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”
People in 75 countries joined a fundraising fitness class for supporting children’s access to water in East Africa. The event was a result of Unicef NZ and Les Mills putting their strengths together in a global campaign supported by Loomio.
In mid 2017 MovetheWorld.live established a partnership between UNICEF NZ and global fitness company Les Mills International, sharing a goal of creating a world where every child survives and thrives.
Access to clean drinking water, one of our fundamental needs, affects over 2.1 billion people worldwide. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of waterborne diseases.
On the 18th of November 2017 tens of thousands of people in 75 countries took part in the “Workout for Water” campaign led by Les Mills instructors and clubs. The goal was to raise funds and awareness for UNICEF’s global programmes for children.
Building a global team; delivering with speed
One of the challenges faced from the project outset was to mobilise team members across multiple locations and timezones.
“Creating a team space to facilitate, capture and consolidate our thinking; make decisions and collaborate on the work was a priority from the beginning”, says Chris Rae, Programme Manager, Move the World.live.
The newly established team crossed four organisations based in Wellington, Auckland, Geneva, Copenhagen and London. Face to face meetings were rarely an option and at no point was the whole team in the same room.
“We had about 3 months to move from zero to global fundraising capability. While we used tools like Trello to manage our Product Backlog and Zoom for our face-to-face virtual meetings, we wanted an intentionally designed virtual team space to help the team form quickly, where anybody could start or participate in conversations”.
Understandably the team was initially reticent about using “another new tool” but before long everyone was using Loomio including the Project Governance Board.
Anna Harre, UNICEF NZ’s Digital Specialist was new to Loomio. “I thought Loomio was the ideal tool to use to organise our group conversations and keep them out of email. The way topics were categorised worked really well for the team, the threads were easy to keep track of and it was very simple to begin a new thread when another major decision needed to be made. I liked the notifications you received daily saying ‘things you missed on Loomio’. I used the ‘Unread Threads’ tab all the time, and the ‘Recent Threads’ tab was also really handy to catch up on conversations I might have missed.”
Multifunctional Loomio keeps everything secure and confidential
The new Loomio product features released earlier this year helped the Move the World team to save time.
“Coordinating team calendars in multiple timezones became an easy task with Loomio Time Poll. Using threads for each meeting meant that all related content, including decisions and actions could be stored in one place; where everyone could continue to contribute even after the meeting was completed,” describes Mary O’ Keeffe, Project Manager, MoveTheWorld.live
“I love the ‘check’ function” says Mary, “It’s an easy way for people to say ‘yes, I’ve completed/I agree’ and takes no time at all. We actually used dot voting to agree our MoveTheWorld.live brand. It meant a lot to involve the team in that decision.”
The team made extensive use of sub-groups with vendors, technical and management teams. Importantly, Loomio allowed specific content to be shared efficiently with only the relevant people. Moreover, the security of Loomio gave the team trust to use it as a confidential platform for reviewing and archiving documents.
Global group-work resulted in funds for water
Workout for Water was run in less than six months, which is a relatively short time for a global campaign by two large organisations. Regardless of geographical challenges and time-pressure, the team managed to organise their work successfully. As a result, the campaign has raised over USD $700k to date; enough to set up 1,700 water pumps.
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.
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.
One of the benefits of working at Loomio is that we get to connect with a big variety of social movements around the world. It’s always inspiring to discover another group of citizens finding new ways of generating deeper engagement with their government. Here’s a short story about one of those movements using Loomio right now in Venezuela.
DSDVzla (Democracy, Society and Development of Venezuela) is a movement of distributed networks all over the Venezuelan territory. This year in April, they started using Loomio to organise and communicate with citizens.
In conversation with them, they told me that because of the current political crisis in Venezuela, they have had to use all their effort, cleverness, creativity and courage to guarantee greater democratic participation.
“We’ve found ourselves needing to use new tools for communications and information. And to implement new ways of doing activism and political organisation, that allow all citizens to participate in social and political ways, from their own realities and abilities.”
Loomio helps them organise effectively, despite the movement being distributed across the country. Everyone can participate in decision-making, while still moving quickly and efficiently.
They have found the new decision tools particularly helpful, especially the poll, the time poll and check. They’re sure they will get to fully benefit from all the functionalities that Loomio offers, as a tool well adjusted to the needs of the new millennium organisations.
You and your team can also benefit using Loomio! Set up a new group here.
Una de los beneficios de trabajar en Loomio, es estar conectada con una gran cantidad de movimientos sociales alrededor del mundo. Siempre me inspira encontrar un nuevo grupo intentando generar una mayor participación ciudadana en sus gobierno. Esta es una pequeña historia sobre como uno de estos grupos está usando Loomio en Venezuela.
El grupo Democracia, Sociedad y Desarrollo de Venezuela (DSDVzla) es un movimiento de redes distribuidas que se extiende por todo el territorio nacional de Venezuela. En Abril de este año han comenzado a utilizar Loomio para organizarse y comunicarse con los ciudadanos.
En conversación con ellos, me cuentan que bajo las condiciones políticas por las que está atravesando Venezuela actualmente, han tenido que poner toda su astucia, esfuerzo, creatividad y coraje, para mejorar y garantizar una mayor participación democrática.
“Nos vemos en la necesidad de usar nuevas herramientas de comunicación e información. E implementar formas de activismo y organización políticas novedosas que permitan que todos los ciudadanos puedan ser partícipes social y políticamente desde su propia realidad y con sus propias habilidades”.
Considerando que el movimiento está distribuidos a través del país, Loomio les ayuda a maximizar sus resultados. Permitiendo que todos los activistas tengan la oportunidad de participar en la toma de decisiones eficazmente y en corto plazo.
Encuentran particularmente útil las nuevas herramientas de decisiones de Loomio para organizarse, sobre todo la encuesta, la comprobación de participación y la coordinación de horarios. Y están seguros que llegarán a aprovecharán todos las funcionalidades que Loomio ofrece al ser una herramienta muy bien adecuada a las necesidades de las organizaciones del nuevo milenio.
Tú y tu grupo también pueden beneficiarse usando Loomio! Inicia un nuevo grupo aquí.
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:
- April 4th, 5:30pm. Public talk in Providence, RI: Crazy Times Demand Solutions that Work
- April 6th-10th: working with community organisers in Indianapolis.
- April 8th, 11am: Workshop in Indianapolis
- April 14th, 5pm: Moving Platform Cooperativism from Theory to Practice at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
- April 18th, 6pm: “Who Knows?”, non-hierarchical organising discussion in NYC with ThoughtWorks and Progressive Coders Network
- April 20th, 10am: Flat Structure Organizing for Cooperatives and Other Workplaces – Workshop in NYC
- April 21st, 9am: Loomio and Enspiral Workshop in NYC
- April 26th, 6pm: Participatory Organizing: From Co-op to Network to Mass Movement in Washington, DC
- May 3rd: head to the West Coast for a co-hosted event with Democracy at Work in LA: Tools and culture for participatory organizing
- May 9th: 3:30pm talk at UCSB in Santa Barbara: I Want My Techno Utopia Back!
- May 10th: 3:30pm workshop at UCSB: Organising Without Bosses
- May 19th: Workshop at Impact Hub Oakland: Tools & Culture for Participatory Organizing
- May 20th: 10am we’ll be at The Rootcamp event hosting our workshop.
- May 23rd: 5:30pm will be hosting our workshop in Portland, Oregon.
- May 25th: 4pm Workshop in Eugene, Oregon
- May 27th to 30th: New Orleans 💃🏽
- June 3rd: 10am Tools and Culture for Creating Participatory Networks: An Experiential Workshop in Asheville, North Carolina
- Back to NYC on June 5th, flying out to Barcelona on June 8th.
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:
The energy of so many people careening toward Washington D.C. was palpable on January 21st.
I’d felt this power once before, 8 years ago as I arrived on the national mall with my family to wait in the freezing cold with 1.8 million others to witness the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. We felt deep pride and hopefulness that we had elected the first African American U.S. President. We were inspired by Obama’s intelligence, humility and frankly his humanity. Eight years later we were awed by the integrity of the man, even though we accepted that he was unable to achieve even a small measure of our aspirations from that frigid day of celebration in 2009.
The contrast between Obama and Trump coudn’t be more severe. My emotions were anger and despair when I travelled to Washington for the Women’s March (still working through the stages of grief).
Before I left for D.C. I pulled out my protest paraphernalia from as far back as 1980. Reagan’s election prompted my early activism. We launched a women’s network to protest the escalation of nuclear power and arms. Our founder, Dr. Helen Caldicott, had successfully rallied physicians to protest the nuclear threat, leveraging her credibility as a physician to make a scientific argument. Women flocked to her talks with deep concern; however, most lacked a basic understanding of international defense policy or political organizing. So we formed WAND to educate and organize women to advocate for people-centered policies. We tapped the power dynamics of the first presidential gender gap — a distinctly partisan voting pattern between women and men that still persists. As I prepared for this Women’s March 35 years later, I was uncomfortable with gender as an organizing frame. Are we women going to save democracy from this kleptocrat? After all, 42% voting women chose Trump compared to just 54% for Clinton. And white women skewed support for Trump.
I believe that today’s movement requires us to think and act beyond identity politics. We must create a swell of humanity who will override tribal fears and entrenched ‘isms’ to restore love, respect and democracy.