35 of us participated last week in what have been two very intense days. We kicked off with an exercise making us talk about meaningful things we care about in society - access to essential resources, create better living environments and manage our personal wellbeing. We chose topics from this illustration of dimensions of well being in society. The reason for the exercise is to move away from individual projects and connect with others on topics at the core of our work (“Nobody gives a s*** about your projects” was something @Nadia said explicitly).
We’re preparing a collection of videos with this new way of introducing ourselves, based on deep concerns and values rather than business cards information. While waiting for everyone to OK their own and set the videos public, here’s mine as a sample:
Later on everyone had a chance to go into the details of their projects, following a structured approach to make us think about specific challenges. It became clear to me that being creative and having a project with high potential is not enough, we each need to tap into a different set of mindset and expertise that is not immediately visible or accesible. Here are the Methodkit cards Nadia used in Day 2, made by @Ola, a community member in Stockholm (I have a pack, so get in touch if you need them).
As the outcomes from our event may need time to sink in, here is a start. These are my takeaways on how to move the network to a new stage while doing justice to individual projects. This is designing for a network, not for one project. Correct me if I'm wrong:
We need to build civic ownership in Bucharest.
@Ruxandra & @MANU_BABELE's idea of a participatory democracy project is:
“The idea was to create a space where citizens could discuss the problems they have in their local community and collaboratively create projects to implement solutions to these problems. Citizens would be able to browse through these projects and then choose which ones they want to finance with their 2%. new ideas, grassroots initiatives, that maybe did not have yet a legal entity and that could get the money from the citizens the 2% that are already taxed in order to come to life - and solve the problem of no finance. This is why actually I was suggesting that it needed to be made by the local municipality or institution: the local municipality would get the 2%, and then they would allocate the money to the projects based on the votes of the citizens. This is where it gets really interesting: you allow to people to really choose local projects to solve problems that they want to see alive, and you have local social innovators that maybe do not have a legal entity, maybe yes, to implement them. This is where you are getting smart, in collaborating with institutions, rather than avoiding them.
In this platform thus: grassroots initiatives that do not have a legal entity could get financed through the 2% that is already taxed by the government to solve local problems. (full text here)
We need to design ecosystems for incubating projects from the citizenry.
We’ve seen examples like platforms for open social business modeling (Babele.co), Donators Circles (Fundatia Comunitara), hackathons (Poiana Baronilor Locali) - great ideas, even complementing each other, with potential to get on a steeper learning curve by:
tightening knowledge about new forms of collaboration, about social economy and models of sustainability for the projects that are coming in on any platform. For example mixing, remixing, incubating projects for a longer term so we all stand to benefit from their learning process. Harmonious hackathons could do the trick (ping @mgax)
keeping the costs of being in a network low: making it easy for people to rally for those projects without giving up their own. As an example, see the visualization by @yozness and Cosmin Nitu from Friday's workshop as a useful tool for finding where you can fit in a network and don't share it yet, it's a work in progress.
carving open spaces (physical/digital) to experiment with new ways. This means ideation, prototyping, documenting, storytelling etc. The space needs to be secure and free, and most of all, perceived as secure and free by the members. This is something I learned from @mgax and @TCT, who held presentations on how an IT help desk can support social/civic projects and how free software is non-negotiable when it comes to enabling knowledge to circulate freely. A discussion on this already started here.
What’s missing for people to continue to develop their projects with others?
So how would we implement the participatory democracy project idea or grow the existing platforms? I was asked the other day: why wouldn’t Futurespotters collaborate by themselves outside a community? is it that people don’t work together unless being brought in systematically? I call this the need for social engineering. The main reason mentioned was that coordination costs are underrated - you need someone to champion the invisible work of bringing people together, building opportunities and making sure information circulates, while keeping it open ended so other people can find their way in. We need caretakers.
On all this I am starting to think as we move to the next phase. Before someone else comes up with an opportunity for you to work together, make an exercise to create it, by yourself. Leave a comment below with the ideas you took home, what inspired you (or not?) and your next steps to deploy the network we are creating. Maybe you're organising something and need help? Maybe futurespotter x could help you with a small task? Anything you have.
Nothing happens on Edgeryders until someone says "I want to do x. Who's with me?"
Thank you to everyone who made this happen <3