Loomio
Thu 11 Jun

Microsolidarity & CommunityRule

NS
Nathan Schneider Public Seen by 78

Greetings—I've been lurking a bit in this group and really enjoying the conversations underway. I've been working on building a simple tool that might be of help to some emerging groups, CommunityRule.info. It's a whack against the danger of a "tyranny of structurelessness," enabling groups to easily create and adopt basic governance rules—and to share them with each other. In light of this, an offer and an ask:

Offer: My lab is offering free session to help groups use the tool to think about their own governance—particularly (but not necessarily limited to) mutual aid groups in the wake of Covid. More info and a sign-up form here.

Ask: Try out CommunityRule.info! Is it useful to you? What would make it better for your purposes? Are the Templates and Library helpful?

Thanks in advance for considering this!

JF

Josh Fairhead Fri 12 Jun

Hey @Nathan Schneider, kind offer and much appreciate your initiative in trying to raise the forest of knowledge :))

I just wanna raise a cautionary red flag about the "tyranny of structurelesness" having fell into the same fallacy myself - which I now deeply regret - as I feel that it came from a mental model that was part of the problem rather than the solution. If you can, please take a look at Cathy Levine's rebuttal called "the tyranny of tyranny" which is more articulate than I can really be on the subject.

What I would say though is that it's the kind of patterns that Microsolidarity largely seeks to mitigate with its cohesive properties. I had a look at the Library and seeing the BDFL pattern at the top made me give pause to reading much else to be honest, the updated version is TBD (temporary benevolent dictator) but I really think that its mostly a 90's ideology inherited from the "permissions paradigm" of ACL's that we badly need to transcend or be shaped by the tools once more.

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 12 Jun

Thanks for this! What you say about "cohesive properties" is definitely something I want to figure out how to support and encourage better on CR—in the guides, we do emphasize (and will do so more soon) that rules are only a small part of community building, even if I tend to think they are often an important missing piece. And it may be that this sort of thing is not very useful in the contexts of microsolidarity, where the scale is small enough and the relationship building is intentional enough that organic trust can do the work of rules on its own.

The purpose of having a template like BDFL is to help groups that kind of (less than ideal, in my view) structure to at least be explicit about it. One thing we're encouraging groups to do in our Guides is to start by using CR to essentially self-document their existing practices before thinking about what they'd prefer to do. But I was super excited to see the TBD idea emerge—it came from a user in the wild, and has already been adopted by others—and I think I'm going to bring the template version closer to that.

Can you share more about the "permissions paradigm" and ACL? Do you mean "access control lists"?

JF

Josh Fairhead Fri 12 Jun

Permissions paradigm is command and control, predator/prey, master/slave or domination/submission dynamics - depending which lens you want to view it through. Essentially its a call that there needs to be some one in charge.

Capabilities is more trust based; like heres the capabilities to my car/house (keys) look after it please. Its a computing paradigm that came from Xerox Parc in the early 70's and is only just reemerging now (since it got buried via their internal governance war): https://youtu.be/qZ2LltOmD5A

NS

Nathan Schneider Sat 13 Jun

Thanks. Yeah, to me one of the major goals of CR is to get out of the paradigm of what I have called "implicit feudalism," which is the assumption that absolute control needs to be vested in a given individual or small group of them. Instead, CR aims to encourage groups to adopt a framework by which authority/rights/responsibilities are vested in particular ways for particular reasons. I see it, really, as helping more online groups catch up to basic good governance employed in many offline organizations. I certainly hope that CR would steer more groups away from "command and control, predator/prey, master/slave or domination/submission" as opposed to toward them. For example, the benevolent dictator template is the only template that seems to me to lean along those lines.

And I've edited the BD template to make it temporary by default!

NM

Nenad Maljković Sun 14 Jun

Are you familiar with Sociocracy 3.0 Practical Guide (patterns, glossary) and Core Protocols? Both can offer guidance and inspiration for crews and congregations.

NS

Nathan Schneider Sun 14 Jun

Thanks for this! Yes, the Circles template on CommunityRule is based on sociocracy. But the Core Protocols are new to me. Just added to the project's Points of Inspiration wiki.

NM

Nenad Maljković Mon 15 Jun

Also Open Leadership Network might be of interest. They are not community oriented but I find their approach to be applicable in community-led initiatives. See under Patterns.

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Wed 17 Jun

I love this example of how Crisp (a decentralised company) implemented the Core Protocols: https://blog.crisp.se/2017/11/12/martinchristensen/core-protocols-effective-communication

These kinds of blog posts are the most useful for me: it's like a personal story slash cash study that references a specific organising pattern which can be transported and adapted to different contexts.

I can imagine that CommunityRule could evolve like this, pairing up the abstract patterns with some specific implementation stories.

RDB

Richard D. Bartlett Wed 17 Jun

Also on the subject of sociocracy specifically, and 'patterns to avoid the tyranny of structurelessness' generally:

I loved this presentation from Karl and Leonie introducing their new community to a proposed set of organising structures (including sociocratic governance).

Their approach is very close to how I like to start: ie. a couple of experienced & committed people start by designing a "good enough" structure, then invite new people to participate on those terms, and then create spaces for community members to edit and improve the structure over time. Contrast this with another common approach: invite everyone in and start with a conversation "what structure should we use?"

NM

Nenad Maljković Wed 17 Jun

Crisp has shared their "DNA" too: https://dna.crisp.se/docs/index.html

NM

Nenad Maljković Wed 17 Jun

Minimum Viable Stucture that gets tweaked if and when needed (usually after retrospectives) 👍

NS

Nathan Schneider Wed 17 Jun

Thanks—agree with this. I'm really trying to think about how to make CR less about the latter, structure-obsessed approach. I think it's important for people to have some basic Rule, but that should be in the background of their work, not at the center. Here are some notes on that: https://gitlab.com/medlabboulder/communityrule/-/issues/43 I'd really love any more suggestions.

JL

Joe Lightfoot Thu 18 Jun

Hey @Nathan Schneider I just visited your site and it got me thinking. Thank you, I think there is lots of value in the project of mapping out all the different templates communities tend to adopt and form.

NS

Nathan Schneider Thu 18 Jun

Thanks! That means a lot!

NS

Nathan Schneider Thu 18 Jun

Great idea—just created an Issue for that: https://gitlab.com/medlabboulder/communityrule/-/issues/44

PH

Pascal Hazeleger Fri 19 Jun

Thanks for this link. This will certainly be helpful to get our congregation going! 👍🏻

JL

Joe Lightfoot Sat 20 Jun

@Nathan Schneider , I recently captured the essence of a few different structures for making decisions in community. They are similar in nature to the Templates on your site, I'm happy to share them with you if you're interested.

NS

Nathan Schneider Sun 21 Jun

Please do, yes! I also keep a catalog of related efforts here: https://gitlab.com/medlabboulder/communityrule/-/wikis/Points-of-inspiration