Delight in Uncertainty…. Gulp.

Stories from the Road

Loomio Co-op Member and Director MJ Kaplan has been all over the US in recent months, at conferences exploring impact, collaboration, the economy, the future of work, and more.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-3-25-14-pmI was invited to New York by Coburn Ventures, a unique investment firm that is passionate – maybe even obsessed – with understanding complex, deep transformation in the world.  They convened a diverse group of 100 people to explore, reflect and reimagine the dynamics that affect investment and, more broadly, are influencing how we live and work. Continue reading Delight in Uncertainty…. Gulp.

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

Helping Teams Thrive with Loomio – My Journey with Collaboration Consulting

Since Loomio first launched, the team has been fielding requests from clients to help make the tool and collaborative processes work for them. In response, Loomio has offered consulting Services that discover needs, identify changes to work processes, and coach key team members to understand the magic and the practicality of Loomio’s mission: “Enabling everyone to have a say in decisions that affect them”.

Now Loomio is starting to work with independent consultants, like me, to offer these services to a wider range of clients.

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Continue reading Helping Teams Thrive with Loomio – My Journey with Collaboration Consulting

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!

Our People: Jesse Doud

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


Why did you get involved with Loomio?

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

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

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

What’s the best thing about bicycle collectives?

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

What do you do day-to-day?

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

What inspires you about working in Loomio’s community?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Our People from Across the Seas: MJ Kaplan

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


Why did you get involved with Loomio?

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

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

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

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

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

What inspires you about working in Loomio’s community?

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

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

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

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