Warm greetings from the beautiful South Pacific summer! Before we wind down for the holidays I wanted to reach out with a final message for the year.
2016 has been an extraordinarily turbulent year. The earthquake that brought down office buildings in Wellington seems to be the perfect metaphor for the political shakes in Europe, the US, and Middle East that have gripped the world. Checking in with my friends and colleagues overseas, I hear a lot of grief, uncertainty, and fear: progressive people have the sense that something important is slipping away.
Big stories like Brexit, the US election, and the Syrian civil war take up so much space, they can drown out the sound of the many reasons to be hopeful in 2017. The people that are growing “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” tend to be quiet: they’d rather spend their time tending their local initiatives, rather than drawing attention to themselves.
One of the most energising things about working on Loomio is that I get to connect with inspirational people working on incredible projects nearly every day. So as we close out 2016, I wanted to share a couple of reasons to be hopeful in 2017:
A big win for people power in South Korea
I was in Seoul last week, marching with millions of people to celebrate the government’s vote to impeach their corrupt president. The atmosphere was festive: street food, families, music, and joyful self-expression; a complete turnaround from the violently suppressed protests I saw there in 2015. It was a truly historic day as this young democracy proved to itself that nobody is above the law.
There’s a digital revolution quietly underway in Taiwan
We’ve always admired g0v, the civic hacker community in Taiwan who translated Loomio while they were occupying government buildings in 2014. We were delighted to host g0v contributor Audrey Tang for the Open Source Open Society conference in August. Watch her talk here or read this article to find out about how Taiwan has become the frontier of participatory government over the past 2 years.
Digital democracy is spreading into new territory
This year we saw the movement for participatory decision-making spread further than ever before, with two major Loomio projects in Africa. The Youth Forum of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Nairobi involved hundreds of young people from dozens of African nations in shaping UN policy. On the other side of the continent, Le Réveil du Gabon (The Revival of Gabon) worked with hundreds of young people to develop a “new page of Gabonese history.” And back home, Statistics New Zealand used Loomio to involve citizens in designing the 2018 census.
There’s a growing appetite for democracy in our workplaces and our communities
MJ Kaplan, our US-based Loomio co-op member, has been on the road this year finding reasons to be hopeful despite the shock of the election there. She shares her reflections from seven conferences, spanning a huge spectrum from The New Work Summit, to the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation. She discovered an ever-increasing appetite for more participatory organising both in our workplaces and in our communities.
Loomio is a social enterprise committed to strengthening democracy in the community and at work. After 3 years of giving away a free product, in 2016 we made a significant investment in developing an online business model. Our aim is to find a revenue model where the people paying to use Loomio at work subsidise unpaid community users. We’re delighted to welcome our first 150 customers each paying a monthly subscription from $20 to $100. However, our financial reserves are low, so we’re going to need your support if we’re going to grow a sustainable enterprise.
If you’re using Loomio in a community group, now would be a great time to make a donation so we can keep improving the software. If you’re using Loomio in an organisation, paying for a subscription will help us prove that it’s possible to build a sustainable business online without selling users’ private data to advertisers (you’ll find the “upgrade” button on your group page).
We’ve just launched Loomio School, everything we’ve learned about inclusive and efficient online decision-making. So if you’ve been thinking about using Loomio in your project or organisation, but you’re not sure where to start, check out the stories and guides in the Loomio School, get inspired, and start a group.
Okay, it’s time for me to get off the computer for a couple of weeks. Thanks so much for the ongoing support, and for all the amazing work you’re doing in your communities! As we look into the new year, there’s a huge amount of uncertainty ahead, but with love and courage I really believe we can make some beautiful things happen in 2017.
Warmest wishes on behalf of the whole Loomio co-op,
from Rich Bartlett (cofounder)