Hire yourself! Using Edgeryders as a corporate shell for your projects

We Edgeryders are forever involved in tons of projects. Creative ideas an ingenuity don’t seem to be the scarce resource in our lives: what’s missing is the ability of turning those projects into viable sources of revenue. As a result, we are torn between doing irrelevant stuff for money and doing fun, important stuff that does not pay the bills. Not cool.

So, why is it so difficult to get paid for meaningful stuff? Sometimes, to be sure, it is our own fault: unfocused or unrealistic ideas, or sound ideas that we, alone, lack the capacity to deliver. But we conjecture that another reason might be the lack of a good interface with large organizations, both in the private and in the public sector. This conjecture is based on the observation of the interaction between the community and the Council of Europe during the first Edgeryders iteration in 2012. Being innovative requires creativity, radicality and out-of-the-box thinking, but that’s scary and strange to large orgs. Getting, say, Elf Pavlik to interact with the Council of Europe required considerable diplomatic skills – starting right at the door, where building security were freaked out that he refuses to use state-issued ID.

We created an Edgeryders company as a corporate shell for our projects to be embedded in a structure that large organizations find easier to understand. The core idea is simple: if you think it is an advantage for you to wear a corporate hat when trying to sell or fund your project, you can wear the Edgeryders one. You will not be telling a lie: if you get the client, we’ll hire you as project manager of your own project: in a very real way, you’ll be hiring yourself into the company. We’ll also do our best to help to put together a team with the capacity to cover the whole terrain, from delivery to administration and reporting. This is what happened with the unMonastery, that has no corporate entity of its own and is hooked to the Matera “client” through Edgeryders.

Come to this session to meet the people in the Edgeryders company, and find out how you can use it to do good work, while doing well for yourself.

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Much needed

I can think of a number of people who would be interested in this one.

[mishek] and [vidrij da] I think the above reasonates with what I was talking about with you guys last Friday, and the need to see personal “investment” into the community (volunteering for organising Lote, participating in conversations etc) taking a concrete shape to provide for some of us Edgeryders who could really use financial support. This is to add to my point of you, i know you may not be primarily interested in that. Also [Tiago], would this help, in light of our conversation lately?

Lately I’ve been following how our partnership with Matera 2019 is unfolding, and particularly going back to how it was initiated. I think good replicas could be built for future unMonasteries or other community projects. Right now I’m going back and forth between getting in touch with Cluj’s committee preparing the candidacy for Eur Capital of Culture in 2021, and clearly I’m hesitating because i don’t know how to do it and what it takes to build this kind of partnership. And the feeling that I can’t do it alone even if there’s the ER organisation registered.

So for me personally it would be useful is this session we also talk a little bit about how you “get the client” as a representative of Edgeryders - not necessarily by becoming a good salesperson yourself ex the whole strategy & immense work that Nadia is putting into this (which is probably a separate conversation) but what ER resources are there to help you get the client - for example better ER ambassadors who could help you prepare a presentation about Edgeryders, feedback to your ongoing pitching if you bother to post it online, and document leads so others can jump in and help etc.  

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I have a bunch of questions probably related to this.

Even though I don’t currently have a project of my own, as I’m talking about Edgeryders and the unMonastery I keep running into people who express interest in unMon. From desperate property owners to (pardon the pun) those working with unemployment. So I wonder about practicalities of making it “within” ER and making it unMon 2, rather than, for many reasons, something else with someone else. So it is a question of unMON replicability and customizability + ER corpshell details. A lot of questions on ER corpshell: mainly on partnerships with orgs and people.

A Social Venture Fund

This feels like we are making EdgeRyders a “costume”? I would like it to be a much deeper relationship.

Ironically I can give an example from the venture capital world. A good investor is not just someone who will write a check but will also be able to provide other added values such as past experience, connections to other investors, connections to key market players, etc.

I would like to a see a similer situation with EdgeRyders - only it is a Social Capital system. When I present myself as part of EdgeRyders it means I bring with me the vast social capital that EdgeRyders has to offer. I bring with me a diverse group of people with diverse interests, diverse experience, diverse languages, diverse connections. It should be a no-brainer both for me as a “social entrepreneur” and for my “client” to want to be involved with EdgeRyders.

I am even contemplating if it is correct to “use” EdgeRyders as “just a corporate shell”. After all, every project that goes through EdgeRyders contributes to building the brand/karma of how EdgeRyders is perceived in the world. If a project is aligned with EdgeRyders then it would obviously benefit from the Social Capital EdgeRyders has to offer. If a project isn’t aligned, then do we really want to be a “corporate shell” for it?

The corporate shell and business cards are the cherry on top of much more substantial cake.

Maybe we should have a community process that builds on [hexayurt]'s SC4SV to decide on where we as a community would like to invest. Maybe we should have an investment strategy (of our precious social capital). Maybe we should have an application process (like for the unMonastery) for EdgeRyders investments.

Lote3 is a clear example of the community coming together to support a project (with plenty of social capital investment) - though it seems to me to be a choice by default not necessarily by conscious design. Maybe we can look at the intuitive process that powers Lote3 and see if we can learn from it how to evaluate, choose and make future social investments?

Assume good faith

[iamronen], I don’t disagree with you on depth of relationship – ask [Ben] about me fighting for the unMonastery in the trenches, side by side with him. I am just leaving for each individual member of the community to make the decision on what kind of relationship she wants. It is, after all, her project, and it can’t succeed without her behind it 110%. As for potential of abuse, if there is one thing I learned from starting and running online communities for over a decade (starting with mailing lists in the late 90s) is this: if you design for trolls, your users will be trolls. Instead, all serious practitioners in the field assume good faith and deal with abuse when and if it arises, on a case-by-case basis.

Plus, like St. Benedict (although with much less skill), we am trying to protocolize here. we are not so interested in deciding what to do as in enabling everyone in the community to do whatever she wants, with as little red tape as possible. Consensus decision can be slow, and gives nondoers a veto power I am not sure benefits either them or any other. So, we tried to build a strong pro-action ethos (“who does the work calls the shots” and all that), and that seemed to resonate with the community and to unlock certain common endeavors, like (you guessed it) #LOTE3 itself.

Focus, not abuse

[Alberto] I am no thinking of abuse at all. I am thinking about focusing energy.

I am thinking back to my time spent with improvisation dancers. There is a “studio” mode the where anything goes. But then there is a “performance” mode where there is more focus and artistic direction (non consensus!).

In a similar way I believe that inside EdgeRyders (literally at the edge) anything goes - as you say, no red tape. But if we are going to make an effort to connect with mainstream society then we need to acknowledge that this is something else. Mainstream is more structured, less ambiguos, less open … dynamics which create mainstream stability. I feel that we need to respect this by meeting them where they are and not forcing on the mainstream our internal edgy dynamics.

We have a right to protocilize internally however we wish. However I believe we also have an obligation to interface responsibly with the mainstream society we wish to contribute to. Think back to the interaction we had about composting toilets when you yourself said that while it may be OK for EdgeRyders to carry buckets of shit, it may not be a good idea to do so if we wish to connect with Matera as it currently is.

I also believe that this can be practical. If I want to pitch to a “client” a project through EdgeRyders I would probably want to first get some traction with in inside the community. I’d feel more empowered if I here other EdgeRyders say “this is so cool, I can help with this and that”.

As I write these words I have in my mind an image of rays of light shooting in many directions - the rich and unharnessed creative energy of the EdgeRyders community. I believe that a core function of EdgeRyders “the corporate” is to focus the light into more coherent beams that can penetrate and be presented to “clients”.

Got that covered

I am counting on [Nadia] to share the session with me. She is great at pitching clients and making daring stuff sound plausible and bold.

And of course, the company’s seal has legal consequences for its directors. If they are not comfortable with a deal, it won’t go ahead – that does not stop anyone from pursuing their project by other means, and even looking for support within the community.

Nadia, Directors, Community

“Nadia” seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to pitching EdgeRyders … I’m not sure that is a sustainable model.

So directors have a veto over community? Is that how we want it to be?

I think there are precious unresolved issues on how we meet the world.

Ronen, you ask sharp questions that don’t have a short response, but here’s a bit of context giving so you can figure out some answers. I’m not good at giving clear answers about how things should go in Edgeryders, just how they are going.

Edgeryders is not a community with official membership status - we’re not card holders who pay an annual contribution, so there isn’t a community decision making protocol in place. Aside from 5 executive directors, there is also an advisory board of directors recruited among the community members: currently there’s [Asta] and [hexayurt] in it, who’ve known ER from the beginning, and this board will be rolling on with different names I think every year?. As far as I know any community member who is quite actively involved can serve as board member.

The way I see it, if there was a project the directors agree to not support (although don’t think the way edgeryders is designed would allow it to come to that) it would be probably left to the community to discuss openly, as we have many times in the past. I don’t think you’ve seen this, but  there is a 90+ comment thread from last year, back when the idea of incorporating Edgeryders first arose. Whoever was interested came up with ideas, links, possibilities, in particular as to how decisions would be made. No one wanted to take on strong positions that would limit Edgeryders and make it less free floating and fun to be in. On the contrary, anyone who wanted to register Edgeryders was free to do it under their own chosen legal format, and thats how it got to a few putting ourselves forward (again with an open call for discussion +26 comments and no opposition) and carrying some responsibility - legal and towards the community in general. If the crowd will disagree to something we’re doing, we’ll get the signal and fix it, or lose the backup from the community, which can only damage the ER social enterprise, so not in anyone’s interest right?

(I hope I’m not going circularly! i dont have time to check right now )

Moreover, even putting in place a system for decision making would take time and efforts, and at this point it seems all our energy goes into building projects and supporting the builders! I wouldnt mind someone to set something in place though, that is also if they can do justice to the soo many degrees of involvement with Edgeryders. The thought of how much there is to say about this stops me :expressionless:

Read carefully

Ronen, it is quite simple: directors have veto over the company, not the community. That’s true of all companies under European law. Anyone is free to pursue their project anyway, by other means. They can even use the platform to mobilize help: as long as they are not trying to do anything illegal, that’s perfectly fine.

You may be right as far as the sustainability of the model. You ask questions about talking to the mainstream, and one of us is trying stuff out, talking to think tanks, impact investors and VCs, and she is willing to share what she is learning. This is the best we can come up with right now. You are welcome to do better – maybe you have done better already, and we’ll all benefit from your effort. Still, when people share hard-earned knowledge freely, I believe the appropriate response is appreciation.

appreciation

4: if lack of appreciation came across from my comments then I apologize … that was not my intention at all

3: I think that more intention and focus should go in the direction that Nadia represents. It doesn’t necessarily mean more people doing what she does, but it does mean more activity supporting her efforts.

2: I have (at least in this period of my life) lost interest in technicalities, especially legal ones (I live in practical retreat from society). I am not interested in the technicality of “company” I am very much interested in its substance and purpose … and its relationship with community.

1: To me the word “company” represents a bridge between EdgeRyders (and its internal workings) and mainstream society. I feel that this is also a key to EdgeRyders sustainability. I greatly appreciate Nadia’s efforts on this front. I ultimately left my professional career behind because I felt I could not cross this bridge (or that the cost of doing so was too high). So HUGE appreciation to her … and I want to help her. My comments are offered with that intent.

0: I am VERY curious why/how “lack of appreciation” came through to you (re: thinking about my inhibitions to use this kind of medium).

About limited time and finite energy resources

There is at least one other thread in which you are asking valid, but sharply worded questions that answering takes precious time and energy away from the many other things that need doing by the individuals who have been involved in Edgeryders the longest. And that are experienced as being less than mindful of the fact that there have been many discussions, all here on the platform leading up to different decisions made and that people care deeply and have put in a lot of love into everything Edgeryders related. For me personally, communication with a harsh underlying tone drains energy and joy away from the work that needs to be done. I would in the future suggest perhaps mindfully, and with an explicitly communicated wish to understand the context into which you are stepping, asking for links to where different discussions have taken place. Doing the actual heavy lifting of work of proposing clear, well thought through actions that you are prepared to carry out yourself in response to them where you feel they are missing, would be a solid contribution.

apology and thank you

I apologize for any energy and joy draining ripples I may have caused you. (I just re-read that opening sentence and realized that you could read cynicism into it. I considered rewording it, but was quite happy with the wording … so if you encounter anything like that please know that I didn’t put it there. I REALLY MEAN IT.)

My comment that triggered this thread was against my better judgement. I have been refraining from making comments (for reasons I’ve already stated) but I thought to put that choice to the test. This interaction has confirmed my belief.

Yes, I tend to ask sharp questions (of myself and of others). Maybe those questions are inappropriate to this medium and setting - which was and continues to be my feeling. Due to the nature of writing and reading online I make an effort to be short and concise (and even then I tend to be quite wordy) … that too may contribute to sharpness.

However, I’ve read and re-read and re-read your reponse and I want to ask: why did my sharpness translate as harshness? (and I am asking that not to waste your time but because to me it is a valuable question).

I know and do not forget that I am late to the party. I usually comment after I’ve done quite a bit of reading (though certainly there is always more).

I have tried to communicate (maybe not clearly enough) that I offer these questions (that arise in me in response to what is currently happening) as something to live with, not necessarily something to drop everything else and answer. I intend them as reflections, not as challenges.

Thank you for your tolerance. I will resume my silence a bit longer, until we’ve had an opportunity to meet face to face. Counting the days.

Saw your comment after posted reply to Mishek’s

Hey Ronen,

see below for my response to your question.

Confused

…by the non conflict here.

harsh tones??

ronen seemed to be asking reasonably relevant questions…??

My point being “put forward a better alternative”

I agree. We are all figuring this out as we go along. My points are the following:

  1. Rather than actually contributing to fleshing out the thread on Hexayurt's SC4SV fund proposal and the work I put in proposing a social contract for it to work, Ronen raises it in the comment above with a kind of implicit demand that someone convene the community around deciding together on where to invest, as opposed to say pinging the individual community members him- or herself directly.
  2. Then asks us to "look at the intuitive process that powers Lote3 and see if we can learn from it how to evaluate, choose and make future social investments", again, what is the work involved in doing so and who is the "we" that is expected to actually do this work?
  3. In response to Alberto's point about my helping with fleshing out this session proposal for lote Ronen comments "Nadia" seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to pitching EdgeRyders ... I'm not sure that is a sustainable model." again without putting forward a concrete proposal or contribution towards figuring out a more sustainable solution. Or even inspiration.

In Edgeryders task manager you can only assign a task to yourself and then take responsibility for delivering them. If you want help from others, your likelihood of engaging other community members increases if you have a clear call to action in which it is clear you have done some of the preparatory background work. I experience comments like the ones above as the equivalent of assigning a fuzzy task to everyone without having done the background work. And then demanding that someone does the work of shaping it into something clearer and engaging others into working on it with them. This hijacks and diverts the thread away from what the original poster is trying to achieve with the time and effort they have put into crafting it. Because the kinds of questions posed (and the manner in which they are formulated) left unanswered seed distrust. It all comes down to context.

These are my thoughts on the matter. I could be wrong, I often am.

.

The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on

Fairly new to ER and DEFINITELY one of the reasons I joined was the intelligent and insightful contributions by Nadia and Alberto ~ made me think ER and unMon are great concepts with some big hearts and brains behind it all.

Followed the ‘corporate shell’ debate with fascination having 30 years of being an Occupational Health nurse and seeing how corporations de-sensitise managers and use up their workforce WHILE at the same time showing the spirit of enterprise that socially-oriented outfits and lumbering institutions could gain much from. I agree its unfair that ER and other well-intentioned initiatives suffer from lack of funds to reward the hard work by social entrepreneurs and yet I was also PLEASED that someone (courageously, in my opinion) questioned if ER might be contaminated by association with venture capital, et al. This person was a wounded veteran of corporate sociopathy and I have met many others and experienced it myself.

Hey, we’re all human and deserve a margin of tolerance when we shoot questions from the hip… and we deserve credit for hard and heartfelt work… while we’re getting on with life in a world of crazy values and incomplete meanings.  Have read Alberto elsewhere poignantly express thanks for someone appreciating his dedication and good counsel. Also read Nadia openly sharing her struggles with stress so look what a high-functioning load-bearer she is! Meanwhile, it’s reasonable to question if sources like Rockefeller money is expedient or unacceptable to keep the lights on, I see both sides. But these two are giving themselves commendably to finding work-arounds to keep us rolling and it would be understandable if they sometimes feel taken for granted. We don’t, we think you’re both brilliant. And so is the person questioning the accuracy of our moral compass so don’t retreat into silence, we value your voice.

David Ridge

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yes

thank you Nadia & Alberto

Questioning and doing

Hi David,

Actually it was Eimhin that initially posted the question about engagement with the Rockefeller foundation, and I agree it is needed and valuable that the questions are raised. However, in my opinion there is a difference between asking people to reflect on their choices, and institutionalising the ability to make the decisions for them. Or demanding that people stretched thin put time and effort into building consensus before moving in any direction, which is hugely time and energy consuming (unless 1) you are willing to design, prototype and implement a lightweight mechanism for doing so and are successful in engaging everyone in the community in it  2) can present compelling evidence that doing so would increase the community members’ ability to achieve their objectives). Especially at the stage where we are balancing the work of keeping the community going and figuring out how to effectively use the corporate shell to enable people to bridge the gap between the need to build (for them) meaningful things and support one another in making a living, together.

My primary interest is a corporate shell that enables us to both interface with mainstream society AND do and build things with others in free-floating constellations and self-organising swarms. Here is a proposal for a set of social contracts I put together a while back that those so inclined are welcome to poke holes into. If people have issues with any community member’s project they are more than welcome to either not engage in it or propose and pursue other alternatives for achieving the same objectives. They need never engage with the registered Edgeryders organisation or any of the projects it endorses or drives (subset of all projects on platform and clearly indicated where this is the case) if they don’t wish to. In fact they can go ahead and build their own organisation and set the rules as they please within the limits of the law of course, Elena did in Sweden (Edgeryders Sweden) and it’s run entirely separately from the social enterprise registered in the UK of which I am one of the board members. Or contribute towards covering the costs of keeping the Edgeryders social and technical platform going.

It’s a balancing act and if we are to pull it off while  bootstrapping it on no economic resources, every person needs to pull their cognitive weight: ask pointed questions, yes- but please compliment with at least partial attempts to answer them e.g. by researching for existing instances where people have answered them creatively. That way this becomes a collective learning journey, rather than a small number of people serving answers to a growing number of people asking questions.

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