Can we and should we pull off an official Edgeryders organisation?

 

A number of conversations have been going on regarding the creation of an organisation ( aka community with a legal structure ) to facilitate the work of Edgeryders and the future development of the Edgeryders platform. What a few of us (Darren, Ksenia, Noemi) want to propose here is the creation of a not-for-profit organisation to facilitate the collaborative projects of Edgeryders, helping us to working together effectively. 

 

A organisation with a legal identity would-

 
  • be able to attract more funding than one without. 
  • have greater legitimacy in all kinds of interactions and negotiations, (in this respect it would also benefit from having a good relationship with the Council of Europe and be able to use this social currency as leverage to promote its work)
 

An organisation has a set of aims and objectives which act to clearly (and legally) define what it is all about to anyone who is interested.  This provides a level of clarity when engaging with others (particularly important for funders)

 

As an organisation, Edgeryders would act as a link between opportunities and community projects,providing a platform for its members to promote their own initiatives, and implement them at local, regional , national or international levels.

 

There is a particular interest in having a legal entity to use for organising Edgeryder ‘branded’ events. It may also give greater legitimacy to the distributed think tank function of Edgeryders.  

 
Funding
 

Funding could be pursued to-

 
  • pay for the functioning of the organisation (maintaining the website, organising events etc.)
  • distribute to Edgeryders: is this a necessary, or desirable function or does it cause problems creating one more step between projects and funds? Would it be better for each project to seek its own funds?
  • Social incubators are being offered funding to redistribute to projects. Other large funding streams work in a similar fashion - funding trusted organisations who redistribute funds. Can/should Edgeryders seek to perform such a function?
  • Previous  Edgeryder discussions about funding are here
 
If we are to create this organisation we need to be clear of its functions. This is further discussions  if, when, how, who??
 
If?
  • Are there other ways funds can be gained or channelled that make this effort unnecessary? 
  • Are there other ways we could organise activities without being tied to a legal identity? 
When?
  • What would be a good time scale to get something registered?
  • A tentative timeline would be to collect input from the community by end of August/ or September because summer's slow? and then move on to get things done: either testing this vision, or start crowdsourcing to register ER; And have a formal organization with mission, objectives, by the end of 2012
Who?
  • Who should the organisation support? Support already existing initiatives, organisations etc and connect them with institutions,problems and funders? Some sort of a network optimisation thing. 
  • How about status issues? Who is a member of ER organisation, who isn't (officially we are over 1000 on the platform, but 200 active at most)? Are we in favour of membership fees?
  • Who will do the work of registering the organization? Obviously this will depend on where we are registering it..but intentions should be signalled from now :)
  • Who will do the work of keeping the organization going? Legally speaking, we would need a board or some sort of official representatives, depending on our status. Practically we probably wouldn't want it to translate into hierarchy or decision-making power, or paid work which is not approved on a democratic basis.
How?
  • What legal structure should we use? Some kind of non profit would appear appropriate. Different countries have different rules and types of legal entity - each may have benefits or restrictions.  Please comment on this with specific info from your own country. 
  • Would it be best to register in a country with a big concentration of ERs who want to get involved?
  • How can we cover costs to register the organisation? Do we go for crowdfunding online?  (check this one startsomegood.com )
  • How will decisions be made? Can we create an effective system of open governance? This is a super important question and needs to be clarified before taking any real action.

    WHAT KIND OF ORGANIZATION DO WE WANT?

  • How will tasks, selection and assignment be organised?
  • Should we prototype it before registering formally? We could first try with a small fund for informal communities (K had  some ideas about this..).
  • Partner organizations? is this too early to bring to the discussion?
 
And now the tough part: What do you think about all of this fellow Edgeryders?
The main questions we'd like to explore in the comments of this report: 
 
1. Would you like to see Edgeryders becoming a formalized structure?
2. Would you like to be part of it? If yes, what role and how much work you would be willing to take up?
3. The HOWs: how would this work in your vision and experience? Look up at the questions and ideas and argue, or bring in your own!

Finally!

We’ve been having some informal discussions, but needed a place to open up talks and go into details… I’m definitely in!

Generally I’m not at all fond of organizations whose culture is based on hierachies, and decisions that are made at the top. In the short time I’ve worked in an NGO I’ve seen money going to waste because people were employees and didn’t care, they weren’t growing their own projects and didn’t have personal satisfaction because of that, or incentives to aim high or do really high quality work. it’s always the race for funding, and  strategic picks of topics to work on, based on where the funding is and chances to obtain it in a competition. This is my personal question to you guys:  can we keep the spirit of Edgeryders and shared values that we have and couple them with sustainability in the long run? Like, without compromising the freshness of the ideas?

I think Edgeryders should seek funding for projects that were born from our collectivity, what we are passionate about, but also act as umbrella for its members’ individual projects… as a network of support : meaning that if for example James and the people in Access Space are doing something, Edgeryders as organization would be involved as well, or help in any way we can…

And lastly for now, I don’t know about a board of ‘directors’, but definitely in favor of a core group taking at least a minimum lead, but not closed and based on volunteering (at least in the beginning): doing administrative work and strategic planning, centralization of what is going on in the different corners of Europe where Edgeryders are based to ensure visibility of their projects at community level, after all some sort of community managers… 

1 Like

doing the work

I wonder how we could effectively orgnanise governance and workflows.

I think that we would be demonstarting something extremely valuable if we can create an organisation that is extremely open to participation (in completeing tasks/ engageing in governance ) and easy to engage with so that anyone that likes what they see and feels compelled to get involved can get involved.

Involutes link to Valve shows the workings of a company that runs without bosses.

Possible working methods could be something like -

  • I've previously posted links on Edgeryders to Bettermeans (accept the cirtificate is it is still asking whe you click on the link). Bettermeans is a fork from Pivotal Tracker
  • I recently noticed this croudfuunding campaign for a tool set designed to facilitate effective collaboration (both this and Bettermeans would apparently provide a possible means to organise paying people for completing tasks)
  • Open Source Ecology are developing an interesting working method - Flashy XM - here is a blog post
  • Anyone else got any suggestions for working methods we could use?
Both Bettermeans and Flashy XM are based upon agile software development working methodology.

Of course all this is dependant on people actually being interested in getting involved in running the organisation…  I’m fairly confident that their are the skills and energy in the network to pull this off, I’m prepared to put time in, if nothing else it will be an interesting experiment :slight_smile:

Zeitgeist on your side

Well played, sir. This was kind of hovering in the air at and immediately after #LOTE: fair play to you for actually going out in the open and making the proposal.

My two cents: I think an official Edgeryders organization would have added value to the outside world if it could feasibly mobilize Egderyders around certain goals or projects. Take me: I might have a backer for the Unmonastery idea. But there’s a catch: I am a little nervous about pushing it through without being sure that a core group of smart. hard working and charismatic people from the community will apply to join the Unmonastery- an make the whole idea more attractive and credible by powering it. An ER organization with a little traction would make me feel more comfortable: once the board says it’s in, it’s in.

At the same time, I think that an official Edgeryders organization would be sustainable if it could provide added value to the Egderyders themselves in pursuing their own projects. Who wants to be a member of an organization when membership does not really mean anything in terms of how we live our lives? And in fact, you seem to attribute to it only one function: fundraising.

Functionally speaking, it could be feasible. The question is who is going to put in the heavy lifting, and do all of the hustling for the others to go out and play! It is very possible that many people would want in, but few would want to raise “common” funding. A solution to the dilemma could be to give this organization a more detailed mission, that allows it to act as an enabler while still being cool while it does so. Again, the Unmonastery is a good example: it is essentially an enabling mechanism, but I am up for doing (well, trying anyway) the heavy lifting because it is a very cool, potentially game-changing enabling mechanism.

Perhaps the contents of the TEDx talk I did might help?

Hi Guys,

kudos to Darren, Noemi and Ksenia for keeping this up. I dont know if you saw I did a TEDx presentation last saturday but it was on a relevant topic so you may find the content useful…I’ve posted the slides here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/102438722/TEDxULg-Presentation-by-Nadia-EL-Imam

Personally I have found that being forced to communicate my thoughts and ideas to an audience helps me to achieve clarity and focus. And also being forced to keep it short is great for filtering away anything but the most essential thing you want to achieve and can do with the resources at your disposal. So maybe putting something like that together would be a good idea.

Also rather than try to establish general rules I would suggest starting with identifying a number of people and who both would appreciate/ need concrete support from other community members, and would be willing to help others with their own projects. Try to prototype a good process and based a design on it, rather than the other way around.

As an example I recently did a workshop during an event in Berlin where I was asked to talk about Collaboration. Instead I just had the people in the session do a simple excercise:

We start with a simple round of introductions: your name and something you are obsessed or very interested in. As well as why you are in the room.

Next we do a little exercise around trust: I ask people to split up into twos with one blindfolded and the other leading them to the one end of the room and back using only verbal instructions. We sit down and I ask people to describe their experience and we reflect on it a bit and talk about what this means. It’s open ended but ties to collaboration and that is why we are there. When it feels like we are ready I ask people to do the following:

  1. Write down names of people you know you can turn to for help, people who would be the first you would ask. Take 2 minutes to do this.

  2. Now you are asked to next to each name write some things you thing they are good at. Do this for each name, you have 5 minutes to go through the list of names so you have to be fast.

Finally we sit in a ring and everyone reads out what things they have written next to the names (without reading the names). People are asked if they would find any of those things useful and note down the connections to do a follow up email afterwards…

Perhaps some version of this could be done online?

The route ahead…

Good stepping stones

https://www.mindmeister.com/189965121/crowdfunding-campaign-planning-template-by-crowdcamp

http://bayarea.the-hub.net/ (“here”)

http://forumblog.org/2012/08/ideas-for-change-social-business/

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/valve-a-bossless-company-with-centralized-ownership/2012/08/05

Bossless

Another article about Valve and other ‘bossless’ companies

More specific?

Ok guys, so I think we can fairly agree on an org that’s “bossless” and horizontal in the relationships it fosters…  But logistically, we still need to define is how would that work in an organized fashion. I was just reading a piece by C. Shirky the other day about the importance of core groups in social software design…

Members are different than users. A pattern will arise in which there is some group of users that cares more than average about the integrity and success of the group as a whole. And that becomes your core group, Art Kleiner’s phrase for "the group within the group that matters most.

The core group has rights that trump individual rights in some situations. This pulls against the libertarian view that’s quite common on the network, and it absolutely pulls against the one person/one vote notion. But you can see examples of how bad an idea voting is when citizenship is the same as ability to log in. (this is tricky… levels of membership)

Is it enough that 5 of us here want to register Edgeryders, w/out everybody having a say in how this would happen? Afterwards, who decides what makes a good member and other key internal guidelines?

A lot of questions that may be difficult to answer in one thread, and we wouldn’t go past the conceptualization… I’d start with having a task force doing the basic arrangements e.g. potentially building a short questionnaire to be filled in by evberybody here having an interest in this topic (like all ERs ever having completed a mission) and answering basic design questions, then  at least to know how large a base we have and what people want to commit to…

We seem to be throwing ideas at the table still… I’m hoping we could reach out to as many in the community for this. Help spread the word ?

Bring on the evolvers

My two cents: anyone wants go out and starts an Edgeryders organization. It is not illegal (even the name is CC-BY), so no one can stop him or her anyway. People will join, or not. If they don’t, the world is not any worse off for it - we just stay in the baseline state. If they do, we have a new organization. Good going! Now, if the organization fails, again no big deal, back to baseline. But if it succeeds, it’s bingo.

I think the incentives are really aligned in the right way. The probability of success of anyone simply running off with the idea are so low it’s not even worth considering: it is clear that the novelty value of this stuff is in the diversity and talent of the core ER community - and in its interface with the Council of Europe, I would argue. So anybody wanting to do this is incentivized to talk to the others as it is. I don’t feel the need for a formalized veto power. So go ahead, guys/girls. Anyone feels adventurous?

Hello Noemi (and others :slight_smile: )

I read that Shirky piece too. (it was tweeted by an edgeryder, yes?) and found it very intersting.

I agree that without doubt a clearly defined structure is required and I guess complete openess would be inviting trouble??

Similar in commons theory, there has to be boundaries to the commons.  The question, from my perspective, is how do we structure this so that these boudaries can be reasonably porus.

Have you watched the video about Bettermeans ??  with a bit of group discipline I think it could be used very effectively. I’ve yet to see this happen but am up for trying!! (it’s also opensource!!)

I like the idea of a questionnaire. I found that this was a good way to gauge a groups ideas/thoughts when many of them weren’t really giving much input into a project we were building together (some people talk a lot at meetings, others don’t).  Think it could possibly work here - although guess it may require a bit of pestering to get some of them filled? In the case I mention I had to drive round on my motor bike and collar individuals at their homes to get a reasonable number of questionnaires filled!!

Heres a pad I just started for drafting up a questionnaire.  I have created an Edgeryders group on the mozilla etherpad site which gives some interesting group functionality (group members can see who is ‘in’ each group pad, see list of all group pads, last edit and create non-public group pads)  - as admin I can add anyone as a user, see when they last visited and make users admins.  Think these functions would be usefull for group working (+ they are developing more :slight_smile: )

I don’t like the term ‘core group’, (from the Shirky quote) it reeks a bit of exclusiveness to me, I’ve stated this in other projects  in which I have participated where this was being used.

I’m really keen not to build something with a small group doing all the work, all the time (and making most of the decisions) goes back to what I was saying on another mission about agency… what I feel is really important.  I appreciate it may take a small group to get the ball rolling - but I’d really like to see a structure in place designed for widespread participation.

To the structure we are heading indeed

Hi Darren, yup I think it was @rysiekpl who shared the piece on twitter, and good he did.

Now, I’m very much into surveys, only thing is when’s the best time to do that. Considering what Alberto was saying and talking to K a bit, she’s in the process of looking to register Edgeryders. Any news on that K? Once we have that we can take it from there… I’m willing to work with you on the questionnaire in the meantime, problem is we’d need more input so that it’s not the 2-3 of us again. The community needs to know about the Edgeryders organization,  so do you have any suggestion for helping spread the word? I can do that thru official @Edgeryders account and on facebook page, even on mailing list, but limitedly and a bit impersonally. Works best when we reach out to one another individually, right?

PS Got link to the Edgeryders group on etherpad?

Hello Noemi

Yes I think if the questionaire is to be attempted it would have to be backed with us engaging directly with edgeryders whom we have personally connected and asking (pleading??) with each of them directly to fill it out (apparently mass mails / tweets are not going to work for this).  Also ask them to try to get others that they know to do the same.  If not I fear it would not gain much more response than this thread has - which I have to admit is less than I expected.  I guess we may end up disappointed, although I would hope with a short and sweet questionnaire and lots of pleading we can get some responses to guide further progress.

Sorry, yes, link for the edgeryder etherpad group is https://edgeryders.etherpad.mozilla.org

With regards to registering something - I think we need to be clear what it is we wish to register, what we hope to achieve, as the legal structure and associated constitution will have a major influence over the kind of organisation you end up with - to my mind this is not something that should be rushed into.

I’ve studied business and finance and spent time as the director of an alternative energy co-operative I’ve also been involved with setting up a couple of co-operatives and a community land trust (I know a lot about company structures and registration in a UK context)

Something I learnt at the alternative energy co-op I joined is that even though you may be doing interesting cutting edge work, with never enough time in the day, if you want to have some kind of, potentially participatory organisation, it is really really important to ensure you understand exactly how the organisation is structured and that as part of that organisation you try to ensure that everyone involved understands this and that effective governance is performed.  This co-op failed in all these respects.  Company registration and structure can all be a bit boring and confusing (some times very much so).  Meetings can be tiring and uninspiring.  But it really is worth taking the effort.

The only person who understood the structure of the alt energy co-op was the person who wrote / registered it.  Other people had ideas of what they thought the co-op was.  Very occassionally there were (very informal) meetings of the directors (one of whom never wanted to attend), other workers were not sure if they were members of the co-op or not and gererally never attended meetings.  It moved along with people working in the co-op making decisions or giving orders as each considered appropriate.  Good will and a turnover of workers who got involved untill they realised that things were not whatever it was they had envisaged when they first started working and then left.

This eventually included me.  I thought that the co-op had dirrectors to handle day to day riunning and members (workers) who were the equal owners.  In effect two directors made all decisions, end of story, although they would listen to and were influenced by the other people present.  (Possibly 3 when I was there + I always tried to ensure that the other people who there had their voices heard)

So I would always spend lots of time trying to ensure the structure is right (even though this may be boring and frustraiting at times - I could tell you some stories).   With a participatory project like Edgeryders, kind of (?) appears to be, I would want to get as much input from the people who were, prospectively, to be involved with the organisation before I started to set it up.

“Make everything better” fund ?

I liked the idea of a make everything better fund, someone asked about it in the dear funder’s letter thread if i remember well.

Considering crowdfunding, i’d like to see something like goteo -which is supposed to allow to ask for money and services- but without the necessity to actually run a formal structure to access this kind of request.

ER structure could be funded through many ways : public help, private donations…

The more money it can get, the more people and projects it can help.

But projects and individuals could also express specific needs to allow crowdfunding for an individual or the project he carries.

So basically, the idea would be to have a mother project which goal would be to connect people, create events and unmonasteries… and sister projects which would be individual or collective projects.

So funders would be able to chose between supporting the entire structure, or a specific project.

ER members could then benefit from the structure and its members and from external funding and services.

Resource allocation could be discuted between ER members in a transparent way.

Membership could be open to anyone. Those expressing specific needs would be able to express it and make it visible for ER members and on a crowdfunding/service sharing space.

Every project could be defined considering how short or long term it is…

I don’t know if it’s possible to do such things…

I’s pretty hard to get funds when a project isn’t about making profits.

Maybe a fund to help projects which can benefit to everyone could make the trick.

Sustainability, resilience, social and health care, open source devlopment and everything that is about helping others and sharing should be rewarded somehow (it’s already rewarding to do so, but pretty hard to make a living from it). Helping others should allow to have a decent life and ways to do even more.

Working for the common good has no value in this monetary system, but an alternate funding structure could be a magical “turn money into common good” thing.

*CRÉATION “THINK TANK” OFFICIEL EDGERYDERS *

For information :

HELP BUILD THE JUNE CONFERENCE!:

CRÉATION “THINK TANK” OFFICIEL EDGERYDERS : « SO THAT EUROPE, AS A GLOBAL PLAYER, IS NOT FAR FROM EUROPEANS » By Morgane BRAVO

http://edgeryders.ppa.coe.int/help-build-june-conference/mission_case/«-so-europe-global-player-not-far-europeans-»-création-thi-2

A SUIVRE…!

Best regards,

Morgane BRAVO

Hey Guys have you seen the call posted by Kat?

Looking at the discussion in the comments I am thinking yes it is clear why it might make sense to want to attract funding and support, but its not clear to me what it is you would want to offer to the world?

  • The unmonastery discussion as an example is getting down to conrete detailed discussions and organisation emerges out of what people want to do and how they think it would be fair to go about doing those things and allocating any resources available.

So I would start at the other end with small prototypes: What are the most interesting initiatives that you would like to explore further with others or know others are working on in here and would like to see supported or developed further? Which burning questions do you think others in the community would get excited about working together on based on the interests they have?

Maybe getting a bit of context might be of interest? Here’s a mission report by Kat about a EC call she heard about: http://edgeriders.ppa.coe.int/help-us-evaluate-sources-funding-social-entrepreneurs-social-innovators/mission_case/15-million-euro

Prototyping sounds exactly what’s needed

I’m up for a mini-unconf in my area.

The aim is to enable participants to exchange and share useful non monetary resources.

whats on offer??

As I understood it the idea was to incorporate an organisation which would aim to aid Edgeryders to network and take forth their projects.  This could (would?) include things like unmonestry.  Having an incorporated organisation backing such initatives can make it much more easy for institutions to engage (otherwise they may well be fearful of what they are engaging with) this is particularly true of funders.

The EC call looks very interesting, this would no doubt require working up a somewhat concrete proposal. (I notice your very relevant comment asking about grant eligability).

I agree that working on projects is important (and much more exciting) I however wonder about what it is that binds them together (edgeryders?) - what will the future be??

Will it be a continued benevolent dictatorship of the Edgeryder site admins (for how long and how hard will they work with no pay?) or will something else emerge? how? what?

I don’t think that a incorporated organisation is crucial.  I think an agreed upon structure is (unless we have a (some) potential benevolent dictator(s) for life willing to hold things together?)

So that we don’t get stuck talking about organization theory: I suggest anyone who wants to register a chapter will do that and conduct some activities within the ER’s original framework.

The resources I have here enable to start with workshops and inter organizational networking activities.

Malmö and Copenhagen is a pool of tiny and not so tiny initiatives, communities and orgs, which get excited if provided bigger organized networking activity. But leans are usually understaffed and do not have an access to swamps of volunteers.

Taking those ‘pillars’ which have been used at LOTE and making them connecting points for the local civic actors can be of a good value.

I mean: making a living, learning, resilience, commons… That’s what they were, eh?

Organisational theory / structure

Hello K :slight_smile:

As I’ve laid out in my response just now to Noemi I think organisational structure is very improtant.  To get it right, I guess, requires looking at what type of organisation you want and how you want it to operate?

From your description the project you are wokring on sounds quite exciting.   Certinly there are huge potentials in linking up civic actors at networking events.  I wish you luck.

What organisations does webtech enable?

Hey guys you might want to check this opportunity to get help with designing the Edgeryders organisation, processes, web tools etc. As a prototype for web-enabled and web-friendly (also in terms of ethics) ways of organising collective work?(not for tweeting yet). Putting together presentations and session descriptions with a call to action is proving very useful for me to organise and synthesise my thoughts, which is a big step towards realising plans at least for me: https://festival.mozillalabs.com/schedule/propose-a-session/

I checked and they cover cost of travel for organisers of selected sessions.