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.