Annual update & next steps

Dear all

It’s now a year since we started planning our first Commons Platform workshop with Andy Paice facilitating, and a lot has happened since!

We have had workshops on defining and visioning the platform, the aims or ‘compelling story’; our values; project planning; community building; creating a culture of safety, consent, accessibility and inclusion; interoperable/scalable/decentralised/secure tech; communicating the vision, and the Mozilla Global Sprint where we identified the important features and prototyped the platform whilst having community brunch and dinner together.

It has been a truly awe-inspiring process and we have been blown away every time by how very diverse people have joined in and collaborated together with so much creativity, generosity and warmth. I often find I am still processing some of the outcomes and people’s individual and collective contributions months later as I begin to understand them in more expanded ways. It has been such a learning and growth process in trusting everyone to bring so much more than I could ever think of myself.

It might seem as if we have been a bit quiet since then so I’d like to let you know what we have been up to since, how we have consolidated all of the outcomes and where are we are heading next.

What we have realised is that a very large proportion of what we have developed so far has been the tools for what we are calling ‘creating the conditions for collaboration’, and creating genuinely diverse, safe, inclusive, accessible spaces.

We are realising that this, in combination with the values, gives us a way of working that is congruent with, or in integrity with, the aims of the platform. It’s like the DNA in the seed which can then grow to create the whole organism. (You might have noticed I love metaphors of patterns that occur in nature.)

Which brings me to what next: Many of you have signed up for our other workshops. We still fully intend to do those workshops, but rather than following a linear pattern we now think it is possible to allow those workshops to develop in a semi-autonomous, more decentralised, self-organising way, so that they can happen in parallel and therefore more quickly.

Essentially, we think we have got to a point where the values, aims, culture and ways of working, community agreements and conflict resolution, security etc are established enough that we can communicate them to any groups who wish to work on those themes, and so that those groups have the tools to create parts of the platform that fit together with everything else by having the same DNA built in.

So, rather than focusing purely on scheduling the next workshops, we are now focusing on creating a website with a kind of forum where people can join groups to work together on the next steps, share progress back to the main group, share news and resources and co-ordinate events etc.

This will also solve an additional problem: our Facebook group (No offence to anyone, it’s a lovely group!) We haven’t focused on making it a central hub for all of the activity because a) Facebook isn’t particularly well designed for that and most importantly b) so many of the people in our network are not on Facebook. Therefore I always have a kind of uneasy feeling as I know that about one third to a half of all the people I want to speak to are not able to be a part of the conversations here, and inclusion/accessibility are very important to the values.

NB we tried doing things like creating Loomio groups, Whatsapp/Signal groups etc but people are often not keen to join a new platform and it’s just not quite as friendly as a forum, and also I just think it would be nice for everyone to join something that is the Commons Platform itself and be part of the construction of it to meet the needs of us as a group

So here’s the plan: Let’s build a quick website with a forum/bulletin board or whatever else works best to help us to co-ordinate and then we can all start finding, joining and creating groups together. We can build in the ways of working into the groups and documentation, and then everyone can find each other with similar interests for some really great conversations and collaborations.

For example, there are lots of community builders and activists here with a wealth of experience in creating resilient sustainable communities and movements; there are many independent media organisations in the group who want to design a better way of interacting with media and content online; there are lots of people looking at alternative economies who could talk about the kind of economic systems we could have on the platform; there are peace-builders, conflict transformation, restorative justice and NonViolent Communication practitioners who I would love to introduce to each other to look at how we deal with any conflict that arises within the platform; there are Crypto specialists, decentralised web people, people who have knowledge about the kind of legal structure, governance and commons stewardship that can help to make the platform work sustainably, and so many others who could form groups to make the platform into something that really works to meet the needs not met by current platforms.

You – yes all of you – are truly amazing and I know that if everyone could find their people you could all start to build incredible things. One of our 7 values is that all people and contributions are valued, and we want to make it easier for everyone to make those contributions in whatever form.

We will start contacting people this week to develop this forum, and create the documentation that will make it work. Please comment below if you would like to help.

Then the next big event on the horizon is Mozfest at the end of October. We would love to have a beautiful, functioning, easy to use website by then which we can present so that more people can join, create a profile, sign up to the values, be welcomed by the community, have an onboarding process, and join groups, share resources, events, news etc and start to build more functionality into the platform itself. (Such as creating an independent media platform, decentralised library, or skill-sharing, or whatever else people want to create that is congruent with the values and aims of the platform.)

Steven Gunner has offered to help facilitate a design workshop on the 15-16 September – but it’s more than just design. It’s a place for anyone and everyone to come together to define our community identity so that all of our values, ways of working, inclusivity, accessibility and conditions for collaboration can permeate through the design, look and feel, and language of everything we create.

Oh, also look out for information about our Commons Platform IRL events that will be taking place on a monthly basis starting in September. These will be places to come together as a community in Manor House in London, open to everyone in the local community, to share ideas, updates, food and drink, and start to do the things in real life that the platform will facilitate online.
We are thinking that people might bring books to swap, skills to share, things to repair etc.

I look forward to seeing lots of you soon.

As always, we will try to make all events accessible, but if you cannot be physically here in London we will try to include you somehow online, and also you could think about creating your own events where you are.

Do get in touch if you would like to talk about how to do this.

Much love