of non-hierarchical, inclusive, intersectional, collaborative, horizontal organising. If you want to work with us to host a workshop, you can find out more here.


We’ll update this post as we finalise the schedule. Here’s what we currently have booked:

Help wanted

If you want to support this mission, there are a couple ways to help:

  • Introduce us to organisers who would really benefit from spending a few hours exploring more sustainable ways of working inclusively. We’re keen to meet with anyone interested in working non-hierarchically: whether they’re in cooperatives, startups, communities, collectives, NGOs or corporations, we will be doing a camping event as well, we already got all we need from the Survival Cooking site.
  • Spread the word about the workshops!
  • Donate to help us keep moving.


We’ll be blogging to share what we’re learning. Here are the most recent posts from the road:

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

Hope-y New Year from Team Loomio 🙃

Warm greetings from the beautiful South Pacific summer! Before we wind down for the holidays I wanted to reach out with a final message for the year.

2016 has been an extraordinarily turbulent year. The earthquake that brought down office buildings in Wellington seems to be the perfect metaphor for the political shakes in Europe, the US, and Middle East that have gripped the world. Checking in with my friends and colleagues overseas, I hear a lot of grief, uncertainty, and fear: progressive people have the sense that something important is slipping away.

Big stories like Brexit, the US election, and the Syrian civil war take up so much space, they can drown out the sound of the many reasons to be hopeful in 2017. The people that are growing “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” tend to be quiet: they’d rather spend their time tending their local initiatives, rather than drawing attention to themselves.

One of the most energising things about working on Loomio is that I get to connect with inspirational people working on incredible projects nearly every day. So as we close out 2016, I wanted to share a couple of reasons to be hopeful in 2017:

Continue reading Hope-y New Year from Team Loomio 🙃

Statistics New Zealand use Loomio for Citizen Engagement

Statistics New Zealand (Tatauranga Aotearoa) is a government department gathering statistics on a wide range of subjects.

They used Loomio to engage citizens in refining the questions for the 2018 Census.

We talked with Susan Riddle, Sophie Davies, and Tom MacDiarmid to find out about the challenges and successes of using Loomio:

“Loomio was for us a new tool: untested waters. Just having a widely-available public discussion was new for us!

It allowed us to expand on what would typically be the local town hall meeting, and reach many more people. We reached people that otherwise wouldn’t have contributed to the conversation, including marginalised populations and youth.”

— Tom MacDiarmid, Statistics New Zealand


Need to engage a wider group of people in your consultation project?

Loomio is easy to use and accessible, enabling you to engage with people in a facilitated conversation. Data and analytics reports provide a record of the engagement.

You can start your own Loomio group now, or contact us if you need direct support.

Loomio has a network of experienced consultants and facilitators who can help you set up your group, and train & coach your team in online facilitation.

Ours To Hack and To Own: a Review

Platform cooperativism is the radical idea that the internet would do more good if its major properties were democratically owned and governed.

The Platform Cooperativism conference is coming up this month in NYC: the second major gathering of this emerging new movement attempting to reboot the internet as if workers rights mattered. In preparation for the event, Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider (the movement’s two daddies) have launched a new collection of essays on the topic: Ours To Hack and To Own.

“Put it on the blockchain” is no substitute for a critical analysis of power.

We reviewed the book review here…

Podcast: how organisations and groups can self-organise at scale.


In this new interview, Loomio cofounder Richard D. Bartlett shares insights from Enspiral, Occupy Wall Street and Loomio, exploring the question How can organisations and groups self-organise?

Big thanks to the Cucumber crew for hosting us on the podcast!

(Also available on iTunes)

Conscious Consumers use Loomio for good governance

Conscious Consumers is a social enterprise that helps people make ethical purchasing decisions.

We talked to CEO Ben Gleisner about how their directors use Loomio to support good governance of the company.

Ben explained the value of keeping all the information in one place, and including people along the way to a decision.

“We use Loomio to discuss the really important issues that can take weeks to get to a decision point.

Loomio improved the effectiveness and efficiency of our communication. It keeps everything in one place. It’s a resource that we can keep coming back to, to see the train of thought behind a decision.

Loomio helped people feel confident that they understood what they were agreeing to.”

If you want to see how Loomio can support your decision-making, get started today.

Don’t Feed the Trolls: How to Encourage Good Behaviour Online

Guardian journalist Max Opray got in touch with us last week, while researching his article Could Online Democracy Lead To Governance By Trumps and Trolls?

Online interactions are notorious for being hijacked by trolls, so he wanted to hear how we handle trolls at Loomio.

Prevention is the best cure

We look to sites like MetaFilter, StackOverflow, Slashdot, or Quora, who do a good job of hosting productive online discussions. They all use a combination of technical and cultural components to create an environment that’s biased towards high-quality respectful participation, and biased against trolling.

It’s partly about the tool, and partly about how you use it.

We’ve put a lot of effort into designing Loomio and hosting big public discussions, in a way that makes it much less likely that trolls will turn up.

It’s a complex topic, but here are a few facets:

Continue reading Don’t Feed the Trolls: How to Encourage Good Behaviour Online

OS//OS is going to be awesome! 🍌

We’re super excited about contributing to the upcoming OS//OS open source, open society conference. OS//OS is in its second year and a big gathering of people from across business, technology and government sectors to collaborate, learn from each other and extend the impact of open technology in our workplaces, our organisations and our society.

Some of our maximum favourite humans are going to be there, including these three:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 9.34.30 AM.png

Check out the conference and grab your ticket here.

Loomio @ OS//OS

We’ll be hosting a collaboration clinic at the conference for all our Loomio users and interested people on the ground floor of the conference. Loomio consultants will be on hand to help you work out great ways of using Loomio to build participatory team culture and tips and tricks for making better decisions together online.

Loomio can be super helpful if you’re:

  • Managing a growing team or office.
  • Leading a project team across any kind of technology
  • Building a startup team.
  • Working on a board or advisory group.
  • Developing policy or working in civic engagement.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference – come find us on the ground floor under the big Loomio sign and let’s help you make better decisions together.

See you there!

Major Breakthrough in Online Democracy: Loomio ❤ Emojis!

OMG! They’re here!

We’ve been having a Mad Science kind of summer. One of our most exciting experiments has just bubbled out of the lab and into the wild. Announcing… EMOJIS!

more emojis

We’ve been thinking about how to make Loomio a facilitator’s paradise: that means people should have fun while they’re collaborating. Emojis let you spice up your text with colour and personality, which means people can find a picture to express themselves better than words.

Wherever you see the little smiley face icon, you can insert an emoji into the text:

inserting a frog emoji into a comment

We’re using the EmojiOne image set, which means there are 1619 new icons to choose from, with more coming all the time.

Currently emojis work in comments, votes, discussion contexts, proposal descriptions, and proposal outcomes. Next up we’ll get them working in thread titles and proposal titles.

And who knows where this feature will go next – we’ll have to wait for more mad science…

Get started with Loomio

Spreading the collaborative decision-making meme

Loomio cofounder Richard D. Bartlett chats with Matthew Luxon, Auckland changemaker and Loomio champ

Matthew LuxonMatthew Luxon is director of Envision NZ. They develop ideas for social benefit, especially those related to waste and resource recovery: e.g. establishing community recycling centres.

“Last year I was working on a project in the Waikato region, with a wide range of stakeholders. As I’m driving from Auckland to Hamilton over and over again, I’m thinking: there must be a better way. Loomio would have halved those trips!”

Continue reading Spreading the collaborative decision-making meme

How to run an open source community space

About the same time as we started Loomio, a group of us also set up 17 Tory St: an “Open Source Community Gallery”.

In the last three years, hundreds of events have been held in the space, covering a huge diversity of noncommercial uses: political meetings, art exhibitions, massage classes, paint-making workshops, film nights + many, many more.

Using Loomio to manage the space means we can provide this extraordinary volunteer-run community venue, without ever having to get together for boring meetings.

Continue reading…

Loomio News for September 2015

Spring has sprung :)

Hi friends! Spring has arrived here in Aotearoa and it is gorgeous! We’ve got a lot of juicy stories to share this month:

mix T

For the past few weeks Alanna, Mix and Derek have been prototyping the future in an abandoned French castle. They’ve been teaching the crew over there about collaboration under pressure. Here’s Mix demonstrating How to use your hands as the ultimate communication tool.

Now that spring is rolling in, we’re poking our heads up like daffodils and looking ahead to a sunny future. Last week we held an excellent strategy-crafting session as a team, which you can read about here. We’ve been thinking about how the new Loomio fits in with the wider ecosystem of collaboration tools:

success factors

And here’s a couple of stories from further afield:

  • Mike O’Keeffe writes about the potential for Loomio to be used in collaborative bird identification, which is traditionally a highly solitary pursuit.
  • ABC News recently screened this incredible story (video + transcript) about the young radicals in Spain who occupied city squares in 2011 and have now made their way into the city halls: Yes We Can!

Loomio has been a small but significant part of this new political moment in Spain. It’s so inspiring to see friends of ours taking the energy of the streets and using it to revitalise the democratic institutions in that country.

That’s it for another issue of Loomio News, have a great week!

❤ much love from Rich
on behalf of the whole Loomio whānau

Loomio News for August 2015

Here’s a quick update with all the latest news from Loomio land for August :)

Participatory democracy sneaking into Utah

utahCivicist (the new civic tech blog from the folks at Personal Democracy Media) published this excellent piece about the Provo People’s Lobby: a collaboration between Loomio, NationBuilder, and the City of Provo, Utah.

Collective intelligence

animated cat gifLoomio co-op member Simon Tegg asks: is watching this cat gif more fun than contributing to a collective intelligence project?

Open source eco-hacking

Three of the Loomio co-op members are currently en route to POC21 in France. They are going to be supporting the teams there to develop collaborative practices to sustain their amazing open source eco-hacking projects :)

Connecting open source technologies

CollabForge explain the technological wizardry that allowed them to connect their collaboration platform Collabco with Loomio. They stitched the tools together for the Shape RMIT project: a massive collaborative strategy-setting process for RMIT University.

Highlights from the blog

Collaborating online and off

discussion turns into actionMix wrote this exquisitely illustrated article explaining how you can weave collaborative processes together online and in person.

A caring organisation

Caring Work - illustration by Lance RavenswoodHere’s a story I wrote explaining how we look after each other at Loomio: Feelings, magic and gendered work: processes, policies and structures for caring organisations.

Design for developers

We recently hosted a session at Enspiral to explain how we approach user experience design at Loomio. There’s video, notes, and slides on the blog here.

That’s it for another issue of Loomio News. Join the mailing list to receive Loomio News right in your email inbox (roughly) once a month.

Thanks for your ongoing support!
Much love from all the Loomions in Aotearoa New Zealand, France and the USA.

❤ from Rich

Evolution @ Aroha

We recently returned from one of our biannual strategy weekends.

Loomio team

The good folks from Kiwi Connect very generously hosted us in the beautiful Aroha Valley for three days of deep connection and strategic thinking.

We started by zooming 20 years into the future, envisioning the world we want to help create in 2035. With that in mind, we then asked: what do we need to achieve within 3 years? and within 3 months?

This work is complex, challenging, and intense, but we came out the other side with renewed clarity about where we’re heading, and how we’re going to get there.

Feelings, magic & gendered work: processes & structures of a collaborative workplace

A Facebook friend asked this question on Friday:

“What do you think are the most critical things (I’m talking specific processes, policies, and structures rather than values) that make up non-competitive and more collaborative and caring workplaces? Spaces where people are encouraged to really praise and acknowledge someone else’s work rather than hide someone else’s contribution, where people want to spend time on the collective good rather than next personal gain, and where the often invisible and gendered work of caring and ‘organisation culture’ is prioritised and publicly valued as critically important? What are some practical things you can implement, aside from the destruction of capitalism? Ideas, you wise group of souls?”

I’ve spent the last couple of years working with an incredible bunch of people to build an organisation that is exactly like that: caring, collaborative, and non-competitive, a space where we praise and acknowledge each other, where the work of caring is shared equally, regardless of gender.

Continue reading…

Design for Developers

how to make a good app without wearing a turtleneck

Rich has been doing a lot of design work for Loomio lately. Today he hosted a session at Enspiral Space to explain his design process, you can read some product guides here.

The presentation was primarily targeted at an audience of software developers, but will interest anyone looking for a complete ecommerce redesign to their website.

The recording includes a 30 minute presentation from Rich followed by Q&A.

Slides available here.

Resources mentioned in the talk:

Peter’s notes from the session:
Peter's notes

Derek’s notes from the session.

Feel free to reach out to Rich on Twitter: @richdecibels

Heaps of exciting news from Loomio HQ :)

A quick update from Rich at Loomio HQ to let you know how things are going.

More than 86,000 people have joined Loomio, making more than 28,000 decisions in nearly 100 countries, so it’s feeling like we’re really starting to have some impact in the world!


At the end of last year we announced the first “early access” to the new version of the software (Loomio 1.0) to crowdfunding backers. Since then a big focus of the work has been on accessibility: we’re working with an international community of people with different disabilities to make sure Loomio 1.0 is going to be the most accessible discussion platform on the web.

Here’s me talking about how we’re making Loomio work for blind people

This has been a tremendous experience for me personally, especially learning how blind people navigate the web and how a small effort on the part of people building technology can make a huge difference to some people’s quality of life.

Heading for launch…

We’re progressively bringing more and more people onto the new software, iteratively improving the usability of the platform with each new batch. We’re working towards a public launch date later this year, which will be a major push to announce ourselves to the world in a big way.

We want to be in a financially sustainable position before we invite millions of people to get on board. To that end, we’ve been developing relationships with impact foundations in the US who support social good projects like this. Nothing is signed yet, but I can say we’re feeling optimistic about our prospects :)

Advisory Council


We’re also supremely honoured and excited to introduce our Advisory Council, some of the brightest minds in democracy and tech internationally:

Travel stories

A man walking down a narrow alley in Taiwan
Photo credit: Yuwei Liu / 劉毓惟

One of the benefits of doing this work is that we get invited to talk to all kinds of different groups around the world.

Here’s Alanna talking introducing Loomio to the Mix Mashup in New York, a gathering of “management innovators—pioneering leaders, courageous hackers, and agenda-setting thinkers from every realm of endeavor.”

And while Alanna was in the States talking to the management innovation community, I was in Taiwan talking to some young radicals about the future of democracy. Here’s a blog post and video from my trip.

And finally here’s Ben at the Skoll World Forum, discussing the Future of Work on a panel with Bettina Warburg from the Institute for the Future and David Jones from Microsoft. It highlights a very interesting divergence between Loomio’s vision of the future where people can use open source technologies to co-create a more sustainable equitable world, and Microsoft’s vision of a future where proprietary software makes the status quo a little more convenient.

Thank you so much for supporting this vision! It’s an ambitious journey, but it’s great to know we’re travelling together with such an amazing community of supporters like you.

♥ with infinite love and gratitude,

from Rich, on behalf of the whole Loomio Co-op

g0v Summit 2014: Taiwan and the future of democracy

gov summit

Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett asks ‘what is the government of the future?’

I had the immense honour of being invited to participate in the g0v Summit in Taipei last year. The Summit was basically a chance for 700 people to get together and discuss the future of democracy, and hack on some projects that might help us get there faster.

Here’s a video of my talk, describing some of my experiences over the past couple years and reflecting on the question: what is the government of the future? (Transcript printed below.)

It was a huge privilege to collaborate with a wide array of amazing people and organisations that I had admired from afar, like the activists from the Sunflower Movement that occupied Parliament in Taiwan; occupiers from the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong; Clay Shirky, academic, author, and speaker; the mySociety crew, who basically invented the idea of civic tech in the UK ten years ago; respectable troublemaker David Eaves; and of course Audrey Tang and Chia-liang Kao, some of the prominent figures of the g0v community.

Of course it was a great opportunity to meet new collaborators from all over the world too, like Ciudadano Inteligente from Chile, Team Popong in Korea, Sinar in Malaysia and Open State in the Netherlands.

Photo credit: g0v

Using a combination of online technology and offline agitation, each of these projects push for greater transparency, accountability, and participation in government for regular citizens. It was delightful to see this highly distributed, autonomous network of projects all approaching this challenge with a high degree of coherence, and very little explicit coordination.

In addition to working with these great people, I also got the chance to learn a bit more about the political context in Taiwan from some of the young radicals, jaded journalists, suave diplomats and community organisers I spent time with. Continue reading g0v Summit 2014: Taiwan and the future of democracy

Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

This is the first article in our Cultural Technology series, where we share practices for working in a networked organisation. This is very much a work in progress but we hope it’s valuable to share what we’re learning.

Yesterday we had our first Away Day of the year.

We have an Away Day every 3 months, where we get out of the office for a day to review the past quarter and plan the next one.

brainstorm Continue reading Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation

Cultural technology

abstract drawing showing complex conversations weaving together through Loomio

We’re building this organisation on the principle that anyone affected by a decision should be involved in making it.

We’re building software to make that feasible, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In addition to the digital technology, we also use a lot of ‘cultural technology’ – processes, habits and frameworks that we’ve borrowed or invented to make it possible to coordinate a group of people without resorting to coercive practices.

We’re going to share some of the cultural technology that’s working for us. It’s very much a work in progress, so your feedback will really help to shape it.

We’ve got some useful essays on our “Loomio Org” wiki, and we’re going to keep writing blog posts on the topic. For now, here are the first two:

  1. Priority-setting in a human-centred organisation
  2. More efficient in person meetings with Loomio

We’ll update this post as articles come out :)

Some thoughts about large scale decision-making

A comment from Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett in a recent discussion about decision-making at scale:

“Personally the two models of scaling that I’m interested in are delegative & deliberative. (See Wikipedia on delegative democracy and Aaron Swartz on the deliberative model known as parpolity.)

Projects like DemocracyOS and LiquidFeedback are exploring the delegative model, where votes can be passed between people to form blocs of influence. I can imagine that being pretty awesome, and pretty problematic too.

Loomio is currently far down the deliberative end of the spectrum. We’ve stayed away from the “hard” problems that come with scale (e.g. identity verification) and are working on the difficult “soft” problems like teaching people to engage with each other respectfully in pursuit of shared understanding.

When we’re talking about nation-scale decision-making, the problem with either electoral or delegative systems is that the point of citizen engagement is entirely discontinuous with the actual crux of governance: negotiation, compromise and consensus-building. Voting leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, it feels like I’m giving up my autonomy in the hopes that some jerk who I don’t even know is going to exercise it in my interests.

Conversely, the deliberative model is fractal, self-similar at all scales, so the grassroots participants have an insight into what operations look like at the uppermost or innermost decision-making body. Participation is an enriching experience for the individuals, and it draws out collective intelligence greater than the sum of its parts.

There are something like 25,000 Podemos members using Loomio right now, in 1,000 different groups. It’s pretty easy for me to imagine Loomio 2.0, where all those groups are associated together into one network. Imagine sending a proposal out to all the different groups in the network and seeing distinct deliberations underway in each local group, watching points of agreement or controversy or insight or initiative spreading virally throughout the network, everyone participating in their full autonomy and simultaneously contributing to a massive collective roar, or a song, a unity of unmerged voices.”

Got something to add? Join the discussion over on Loomio

The Home Stretch: 30 days until we bring the first early access users onto Loomio 1.0!

Home page - wall feed sectionWe went out to the Loomio Community asking for feedback on the new designs for mobile/phone and desktop/tablet. In addition to some excellent suggestions for improvements on the designs, you told us you loved them! We can’t wait to release the new user interface at the end of November.

We’re on track to deliver on all the commitments to our lovely crowdfunders!

  • Mobile – Loomio 1.0 will work great on all your devices
  • Safe – Docker will make it a lot simpler to host your own instance (check out some great new documentation about this on our Github wiki)
  • Accessible – We’re working with accessibility experts, getting user testing feedback, making sure the software works with assistive technology, and more (supported by a grant from the Namaste Foundation, too!)
  • Easy – The new Loomio 1.0 interface is intuitive, simple, and delightful (well, we think it is and hope you agree!)

We’re in the process of delivering the rewards people claimed as crowdfunding backers. If you’re due to receive one, you’ll be hearing from us soon. You can also look forward to a refreshed Loomio homepage, updated help page, and more, all coming together by the end of November.

To stay current with Loomio software development progress, you can always check out the roadmap, which is now IN SPACE! Continue reading The Home Stretch: 30 days until we bring the first early access users onto Loomio 1.0!

September update from Loomio HQ

Another month has flown by, with some more huge progress in Loomio land:

Software updates

Loomio-Beta-on-mobileMobile Loomio, oh my goodness!

Huge news – Loomio Beta finally works beautifully on your mobile phone! Participate in decisions from anywhere. This first iteration is still a bit rough around the edges, but it is giving us a lot of valuable feedback as we prepare for Loomio 1.0. Continue reading September update from Loomio HQ

Feature update: new group privacy settings

Yesterday we released a whole new system for managing the privacy of your groups. Now when you start a new Loomio group, you’ll get the following options:

Group settings page

Open access groups

As part of this feature, we’ve released the first version of ‘open access groups’. Setting your group to ‘open’ means that any Loomio user can join in immediately, without needing an invitation or approval.

New options, new language

We’ve tried to provide a comprehensive set of options without being too confusing. What do you think? Could it be clearer? We’ve had some really great feedback from the user community to get to this point – we’d love you to join the conversation if you have anything to add.

Interviewing Marama Davidson – activist and social media maven

Free West Papua Pasifika Festival Mar 2014Marama Davidson is an activist and Green Party candidate for Tamaki-Makaurau in Aotearoa New Zealand. Loomio co-founder Richard Bartlett talks with her here about social media, social justice, and the future of politics.

Inspiring Disruptors  is a series of interviews with people at the vanguard of a new way of doing things that maximises autonomy and collaboration. 

Richard: You’re an avid user of social media. Do you think we could use tools like this to make parliamentary politics more relevant, responsive, and engaged?

Marama: Yes. Social media is enticing more and more people every day to join the online community. I have nanas from my marae back home who keep an eye on me via facebook. Digital communication is particularly important for keeping us connected to rural communities, to young people, to our global movements, to those important issue networks we belong to, to alternative media commentary – I’m totally addicted. We can already see that social media has a role to play in keeping our communities informed of parliamentary politics in a way that is relevant to ordinary New Zealanders. Social media is also a useful way to stay on top of what ordinary citizens are saying and feeling.



“Clicktivism” is really easy – just click “like” – But how do you mobilise people to sustained collective action?

I think the easy ‘like’ is useful as a starting point to raise awareness. The easy ‘like’ can also be a way to maintain interest on an issue that people are already aware of. Social media on its own is not the movement. Social media should be used to compliment and support our grassroots activism – not to replace it. So we use social media to advertise protests, fundraisers, lectures, hui, tree plantings, river cleaning, submission writing etc. Then we go out and do the action. Then we come back and we post photos and stories and videos about what we did and get more people who want to join our next action. This is a simple but effective template that has been used time and time again.



Have you experienced abuse online? How do you handle it? Should making online space civil be the goal?

Of course I have experienced abuse online. I am not talking about people who disagree with my opinions. I am talking about threatening, hostile and mostly anonymous abuse. This is why your support base is important. They provide a buffer and a reality check to remind us that the abuse is not worth putting our emotions towards. And controlling your space is important. I am not interested in providing a forum for nasty anonymous trolls so they get blocked from my page and my twitter. I prefer to keep my own space welcoming for people to step into.

I don’t know if we can control that behaviour so much. I just think we can role model what we would like to see in our spaces.



You’re surely familiar with the highs and lows of collective decision-making, from bitter frustration to amazing empowerment. When you think about some of the collective decision-making processes you’ve been part of, what’s worked? What’s gone wrong?

Wow that’s a question right there! Trust. Trust is key. Trust that everyone wants the same outcome. I am involved with several different groups and kaupapa that require a consensus at every step. The more people involved the longer it takes generally. I am okay with that because it means that when a consensus is reached, it has been thoroughly debated. I have also seen processes completely stalled and it can take but one person to take hostage of a collective. Strong facilitators, clear goals set at the beginning, and a healthy mix of pragmatism and idealism seem to be around when good things happen. The reality of having to compromise can hit hard and I have seen people have to put something of themselves to the side for ‘the bigger picture’.



New technologies mean we’re living in a world of previously unimaginable access to information and interconnectedness. This brings huge promise, and also potential pitfalls. Are we heading for techno-utopia, or techno-dystopia?

My inherently optimistic nature won’t allow me to consider a techno-dystopia. It is going to be a long haul but I think technology is a crucial part of our better world that we are heading towards. We are using the information highway to share stories for how to tackle climate change. We are using social media to change the damaging neoliberal narrative that has had its day in the sun for far too long. We are using new technologies to find solidarity with other communities around the world who are singing our same song. I am encouraged by what is happening with our interconnectedness.



Russell Brand says we shouldn’t even bother voting. What do you say to that? What, for you, is the meaning of democracy beyond voting?

What does it say about any political party when they rely on people not voting at all?! The current National Party do not want you to vote – that is their big game plan. We currently have in government a political party who would prefer people to not be engaged. Their agenda depends on people not voting and not participating and not knowing about what their government is really up to.

I am always concerned about the very voices that we are NOT hearing from. It has always been that those people most negatively impacted on by policy and practice are the very voices that are often side lined in the debate. This is not to say that those groups don’t have strong leaders and advocates, they always do. But at the decision making-level there is often a disastrous lag of representation. The representation of women in parliament for example, hanging at around an abysmal 33% or so – is not cool for Aotearoa. It means that policies that harm women and children have an easier way worming through. Anything that harms women and children harms us all, kids love these guns from inthetoybox.co.uk and the police is not aoud to say no ti them because they do no harm.

Any democracy has to provide for fairness and justice through across our lives. On smaller scales I have seen this happen with just one person leading the waka, but that person has true mana. I have seen democracy happen with consensus groups also, but as I said before the trust and clear visions among the group are solid from the start. Democracy for fairness is what I’m looking for.



For more interviews like this, check out our Inspiring Disruptors series.

Crowdfunding update: 2 days to go!

After an incredible couple of days, the target is within reach! It’s truly overwhelming to see so many generous people getting behind this project, reminding us that we’re not crazy to pour our lives into it for the last 18 months :)

graph of contributions to date

We’ve got some excellent new content to share too:

Since our last update we’ve added some wonderful interviews to our series of Inspiring Disruptors:

  • Jacqui Graham, social entrepreneur CEO of the Wise Group, on meaningful engagement in a large organisation.
  • Marianne Manilov, grassroots organizer, writer, media strategist on Occupy, democracy, love, movement building, and self-care.
  • Heather Marsh: activist, programmer, political theorist and former Editor in Chief at Wikileaks Central, on new models for 21st Century governance, autonomous movements around the globe, and knowledge as a commons.

New Zealand Herald logo

The New Zealand Herald wrote an encouraging piece about Loomio this week. Nice to see them predicting our success!

And finally, check out this incredibly moving story Inga Jensen wrote about her experience of Occupy as a visually impaired person, and how Loomio’s commitment to inclusivity inspires her.

❤ Thanks friends, we’re so close to the target now! Keep sharing the love: http://love.loomio.org