Building workforce capability to address Family Violence and Sexual Violence

Workforce Capability Framework

Over the last few years, the New Zealand Government has been committed to seeking new ways to guarantee everyone in New Zealand a safe environment to live. The country has one of the highest reported rates of family violence and sexual violence in the developed world, so action is needed.

People working in the sector need a national  framework and clear guidelines for safely and consistently tackling these problems. A combined cross-government and sector  team championed the development of a Workforce Capability Framework for addressing Family Violence, Sexual Violence and Violence within Whānau.

We interviewed Giselle Wansa-Harvey, Family Violence Multi-Agency Workforce Expert Design Group lead, to hear about how this extensive framework was created and people in the workforce consulted.

“No matter where you are, the Workforce Capability Framework provides means to identify how best to help people and where to find resources. The Framework goes into detail and aims to guide anyone across the workforce including community members who intersect with people experiencing family violence, sexual violence and/or violence within whānau”, explains Giselle Wansa-Harvey.

Reaching wider engagement online

The Workforce Expert Design Group needed to consult a wide range of people and organisations working in this area around the country, including government agencies, volunteers, service providers and kahukura (community champions).

Giselle highlights the importance of hearing opinions from people whose work the project covers in an effective and timely manner, and used Loomio.

We worked in stages and initially produced a skeleton version of the Framework based on preliminary research, targeted consultations across the country and face-to-face interviews. The draft was then published on the Loomio group and people were invited to comment and discuss.”

Gaining meaningful insight

This subject is sensitive in nature, and Giselle found the online consultation in a closed Loomio group a natural way to work.

“We found Loomio good for gaining meaningful insight, and we were pleased with the number of comments. Many people came back to respond again and comments were well formed and detailed”, Giselle describes.

Good preparation is the key for the process to run smoothly.

“Our team prepared discussion threads carefully and considered risks. However, participants responded professionally and with consideration.”

A clear and easy way for working together

Government projects often work under strict deadlines and explicit requirements. Giselle describes Loomio as a sound tool for cross-government projects.

“It was easy to go out to the sector with a concrete request to contribute on Loomio. People took the opportunity to express their opinions, engage with the topic, and the working group received valuable feedback.”

Expert Design Team

Loomio is designed for online collaboration that turn discussion into action. Try Loomio for your group here.

Digitally organised cooperative has astronomical dreams


The space programmes remind us of the 1960’s early TV news reporting about the first space missions. The modern space programme can be something different: a digitally organised international group, like Space Cooperative. They are a California-based group of talents, who share an expertise and interest in space.

Yalda Mousavinia is one of the co-founders behind Space Cooperative. She describes the work of the group as an initiator, getting the right people and knowledge together. Even though the cooperative is focused on outer space, their work can have a use anywhere.

“We think of space as including earth, too. A lot of the governance that we are developing is not only applicable to space, but any large scale project, like city planning, may require similar kind of resources and skills”, Yalda explains.

The company was sparked in 2016, when some of the co-founders met at a hackathon organised by NASA. Today Space Cooperative has 13 members from backgrounds varying from engineers to writers, and architects to software developers.

Space programme formed project by project

A year after launching, Space Cooperative has started to become noted in the space industry. One of their main goals is to connect smaller organisations in the field to reach synergy of skills and resources. To support this, Space Cooperative has started a collaboration network called The Space Decentral Network that connects like-minded corporations and cooperatives together.

Space Cooperative itself works as a catalyst for many projects. Due to limited resources, and the astronomical scale, they cannot focus on all of their project ideas internally. Instead, the cooperative prioritises one or two projects at a time and creates a template for the others, to help people take leadership and iteratively work for finding solutions.

“One of our main projects at the moment is called Solar Regatta that researches the technology for exploring and mining asteroids. The project was proposed to us in a conference in China, and it has stirred quite a bit of interest amongst partners and collaborators”, tells Yalda.

Loomio as a tool and an exemplar of a cooperative

Space Cooperative is incorporated in California, but the members work as an all-digital team from different cities and countries. Hence, all the work is essentially done online through several programmes.

One of the main platforms connecting cooperative members is Loomio, which acts as a place for discussing partnerships, making funding decisions and processing documents, amongst other processes.

“I cannot imagine efficiently operating a virtual distributed organisation without Loomio. Since adopting it, we have had less Slack, less email and more discussions that lead toward actions,” Yalda tells.

Besides its functionality as a tool, Loomio has given the group inspiration in crowdsourcing, and the creation of a cooperative culture.

“We are taking a lot of cooperative principles and translate them as how we see the collaboration with community working. I learned a lot about governance from Loomio’s cooperative handbook and even chatted with Rich [one of the Loomio co-founders] for getting some personal counseling.”

Yalda describes the ultimate long-term target as eventually creating a network of cooperatives and businesses, representing different ideas and working together for a decentralised space programme. The goal might be as far as the stars, but that’s what Space Cooperative is made for.

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)

Worker Participation in Health & Safety

New Zealand recently tightened up health and safety laws. Now businesses must have practices that give their workers opportunities to participate, on an ongoing basis, in improving health and safety.

The New Zealand Government says:

“When you engage workers in work health and safety everyone benefits. Your business is a healthier and safer place for everyone, and performance and productivity increase when the workers are healthy and with energy, which they can achieve with the help of supplements like kratom. Stronger worker engagement and participation leads to healthier and safer workplaces.”

babs-bb25e6d6bdeae849245d6711e75104c35abfbf34e0bfca0771381cd0644995e4Babs from Loomio had an “aha” moment when she realized that these requirements of worker participation could easily met through the use of Loomio itself. Continue reading Worker Participation in Health & Safety

How a Translation Collective is Redefining Publishing

Nati from Loomio had the chance to interview Stacco Troncoso, strategic director of the P2P Foundation and co-founder of Guerrilla Translation, a commons-oriented translation collective who is currently crowdfunding an innovative initiative called Think Global / Print Local.

StaccoGuerrilla Translation was inspired by the P2P Foundation, specifically the theoretical work of its founder Michel Bauwens. We’ve tried to apply what an Open Co-op should be to translation — things like active creation of commons, copyfair licensing, contributory accounting, and post-credentialism. The collective is three years old now, and we’ve provided a wealth of pro-bono translations from English to Spanish and vice-versa.

Continue reading How a Translation Collective is Redefining Publishing

Keep Going Between Meetings: Debt Resistance UK

Alanna from Loomio met Vica Rogers in London, to learn more about her world of citizen education and activism. Vica was involved in the Occupy movement in the UK, and has continued working on related issues ever since. We took some time in Vica’s back garden to hear about how group collaboration is helping citizens in her community organise around the issue of debt.


Continue reading Keep Going Between Meetings: Debt Resistance UK

Governing Commons Together, at La Coroutine Co-working

Alanna from Loomio met Simon Sarazin in Berlin at “Capital for the Commons”, where Simon was presenting his work on uCoin, a project seeking to implement universal basic income through cryptocurrency. He took a break from hacking on economics to tell us how collaborative governance has transformed his co-working space in Lille, France.


Continue reading Governing Commons Together, at La Coroutine Co-working

200 Artists, 12 Buildings, 1 Community: Gängeviertel Collective

Alanna from Loomio met Till Wolfer at POC21, a 6 week innovation camp in France focused on open source hardware for sustainability. Till was lending his expertise as an architect and designer, along with his open source XYZ cargo bikes for participants to get around on. He stepped out for a moment to share how he collaborates back home with a 200-person artist collective occupying 12 buildings in Hamburg, Germany.


Continue reading 200 Artists, 12 Buildings, 1 Community: Gängeviertel Collective

“Our democratic values  are in that software” – How the P2P Foundation Does High-Level Coordination

Alanna from Loomio met up with Michel Bauwens in Berlin, while both were participating in a conference about “Capital for the Commons”. They managed to slip out for a few minutes so Michel could tell Alanna about his experience using Loomio with the P2P Foundation, which he founded.


Continue reading “Our democratic values  are in that software” – How the P2P Foundation Does High-Level Coordination

Vibrant Community Online & Off – the Red Victorian Co-Living Hotel

Alanna from Loomio caught up with Jessy Kate Schingler and Brittany Ferrero in San Francisco, where they were gathering with other social entrepreneurs connected to Enspiral. They took some time out to talk about how collaboration works in their co-living hotel.


Continue reading Vibrant Community Online & Off – the Red Victorian Co-Living Hotel

How OuiShare is Scaling a Shared Vision Across Countries

Alanna met Benjamin Tincq and Francesca Pick at POC21, an open source hardware innovation camp in a castle in France, which OuiShare was a core convener of. They stepped out to share how they collaborate as a large-scale international distributed community.

Continue reading How OuiShare is Scaling a Shared Vision Across Countries

How Digital Nomads Run a Distributed Social Media Co-Op

Alanna from Loomio met Romain Chanut at POC21, a 6 week innovation camp in France focused on open source hardware for sustainability. Romain was there with his “Do It Together” JerryCan – a low cost computer you can assemble from recycled materials. We took a break from hacking on hardware to learn more about his other role, as a digital transformer in a social media collective. I highly suggest to check some good reviews on a working monitor, so you make sure to the always get the best quality possible.

Continue reading How Digital Nomads Run a Distributed Social Media Co-Op

Diverting Funds from Wall St to the Commons: Robin Hood Co-op

Alanna met Dan Hassan in London, where he was speaking at an event in Hackney Wick about “DIY Social Movements”. Just as the light was fading, we walked along the canals looking for a quiet spot for him to share his thoughts about creating ‘economic space’ at Robin Hood Co-op.

Most of us are allergic to finance because it doesn’t work for us. It closes down possibilities and creativity. We have the idea that it could be different, that it could be creative.

Continue reading Diverting Funds from Wall St to the Commons: Robin Hood Co-op

How to Grow Distributed Leadership

For years, I’ve been throwing myself into environments where there are no bosses, but there are lots of leaders. Like coordinating volunteers at a festival in the desert, building a distributed entrepreneurial network, co-founding a cooperative tech startup, designing new processes for participation, and taking over a French castle to eco-hack the future.

Now I’m wondering, how does this kind of leadership grow? What conditions does it need to sprout? How do you nurture it? What does its development look like? How can I grow further as a leader in an organisation with no ladder to climb?

Continue reading…

No Boss Does Not Mean No Leadership

A friend got in touch with a question…

“Do you have favorite lessons from being a professional Cat Herder? I’m working in a flat, collaborative group, but I’ve realized that by jumping in to save the day all the time I am establishing myself as the point of control. People instinctively go to me instead of the group at large with ideas and problems. Now I’m worried that if I step back, our plans could fall through.”

Leadership is the force that guides people to achieve desired outcomes through coordinated effort. It doesn’t require a boss.

My friend is running into trouble precisely because she has leadership skills, but in our society we aren’t really taught how to apply leadership outside of hierarchy.

Continue reading…

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…

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

Open Source Developer Profile: James Kiesel

Loomio has always been a community-driven project, and being free and open source software is core to our philosophy and values. We have had code contributions from several dozen programmers. One of the most wonderful things about this project is it’s a beacon for people who care deeply about making a positive difference with technology.

One of those people is James Kiesel. He came to New Zealand on vacation, he went camping with a tent from Survival Cooking, his plan was to relax and just have some fun, he thought he was not doing any programming at all he even thought on do kayaking after getting the guide to choosing the best kayak from a site online. But then he encountered Loomio, and next thing you know he’s built RSS feed support, keyboard shortcuts, jumping to the first unread comment, in-line translations, and a whole bunch of other tweaks, fixes, and features, of course he had fun as well, if it wouldn’t have been for the nice outer banks rentals that he found he wouldn’t have had fun whatsoever, he did a little road trip as well but of course he made sure to be full covered by insurance 4 motortrade first.

“Why did you decide to contribute to Loomio as an open source developer?”

James Kiesel is a Philadelphia-based nerd who writes code for a job and makes theater for a living. He’s currently the lead rails developer at SnipSnap and the artistic director of GDP Productions. You can check out some of his past work on github or drop him a line.

If you want to get involved, check out the Loomio Roapmap and Loomio on Github. And join us in the Loomio Community!

Management Hacker Gary Hamel Interviews Loomio

We talk about involvement and empowering people. Over the last 20 years one of the ways of thinking about that is giving people a share of ownership. Loomio is a cooperative, and that’s important. But I see a lot of companies with employee stock ownership plans, but no real involvement. If you want people to feel ownership, having 1% of 1% of 1% of the shares is way less important than having a voice in decisions that matter. Thank you, Loomio, for making a difference.

— Gary Hamel

Internationally renowned management expert Gary Hamel has identified Loomio and Enspiral as cutting edge innovators. This extended interview of Loomio Cooperative and Enspiral Members Alanna Krause and Vivien Maidaborn is from Business Influentials in Auckland, New Zealand, May 2014.

People will find the best solution if they feel it’s open and transparent, if they understand how you got to that decision. They can be confident all voices were considered, and other options were considered.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to the head of sales for one of the biggest high tech companies – you’d all know who it is. They’re part of the new generation and celebrated for being open and all these wonderful things. There’s 12,000 people in the organisation. They had done some kind of big reorganisation of the compensation plan, so I asked him, how did it go? He said it produced a complete shitstorm of defensive reactions.

I said, well did you blog about this to begin with? Did you say, here’s the problem, what do you guys think? He said, no, no, we wanted to do it really quickly so I brought in consultants and we did the whole thing in three months. I had to remind the guy, there’s a difference between speed to implementation and speed to success.

Read the story on Hack Management, watch the Youtube Video – Loomio is a really, really cool platform.

The story of Loomio was named the winner of the Management Innovation Exchange’s Digital Freedom Challenge, which Gary co-founded with Polly LaBarre, who we also had the pleasure of interviewing recently as part of our Inspiring Disruptors blog series.

Polly LaBarre: The Future of Business is Mavericks, Heretics, and Activists

Polly LabarrePolly LaBarre, cofounder of the Management Innovation Exchange (MiX), and former CNN business correspondent and senior editor of Fast Company magazine,  talks to Loomio about collaboration, democracy, technology, and the need for a new paradigm based on trust and freedom. 

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

The entire interview is well worth watching. We’ve pulled out some choice quotes below.

What does “collaboration” really mean?

The foundation of all successful collaboration is something very human – trust.  More and more organisations are waking up to the power of openness and transparency. The ideology of control – controlling people, controlling information, controlling deviations from the norm – all of that stops collaboration in its tracks.

What is the relationship between organisational change and technology?

Making organisations truly resilient, truly innovative, truly inspiring – fit for the future and fit for human beings – requires a great unraveling of the way they have worked for more than 100 years, since the invention of hierarchy and bureaucracy.  We’re on the verge of a management revolution.

What inspires us are forms of organisation that are driven by web-based principles: all ideas compete on equal footing, your contribution matters more than your credentials, the wisdom of the many trumps the authority of the few, power comes from sharing not hoarding. This requires rethinking and disrupting every single management process, from how you create a budget to how you make decisions to how you set strategy.

What is the role of democracy in business?

Not just business, but all kinds of organisations have been ruled by this ideology of control. It’s not productive when you want imagination and initiative and passion, and you want to tackle complex global problems . We need a different form, based on principles of trust and freedom.

What have been your biggest learnings from the MiX?

The most high-impact case studies we’ve found have all been based in this practice of experimentation, failing fast, learning, and iterating – agile and lean from the software world meets design-led thinking. I think we’ve learned a lot about how great experiments unfold. We need activists in organisations, the merry troublemakers, the mavericks, the heretics. We need institutions that respect what we have to learn from the fringe, where the future starts to unfold.

The most successful leaders are those that create a haven for heretics, that don’t just tolerate them but invite in the contrarian and unorthodox points of view. I’m excited by how many people are actually open to that idea. We’re living more and more in an age of mavericks, heretics, and activists. They’re not trying to burn the house down, they’re trying to find a better way. That’s really inspiring to me.

Find out more at the Management Innovation Exchange.

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 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.

Heather Marsh: government as mass collaboration

Heather Marsh is a human rights and internet activist, programmer, political theorist, and former Editor in Chief at Wikileaks Central, and the author of Binding Chaos, a compelling blueprint for 21st century governance. An excerpt:

Binding Chaos - book by Heather Marsh We can do better than [representative democracy]. We can govern by user groups, respect individual rights and global commons, and collaborate using stigmergy. We can belong to overlapping societies voluntarily by acceptance of social contracts. Where necessary, elite expertise can be contained and used through transparent epistemic communities with knowledge bridges while control remains with the user group.

Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett had the very good fortune to interview Heather recently, as part of our ongoing interview series: Inspiring Disruptors.


I’m really excited about your concept of “stigmergic collaboration, epistemic communities and knowledge bridges”. How would you describe these ideas to my 8 year old niece? (She is pretty smart).

Stigmergic collaboration is what happens when people who don’t have to talk to each other or know each other work on the same project and build something together. There has to be one idea that everyone understands and agrees on as a goal but beyond that no one is the boss or telling anyone how to work or even if they should work.

If you go into your doctor’s office and she has a puzzle on a table that other patients have been working on that is an example of stigmergy. You don’t know who has worked on it before or after you, but you know what to do and you are free to add a few pieces if you like.

There are much bigger ideas too, like “Information wants to be free”. There are many nodes under that stigmergical idea, everything from whistleblowers, MOOCs, file sharers, projects such as Wikipedia and Telecomix, open source everything and much more. Everyone is free to further the idea in their own way, the only commonality is the goal.

Epistemic communities are a way to provide elite expertise for projects without relinquishing control to an elite oligarchy. People or ideas are peer promoted from within the user group and communities remain transparent and permeable to everyone. Acceptance or rejection of the ideas is always up to the user group to avoid an unassailable oligarchy.

Knowledge bridges are people who help disseminate information from an expert to a novice level of understanding and collectively audit what the epistemic community is doing. Besides being essential for education and auditing, this is important to avoid demagogues who have the ability and time to develop mass appeal but are not the source of expertise at the level the world needs. Epistemic communities and knowledge bridges allow elite expertise a direct path of communication to the entire user group and provide a path for anyone in the user group to achieve elite expertise if they wish.

Your niece would understand this if she has ever looked up math games on the Internet. The Internet provides many knowledge bridges which help lead her to the epistemic community of elite mathematicians and allow her to become one if she chooses to study that hard.


Where are you seeing these ideas take hold? What do you see happening in the world that gives you hope?

Anywhere information can be very rapidly disseminated, verified, audited and acted upon is fertile ground for stigmergy, epistemic communities and knowledge bridges. I love the way MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) forums sometimes act as a job seeking forum with employers and collaborators finding talent by watching people work in a real setting instead of relying on official certification, like musical collaborations used to result from jam sessions. I also love the local affinity groups and friendships created from those courses.

The progress that gives me hope is in the areas which strive to get more people connected to collaborative networks and more amplification to silent voices. Stigmergy has always been our most powerful collaborative method and stigmergy follows ideas, so efforts to bypass control by corporate media, politicians, thought leaders and other representatives and allow people to contribute ideas directly with their own voices are essential.


Your conception of government as mass collaboration has really influenced my thinking in designing for Loomio. Do you have any ideas about the practice of making this idea real for people in their everyday lives?

Governance to me is action not an organization. It is something people have to just do. It is only after governance by the people is established that politicians can be lobbied into supporting it until it makes them obsolete. My first goal is to enable every person to participate, to write software, platforms and guides and provide outreach of all kinds to help people participate wherever their interests lie.

Unofficial ministries for each system should be set up as permanent open epistemic communities regardless of what government is in power. Currently, lobby groups are sometimes formed to attempt to influence policy but what is needed are full and permanent shadow cabinets by the people. When this shadow cabinet is established and effective, there will be no need for any other. The unofficial ministries which represent the will and peer promoted expertise of the people will guide policy or the elected politicians will face the consequences. The power of the voters is in the contribution of their ideas and actions far more than their ballot vote every four years or so. Official organizations and positions can be replaced by communities which are open to all to participate in. The unofficial ministries can call their own referendums and submit their own bills to elected MP’s when needed. In many cases the involvement of elected officials is not necessary, epistemic communities can guide policy through education and participatory discussion instead of official government policy.


Binding Chaos maps out a pretty compelling blueprint for a new way of structuring society; can we iterate towards it? Do you have ideas about fertile places to start? Whose job is it?

We have to start everywhere. It is everyone’s job to fight for their own autonomy and their own freedom to participate where they feel most excited and fulfilled. The world right now is full of people breaking out of the boundaries set for them, whether they are joining plenums in Bosnia or autodefensas in Mexico, scaling borders between Morocco and Melilla, breaking into a US nuclear weapons plant like 85 year old Sister Megan Rice, making themselves personally responsible for feeding and sheltering homeless people like OpSafeWinter, or fighting for justice for another human like the Free Omar Khadr Now group. Every person who decides to conduct their lives in a way that makes better sense to them and refuses to accept the status quo is participating. Not all ideas will be good, but if we all try we can iterate towards something that is better. And if we all try we can’t be stopped.


Have you had any thoughts about tools to enable this transition? Have you seen any promising approaches?

Collaborative problem solving tools like Loomio, etherpads and many others emerging now are a great help in shaping the way we work. Our methodologies need to change, and these tools will teach the new methodologies to a great extent. We need tools which are free of corporate or centralized control, which are part of their user communities and responsive to them. Organic community cooperatives like Loomio and Lorea are wonderful examples of responsive tool development.

I talked a bit in Binding Chaos about Twitter, Klout and other social media and their tendency to replicate and exaggerate our societal tendencies towards oligarchies. Digital currencies also currently facilitate our trade economy with almost all of its flaws intact. The social influence and currency algorithms both need to be re-examined to not just replicate our old methods but create new ways of interacting and relating to each other. An expiring currency would help to create a more sharing economy. A social influence algorithm that rewarded less on attracting celebrity attention and more on boosting unheard voices would change the impact of celebrity influence. We need more experimentation with the fundamental concepts behind influence and currency.

One of the key areas I would love to see progress is in knowledge repositories as global commons. We can’t have open, permeable epistemic communities on platforms with centralized control. The news will remain as transient spectacle until we have the tools to build knowledge from that information. Wikipedia by itself is not stigmergy, it is a tightly controlled cooperative. We need innovation in data modeling tools that will scale and connect and are not under centralized or corporate control.


What do you think can be done to create safe spaces online? Where have you seen this work well?

We have a lot of work to do first to decide what our definition of safe is. There is a sliding scale between free speech and freedom from the hate speech which is paradoxically a form of censorship. It is interesting to see different populations gravitate to different tools for playing with public influence, amplification and interaction depending on their ideas of where the ideal position on the scale is. I don’t think comfort levels are ever going to be uniform for different people and applications. Diversity of options and freedom from outside spying and control are essential.

Despite the obvious issues with Twitter it is the most interesting place to watch for global political communication, the only place you can publicly see politicians and participants in wars communicating with their opponents. Watching Twitter fights between Israeli forces and Gazans, the M23 militia and the FARDC military in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Rwanda politicians and the son of the man they are accused of just assassinating pushes the boundaries of communication about as far as I can imagine. To see these conversations cut short by censorship would be a huge loss.

There has been a great deal of discussion about trolls on Twitter and elsewhere, but they are to some extent the bottom feeders that keep the pond clean and are very self correcting in a troll eats troll platform. In a platform designed around celebrity and majority influence the unpopular opinions are left to the trolls so they are essential. The worst offenders in the name of free speech are those posting child abuse and other violations of privacy and personal integrity. In a self governed and open platform they can be dealt with by either the majority or a vigilante minority with support from law enforcement where crime is committed. The vigilante aspect is quickly reversed and turned on the vigilante if the public feels it is not justified. If a society agrees that certain behaviour cannot have anonymity it won’t for long. It is possible to design a platform where proxy routing anonymity can be tied to social approval so it would not be up to centralized control to decide.

A society with extreme free speech is too uncomfortable for many so it is essential to have both quiet places to work and open forums uncensorable by anything but public opinion and existing laws against child abuse and similar. Also essential is permeability, especially to influential forums. We now have a permanent Nemesis in astroturfing campaigns and attempts to game influence, plus spam. We have to somehow detect and block all that white noise while still maintaining both anonymity and ease of entry. This is definitely one of the most challenging puzzles we have to deal with right now, both socially and echoed in our tools.


How can we support your work?

In the interest of practicing what I preach, I have tried to not trade any of my work by manufacturing scarcity or withholding effort. It is my hope that people will one day pay for value already received by using the donate buttons at the top right on my blog instead of expecting a Kickstarter type campaign or funding drives. I also hope ideas will one day travel through peer promotion and knowledge bridges, not through personal brands or corporate promotion, so I do nothing with my work besides posting it on my blog. People who donate, share my work, use Amazon to share with prisoners, talk about it, translate it and encourage others to support it, leave me free to write and are very appreciated, even more since they are actively changing the world by using the methods described in Binding Chaos.

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.

Decentralised Decision-Making for Decentralised Currencies

bitcoin network

By now you’ve probably heard of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is a decentralised currency created by computers. To ‘mine’ bitcoin a computer  solves a mathematical problem that is hard to solve but easy to confirm. If you think about it this is sort of  like regular paper currency -its hard to forge banknotes, but its easy to recognise them.

The cryptocurrency community have been growing rapidly and depending on who you listen to cryptocurrencies are poised to either simply replace Paypal and Western Union by providing a simpler, cheaper way of transferring money, or collapse of the dominant financial institutions into a smoking, crumbling heap. Hmmm, probably somewhere in between :).

While cryptocurrencies aren’t perfect, they do allow people to participate in issuing their own currency and decide the rules that govern them. This is very similar to the motivations behind Loomio but for finances instead of decision-making.

Loomio is used by Bitcoin groups

Given that crypto groups are often spread out geographically and have similar ethos its not surprising that a number of them have started Loomio groups:

Redstar Mining is a publicly traded bitcoin mining cooperative that doesn’t have a physical meeting space. Loomio enables members to make business decisions in a private virtual space.

Let’s Talk Bitcoin’ is an online crytpocurrency community  who have started using Loomio to put  together a magazine ‘The Altcoin Observer.

Ethereum is another really interesting crytpo group that we’re in contact with. They’re starting a more generally applicable ‘crypto-platform’ that can be used for all kinds of applications -insurance, cooperative shareholding, secure identification etc. That’s why is really important to get any kind of insurance from sites as Insurance Partnership, in case of something bad happen, like a natural disaster, to have an easy way to claim it like using Insurance Claims in Florida and keep on with your life, and if the problem is more specific like only roof problems but the rest of the house is okay, you could get professionals from so the problem get fixed easily.

Loomio accepts bitcoin and dogecoin

We’re really interested in furthering our relationship with the crypto community. Our first step has been getting bitcoin and dogecoin wallets set up since Bitcoin to Paypal has proved a little tricky for us in the past. Then allowing bitcoin donations through our crowdfunding page.

Down the line, there are areas beyond simple online transactions where the crypto community can help.  For example, our long-term plan is to allow people to use loomio without a centralised database -users would have the option of being responsible for their own data and host it where the individual could have complete control over it. This functionality is currently only available at a group-level for groups who set up their own loomio installation. Its possible that a decentralised architecture could be built on top of crytpo network like what Ethereum plans to offer. In addition, we’d like to explore other features like crytpographically secure anonymization and identification, issuing cooperative shares etc. There are all kinds of possibilities. Our friends AgoraVoting have made some great strides here and I recommend checking out this article at Bitcoin Magazine to get a low-down of the possibilities of integrating online voting with the Best VPN and crypto-technologies.

If you have any ‘crytpo-expertise’ or belong to an online cryptocurrency community please get in touch or start a group on loomio!

Jacqui Graham: Meaningful Engagement in a Large Organisation

Jacqui GrahamJacqui Graham is a social entrepreneur who believes in using her skills for social good. Driven to improve the lives of New Zealanders who experience mental illness, Jacqui founded and serves as joint chief executive of the Wise Group, one of the largest non-government providers of community-based mental health and wellness services in New Zealand and some physical and training places for people to get healthy and even getting them some protein deals of the week for USN UK. The organisation employs over one thousand staff and is regarded as one of the most sophisticated and innovative NGO service providers. Jacqui sat down with us to discuss the importance of staff engagement and why she decided to use Loomio. Continue reading Jacqui Graham: Meaningful Engagement in a Large Organisation

Inspiring Disruptors

people doing awesome stuff with technology, democracy, and collaboration

Inspiring Disruptors are at the vanguard, maximising both autonomy and collaboration. They skillfully bring out the best of technology and the best of people, forging ahead into a new kind of society. We’re following in their footsteps, building tools for a new way of organising, communicating, and cooperating.



nancy whiteNancy White shares her 25 years of experience as an expert on online communities, talking to us about technology, leadership, diversity and the evolution of how we communicate online.


Amanda-PalmerAmanda Palmer: musician and crowdfunding queen. We talked to Amanda about her decision to embrace the gift economy, the art of asking, and what it’s like to live in public, he also gave us some excellent recommendations of guitars for everyone wanting to follow her steps.


Jacqui GrahamJacqui Graham, social entrepreneur and founder and chief executive of the Wise Group – one of the most sophisticated and innovative NGO service providers – on meaningful engagement in a large organisation.


Marianne Manilov, grassroots organizer, writer, media strategist, and founder of the Engage Network, on Occupy, democracy, love, movement building, and self-care.


Binding Chaos - book by Heather MarshHeather Marsh: activist, programmer, political theorist on new models for 21st Century governance, autonomous movements around the globe, and knowledge as a commons.


Marama DavidsonMarama Davidson, activist and social media maven, talks social media, social justice, and the future of politics.


Polly LaBarre, cofounder of the Management Innovation Exchange (MiX), on collaboration, democracy, technology, and the need for a new paradigm based on trust and freedom.


Stay tuned – we’ll be adding to this list of incredible people over time!

Interviewing Amanda Palmer on the gift economy

Rich portrait cropped Richard D. Bartlett is one of the co-founders of Loomio. He’s also an open-source hardware enthusiast, electronic noise gadget inventor, educator and activist.

Amanda Palmer is a musician who has built a hugely successful career based on the gift economy. When you go to her webstore, you see that paying for her music is voluntary: if you’re broke – take it. if you love it, come back and kick in later when you have the money.

When Amanda came to New Zealand last year, there was a chain of events that I found pretty amazing, but were seemingly pretty typical in her extraordinary life. She had connected with a local person here in Wellington (through the internet, surprise surprise) who offered to help her put on a show. Before she even landed, there was hype through the whole city (spread, of course, through social media and word of mouth). By the time she got here, there were enough excited people that she got off the plane and led a jubilant ‘ninja parade’ through the streets. After being contacted by someone I didn’t know, I volunteered to help organise the show, and with 48 hours notice Amanda performed to a packed crowd of 150 people in my friends’ living room.

AFP Garrett_12

video & photo credit: Mark Russell @ Adventure Artists

Amanda’s attitude towards the sharing economy has deeply informed our thinking about how we resource the Loomio project. So this year, I reached back out to her, as artfully as I could, to ask if she could help us by sharing her thoughts about sharing.



You’ve proved that the gift economy can work. How did you develop the courage to trust your crowd so deeply? Was it a gradual awakening or was there a moment when you took the plunge?

I don’t think it’s ever an OMG-lightbulb moment, any more than I truly believe in a single flash moment of falling in real true love. Real love and trust always takes time and gradual getting-it-ness.

I’m currently working on a book trying to explain why all of this all just seemed obvious to me, but a lot of it had to do with coming from an arts community where everybody shares resources and energy without thinking twice, and a lot of it had to do with being a street performer and a touring punk crowd-surfer….really feeling the deep sense of “knowing” that the crowd would consistently be there, even if the individuals were changing.


In your TED talk, you describe how the act of asking creates a moment of connection from one human to another, which in turn means that people want to support you. That makes sense when you can connect face-to-face with someone, but how do create that sense of connection with a massive crowd? How do you extend it across time and space?

I’ve done it with blogging and twitter. It’s about taking the time and consideration to actually talk to people one-on-one, bit by bit. Contrary to conventional wisdom… I actually read the comments.

And I talk, argue, and hang out with the people of the internet instead of just stating my case, shouting into my megaphone and scampering off, the way a lot of other marketers (or musicians) do. It’s a lifestyle choice, it means actually sharing my social and real self with the online crowd, but that comes really naturally to me, I love it. It’s like constantly being in a bar full of crazy people, and that sort of thing really turns me on. It also opens me up to a lot of negativity and noise and psychic violence, and that’s just part of the deal. You have to absorb it all, or it doesn’t work.


The transition from “make people pay” to “let them pay” indicates a profound shift in the economic relationship between producer and consumer. Does this only work for music and software? Or do you think we could run the world on a gift economy?

I’m not that crazy. I think, in essence, once you aren’t dealing person-to-person, you’re going to have to start using symbols, and 8 billion people all magically trusting each other doesn’t sound very realistic, does it? But within communities, and between businesses and audiences and artists – absolutely.

I think the more important immediate shift in thinking is about how we can support and talk to each other without the middlemen we’ve all just taken for granted for years.

That’s where the asking, giving and receiving without awkwardness and fear could really change things, right now, because so much of it is just uncomfortableness. so many artists just won’t ask. And so many people have such a hard time talking about money – and understanding that art is a concrete thing that costs money to make. But it must be made, by someone, somewhere, or we’ll have no art.


You release your work under a Creative Commons license, which encourages sharing and remixing. We’ve done the same with our software (Loomio is under AGPL). What impact has this had on your work? Has it lead to any really great remixes or new collaborations?

It hasn’t much, but I’m not an electronic artist… my songs don’t beg for remixes. They kind of yell at them to leave the room: there’s only so much you can “do” with an off-tempo solo piano/ukulele and voice track, which is the sort of thing I’ve done lately – and I’ve yet to upload much stuff in its component parts. That being said: I give a lot of my music to smaller art-makers, film people, etc for free, because I’d always rather things be free than locked down. Functioning with that attitude always leads to something. It’s just not always direct. Some of the artists I know and have become friends with follow a thread you can trace seven steps back to one fan tweeting another fan of some free content. It’s all impossibly beautifully networked together.

AFP Kickstarter campaign


In 2012 you ran an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign, which allowed you to release and tour a new album without the support of a record label, but also opened you up to intense scrutiny from all corners of the web. On balance, was the experience more liberating or demoralising? Is crowdfunding the democratic leveller we all want it to be, or a just a hyperactive new strain of capitalism?

Liberating, always. There’s no other way to function.

You can’t go out and share your life, work and soul, trying to figure shit out as you go along in a giant, slapdash-organized drunken love parade with all your friends… and not expect the inevitable backlash. But I stand solidly by the things I’ve done, I have no regrets. I mean, I’m a human being. On the days when I log onto the twitter and see “AMANDA PALMER IS A SUPERFICIAL FUCKING FRAUD WITH NO BACKBONE FUCK HER AND HER BULLSHIT TED TALK”, yes, I feel a bit demoralized. But there’s usually enough understanding from the rest of the gallery to make up for it, and I follow the light.

It still baffles me that people see crowdfunding as “begging” and musicians asking for subscription help as “scrounging”. It’s like: what’s the difference between giving money direct to the artist and buying a piece of plastic at Best Buy? Wouldn’t you rather deal directly with the artist, so they see the money? It’s amazing how many intelligent people can’t connect those dots.


Finally, what are you working on now, and how can we help?

Aw, thanks. I’m cranking away at this book, which is tentatively titled “the art of asking”, and it’s exploring all these above topics and way more. It’s funny, it started out being a book just about street performing and crowd funding and it’s wound up being much more personal… about my friendships, my marriage, and all sorts of other things that perfectly explain the headspace you have to get yourself into if you’re going to see the cyclical nature of things and release yourself into being a good asker and a good receiver, or a good giver. It’s been a crazy, personal journey for me as well. I never stop learning…everybody and everything always teaches me.

One thing I’ve learned for sure, even though it’s something I’ve been told all my life by my mentors: all beings seek liberation. Even if they don’t know it…they do, they’re like sunflowers aching to the sky. When you start looking at the street and the marketplace and all human beings that way, everything starts to make more sense.



❤ Loomio is currently practicing the ‘art of asking’ with this ambitious crowdfunding campaign, to develop software that makes it easy for anyone anywhere to participate in decisions that affect them. Find out more at  ❤

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.


Loomio in Conversation with Online Community Expert Nancy White

Nancy White brings over 25 years of communications, technology and leadership skills in her work supporting collaboration, learning and communications in the NGO, non profit and business sectors. Loomio is honoured to have her support in our efforts to bring better online collaboration to the world. She’s co-author of the book Digital Habits: stewarding technology for communities.

We sat down with Nancy on Skype and picked her brain about online communities – how they adopt and use technology, best practice for distributed leadership and decision-making, the importance of cultivating relationships and diversity, and where she sees the future of online communities going in the context of her decades of watching them evolve.

See all 4 parts separately below, or if you’d like to see them all together watch this playlist.

Part 1: Technology and Communities

Why Nancy is supporting Loomio, the role of technology stewards, and how communities adopt new technology.

Part 2: Decision-making, Leadership, and Empowerment

How decision-making works in different kinds of online communities, and what needs to happen to support distributed leadership and empowerment.

Part 3: Relationships and Diversity

Building human relationships to support working together online, the importance of age and gender diversity, and the “disproportionate opportunity” women have in this space.

Part 4: The Evolution of Online Communities

The evolution of online communities, and Nancy’s vision for the future.

Nancy’s latest blog series is on Network and Community Governance.