Our greatest challenges as a global civilization will require an unprecedented amount of cooperation and may have been caused in large part by unmitigated competition. Commons-oriented groups and networks address these social and ecological strains by coming together to change the dynamics of very complex systemic problems. The purpose-driven organizations that participate in these change networks include non-profits, government, civic, cooperatives, foundations, and other for-benefit endeavors. These “fourth sector” efforts are unique in how they need to coordinate their public engagement, their support bases, and their operations. We hope that by empowering these groups and networks to be more effective, we can help accelerate their rate of innovation and scope of impact.
We are uncovering better ways of supporting these purpose-driven organizations by building software infrastructure specifically architected for coalition and networked working, and designed for those collaborative needs. Along the way, we’ve uncovered a few key principles we believe necessary to enable this very important work.
Software for faster coordination
Efficient coordination across groups enables more decentralized organizing and greater innovation. This also leads to faster adaptation.
We are dedicated to building software that distributes power to let small autonomous groups collaborate in partnerships, coalitions, and networks.
We are dealing with many complex and systemic problems globally and regionally. “Tragedy of the Commons” problems require coordinated and less centralized solutions. Greater decentralization of status-based power enables greater organic adaptation and innovation.
Organizing into small autonomous groups within larger networks enables value creation and scales up capacity for large-scale collaboration. However, it requires infrastructure in order to work.
- By utilizing scientific approaches to understanding organization. Everything from regenerative practices, working with experts in organizational and team sciences, working with decentralized organizations directly, being less centralized in nature, and good old fashioned co-design/iterative design.
- We are building software to support autonomy at the lowest levels while enabling coordination at the highest levels.
- We want to utilize data science and machine learning technology to make large scale coordination across networks more efficient and less overwhelming.
Data is a commons
Data is a commons and must be treated as such. Platform users need to be empowered when it comes to their data.
Our platform will be a resource that acts as a commons for the benefit of the public and not just profit. Our platform members will have a voice in the things that affect them including: data management, censorship, feature prioritization, algorithm optimizing of content, and rules of engagement on the platform.
We believe that we can’t have a democratic society if our fundamental means of communication and coordination are not democratic. We believe that we must enable the platform community to govern itself and support commons’ governance principles.
We will do this by providing our platform members with mechanisms of agency regarding their data. We will iterate on revenue models to provide non-exploitative and sustainable mechanisms of revenue creation that will benefit the whole community.
How you do something is part of what you do. We are dedicated to principles of cooperative organization in HOW we do things, not just what we do. We are a co-op that also supports other co-ops.
We believe that being a less centralized and more democratic organization will enable us to more effectively achieve our goals of building software for these types of organizations.
Worker-owned cooperatives are for-profit market driven organizations that utilize the useful aspects of market mechanisms while minimizing the externalities. Co-ops are more resilient and more likely to thrive in complex challenging environments including: recessions, climate change, and AI work automation induced disruptions. They are also more democratic ways to organize a business and enable greater distribution of power and profit.
By being a Co-op
There are many benefits to cooperatives including being more responsive to community concerns, more likely to choose people and planet over profit, and more likely to enable peace and cooperation locally and globally.
We are utilizing the innovative and new Washington State Limited Cooperative Association (LCA) organizational structure in order to find a better balance between growth and better distribution of power. We believe that this can be a functional way to empower workers directly while providing mechanisms for the larger community to support our work. As an LCA we are able to acknowledge the investments made by workers, owners, and outside investors-- without losing the ability to self-govern or stay accountable to our community.
By enacting the basic cooperative principles
This list of our own principles is meant to expand and deepen our practice of the internationally recognized principles of cooperation:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Member Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training, and Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community
By supporting future co-ops
We know that an ecosystem of Co-ops is stronger than a lone wolf. In the footsteps of Federated Co-ops like Mondragon, we want to continue to support and grow other Co-ops. We will provide our technology to partner Co-ops in order to allow for others’ to build upon and create their own Co-op businesses by providing support and resources to others who want to follow this model of organizing.